A Detailed Guide: How to Find the Best Refurbished Laptop Computer for Your Needs

Looking to buy a laptop? Our guide can help! We break down every major component you’ll need to know about when shopping for a refurbished laptop, explaining things in practical terms. From choosing your ideal operating system to making your final decision, we’ve got you covered. Let’s find your dream laptop today! 

Prefer to take a quiz? Check out PCs for People’s computer matchmaker which will generate a suggestion for you based on your preferences and needs.

Table of Contents:

  • Choosing Your OS
  • Understanding CPUs
  • Graphics Cards
  • Choosing Your Processor
  • How Much RAM Do You Need?
  • How Much Storage Space?
  • Checking Your Ports
  • Webcam and Other Features
  • Making Your Decision
  • Where to Buy


First, Pick Your Operating System

When it comes to buying a refurbished laptop, one of the first things you’ll need to consider is your operating system (OS). Your OS is the software that manages your computer’s hardware and software resources, and it determines how your laptop looks and functions. There are three main operating systems to choose from: Windows, macOS, and Linux. Each OS has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits your needs. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Windows is the go-to choice if you need Microsoft apps, while macOS is beginner-friendly and seamlessly integrated with Apple’s hardware. If you primarily use a web browser, Chrome OS is a great and affordable option to consider. Just keep in mind that some apps won’t run on this operating system. 

Linux is a reliable and cost-effective alternative to mainstream operating systems. It can run on nearly any laptop hardware ever produced and offers unmatched flexibility and customization. While popular applications like MS Office and Adobe’s Creative Suite don’t support Linux, free and open-source alternatives like LibreOffice, Darktable, and GIMP are just as effective.

Check out our Best Laptop guide to learn more about your options.

Choosing the right operating system and hardware specifications for your laptop is crucial. The processor, also known as the chip or CPU, is the most important component to consider. In the consumer laptop market, Intel and AMD are the main processor manufacturers. Make an informed choice to ensure optimal performance.


Understanding Processor Names (CPUs)

Intel and AMD processors have different chip lines, such as Core i3, i5, i7, and i9. The processor’s capabilities and release date are indicated by a combination of numbers and letters within each chip line. The model number’s first two digits indicate the generation of the chip, while the following numbers indicate the performance level. A letter at the end denotes the chip’s purpose. For laptops, Y series chips prioritize battery life, H chips prioritize performance, U chips are “power efficient,” and HX chips are the most powerful.


How Much Processing Power Do You Need?

For most users, an Intel Core i5 10th-gen or later is perfect. An Intel i7 chip can make your laptop feel snappier, but it’ll reduce battery life. An i3/i5 is usually fine for less demanding tasks, while AMD Ryzen 5000 series is perfect for average users. For power users, get an Intel i7 or Ryzen 7 with ample RAM.


How Much Storage Do You Need?

For efficient storage and speedy retrieval of your data, go for a solid-state drive (SSD) with a minimum capacity of 256 GB. An SSD with an NVMe connection is the best option as it offers faster performance than the older SATA standard. Avoid spinning drives, as they are slower. Choose an SSD with NVMe to run the operating system and enjoy exceptional speed while remaining budget-friendly.


What About a Graphics Card?

Most laptops have integrated graphics cards, which are fine for basic use. But if you’re a gamer or video editor, you’ll need a laptop with a separate, more powerful graphics card. AMD and Nvidia make the best ones.


Check for Ports!

When buying a laptop, don’t forget to consider the types and number of ports available. You’ll want at least one 1 USB-C and one 1 USB-A port, as well as a microphone/headset jack. If you’re a photographer, get a laptop with an SD/microSD card reader to avoid carrying a dongle. Ports matter, so choose wisely.


Webcams and Hinges

It’s important for a laptop to have a built-in or external webcam, preferably 1080p if you work from home and frequently use Zoom. When buying a refurbished laptop, consider the hinge, trackpad, keyboard layout, and whether it’s easy to carry.

Making Your Decision

Don’t overlook your personal preferences when choosing a refurbished laptop. Design is important both aesthetically and practically. If you have a specific look in mind, follow your intuition. After all, it’s no fun using a laptop you don’t like. In some cases, what you like may be hard to define, but it’s worth considering your taste when making a decision.


Where to Buy

The most difficult part of this whole process is finding exactly what you want. PCs for People is a great option to help eligible customers find the perfect refurbished laptop for you.