Best refurbished/used/old laptops to buy in 2021 (continuously updated)

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Every year, laptops get smaller, lighter, and faster. Some of the latest models are also packed with more features than ever before, such as better screens and cameras, as well as more ports that let you plug in multiple devices without using dongles. But that’s not the case with refurbished laptops. These are older laptops that have been refurbished by the manufacturer or a reseller. They’re often as good as new, but you’ll almost always find them at a much lower price. And with most of them going for under a $1000, they’re a great deal. (If you want a used laptop, check out our top picks .)

If time has taught us anything, it is that the new is not necessarily better. In the computer world, participating in hardware beta tests often means paying a significant premium. By buying a used or refurbished laptop, you not only pay much less, but you also reduce the amount of electronic waste.

They also don’t lose much in terms of performance or autonomy. Since Intel released quad-core U-series and six-core H-series hyperthreaded processors in 2017 with Coffee Lake, and Nvidia released its Turing 10xx series GPUs in 2016, there has been no shortage of power in laptops for nearly four years. So if budget is a big concern, chances are a 2017 laptop will bite all the teeth off a 2021 laptop – and in some cases, especially when it comes to ports, the older ones might even be better!

Even if the ideal laptop for your needs is no longer produced by the manufacturer, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy one. You can still easily find used and refurbished laptops on eBay, forums like NotebookReview, Reddit, Amazon (you can filter results by occasion), and your local Craigslist. There are probably local repair shops in your area as well. Look for workshops in your area on the maps.

This article will be updated as market conditions change.

How to buy a used laptop Awards, achievements, reputation and presentation

This list is not exhaustive, as it is based on laptops that we have had personal experience with. However, the laptops in this article have been selected based on some basics regarding price, processor, graphics processor and display. So if you find another laptop that also meets these requirements, don’t reject it just because it’s not in this list.

One of the keys to getting a laptop on this list is that it must be significantly cheaper than what a similarly equipped laptop would cost new today. Generally, we look for laptops that can be purchased on the used market for between $250 and $700.

In terms of performance, the Coffee-lake (8th generation) and Turing (10th generation) processors and GPUs marked the moment when mobile computing power took a leap forward. Since then, productivity and efficiency have increased much more gradually. So for high performance laptops, ultrabooks with processors no less than 8th generation are ideal. Generation laptops and gaming laptops with GTX 10xx series GPUs or higher. Most 2017 laptops are suitable for this purpose. However, if you only need a laptop for basic work, you can spend less by buying an Ultrabook with a 3rd-7th generation U Series processor. (Older ThinkPads are usually perfect for this niche).

One of the main benefits of buying a used laptop or an older model is knowing which laptops have a good/bad reputation. You have the benefit of hindsight: The dust has settled, long-term studies and massive user reviews are available, and the device’s bugs and quirks are well known. It is usually easier to take advantage of an older laptop than a newer one.

Finally, the main display requirement for a non-gaming laptop is 1080p (FHD) resolution with IPS technology and reasonably good color reproduction. IPS FHD has long been the norm, so most laptops you’ll find today also meet our display requirements. But there are exceptions: Some Dell and Lenovo laptops come with a lower quality 1366 x 768 TN display to keep costs down for businesses.

For a gaming laptop screen, unless it will be used permanently on a TV or monitor, you probably need 120 Hz+ (especially for shooters or other competitive games). Some older 120Hz+ screens can be dull or bleached out, so IPS and a brightness of 300 nits+ are features to look for if you can get one.

We’re done with our requirements, let’s move on to the laptops.

Ultrabooks:

If you’re looking for an extremely compact ultrabook with long battery life and high performance at an affordable price, the XPS 13 is at the top of my list.

It’s all right, it’s all right:

  • They can be found on eBay for $450 to $550.
  • The latest XPS 13 with USB-A and Thunderbolt 3.
  • Available with 8th generation Intel 4-core/8-thread processors. Generation.
  • Battery with higher capacity compared to previous generations.
  • Excellent battery life thanks to the i5 and FHD display (9+ hours with real use).
  • Parts are readily available, making it relatively easy to upgrade/repair with 9350/9360 parts.

