Buying used or new, which is better?

Everybody enjoys having the latest and greatest of something, whether it’s fashion, tools or tech. With some products you’d probably only want to buy new, but with others there are options, so you might consider buying used.
If you’re not used to buying used products, it may be a wander into the unknown. If that’s the case, a good middle ground worth considering is refurbished - these items have had previous users, but go through a series of checks and repairs, ensuring they’re still in working condition. This process generally makes refurbished a better option than used, and a more direct competitor to new.
So, how do they stack up against each other?


An obvious strike against buying new - it costs more. If you’re on a budget where every penny counts, buying new isn’t always worth the premium. So long as the product is still working in the major functional areas (such as a laptop with a working screen, keyboard and touchpad) buying a refurbished item instead can net you some savings.
You might not get the satisfaction of taking something out of the box for the first time, but the extra money that stays in your pocket might make you not worry about that as much. You can always subscribe to “Unbox Therapy” Youtube channel for that.


Used isn’t new. It has been used. This will be reflected in the condition of the product - new will be in top shape, while used could be anywhere from practically unused to being used 24/7 since it was bought. Functionally, anything being sold refurbished will be fine. While nothing that has been used can be made to work exactly like it did before, anything that needs to be repaired has been, and should work close to how new performs.
Cosmetic conditions can vary from almost new to wanting a case, which should be noted when purchasing a refurbished unit, typically with a grading system. A victory for buying new, but one that might be irrelevant if you buy a cover, or if you’re simply not worried about how something looks.


There’s two trains of thought you can follow with accessories - on the one hand, buying new could come with a few accessories - maybe an external mouse, some headphones, just some general niceties. But when buying used, it’s likely that they haven’t made the journey with the main device, and are therefore “missing”.
On the other hand, those accessories didn’t come free - they were included in the original price of the product. When buying refurbished, while you might just get the laptop and the charger, that’s all you’re paying for; no need to worry about paying for something you might not have wanted (and since it’s cheaper, you could spend it on accessories you actually do want!)

Checked and tested

Refurb items are expected to conform to a quality standard (after they’ve completed the refurb & QA process before they’re ready to be sold again), so you can use it with peace of mind.


New products come with a warranty that protects you if the product fails within the warranty period. While the duration will vary depending on what you buy and who you buy from, laptops tend to carry warranties for a year as a minimum. Depending on the manufacturer, this might be part of the device and would stay with it until the warranty expires.
This turns buying used into a mixed bag depending on the manufacturer, though you shouldn’t worry about it being your only option. If you’re buying used, rather than refurbished, it’s unlikely that you can expect any warranty. Refurbishers will often have their own warranty on items they sell, so in the case that the warranty doesn’t stay with the item you still have a minimum warranty on your purchase. But in the best case scenario, you might have an item with both the original warranty from the manufacturer on top of the warranty from the refurbisher.


Those who are environmentally conscious are most likely well aware that reusing items is preferable to buying new every time. While a laptop isn’t something that you buy often, and is something you keep for a long time, most of the emissions are produced during the manufacturing process itself. So even if you use your laptop in the most energy efficient way possible, with power saver mode and replacing parts instead of getting a new laptop, you’re not cutting back on as much of the carbon footprint as you might think you are.
You’re still helping to reduce carbon footprint of course - but buying a new laptop means all of the carbon that obtaining, refining and utilising the materials produces is being released. Used and refurbished laptops will still have emissions while they’re in use, but the emissions of making a laptop far outweigh the emissions of using a laptop, even if you use it in less power efficient ways. So, if you want to look after the planet in any way you can, buying used or refurbished will cut down your personal footprint in a huge way.


There are definitely benefits to buying used, and there’s benefits to new. If you want something that is yours and has only been yours, if you want all the fancy accessories and gizmos that come with it, or it bothers you to have a less than cosmetically perfect item, then new is probably for you. But if you have less of a budget, don’t care about the knick knacks included (or don’t want the cost of them included in the price) or are conscious of your carbon footprint, then buying used or refurbished certainly has its appeal.