How to buy a "Cheap" PC - G & G Computer Repair

How to buy a "Cheap" PC
(and what to look for)
Updated 05/24/2020

    You want a new PC but don't have a lot of money?
    And don't know what to look for?
    Some of the more baffling and esoteric computing terms are explained below.

    Can't afford a brand new PC but you still need a computer? Check out a
Refurbished Computer or possibly even a Chromebook (if you just want to surf the internet).

What to look for:
and Where to Buy

No matter which brand PC you get there are four important things you should consider very carefully (look closely at the specifications).
    In addition to checking the new PC specifications for these four important components in your new PC you may want to see information concerning prices that you can expect to pay for a new PC. You may also want to consider whether it is cost-effective to purchase an extended warranty for your new PC.

    Look also at the difference between a laptop PC and a desktop PC and the limitations of All-in-one PCs and especially iOS and Android Tablets. Also check out Touch Screen Laptops.

    View my suggestions about where and how to search for the best deals on your new PC, especially if you are buying and searching online or in a local store such as Walmart or Best Buy.

    If you need a new computer display (monitor) along with your new PC see my thoughts on PC Monitors.

    Another way to save money on your new PC is to get free software (freeware) for it.

Operating System

    I recommend Windows 10 for your new PC! Windows 10 Professional, if you can afford it. Because Windows is still the go-to operating system and Windows 10 pro has more security features.

Windows 10 S ?
    If at all possible I recommend you avoid Windows 10 S, a lower-cost version of the Windows operating system that restricts you to apps from Microsoft's Windows Store. Windows 10 S was initially touted as a security feature which would prevent unauthorized apps from running on your PC, but that advantage is heavily outweighted by the disadvantages. If you want to take advantage of third-party free software stay away from a PC with Windows 10 S. See my
Freeware page to see what I mean.

    If you really hate Windows 10 simply install Ubuntu or Linux Mint Cinnamon before you load your personal data and programs. Both are free linux Desktop Operating Systems. And since you can run either of them from a USB installer disk before you install them I recommend you try them out first before installing either one. The big downside is that you can't run windows software in Linux without emulator software.

    The MacOS is an excellent OS but you can't get it without buying an Apple Mac PC. Do so only if you do not care about initial cost.

32bit or 64bit OS
    Generally you will not need to be concerned since all new Windows computers are now 64bit capable (x64 based processor) and have a 64bit version of the Windows OS installed. You would not want a 32bit OS in any case, since this would limit your available RAM to less than 4GB.

    Beware of really cheap faux PCs with the Chrome OS (Chromebook) or the Android OS. You will need a reliable and relatively fast internet connection for a Chrome device to function properly. Generally you will be dissatisfied with either of them if you were expecting them to perform in the same manner and at the same level as a normal Windows PC.
    Neither of them runs Windows programs.
    You may end up complaining over and over: Why can't I do the same things with this POS as my friend Joe can do with his Windows PC? Nearly any tablet PC can do as well - or better!

    However, with all of that said, if all you want is an inexpensive device that will access the internet a Chromebook may be all you need. Read more about Chromebooks here. Note: Don't be tempted to go too cheap. Remember - You get what you pay for usually..

Processor: The brains of the PC

    Both of the major PC processor manufacturers, Intel and AMD, have continued to introduce newer and faster versions of their PC processors and rankings have become a bit muddled.

    For the most part, I recommend that you avoid weak processors such as Intel's Celeron, and Pentium, and AMD's E-series and low-end A-series processors (A-9 and higher are still barely acceptable). Tasks that PC processors are expected to perform without hiccups and slowdowns are growing more complex daily as are many websites on the internet. Weaker processors will tend to make your new computer nearly obsolete out of the box, as well as agonizingly sluggish.

