Are refurbished desktop computers reliable?


Properly serviced refurbished desktop computers are safe to buy. Even low grade devices should work like new. The older 4th and 5th gen Core i5 and i7 CPUs are still reliable and powerful enough to run all kinds of games and software in 2021.

It is not always true that slightly older refurbished machines have less processing power than newer ones. Very often the newer generation CPUs are not exceedingly more powerful but are instead more energy efficient and have newer features.

The CPU parameters we are looking at are:

  • number of cores
  • concurrent running threads
  • frequency

Best approach is to pick a proven processor, which compliments your needs, and then chose a computer assembled with it.

For office and home use

In the office and home use segment the need for processing power is not extreme and any 4th, 5th or 6th Gen Intel Core i3/i5 processor is quite sufficient.

You should consider also AMD’s processors. Recently AMD made a great push towards making their processors to be on par with Intel. Ryzen 3 also has a faster build-in GPU.

There are many refurbished choices with good CPUs in the business/home segment. We did our best to organize and include the most interesting configurations in our guide about refurbished desktop computers for general home use.

For professional use

CAD, photo editing and alike require a bit more power. You’ll need to move from Intel’s Core i3 to i5 and even i7 and from AMD’s Ryzen 3 to Ryzen 5.

The key here is higher clock speeds.

  • 2.4 GHz to 3.3 GHz 6th Gen Intel Core i5/i7.
  • 3.2 GHz to 3.6 GHz 1st Gen Ryzen 5.
  • 2.8 GHz to 3.6 GHz 7th or 8th Gen Intel Core i5/i7.

For Gaming

Gaming is an interesting category. There are many games, each with their own set of hardware requirements. The type of games you play will guide the choice of CPU and GPU.

One thing is sure though: A budget refurbished gaming machine will not be able to run the latest AAA titles on max settings, with high FPS. A PC that is two or three years old is not powerful enough to provide a smooth gaming experience with these games.

However, there is one cool thing; there are hundreds of games perfectly suited to older computers.

Look at this next benchmark. It spans a couple of CPU generations, and shows that when paired with a budget GPU (GTX 1060), there is only a small difference in performance. This confirms that you can have a great 60 FPS gaming experience on older CPUs.

We continue to play games on the legendary i5 2500K CPU. This old beast it still going strong.

So, what to look for?

  • On a low budget  –  4th to 6th Gen Core i5 or Ryzen 1st Gen
  • On a higher budget – 6th to 8th Gen Core i5/i7 or Ryzen 2nd Gen

We also have a refurbished gaming desktop review where you can see some model suggestions.