How to buy a cheap iMac or macbook

There’s no doubt about it – Macs are great computers, but they re not cheap, and it’s hard to find them on special! What you may not know is that you can buy iMacs, Macbooks, Macbook Pros, Mac Minis –  almost the entire Apple range,  refurbished from Apple, often at reduced prices. I always buy my Macintoshs  from the Apple refurbished store rather than new  from a retail store.  In my opinion the computers at  the refurbished  outlet  are BETTER   than a new one – as well as being cheaper!  Here’s why, and here’s some tips on how to go about  getting one.

If you go  to the official Apple store webpage (the Australian one is here) ,  and scroll down the  far bottom left there is a  small link  called ‘refurbished mac’.


These are computers that have been returned with a problem. This  problem has been fixed, tested, and now they are being resold. Sometimes they are current models. Sometimes they are older models. I have even bought a refurbished product which appeared to be totally new and un-opened – I assume it was excess stock after a new model was released.

If you look at the graphs of when macs fail here you will see that most Macs, if they are going to fail,  have a problem in the first year. My hunch is that a number of these  break in transit or  develop a fault in the first few days. If you buy a new  computer from the Apple Centre, you don’t know whether you’re going to get a Machines  with a fault,  whereas if you buy a refurbished computer,  it’s already failed,  and been repaired, and fully tested. I  know people who have bought a new Macintosh from Apple and had problems with it and had  to send it back for warranty repair in the first few months.  Buying a refurbished computer  may give you less chance of that happening –  the computer is already ‘ broken in’  yet it still has a one-year warranty from the day you buy it!


The price of a refurbished mac can vary, sometimes it can be 21, 30 or even 50% off the retail price! At other times it can be MORE EXPENSIVE! ( This happens when the price of a model is reduced –  and the Apple refurbished store still has the price from before the price reduction.)

For example this 27 inch imac  currently for sale is an absolute steal –  AU $1700. They begin at $2199 in the Apple Store:

On the other hand, this 24 inch is way overpriced at AU$2429 – that’s $239 MORE than the NEW 27 inch i3 model! This  is because the large iMacs are cheaper than they were a year ago. The ‘save $570’  is a saving off what the price used to be,  not today’s new price.

It’s also worth comparing the specs of the  refurbished mac with the current model. The best place to do that is at everymac here or the apple spec site here.

A refurbished Macintosh  comes with a standard one-year warranty and is also eligible to receive the extended  three year warranty,  so long as you upgrade it in the first year.

You can even save on the purchase of purchase an applecare warranty if you look around. For example a 3 year Applecare for an imac in Australia costs $AU268 but I found one on ebay for US$84 – under half the price. Applecare is international so you can buy it in any country and use it in any country. You just need to register it online with Apple when you get it.  As always, be careful what you buy from eBay, but if the seller  is PayPal guaranteed,  it’s hard to go wrong. The same can be said for software,  I just purchased iWork off eBay for $24 instead of $129, and 3 yr applecare for my iphone for  US$29 instead of AU$99.

Finally, it can be cheaper to buy memory for your Macintosh after you purchase it,  and I have  previously written an article about this here. If you live in Australia there’s often some good pointers to mac bargains here.


2 responses to “How to buy a cheap iMac or macbook”

  1. Jan uk

    I’m looking for a mac book as a present for my daughter, she’s off to university in 3 weeks and she’s done so well with her grades and securing her Uni place I thought she deserved a treat! I know she’d love a mac book but as a single mom money is very tight, and I nearly passed out when browsing the prices then I came across your article about trying a refurbished one so I went onto the Apple site and have seen one for £570 GBP a saving of £500!!! I’m so happy I just want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH, keep up the good work :)

  2. I’ve been using the unibody Macbook Pro (2008) C2D model for 2 years now, having picked it up pretty cheap at the end of line sale held at a shopping mall here in the UK. That’s one way to get a low cost (near up to date) mac. However, the Apple Refurb store is, as you put it another and 5 years ago, that’s exactly where we went to get my wife her iMac Core Duo. Saved us a small fortune as well!

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