    When you look at PC specifications look for computers with Intel core i3 or higher (i5, i7) or AMD A-10 or higher (Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7)

PCs with late generation processors tend to cost more than older generations. The latest generation for Intel processors is the 10th generation, with the 11th coming on soon. For AMD Ryzen the latest are the 3000 series that are just about to be overtaken by the upcoming 4000 series.

    Top of the line PCs usually have a late generation, top-of-the-line processor such as an Intel© Core™ i7-1065G7 or an AMD Ryzen 7 3800X installed. These processors, especially the i7, are expensive, when compared with the others mentioned above. A PC containing one of these will usually be priced at least $200 above those with a less powerful Intel i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor. However all of these processors will normally provide upscale performance without slowdowns or hiccups.

Random Access Memory: RAM
(sometimes referred to as Dynamic Random Access Memory DRAM)

     RAM is the working memory of your PC. Very simply: the more, the better to enable your PC to run multiple programs at once and avoid disk swapping, a condition which can slow your PC severely at times.
    Even the cheapest of PCs now comes with at least 2 Gigabytes (GB) of RAM memory. However, the minimum recommendation for Random Access Memory for a modern PC running Windows 8 and Windows 10 is now Four (4) gigabytes or more.

    I recommend at least 8 Gigabytes of RAM in your new PC, if you can possibly afford it.

    Note: It is unlikely that you will need more than 8GB of RAM memory installed in your new PC even if you install an SSD, unless you plan to do a lot of heavy video editing or work with especially large databases and/or spreadsheets.

Even taking into account the above statements, an increase of RAM to 12GB or 16GB is not totally out of the question if you value the smooth running of your PC. But, expect to pay a premium for this much RAM memory.

What is Intel Optane Memory - And do I really need it?
    Don't be confused or led astray about Intel Optane Memory? Optane memory is NOT RAM (Random Access Memory) and it's also NOT a hard drive nor a hard drive replacement. Just what is it and what does it do? And do you really want it or need it? (there are a lot of confusing claims and hype associated with Optane memory)
    To answer the last question: No, you really don't need Optane memory, especially if you have to spend extra dollars to get it. You'd be much better off applying that money toward a SSD, which will make your PC start and run much faster.
    If you are interested, see
this page at the How to Geek site for an clear and more complete explanation of Optane memory.

Hard Drive - Your PC's File Cabinet

    Your PC's boot hard drive holds the Windows OS (operating system) files as well as all of your data.
    It is preferable to get a PC with the largest capacity and fastest hard drive you can afford.

    I recommend strongly that you avoid getting a Windows PC with a tiny 32GB EMCC hard drive which is soldered to the motherboard, you will surely regret it. Why? Windows 10 64bit OS requires at least 20GB so this leaves very little room for Windows updates, Programs, and, finally, your data. Your really cheapo PC containing such a puny hard drive will choke, likely sooner, rather than later.
    A 128GB hard drive is the smallest size recommended for Windows PCs and even this size leaves too little room for your programs and data.

    A 500GB hard drive running at 5400rpm is now a common size and speed for a low-end laptop PC. But it is rather slow. You may not need a larger hard drive but if you can afford a PC with a faster one running at 7200rpm, (in your desktop PC) or with an 256GB (or larger) SSD in your laptop, get one.

    A 7200rpm, hard drive and especially a SSD will load the OS faster, which allows your PC to start rapidly, access your data, and start programs quicker.

A SSD is well worth the extra money
    If your finances allow, replacing your PC's mechanical hard drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD) will energize and speed up your new or late model PC. As a matter of fact, an SSD is the one component that will speed up your PC faster than any other as well as being more durable (shock-resistant) and more long lasting than any old-style mechanical spinning hard drive.
    You can usually get a 250GB (or 256GB) SSD for less than $50 to $75 if you install it yourself. I recommend Samsung, Kingston or a WD branded SSDs. See my
SSD page for more information.

Why you should be concerned with PC specifications

    A computer with higher-end and more capable components will usually boot and start programs faster. It will also be far less likely to choke even when you load the PC with software that may add numerous startup items or try to run more than two or three programs at the same time.

