Long term reliability of refurbished Macs

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by InfoTime, Jan 20, 2016.

  1. InfoTime macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2002
    One of my customers bought a refurbished 27" iMac in April 2014. Just left it at the Genius bar, getting error about USB ports using too much power, their USB keyboard didn't work. I'm fairly sure they're going to come back and say it needs a new logic board for $580 installed. Ouch.

    When I told my customer about this she immediately pointed out that she bought it refurbished. I told her I've had my MacBook Air for 5 years without a hint of trouble and it was a refurb.

    One other person I know had two separate issues with a MacBook Pro 13". One time I discovered that one of the two RAM slots was bad. The machine didn't work right with both RAM cards installed. If I left one empty it was fine. Later on it came back and this time the hard drive cable was bad. Swapping the cable fixed it.

    That person was asking about another computer for a different child about to go off to college. I mentioned she might consider a refurbished Mac. She pointed out that the MacBook Pro 13" was refurbished.

    As I mentioned I've had good luck with refurbished products from Apple and other big name manufacturers. But now I'm starting to wonder.

    What's your take on the subject?
  2. firedept macrumors 603


    Jul 8, 2011
    I have only ever had one refurbished computer and that was a Mac Mini. Never had an issue with it and had it for 7 years before giving it away. I have had problems with new machines. A 2011 iMac that had to be exchanged for a new one after 2 years due to so many hardware problems. And my current iMac which is new as well, the tension spring in the stand broke.

    It really is the luck of the draw. My refurb never an issue. I have had new that have had issues and new without issues. So I think it comes down to luck. If you have AppleCare you are covered for 3 years. My suggestion to anyone buying refurb or new is to buy the extended warranty. You spend a lot of money on these machines.
  3. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I've bought new and refurbished Macs and can't tell the difference either at time of purchase or years later. I wouldn't hesitate to buy a refurb.
  4. CooperBox macrumors 6502a


    Nov 28, 2010
    France - between Ricard & Absinthe
    I would agree, it's the luck of the draw. You win some you loose some. And AppleCare everytime!
  5. JoeInMilwaukee macrumors member

    Apr 7, 2015
    Milwaukee, WI
    My last two Macs have been bought refurbished from Apple: An iMac in 2008 and a Mac mini in 2014. The iMac developed problems within a couple months but my local Apple Store replaced the logic board free of charge; it is still running fine at my parent's house. The Mac mini has operated flawlessly.

    In the case of the iMac, I'm guessing the original purchaser returned it with a "computer randomly freezes" complaint but Apple couldn't duplicate it and all tests showed no problems. Hence, into the Apple Refurbished Store it went!

    Unless I need an uncommon build-to-order option, my next Mac purchase will be a refurbished one.
  6. fourthtunz macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2002
    I haven't bought a "new" mac since..2002? not sure..bought a pile off the refurb store and
    some used.. I find that Mac stuff is very solid..I currently have a 2009 macbook, a 2011 macbook pro,
    both refurbs from the mac refurb store, still running fine, and also have a 2011 mac mini that I bought
    used that is running great. The refurbs have the same 1 year warranty that the new ones have
    but you pay less. I Look at refurbs like they are even better than new..all of the bugs have been worked out!
  7. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Given how Apple goes through the computer with a fine tooth comb, I'd say its probably more likely to be a great machine then not.
  8. Mw0103 macrumors regular

    Feb 22, 2014
    My question is: from where was the refurb purchased? Refurbished from Apple direct is wildly different than refurbished from a re-seller.
  9. MacDann macrumors 6502a


    Mar 27, 2007
    Can see the end of the Earth from here
    I have purchased numerous refurbished Apple products over the years since 2000, and never had a problem with any of them. This would include MacBooks, iMacs, Airports, etc. These have all been purchased through the Apple Store. I wouldn't purchase a refurb from a reseller.

    The only difference I have ever seen is the lack of retail packaging, and that's not consistent. Unless you're hung up on the whole "experience" and want retail packaging, I can't imagine buying an Apple product that isn't refurbished. Too bad they don't sell refurbished iPhones....

