Buying Refurbished?

I just listened to MPU 503 and there was talk about buying refurbished macs. I asked in the episodes section but then figured I might open it up wider.

Any horror stories about doing that?

Going that route would allow me to get some additional accessories so I’m considering it for my next purchase, a MacAir laptop.

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No horror stories here. When I can, I prefer refurbished, but of course sometimes they just don’t have the BTO extras that, for me, extend the life of a machine.

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Myself and my family have bought quite a few over the years, and they are absolutely great. The only way you can tell they are not brand new, is the slightly different packaging. Plus the warranty is same as brand new


I usually buy refurbed from Apple when I can. Zero problems, ever, going back more than a decade. My 2012 Mac mini was a refurb, as was the 27" Retina iMac I purchased two years ago.


I buy refurb machines whenever I can. My Air is a refurb, as was my 15" before it. My Mini isn’t a refurb because they didn’t have the combination I was looking for when I needed to get it - but with some patience I would have got it.

I’ve had no problems at all over the years, and you get the standard Apple warranty too.


Highly recommend it. I see no downside at all if they have the configuration you want.


Some interesting responses here. My own reason for going brand new when I buy my iMac at some time in the future is because I want it to last for a decade if possible, or even longer. Buying new is my attempt to help future proof. However, that doesn’t always work out, and it is true that I have had some issues, which from my point of view were minor.

I would otherwise, if I could find one, buy a refurbished macbook pro made BEFORE the butterfly keyboard. Just like the one I have now, which is the best machine I ever had, and I supect might be the best I EVER have.
I would replace it, if I could, with the same thing, it works, and perfectly, for everything I do, I had a free screen on it as it had that notorious ‘peel’ problem, there is that strange ding on the border now after two years of the new screen but it is not on the visible screen and some patchy but very faint whiteness visible sometimes behind the screen. I use it hours a day and pound the keys, I also replaced the battery recently and have had one new charge cable.

Mine is hammered and has had heavy use for over 4 years now and is still going strong though, I would still argue despite the above, with few problems. Touch wood I guess :shushing_face: .

I suspect though that owners of a machine exactly like mine, will, like me, be likely to hang on to them as long as possible. It is likely if I decide to upgrade that I won’t trade this one in but keep running it for something, writing maybe. Normally I would trade in for however little I got and have done that with ever other computer I ever had. Without regret too mostly. It would be interesting to see factually whether that is the case with this model? Anybody know for sure rather than guessing like I am? Mid 2014 MacBook Pro is what I have

I will add I am finding the upgrade cycle regarding the operating systems too quick. I hardly feel I am used to one when it upgrades. I am thinking of only doing every other one or something as a matter of routine.
I have seen no productivity gains since Mavericks: outside ones supplied by my power apps especially Keyboard Maestro and DEVONthink. With those I don’t think, for the first time in my life and I am 67, I have no tech bottlenecks at all at the user end anyway. Not many anywhere else really. Only some firewalls for some obscure journals sometimes, usually well outside my real field too, sometimes a link drops to some place or library I use. I need to catch up with Aleh Cherp sometime on this too.
One of the best episodes of MPU and still relevant was the one with him.

that episode really upped my game in itself.

I know my needs are light really from some points of view, text manipulation and production of pdf’s, email and that stuff. All my storage is text and pdf, web links that kind of thing.

I assume that since the machines are pretty ‘modular’ that substantial parts of it are really ‘new’? I don’t know if folk have real information on that. It is like maybe like that old joke about the old farmer and his broom. Amazing broom he said, used every day and has been the only broom I have ever had. Wow says his guest. Yes, says the farmer, and only six new heads and two new handles.

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It depends on the device as to what they replace. I’ve never had a machine arrive looking anything less than new or with anything on it (digitally) to indicate that it wasn’t either.

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Throwing my hat in the ring here, long time refurb purchaser, mostly iPads. Nothing but fantastic experiences had so far. They also have great resale value, and have used proceeds from trade ins on more refurb iPads!

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There is the possibility that the machine was returned within the 14-day “buyer’s remorse” period, and nothing has been replaced on it.


I bought a refurbished 2013 iMac a few years ago. It arrived with a bigger hard drive than that specified. I have read of other people having similar positive surprises with refurbished Apple gear.


I’ve only had good luck buying refurbished stuff directly from Apple. It’s when you buy from 3rd party sellers that things can be dodgy.

I’ll second what another person said - The list of options on refurb stuff makes it more possible to buy thing things with less variability, or you aren’t so worried about specific features. If you want the extra RAM on the MacBook, but don’t want the extra HD, maybe you can’t get that. If you don’t care which colour your iPad is, that makes it easier to get refurbished. ’

Same warranty, same quality, same accessories, same battery different box, less selection.

Third party refurb (what I buy in Canada from “Factory Direct”) is a very different beast than Apple refurb - I have no idea how that referb works, it doesn’t come with AppleCare, and usually doesn’t have a sufficient discount to go with the question marks.

Refurbs are great! I do suggest only buying from Apple directly. Also, because quantities are limited and you may want a specific configuration, sign up for the free refurb-tracker tool to get notified when there’s new stock:

Thanks for the refurb tracker tool.

I actually just took a look, there was a perfect machine that fit all the specs but I missed getting it. However I’ll watch for a while, looks like it will be a good choice.

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It seems to update fairly frequently (~weekly), so you shouldn’t have to wait long. is a great resource. I got an average 6 hits a day when I thought I needed a MacBook Air 13".

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In the past I’ve had great experiences with refurb Macs. That said, lately I’ve been keeping an eye on refurb iPads. I’d like to get the latest model iPad mini or possibly the basic iPad as my iPad Air 2 battery is slowly fizzling out. The iPad refurbs that I’m seeing on Apple’s store often don’t seem like great deals. Sure, they might be $100 off the original price but that’s not a great deal if it is a 5th gen with an A9 chip! There’s currently a few 5th gens listed as $120 off the original price but that’s a price from 2 years ago.

So, with iPads I’d suggest caution not because of quality issues but because the pricing may not be as good as sale prices on current new models.

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Like the rest, I have only had great experiences with refurbs. A friend that works at apple told me that a lot of the items in the refurb store are actually new. The scenario may be a company buys 3000 MacBook Pro’s and decides they only need 2700, so they return 300. They haven’t even been opened, but because they have been sold and delivered, they can no longer be called new. SO into the refurb store they go.

I have now bought two refurbished macs and they have been perfect! Great way to save a little $$$