Up For Debate – Do you buy refurbished PC components?


We’ve all been tempted by it. There’s a full priced graphics card next to one that’s available for a fraction of the price. The catch? It’s a refurbished GPU. Cue some intense mental wrangling as we try to justify spending hundreds of dollars on a graphics card when there’s one that’s pretty much identical but tarnished with the knowledge that’s it already been used by someone else.

It’s weird, because I wouldn’t think twice about buying a second-hand car. In fact, I think buying a brand new car is probably one of the fastest methods in existence of wasting money. Seriously, hand over £40K for a car and it’s worth £25K after you’ve driven it off the forecourt. But obviously there have to be people who buy new cars, or how else would we even get a second-hand car market. 

Yet despite functionally being much the same conundrum in my head, buying second-hand PC components is a bit of a stumbling block for me. There’s no MOT or test drive, we’re just sort of taking someone’s word for it that their graphics card is in tip top condition. They’re probably none the wiser than we are as to its actual health. No doubt official refurbs and other tart ups of the sort have their testing methodologies before they’re sent out but are we honestly to know whether that cut price GeForce GTX 1080 Ti has been sat crunching Bitcoin 24/7 for two years? We just can’t tell, we’re taking a bit of a leap of faith.

Which is why folks pay more for new PC components. There’s a certain reassurance to getting that AMD Ryzen 3700 out of its sealed box and knowing it hasn’t been sullied by someone else. There’s also the comfort of warranties, and guarantees, and all the other consumer protections which come with a product purchase. Some of this applies to second hand products of course, but it’s all very hit or miss knowing where you stand if you’re RTX 2060 breaks eight months after you bought it off someone on eBay. 

As you can probably guess, I don’t particularly lean into buying second-hand or refurbished hardware, I’d honestly just rather go without. But I also suspect I’m actually in the minority; that I’m worrying about nothing and people have scooped up all sorts of bargains by picking someone’s cheap RAM they’re trying to flog. It’s not just about money either. Buying second-hand or refurbished hardware is better for the environment, and there’s also a sort of logic to refurbished hardware being knowingly better than buying new – it’s been stress tested and those with manufacturing defects have probably already been discarded. 

There’s pros and cons then, to all of it this, although I’d imagine there’s still a few mental hurdles for some folks to jump before they think about buying a second-hand processor. 

But taking it all into account, are you for or against buying refurbished PC components? And is there anything that could be done to change your mind? Get voting and, as always, be sure to let us know why below!