    Assuming software congestion, a hardware fault, or PC virus/malware is not the cause, even a brand new PC can run sluggishly if it has insufficient RAM memory, a weak processor, and/or a slow hard drive.

    Additionally, the higher end PC will continue to perform at higher levels as it ages. That means your higher-end cheap PC will not become obsolete quite as fast as a really cheapo PC.
    If you're not careful and you opt always for the cheapest options you could end up with a PC that's practically obsolete even before you boot it up for the first time!
    You usually get what you pay for.

My minimum recommendation for a Windows PC is a computer with at least 8GB of RAM, with either an Intel Core or AMD Ryzen processor (CPU).

For a desktop I recommend at least a 500GB, 7200 RPM hard drive, even though a 250GB (or a 500GB) solid state drive (SSD) would be much more durable and speedy. This is especially true in a Windows laptop PC where a cheap, pokey, and delicate 5200 RPM hard drive has been common.

Cheap PCs price range: (These are prices for Desktops. Laptops may cost a bit more.)

  • low-end - $250 to $400, (Don't bother with one of these unless you're desperate or it is on sale)
  • High low-end - $400 to $550. You can usually find a pretty decent desktop PC for $550, especially if it's on sale!
These prices include no extra peripherals, only the computer, (keyboard and mouse if desktop).

Note: If you expected to get a good PC for less money you would be best advised to wait and get one on sale.

    If you plan to spend more (normally over $550) then you should start looking at a Desktop PC with an Intel i5 processor or an AMD Ryzen 5 processor, 6 to 8 GB of RAM, and a 1TB (terabyte) hard drive, or a laptop with the same specs except with a small SSD instead of a spinning hard drive. Even though a 250GB SSD is preferable, a 128GB SSD is acceptable if it saves you money.

    A dedicated video (display) card would also be an excellent idea. A 2GB video card should only add about $50 to $75 to the cost of your PC. Later on, if you decide you want to use your PC to play graphics intensive games you can usually add a faster card to most desktop PCs if you don't overload the power supply. Be sure to check first!
    An installed display card (dedicated video) tends to take some of the load off the processor enabling the PC to run a bit more smoothly. This will help if you normally perform graphics intensive operations such as graphics or video editing - not so much with normal web surfing or office tasks.
    If you wish to play graphics intensive games a display card may be a necessity.
    Note: A dedicated disply card for a Laptop is normally only available in higher end laptop PCs. However, if you want a graphics card in your new laptop you will need to purchase a model that already has one. Unlike most common desktop tower or mini-tower computers, it is nearly impossible to add a graphics card to a laptop that shipped without one.

Do you really need to purchase an extended warranty?

    No matter where you buy your new computer you will be faced with the choice to purchase an extension to the standard one-year in-home warranty that comes with nearly all new PCs. If you are buying online it will be easy to ignore the offers for extended warranties but if you are in a local store the salesperson may strongly suggest that you really need one.
    My advice is to firmly decline. Why? Because if there is a manufacturing defect with with the computer you buy it will almost always show up sometime in the first few months of use, and then the standard warranty will take care of it. You will either get your computer repaired or get a replacement for it straight from the manufacturer.
    Extended warranties are big money makers for those who sell them since it's rare when a manufacturing defect waits more than a year to make itself evident. If there's something mechanically wrong with your new PC it won't take long for it to go belly up!
    You were trying to get a cheap PC anyway, right? So why pay more than you really need to pay?
    Be aware that manufacturer's warranties do not normally cover software problems.

Also, if you bought your new PC from a place such as Amazon, which has a firm 30-day return policy for damaged or DOA electronics then the best thing to do is to return it for a full refund or replacement with another new PC. That way you won't even need to provide evidence (such as proof or purchase) for warranty purposes.

