Is It Safe To Buy A Refurbished PSU?

I was recently looking to buy a budget ‘gold tier’ PSU to go in an upcoming HomeLab server build, and a deal flashed up: a Corsair PSU that usually costs £115, but was available for just £70. What gives? Why was it such a good deal? Well, because it was a refurbished PSU.

I wouldn’t usually buy a refurb PSU, since it’s such a crucial component, but I had a good experience with some Sennheiser refubished headphones so I thought “why not?”.

In this video I also cover what you should check before (and after) buying a refurbished PSU, or even any refurb electronics.

If you prefer text over video, please read on for the guide/transcript version of this video.

Video Transcript And Guide

Hey everyone, I was recently looking to buy a PSU for an upcoming budget homelab server, and because PSUs are such a crucial component, I try to always buy gold tier PSUs. I was looking to buy the RM650 from Corsair because that was affordable within my (low) budget. BUT a UK retailer called Scan had an amazing deal on a 750w PSU – it’s 40% cheaper than the new price, woohoo! The only catch? It’s a refurbished model. Hmm. Are refurbished PSUs safe to buy? 

Bad Refurbs

The Amazon Warehouse section
The Amazon Warehouse section

Well the first thing I’d point out when buying any refurbished item is that the “quality” of a refurb can vary a lot. Some retailers might just sell all their returns as “refurbs” – such as what Amazon do with Amazon Warehouse – and I don’t personally trust this. When a retailer – especially Amazon – haphazardly relabels all of their returned items as a “refurb”, you don’t always know what you’re getting. It MIGHT just be an item that a customer opened the box then changed their mind with it, and returned, in which case it’s pretty much brand new – and bargain. But it might have a slight fault leading the customer to return it (and maybe not declare it), but it then ends up back on the stockroom shelves – particularly with Amazon. Yeah, I’m not a fan of buying electronics from Amazon.

Good Refurb Programs

My refurbished Corsair PSU
My refurbished Corsair PSU

HOWEVER slight ranting aside, some companies will actually thoroughly TEST any returned items, making sure that they work 100% fine – and fixing any internal components that might be damaged. They then sell them on as “certified refurbished” or “factory tested” reburbs.

THIS is what Corsair does with their PSUs, and I’ll discuss that more in a minute, but Sennheiser also has a good refurbished program for their headphones. I recently bought these HD 599s for £60 when the full price is £180. They were brand new to be honest – there were no scratches or defects on them at all.

And this is exactly what I would look for whenever buying a “refurbished” item – does the MANUFACTURER of the item (so, Sennheiser, Corsair or whoever) actually receive the item back in their factory, and test the item in detail? If so, then I have no real problems with buying a refurb… even for a PSU. I would also double check that the manufacturer has a good reputation, though. I personally do trust Corsair as a company and they’re known to be a solid PSU maker, so therefore I trust their certified refurbished program too. However I probably wouldn’t buy an ASUS refurb, for example.

Check This With A Refurbished PSU

With all that said, there’s a few of OTHER things I would recommend that you do when first receiving a refurbished product. Firstly you should inspect it for any damage – a small scratch might be expected, but a dent would not be.

Scratch on PSU
A small scratch on the refurb PSU I purchased

THEN you should test the item as much as you can. In this case, I’ll get it into a proper build as soon as possible, and then run through some stress tests – such as with Prime95, Realbench or OCCT. You certainly don’t want to have a refurbished product lying around in the corner of your room for half a year before you finally go to use it, and then realize that it has a fault.

You should also check the warranty length for the product. While a good quality PSU is unlikely to fail quickly, some refurbished items only come with a 1 or 3 month warranty period – and that’s not really ideal. And it does look like Corsair DO only offer a 90 day warranty in many parts of the world, which seems a bit rubbish to me, to be honest – especially because Corsair’s PSUs (the full price ones) usually have a 5 to 10 year warranty. The RM750e that I purchased comes with a 1 year warranty in the UK, which I personally find acceptable (sort of) – although it is a little disappointing because the usual warranty on this is 7 years on this. I did pay substantially less than the full price though, so it’s definitely a “buyer beware” type situation.

So that pretty much sums up my views on refurbished electronics, and particularly refurbished  PSUs. Before buying the item, there’s always going to be a fear of the unknown that THIS was originally a genuinely bad unit that had a capacitor blow or something, and then it needed LOADS and loads of repairs. But a reputable company like Corsair would probably just throw such a unit. It’s actually much more likely that someone just opened the box and then changed their mind, or it only had a very minor defect – like a scratch. And because Corsair then thoroughly tested it in their factory and underwritten this with a 1 year warranty (in this particular case), I’m actually happy  – especially because I will immediately test that this works as well, as part of an actual build.

And that wraps up today’s short video. Would you ever buy a refurbished PSU? Please let me know either way down in the comments.

cropped A picture of me Tristan
About Tristan Perry

Tristan has been interested in computer hardware and software since he was 10 years old. He has built loads of computers over the years, along with installing, modifying and writing software (he's a backend software developer 'by trade').

Tristan also has an academic background in technology (in Math and Computer Science), so he enjoys drilling into the deeper aspects of technology.

Tristan is also an avid PC gamer, with FFX and Rocket League being his favorite games.

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

Leave a comment