If you have ever cruised the computer section of Amazon or looked for computer parts you may have noticed ads for refurbished Windows-based computers. I must confess that Amazon was not even on my radar for computers, but those ads kept popping up, in this case, showing older Dell OptiPlex office-type computers for sale as cheap as $195 and change.
Must not be much of a computer was my first thought then I saw the specs which they had included on the ad, probably a plot to make sure I didn’t dismiss it as I was about to do. These specs were impressive: 16 Gigs RAM, 2 Terabyte Hard Disk Drive, Quad-Core i5 3470 at 3.2 GHz, USB 3.0, DVDRW. While older hardware it was a solid setup for my needs.
Let me explain what led me to this refurbished piece of Dell history. When one of my 3D work computers starts giving me more problems than they are worth I would replace them and put the old one to use in a bedroom or the living room for internet cruising. Eventually, the problems continue to pile up on the old i7, so these refurb ads made me think about getting one to replace the contrary i7.
Did I have reservations about this purchase? Absolutely. Was I worried a bit about older hardware? Of course. Am I glad I made the purchase even though it went against my instincts of using the most recent hardware I could afford? Couldn’t be happier with the purchase at this point.
This OptiPlex has a very small footprint compared to my i7 towers and it can be used horizontally or vertically positioned. The only drawback at this point was two PCIe expansion slots without a lot of room around them. You won’t be getting a top-shelf graphics card into it but then you shouldn’t be looking at this hardware for that kind of usage. You might be able to put in a card that is much better than the onboard Intel graphics if you have to.
A look inside the Refurbed OptiPlex. Note the small area around the PCIe slots.
There is one elephant in the room that needs to be addressed and that is the fact that an original Windows 7 based computer comes refurbed with Windows 10. No serial number but there is a COA (Certificate of Authenticity) label on the case. I had no problem registering this computer with Microsoft, so all is well on that end, but I have no idea of the legality of the COA in this instance.
I only bring it up since the first review on the Amazon product page was from a person that identified themselves as an IT expert and reseller claiming this COA was not legit. This intrigued me further and prodded me to make the purchase just to see if there was a problem. Which so far there hasn’t been.
I’m not an expert in the law or COAs but Microsoft knows that machine with its identifier is registered to my account like the many, many others that have been sold. If you don’t register it then you might run into problems should you need to install Win 10 from scratch. You just have to make your own decision about this but to me... it’s now a non-issue. Nothing that would keep me from purchasing something similar in the future.
So... what is the computer suitable for? A lot of things from schoolwork, writing, email, web cruising, games that don’t require advanced video cards (like Solitaire, Mahjong, and scores of others). It’s a lot better than having no computer and maybe within the budget of a single working mom, or cash-strapped family.
This is no Chromebook or stripped-down box but rather a fully functional pc that like some of us users may be a bit long in the tooth but still valuable! As of this writing, this refurb was up to $214 but it fluctuates every time I check it. Still worth every penny as long as you know what you are getting. I don’t know if Photoshop will run on it but it loads Photopea so that is a good sign that some work can be done on it.
At this point, I can’t stress enough that $195 solved my problem with a functional computer loaded with Windows 10, plenty of RAM, and storage space. Can it be the same for you? Of course, as long as you think it through and realize its limitations, you will have a decent computer at a budget price.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.