What about a Mac?
Apple makes quality computers, but Mac PCs are not cheap. The least expensive iMac you can get is around $1100. It comes with a 21.5-inch screen, an Intel i5 processer, 8GB RAM, and a 1TB hard drive.

     The Mac Mini is the the least expensive Apple PC you can get right now at around $800.
    It comes with the excellent MacOS, an i3 Intel processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD hard drive - but no standard DVD drive, mouse or keyboard.
    Take note that Apple believes this is the least powerful computer you should get. I agree with them on this.

    But for $500 to $700, you can easily find a Windows 10 Desktop PC with an Intel i5 quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1 Terrabyte 7200rpm hard drive - with a DVD burner, keyboard, and a mouse included. (Add $40 to $70 for a 250GB SSD Hard Drive, if you buy it and install it yourself)
    Think about it!

Laptop (notebook PCs) vs Desktop PCs

    The benefits of a laptop PC are: Display included - no need to buy a separate monitor. Compact and portable - use it almost anywhere. Touch screen models are available at a higher price.
    On the other hand Laptops are usually a bit more expensive than desktops with comparable specifications. Laptops use lower-power mobile processors that are generally less powerful (and cooler running) than comparable desktop processors. Batteries generally do not last that long before requiring recharge, especially in low-end PCs.

    In addition it has been discovered by PC manufactruers that Laptop owners rarely attempt to upgrade their laptop PC so the laptop builders are making more and more laptops that either cannot be upgraded by the owner or are difficult to upgrade. This means that most laptops have RAM memory soldered to the motherboard. Some even solder storage (SSD modules) to the motherboard and make the case hard to open making it difficult to replace the battery.

    If you don't absolutely need a portable PC you may be better off with a traditional tower desktop. You will get more PC for the money. And with a tower you will likely have a very upgradable computer.

    Expect to spend at least $550 to $600 for a decent, well-equipped laptop PC. Again, if you want to spend less for a good laptop PC, WAIT FOR A SALE!

Concerning touch sceens on Laptop PCs
    Do you really need a touch screen on your new laptop PC?
    This depends on whether you really want a touch screen, not whether you need it.
    A touch screen on a laptop PC can be quite helpful at times but, in my opinion, no one really needs a touch screen on any PC, except a tablet PC that does not ship with a keyboard/mouse or a touchpad.

    A laptop PC with a touch screen will normally cost at least $50 to $100 more than one without a touch screen.
    As an example, I found two laptop PCs for sale online. One had a touch screen with 4GB of RAM and the other had no touch screen but had 6GB of RAM. The PCs were priced the same.
    Personally, I would rather have the extra RAM than a touch screen on my new PC. However, I recommend that you try out a touch screen laptop, if possible, before you make your final purchasing decision.

All-in-One PCs
    In the last few years computer manufacturers, such as Dell, Hewlett Packard, and others, have introduced Microsoft Windows based computers with all PC components tucked into the case behind the display, very similar to Apple's popular iMac. Lower end computers of this type are similar to Laptops in that they sometimes contain low-power processors, less RAM, and slower hard drives than comparable priced desktop PCs.
    Not all All-in-Ones are handicapped in this manner so it is wise to look closely at the PC specifications before buying an All-in-One PC. Be wary, if it's priced too low you should be suspicious. As with Laptops, touch screen equipped models will be more expensive.

What about an inexpensive tablet?
    By now everyone has either seen or heard about the iPad and its lower cost Android copycats. Most electronic tablets are great for reading books (or any kind of reading). Cloud computing and surfing the internet is also relatively simple, albeit on a small screen, but only if you have either a wireless router or cellular. Taking and viewing photos with a tablet is usually simple.

    However if you really need a computer (to get real work done) then buy a real PC. You will have a physical keyboard to do your typing, a large hard drive to store your files which will be easily transferable by means of USB flash drive or disk, as well as internet downloads.

