Should I buy a refurbished Mac?

Should I buy a Mac from the Apple Refurb Store, or get a new one, is a question many of our readers ask. We've updated this with information about buying on eBay and from your local Apple reseller. 

That is, of course, if you even know the Apple Refurb Store exists. Buying a new Mac is always a joy, but many people aren’t aware that it is also possible to pick up a price-reduced, refurbished Mac from the Apple website.

See also: Buy the cheapest MacBook Air: Best price in store and Apple Refurb

Should I buy a refurbished Mac

One great trick that every Apple fan should know is how to pick up kit from the Apple Refurb Store. You can buy refurbished Apple Macs, as well as other Apple products from this special section of the online store.

Click here to visit the Apple Refurb Store 

Refurbished Macs are likely to be brand-new but unsold models (if it is from a previous year), or reconditioned current models. A reconditioned Mac could be an ex-demonstration model used during Apple teaching programs, or a unit sold to a customer who decided to return it. The returned unit may have been faulty, and fixed or may simply have been returned under the standard sale-and-returns procedure.

The important thing to note is that Macs bought from the Apple Refurb Store are not discernably different from new ones bought direct from the Apple Store. All Macs bought from the Apple Refurb Store are cleaned, checked, tested and visibly indistinguishable from brand new models.

Apple itself states: “Before we put a refurbished Mac, iPod, iPad or Apple TV up for sale in Special Deals, it undergoes a rigorous refurbishment process to make sure it’s up to Apple’s tough quality standards.”

More importantly, a reconditioned Mac comes with the same one-year warranty (extendable to three years with AppleCare protection.)

The only noticeable difference from our experience is that an Apple Refurb Mac will be packaged in a brown box rather than the white retail box they normally arrive in.

The price for reconditioned Macs changes frequently but is typically 10-20 per cent less than the original price. With Macs commanding a high retail price this can be quite a difference.

Because Many Macs on the refurb store are last year’s models you should check the specifications carefully. It’s worth noting that most new Macs contain the very latest high-end components, so even last year’s model from the Apple Refurb Store tends to have quite high specification components.

Also it’s worth taking a look at the Refurb Store if you deliberately want to pick up an older model. Apple is often quick off the mark to phase out features it deems no longer necessary, such as optical drives, Firewire sockets, replaceable hard drives, and so on. So some people may genuinely prefer an earlier model with a feature they don’t quite want to live without just yet.

Buying a New Mac

Buying a New Mac 

On the other hand, there is nothing quite so nice as buying a brand new Mac. 

Your first point of call when buying any new Mac should be to go to either Apple’s online store, or a physical Apple Retail Store. It’s worth noting that the price you pay is identical in either instance, so it merely depends on whether you want to have it shipped to your door; or would prefer the experience of buying one from an Apple Retail environment.

See: Which Mac to get: Macworld buying guide

But the Apple Store isn’t the only place to pick up a new Mac. It’s usually worth checking Amazon, which often sells brand new Apple products at a slight discount (but any saving is always welcome). 

Be warned that Amazon acts as a marketplace for other online sellers, and although it guarantees the initial condition and timely delivery of the MacBook Air, the ongoing guarantee that it'll work is between you and whatever company sold the MacBook Air though the Amazon store. However, Apple itself will honour any repairs within warranty on any Apple products no matter where it was bought.

If you prefer shopping with a retailer that you're comfortable with, then John Lewis offers a two-year warranty on all Apple products, which is twice as long as the standard one-year offered by Apple. John Lewis also offers a three-year warranty MacBook Air deal for £150. This compares favourably with Apple's own AppleCare Protection, which is essentially a three year warranty for £199.

Buying a Mac second hand from eBay

Amazon and eBay are also worth considering, although where possible we'd recommend you opt for new, discounted Macs. Buying a second hand Mac on eBay is a risky business. 

That said, in November last year, we reported that Apple was believed to have begun selling refurbished iPads, MacBooks and iPods on eBay, through an eBay store labelled "Refurbished Outlet". However, Apple shut that store after some months. 

Buying and selling anything on sites like eBay can be fraught with problems, but this is particular true with high-value products such as computers. The old adage runs ‘buyer beware’, but sellers need to take precautions as well. In a bid to make money quickly, it is easy to be talked into handing over what you’re selling for much less than it is worth. Having done your research, be prepared to stand your ground. You may have to give way slightly on price, but don’t be swayed too much.

Buying from an Apple reseller 

If you’re going to buy from used or independent shops, your best bet is to seek out a certified Apple Premium Reseller. These are dealers and service providers certified by Apple for their expertise and quality. These can be found up and down the UK and Republic of Ireland. (You can find your nearest Apple Premium Reseller here and in the Republic of Ireland here.) 

These will try to meet or exceed the service you’d get at an Apple Store—and prices may be cheaper then buying from Apple. We've often spotted Apple Premium Reseller stores having special events and discounts, normally when stores open for the first time in a new location. In the past Apple Premium Reseller Stormfront has offered customers ten percent off of any Mac purchased or ordered from the new stores in Luton and Epson on opening day.

Some resellers may offer discounts on older Mac models shortly after a new one launches, so be on the look out for bargains! 

See: AppleCare: is it worth paying for