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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > The Refurbished Mac Notebook Thread

The Refurbished Mac Notebook Thread
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ghporter
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Jul 2, 2023, 04:11 PM
 
I spent some time browsing a number of sites (other than the official Apple site) that offer refurbished Mac notebooks. While I wasn't doing serious shopping, it was still kind of overwhelming. So many sites, so many places that did the refurbishing, and so many potentials for a not-so-good outcome.

So I figured that with that broad a set of choices, there have to be a) plenty of good sources of refurbs, b) plenty of BAD sources that should be flagged, and c) plenty of MacNN users who have some sort of experience in buying a refurbished notebook that they could share.

So please chime in. Did you buy a refurbished MacBook/Air/Pro from someone other than Apple? What was the experience like? Any problems? Do you want the world to know that "Refurbisher A" went above and beyond? Or do you want the world to know that "Refurbisher X" is a BAD choice? Added: Importantly, did the seller mention the status of the (internal, not easily swapped) battery? And what was the condition of the battery in the unit you received?
( Last edited by ghporter; Jul 3, 2023 at 02:59 PM. Reason: Update to request more info on sellers.)

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
subego
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Jul 2, 2023, 04:40 PM
 
Closest for me is I bought a couple used, final generation, Intel Minis off of eBay. No issues. Just went by seller ratings and price not being too good to be true.

Obviously, many more vectors for mechanical failure on a notebook.
     
Thorzdad
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Jul 3, 2023, 06:46 AM
 
A couple years ago, my wife purchased a refurbed MBP. I can’t recall where she bought it (I’ll ask) At best, it was an Amazon reseller. Anyway, it arrived in great shape. But, it was running a Turkish-language version of MacOS. No biggie, of course. I wiped it clean, and then migrated everything over from her old MBP. It’s been a solid performer.

I’m not a serious geek, so I have no clue what all the refurbing entailed, but we haven’t run into any WTF??? issues with it.

She’s bought a couple of refurbed iPhones over the years from a place called, I think, backmarket, and has been pretty happy with the results.
     
ghporter  (op)
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Jul 3, 2023, 02:56 PM
 
The thing that jumped out at me with the bad reviews I read was how notebooks with worn out, internal batteries were sold as refurbished. To me that just sounds like “tested, boots and runs”.

So one thing I think is important when folks report about their experiences is to note whether the machine had a decent battery, and/or whether the seller mentioned anything about battery status in their sales material. I’ll update the OP to reflect that.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
reader50
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Jul 3, 2023, 04:11 PM
 
My impression is notebook batteries are good for about 1,000 cycles. So if an ad says 400 cycles, the battery is down to 60% life. Still reasonable to buy IMO. I'd get nervous buying a Retina notebook if the cycle count is over 500.

This isn't an issue if the battery pack is removable. MacBooks and MBPs before 2012 (plus the 2012 non-Retina MBP) have easy-to-replace battery packs. I don't know about the MacBook Airs.
     
ghporter  (op)
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Jul 4, 2023, 01:30 PM
 
An ad I just read for an MBP from the Amazon Renewed Store states that “This product will have a battery that exceeds 80% capacity relative to new.” That sort of statement is something I think says a lot about the seller. I would suggest that when shopping for any notebook with a non-removable battery, the battery status in the ad should be about the first thing to look at.

As for capacity versus cycles, I can’t say that one or the other is a better gauge of battery status.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
reader50
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Jul 4, 2023, 02:07 PM
 
The glued-in battery packs in later notebooks CAN be replaced. It takes solvents to dissolve the glue, and/or grinding out the old batteries and glue. I'm not sure which method is preferred today. But I'd recommend a repair shop, whereas the older notebooks are easy to swap batteries. Basically, you pay more today for the equivalent repair. Progress.

The EU is debating a bill requiring easily-replaced batteries in phones. Not sure if it applies to notebooks too. But such a requirement is overdue IMO. A routine-replace part should be routine to replace.
     
ghporter  (op)
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Jul 4, 2023, 07:19 PM
 
I totally agree. I got a Dell notebook a couple of years ago, and it has a battery that is “not consumer replaceable.” But it actually is; it takes removing a few more screws than changing out the SSD (or adding a HDD, both of which I did), but once you have the bottom case off, it’s right there, and not glued in. It would be great if recent Mac Notebooks were like that.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
ghporter  (op)
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Jul 17, 2023, 05:10 PM
 
Today I went to the source, and bought an Apple refurbished MBP. And there are a number of reasons I went this way.

First, if an Apple product turns out not-so-good, I have at least two actual Apple stores nearby that I can take it to for them to make it right.

There’s also the point that Apple’s refurbishing will have access to all the factory parts, rather than possibly third-party parts. Parts like connectors, and fasteners aren’t such a huge issue, but batteries, are! An actual Apple part is more likely to meet Apple’s standards - and thus last as long as Apple expects their parts to last.

Finally, this unit is a very recent model. Other refurbishers may not have such recent models because they depend on units being traded, sold, etc. for their products.

Apple has to call something “refurbished” if it left Apple’s control…like it was purchased then returned for ANY reason, including Dad seeing what Junior charged on Dad’s credit card. I think this fact, as much as any other, is a great reason to start one’s search with Apple’s refurbished store.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Thorzdad
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Jul 17, 2023, 06:34 PM
 
There’s also that an Apple refurb carries the full Apple warranty, as if it were new.
     
ghporter  (op)
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Jul 17, 2023, 09:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by Thorzdad View Post
There’s also that an Apple refurb carries the full Apple warranty, as if it were new.
I’d forgotten about that.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
ghporter  (op)
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Jul 19, 2023, 05:00 PM
 
I got the machine this afternoon, and it's great. I do see what reader is talking about with the chicklet keys, but that's not a huge deal for me. Not yet, anyway.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Waragainstsleep
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Jul 20, 2023, 03:47 AM
 
Apple refurbs can be anything from fully rebuilt to open box returns with no issues. Sometimes you get a flaky one but I'd wager most are open box returns from customers who changed their minds.
Apple tends to replace case parts if theres any kind of minor scratches.

The one cautionary tale is that sometimes retailers get Macs with a fault out of the box and these are often returned as DOA. In the UK (at least a few years ago now), all the DOA Macs were handled by one of the larger service providers. Some retailers when they were returning a Mac as DOA, would replace as many parts as they could with faulty ones removed from other repair jobs so they got a free stock of working parts. This meant that the DOA Mac which started out with just a noisy fan or a sticky power button would end up with half a dozen different (and unreported) faults. I imagine some refurb purchasers would have got these and uncovered at least one or two unfixed problems.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
   
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