    A tablet's main drawback is its dependence on wireless communications and, with the possible exception of photos, its poor and clunky data transfer capability, especially without wireless availability. Memory space for tablets is usually very restricted and low compared to laptop or desktop PCs.

    Another glaring weakness of many tablets is that the battery is usually non-replacable or not easily replaceable. If the battery fails your tablet is bricked unless you pay a substantial fee for a battery replacement. Occasionally the cost is prohibitive - possibly as much as a new tablet in some instances.
    Be sure you do your research before purchasing a tablet PC!

Bottom Line - Recommendations
    For a Desktop PC with a late-generation Intel i3 or AMD A-10 or Ryzen 3 dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive is my least recommendation, even if you are strapped for cash.
    But if you can afford a little more then choose a PC with a late Intel i5 Quad-core or AMD Ryzen 5 Quad-core processor, with 8GB of RAM, and a faster hard drive running at 7200rpm or preferably a SSD.

    As I have implied above, the least powerful PC I believe you should get is one with an Intel i5 quad-core processor (or an AMD Ryzen 5 processor), 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB 7200rpm hard drive (in a Desktop PC.

    For a Laptop PC my least recommendation is a PC with an Intel Core i3 processor, 4-6 GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive or 128GB SSD.

    If you want to get any real use out of your new PC you will need software for it. You will need a decent word-processing program and a good anti-virus program at minimum.

    The good news is that you don't need to spend a lot of money on computer programs. If you have internet access you can download a free office suite - LibreOffice - that has much of the functionality of Microsoft Office. You can easily get LibreOffice using

    Also, you really need and can also get a free antivirus program. Activate Microsoft Defender Antivirus (it's already installed on your new Windows 10 PC) or choose from Bitdefender, Panda, Kaspersky, Avast or Avira. Take the free stuff and run!

    If you want to install a (free) antivirus program you should first uninstall any paid (subscription based) antivirus software that came with your PC. Running two active antivirus programs at the same time is not recommended - you will likely not be protected.
    The same applies to Microsoft Defender - it will not activate if any other (third-party) antivirus suite is installed.

    Always restart your PC after uninstalling security software!

    For more information about free software, tips about downloading it, and advice for avoiding the pitfalls - see my page Freeware for specific recommendations for free software, free security programs, and links to the downloads.

    The main point here is that by choosing to use free software you may save enough cash to get a better and faster PC when you need to replace your old one. Just saving the on-going cost of antivirus software over the life of your PC can accomplish this.

Where to buy
And When to Buy - Find the best deals

    Look at the offerings from the major computer manufacturers. Especially the ones with online stores:
Dell Computers, HP Computers or Lenovo PCs.
    Note: If you decide to buy directly from a computer maker's online site be aware that you may have to wait a week or more for your new custom configured PC to be delivered.
    Also check Walmart and Best Buy online. Don't forget

    Don't forget the other online only stores such as CDW, newegg, and Tiger Direct.

    In addition you may want to check the Tech Bargains to look for current brand specific discount coupons that may enable you to save money when purchasing a PC directly from a PC maker's site.

    Other excellent places to look for current deals are PC Magazine's Deal Page and Laptop Magazine's Deals Page.

Another site to peruse for special deals is DealNews which publicizes the sales and best prices from stores like Amazon, Best Buy, Newegg, Tiger Direct, Walmart and others.

The Best time to buy

    As I mentioned earlier on this page. It's always best to get a PC on Sale if you can time it right. You can usually find the best PC deals during the Black Friday sales the various PC manufacturers and online stores have going on the day after Thanksgiving. These sales usually start earlier in the month of November and run for a few weeks before Thanksgiving.
    You can find PC sales at other times of the year (Christmas, Easter (Spring), Memorial Day & Forth of July), Back to School, etc. But the Black Friday sales generally provide the best deals.

