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In secondhand computer market, brand names are still important

Whether its cars, watches or computers, the quality behind an established brand extends from new items to used ones.


That's why, all other things being equal, you're better off buying a business-grade Dell, HP or Lenovo PC than an unbranded "whitebox" unit assembled by a discount supplier.

Still, some district administrators may question if it makes sense to make distinctions between computers with identical performance specs, particularly when less well-known products are cheaper. But there are differences—and they can add up.

Dell, HP and Lenovo are the leading PC manufacturers, so there's a broader pool of their units in the secondhand market. In general, business machines are used more gently than home computers. Corporate computer leases typically last one to three years, after which units are sold to refurbishers.

Business-grade computers also have a greater degree of uniformity in components than other machines. Off-price or consumer units often rely on a changing cast of suppliers for a particular model, which can lead to variations in parts—and potential snags with so ware.

That's why companies such as Toronto-based CDI, a leading computer refurbisher that does free custom imaging for its clients, rely mostly on business machines from top manufacturers. And because those big-name products have a higher degree of standardized components, district tech coordinators can stock fewer replacement parts.

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