  10. kryten42 macrumors 6502


    Sep 17, 2015
    In a little world of my own
    This! I have done many purchases both new and reform of Mac's (laptops and desktops), iPads and networking, can never tell difference between new and refurb other than the box and hit on my bank account.
  11. Dimwhit macrumors 68000


    Apr 10, 2007
    I buy exclusively refurbished for my company. Never had any issues.
  12. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    Mine were all purchased from Apple. Otherwise you might just get a used computer wiped off with a polishing cloth!
  13. shiekh macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2006
    I got a refurbished Dell that passed all tests, but would crash now and again; in desperation I finally reflowed the RAM connectors, and it is now rock solid. So some problems like a bad solder joint might not be caught by testing.
  14. ValiumEater macrumors regular

    Dec 14, 2015
    Same as new. I buy all my Macs referred and they've lasted at least 3 years before I sold them.
  15. tibas92013 macrumors 6502

    Jun 2, 2013
    Costa Rica
    I bought the following "Refurbished" from the Apple On-line Store:

    i5 Mac Mini(Late 2012),i5 Mac Mini(Late 2014), two 3rd Generation ATV's with AppleCare and I am one happy Apple Refurbished Customer!
  16. DFWHD macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2011
    I've purchased 3 new macs and 4 refurbished macs for the family in the last three years. Two of the three new ones from Apple and one from B&H. All of the refurbs came from Apple as well. Of the three new ones, two had issues and had to be repaired in the first year. Of the 4 refurbs, 2 of the four had issues and had to be repaired in the first year. All have Apple Care. From my experiences, the refurbs did better, however YMMV. I really don't see myself buying a new mac again, just refurbs with Apple Care.
  17. Beachguy macrumors 6502a


    Nov 23, 2011
    Without a good reason for buying new (such as BTO) I always buy refurb. The Mac I'm on now I got 5 years ago as a refurb from Apple. Just makes sense to me to save the cash.
  18. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Refurbished merchandise meets the same specs and passes the same tests as "new" merchandise. There's no reason to think it will perform any differently or have any difference in the lifespan.
  19. displaced macrumors 65816


    Jun 23, 2003
    Gravesend, United Kingdom
    My mum's still using an original white plastic Core Duo (not even Core 2 Duo) MacBook that was bought refurbished.

    I replaced the hard drive with a spare I already had, and the LCD backlight inverter board for £15 late last year and it's as good as new. Apart from the ~9 year old HD and inverter dying, it's never so much as grumbled.
  20. arggg14 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 30, 2014
    I know many people who have purchased refurbs without an issue for many years, but that's not the experience I had. I bought a refurb 2012 RMBP in 2013 and it was a problem within 6 months of use. The fans stopped working, I had 3 dead pixels and the logic board had to be replaced. In the end, Apple replaced the computer with a brand new 2015 RMBP, but I would deem the refurb 2012 I got to be a lemon. I'm sure Apple refurbs are great 99% of the time, but thats not what I experienced.
  21. BittenApple macrumors 6502a


    Nov 29, 2008
    No problems. All my macs are refurbs usually.
  22. SnLndroGuy macrumors newbie


    Dec 2, 2015
    San Leandro, CA
    I buy all of my Apple gear (iMacs, MacBook Pro, Airport Express & Extreme and AppleTV & Apple Cinema Display) not iOS devices as refurbs and have had excellent luck! Can't beat the price and certainly can't tell the difference!
  23. leederr macrumors newbie


    Feb 27, 2014
    East Coast
    My refurbs are: thunderbolt display (two of them), iMac 2011, iPad Air 2, retina iPad (two of them), and an iPad 2. The iPad 2 died after 3 years. The others are alive and well and in use by me and/or my family.
  24. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Apple refurbished products are considered by most to be a very good deal, as they're pretty much like buying a new Mac, except for the box.
    Click the link in that quote for more details on the refurbishment process.
    • Apple Certified Refurbished Products are available online from the Apple Refurb Store and are not sold in local Apple stores
    • Educational discounts do not apply to refurb products.
    • Refurb products come with the same warranty as new products, and qualify for AppleCare
    • Refurb products have a changed serial number that identifies them as refurbished
    • Refurb products come with whatever OS version and software they originally shipped with as new
    • Refurb products come with the same items in the box as new products, only the box is a plain one, not the new box.
    • A refurb product could have some cosmetic signs of prior use, but rarely do
    • A refurb Mac notebook may have some cycles on the battery, but not a significant enough amount to affect usable life
    • The refurb store inventory changes frequently, sometimes several times a day, and doesn't have any direct relation to upcoming product releases. What's available in the refurb store is determined by what has been returned to Apple.
    • If you're looking for a particular item, refurb.me can alert you when it becomes available.

Share This Page