Shop by brand?
    Everyone has their favorite brands and this applies to PCs as well. But all PC makers get their components from the same suppliers. And their products have to be in good working order when shipped to the consumer. If not they wouldn't be in business very long.
    However if you are planning to get the lowest-cost PC you can find you should remember one thing. Low-cost PCs are built with lower-cost and less capable components. Quality costs just a bit more.

Get coupons to save money
    Everyone loves sales. And the PC makers know this also. They are almost always running some type of price promotion to get you to buy, especially during holidays. Look for these promotions when viewing their sites.

    For a number of reasons some of these specials and coupons are not highly advertised. You must actively search them out. So if you do not urgently need a new PC take some time to view the specials & sales and look for discount coupons at Tech Bargains and other discount sites.

Computer Monitors (Display)
    Think about your computer monitor. You will be looking at it a lot. If you have a bad or worse yet, an old, bad display, eventually your eyes will pay for it.
    You can now get a good 20inch flat panel PC LCD display for less than $150, or even less than $100 if you look hard enough. Most lower-cost LCD monitors are usually standard HD (1366x768), sometimes referred to as 720p. But for a bit more money you can get a full HD LCD monitor (1920X1080). Your eyes will thank you! (If you are picky about color reproduction and wide viewing angles, you should look for a monitor with an IPS screen as well as Full High Definition)

    You don't always get the best price for a monitor simply because it's bundled with the PC when you buy it. Get the best computer display you can possibly afford! This also applies to laptop displays.

Use your HD TV as a computer monitor
    Alternatively, if you have a late model 4K or full HD 1080p 40 inch or smaller LCD TV you can connect your PC to it with a HDMI cable which will give you both video and sound. Use your TV for double duty and surf the net on your TV! Get a wireless keyboard and mouse so you can back up a bit for comfortable viewing.
    Note: A really large TV (46 inch or larger) may be overwhelming for a computer, but it's really a matter of choice. You'll almost certainly need a wireless keyboard and mouse to enable you to back away from a large TV for comfortable viewing.

    If you already have a good flat panel monitor look around to see if you have an adaptor for it for the newer video connections that come with new PCs. Most older PCs use a VGA connection. Many newer PCs use a connection called DVI. Some even use HDMI. Some have multiple video connections.
    Be sure you have the correct connector or adapter so you won't have to make another trip to the store before you can use your new PC. Either a DVI or HDMI connection is full digital and necessary for full HD (1920X1080) resolution.

    I recommend a PC with an HDMI connection paired with a full HD (1920X1080) screen if you can afford it.

Be ready for disaster
    Just because you have a new PC there is no guarantee that you will have no problems. If your hard drive fails or you should happen to get a bad PC virus, requiring a re-install of Windows, you may end up losing all your irreplaceable files, photos, and music that you have accumulated.
    To guard against this possibility, I recommend that when you get your new computer also spend a few extra dollars on a USB flash drive to back up your personal files on. All you will need to do is drag your files to the flash drive and they will be saved - ready to be reloaded onto your PC if disaster should strike.
    I recommend a USB 3.0 drive, at least 16GB - 32GB would be better. A 32GB flash drive is inexpensive yet plenty large enough to hold your common files. Cost is usually less than $20 or possibly even less than $10 if you can find one on sale!
    In addition, a USB 3.0 device is much faster than the older, and more common, USB 2.0. Most new PCs have at least one USB 3.0 port.
    Keep your backups current and you will never need to worry about losing your personal data. When you eliminate the malware or replace your hard drive simply reload your data from the flash drive!

    For more information (especially about creating recovery disks) see my file
How to Backup your PC.

About Chromebooks
(and other non-Windows devices)

    As I mentioned earlier on this page, Chromebooks, Android devices and Apple iOS tablets (iPads) are well suited to surf the internet and run their own (often cloud-based) versions of productivity programs. Many Chrome and Android devices can be considered cheap internet appliances. Even though iPads have come down in price in the last few years, they cannot be considered cheap.
    Some Chromebooks cannot be considered cheap either!
    Chromebooks seem to be overtaking Apple's iPad in educational settings since they are less expensive, normally have a keyboard, and surf the internet just as well as any other PC-like device.