Badly:

  • Lower left nasal chamber.
  • Limited GPU performance.
  • The TB3 port has only two tracks.

The Dell XPS 13 9360 is the latest XPS 13 with a USB Type-A port and 8th generation Intel processors. Generation with 4 cores/8 threads.

Tips:

  • Make sure you get an i5 or i7 from Intels 8th generation chipset. Get generation. With an i3 or earlier Intel chips like the i7-7500U, you give up half the cores.
  • Also, make sure you don’t need the laptop for important video presentations, as the camera in the bottom left corner is a pain in the ass. My colleagues still laugh at me when I use it.
  • If you need it all day, the i5/FHD SKU is best. Avoid QHD/Touch/i7 configurations if you need a battery life of more than 4-5 hours.

If you don’t need USB-A but TB3 at full speed, consider the new XPS 13 9370 or other models (9305) that still use a 16:9 screen.

It’s all right, it’s all right:

  • The 9370 can be found on eBay between $450 and $650.
  • Two quadruple Thunderbolt ports, one USB 3.0 Type-C port (with Display Port output).
  • Slightly lighter and thinner than the XPS 13 9360.
  • Charging via USB-C.
  • Processors are available from 4-core/8threaded to 6-core/12threaded.
  • Intel Xe graphics will be several times faster than previous generations of Intel HD graphics.
  • Windows Hello IR camera
  • Finally, the 9305’s camera is located above the screen.
  • Excellent battery life thanks to the i5 and FHD display (9+ hours with real use).
  • Parts are readily available, so it’s relatively easy to upgrade/repair the device with parts from the 9370 and later versions of the XPS 13 16:9.

Badly:

  • Nose chamber at 9370
  • Limited GPU performance.
  • USB Type-A is not available.
  • The WiFi card is soldered from this generation.

The XPS 9370 is slightly thinner and lighter than the 9360, but lacks USB Type-A ports.

Tips:

  • Look at i5/FHD options for the best price/performance/battery ratio.
  • Stay away from i3 models or SKUs with 4GB of RAM.
  • The camera is still in the low end, unless you buy the 9305, which is more expensive.

Workbooks:

The ThinkPad has long been a good choice for a work laptop. While older models like the X220/230/250/260/270 and the T450/460/470 are still a good choice for basic work laptops, they don’t have quad-core hyperthreading processors. That’s why we recommend the T480, as it’s the last ThinkPad with a removable battery.

It’s all right, it’s all right:

  • They can be found for around $500 on eBay.
  • Durable.
  • Repairability.
  • Highly scalable, modular in terms of RAM, WiFi, storage and battery.
  • Spare parts are easy to find on eBay or other sites.
  • Great selection of port.
  • TrackPoint.

Badly:

  • The screens are not of the best quality.
  • If you type quickly on the keyboard, you may experience encoding problems.

ThinkPad tablets are known for their iconic design language and TrackPoint.

Tips:

  • Battery life will vary depending on whether you use a long-life battery or a thin battery. For daily use, you’ll need a larger battery, which will increase the weight and dimensions of the device, so keep that in mind.
  • Make sure you don’t buy a model with a terrible 1366 x 768 TN screen, unless it’s a good deal and you plan to buy another screen and upgrade.

Dell’s Latitude laptops are often overlooked due to the popularity of the ThinkPad, but they are excellent business laptops at prices that are hard to beat. There’s a big caveat to that: If you are concerned about the howling of the coils, the E7480 should not be on your list. If you’re on a very tight budget and don’t need a quad-core processor, consider the E7470, which you can find on eBay for under $200.

It’s all right, it’s all right:

  • Less expensive than comparable ThinkPads.
  • Durable.
  • The parts are easy to find.
  • RAM / WiFi / scalable disk.
  • Includes a TrackPoint index point with dedicated buttons.
  • USB Type-A and Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Badly:

  • It has been reported that coil whine is a problem.
  • Especially the bad speakers.

Although less iconic, Dell Latitudes laptops have a loyal following and are a good choice for a business laptop.

