Should I get a refurbished MacBook and if so, which kind and where?
June 12, 2018 8:13 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the market for a new laptop and am considering switching back to Mac, but I can't shell out $2K+ for a new 15" MacBook. Should I go refurbished?

I need a new laptop. I'm currently on a Windows system but my previous machine was a Mac, and I miss Mac OS -- it just felt nicer. (I don't want to get into Windows vs. Mac here; for this question, let's just take it as read that I'm looking for a Mac.) It needs to be 15" or larger. A new MacBook would set me back over $2K, which is about twice what I'd like to spend. There are lots of refurbished MacBooks. Should I get one? What kind? Where? What do I need to know before buying a refurbished machine?

As a data point, my old 2008 MacBook Pro was actually refurbished and bought on eBay. It felt like new, and served me well for a few years until the motherboard suddenly crapped. I don't think this had to do with its being refurbished, though -- the repair guy I took it to said there was a problem with 2008 MacBook Pro motherboards. If so, it was a good buy, but maybe I just lucked out. What are people's experiences with refurbished machines and MacBooks in particular?
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Yes! I’ve bought 2 refurbished MacBook Airs from Apple and they both worked perfectly! You have nothing to lose cause it’s the same warranty. (And you can double the warranty by using a credit card.)
posted by jessca84 at 8:19 PM on June 12, 2018 [6 favorites]

highly recommend.
posted by lalochezia at 8:26 PM on June 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

I've never had a problem with refurbished Macbooks. This one's at least four years old already.
posted by praemunire at 9:06 PM on June 12, 2018

Refurbs ordered from Apple can’t be beat. Full 1-year warranty. Avoid the current MacBooks, the keyboard issues are a disaster.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:44 PM on June 12, 2018

Never had any issues with the refurbished 2010 Macbook Pro I'm typing this on! I ordered it from Apple in 2011.
posted by kiripin at 10:32 PM on June 12, 2018

You might prefer a refurb because some of the newer Macbooks (except Airs) have keyboards that can be disabled by a speck of dust.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:40 PM on June 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have almost always gotten refurbs exclusively - directly though Apple. They’ve all been great and I work them hard (digital artist and photographer.)
posted by Crystalinne at 10:46 PM on June 12, 2018

Yes, you can get the best laptop ever made. I bought mine new in late 2013, and I have absolutely zero desire to replace it now. Make sure to get one with 16gb memory and a big SSD. Mine also has the NVidia GPU, but I think that doesn't matter unless you're into games / 3d modeling / deep learning.
posted by scose at 11:59 PM on June 12, 2018 [6 favorites]

I own one 2008 15" MBP refurb that's beat to hell and still ticking, and a 15" 2012 MBP I picked up used that's great. It's hard for me to talk about build or refurb quality of anything recent, but I'm happy with both purchases.
posted by wildblueyonder at 12:13 AM on June 13, 2018

I've been very happy with a recent purchase of a 2012 MacBook Pro from
posted by candyland at 6:28 AM on June 13, 2018

I've had good luck with refurbs. That said, I just bought a new non-refurb Air for $800 which has pretty decent specs and might be a decent alternative? The low-end Pros are also more like $1300. I use Macrumors for a lot of my pricing/"when's the good time" calculations.
posted by jessamyn at 6:38 AM on June 13, 2018

I love my refurb 2012 Macbook Pro that I got from newegg for about $600 with upgraded memory and SSD.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:14 AM on June 13, 2018

I haven't bought refurbished from NewEgg, but I too have had excellent experiences over the years with them. Here are their current Mac refurbs.
posted by terrapin at 10:00 AM on June 13, 2018

I've only ever gotten refurbished Macs. Both Macbooks are going strong after several years, and our iMac was a refurb in 2007 and is still chugging along, bless its heart.
posted by Beardman at 10:10 AM on June 13, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks all, looks like refurb is the way to go. If I may piggyback on my question -- recs for specific models/specs? Looking on NewEgg most of the spec choices mean nothing to me: e.g. do I want a Core i5, i7, or 2 for the CPU? Is 8GB too little memory? Does the GPU/VPU matter? Etc. I'm going to be using it for basic stuff (mostly just word processing and web surfing/email, maybe watching movies on TV via HDMI) -- does it matter much what specs I go for? I can't really tell the difference between the $500 and $1500 models or why I would pick one over the other.
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 6:54 PM on June 13, 2018

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