    The caveat, is that all of these devices require a robust internet connection to perform their basic functions. A Chromebook without an internet connection and a wireless router is severely limited in use compared to a traditional Windows PC.
    With all of that said, if you have no need to use Windows software and have a good internet connection along with a decent wireless router then a Chromebook may be exactly what you are looking for.

Before you buy
    Before buying a Chromebook to replace your old Windows PC I urge you to do some research first.
See the
Google Chromebook page and see if a Chromebook will fully serve your needs.

Check to be sure the Chromebook you have chosen is not on the list to expire soon. (When a Chromebook's auto update expires it will no longer receive system or security updates.)
See this PCWorld Magazine article that explains everything that happens when a Chromebook expires. (Article includes lists of expired or soon to expire devices>)

See the Chromebook reviews from the different online PC magazines. Chromebooks Chromebooks Chromebooks

Also, see Amazon's Chromebook page for their recommendations

Chromebook specifications (what to look for).
    The Chrome OS will operate with less powerful PC processors and will require less installed RAM to run smoothly. The Chrome OS also requires much less disk space than the Mac OS, Windows or even many popular Linux distributions.
    The minimum recommended specifications for a Chrome OS device is an Intel Celeron processor with 4GB RAM with a 32GB hard drive. In addition, a Chromebook display is usually the cheaper standard HD 1366x768 rather than the more expensive Full HD 1920X1080 resolution. The lower cost of a device with these specifications is the main reason Chromebook prices can be so much lower than a Windows 10 or MacOS PC.

    A Celeron processor with 4GB of RAM and a 32GB hard drive may be sufficient for your Chromebook. However, I DO recommend that you look for a Chromebook with a Full HD display if you can find one within your budget. As I've said before, Your eyes will thank you.

Refurbished Computers and Monitors
    There are some very good deals to be had for refurbished Desktop PCs and also older flat-panel monitors. I would hesitate to recommend to anyone to go out to buy someone's old computer and monitor, unless you know the person selling it very well. Generally all you're doing is buying someone's problems and paying to make them your own.
    Having said that I've noticed that there are a few acceptable places to shop for refurbished electronic equipment, especially PCs.

Where to look for refurbished PCs
    I recommend,, Newegg, or Tiger Direct since these places will offer some sort of guarantee that you will receive exactly what you ordered. Even refurbished PCs should come with at least a 90-day warranty.

What to look for
    Do not accept a PC with an obsolete operating system that may no longer be supported. Avoid Windows 95, Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7!
    The computer should start and run without hesitation or any password. There should be no other files or programs on the hard drive except the operating system. In addition, the Windows 10 OS or the Chrome OS should be valid and genuine.

    Installed RAM(random access memory): At least 4GB or more is desirable.
    Processor (CPU): Look for at least an Intel i3 or AMD A-9 or higher> processor.
    Hard Drive size: An 80GB hard drive is barely enough space to hold the Windows operating system as well as any of your data you will accumulate. I recommend at least a 250GB hard drive. A 500GB would be even better if you can afford it.
    Check all other peripheral equipment when you receive your PC: Even a refurbished PC should ship with a decent USB keyboard and a USB mouse. The DVD player should be in working order as well as all of the ports - USB, VGA, ethernet port, audio port etc. Check them all by plugging a device into them upon receipt of your PC - attach a monitor and insert a DVD. All components should be in working order. If not, a return for your money back is very appropiate.

    If everything is not working properly the seller did not refurbish the PC very well, or at all. If you find even one thing wrong also look inside the case to see if it has been cleaned. (you should probably do this in any case) If you got the refurbished PC through one of the above named dealers they will likely require that the seller pay for the return shipping if you did not receive what you paid for (a working PC). It never hurts to ask about these things before you buy!