Tips:

  • Avoid it if you are sensitive to coil noise, or check it in person before you buy it.
  • Make sure you don’t buy a model with a 1366×768 TN screen.

Performance/Industrial Ultrabook:

If you’re looking for a good used laptop that can do it all and isn’t too expensive, you should check out the XPS 15 7590. It’s not as sleek as the new XPS 15 9500, but the performance is still hard to beat in this format. It’s more expensive than almost any other laptop on this list, but if you need a powerful, attractive and compact laptop for CPU or graphics (even for some games), this is probably the best option.

It’s all right, it’s all right:

  • Attractive form factor.
  • The graphics performance (Nvidia GTX 1650) is sufficient for medium-sized games.
  • High processor performance in i7 models.
  • RAM, WiFi, and expandable SSD.
  • Good selection of ports (1x USB Type-A, 1x TB3, 1x MicroSD, 1x HDMI)
  • Parts are easy to find on eBay.
  • Excellent autonomy thanks to the 97 Wh battery and the FHD screen (more than 10 hours in real use).

Badly:

  • More expensive than a comparable gaming laptop.
  • Can be tricky and imperfect: see previous reviews on this site for more information.
  • The 4K UHD screen is great, but the battery sucks.
  • The OLED screen shows artifacts in the form of stripes.

The XPS 15 7590 is an old copy of the consumer laptop form factor.

Tips:

  • If you don’t want a touchscreen and the nicest screen you can find in a laptop (IPS UHD), you should go for the FHD model.
  • Avoid the OLED screen because of the grey band and higher price.
  • Avoid i3 and i5 processors if you need a 6-core processor. Consider the i5/GTX 1650 configuration only if you want a cool gaming-only laptop and if you get a really good deal.
  • Follow my guide on how to thermally optimize your XPS 15 to extend its life and improve performance.
  • DO NOT UPDATE THE BIOS AFTER 1.5.0, OTHERWISE YOU MAY LOSE THE ABILITY TO PERMANENTLY SHUT DOWN. The XPS 15 series runs hot because of its slim form factor, and the voltage reduction is very helpful in maximizing the performance of your XPS 15.

Games

The Acer Predator line of gaming computers (see our review) may not be as well-known as Dell’s Alienware line, but it has impressed critics and gamers in recent years with reliable, powerful, and affordable gaming laptops. With their aesthetics and impressive size/weight, they won’t win any beauty contests, but at these prices they are hard to beat.

It’s all right, it’s all right:

  • Robust construction
  • Expandable
  • Great performance

Bath

  • Smaller battery (58Wh)
  • No Thunderbolt

The Acer Predator Helios 300 is a great option for most modern games.

Tips:

  • If your budget is lower ($4-500), check out the older Predator Helios models with Nvidia’s 10-series GPUs. Even the GTX 1060 is generally faster than the GTX 1650, and it will be sufficient for modern games at medium settings.
  • If you use your laptop with an external display for gaming, you don’t have to worry about the display.
  • AMD RX560-equipped models are probably not needed, as their performance is significantly less than that of the Nvidia GTX 10 series.
  • Unless it’s really cheap, you should buy an Intel i7-8xxxH processor to take advantage of the 6 cores.

The Lenovo Legion 5 is the first laptop in this list to be equipped with AMD’s Ryzen 7 chips. This means that this used laptop performs better than other Intel-based offerings for resource-intensive tasks. It has a pretty modern design for a cheap gaming laptop, it’s fully upgraded, and it’s one of the best deals on used gaming laptops you can get right now.

Good

  • The Ryzen 7 processor outperforms Intel’s 6/8 core chips.
  • Good design
  • Expandable
  • Grand Prix

Bath

  • No Thunderbolt
  • The rubber coating seems to be coming off and delaminating.

The Lenovo Legion 5 is available with Intel or AMD processors.

Tips:

  • If CPU performance is your main concern, consider Ryzen 7 configurations. For games, any of them are good.
  • The Nvidia GTX 1650Ti or GTX 1660 would be good GPU options for modern medium-detail games.

Are there any used laptops at bargain prices that should be on this list? Tell us about it in the comments!

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