Just as I return home from a sabbatical, my laptop decided to die on me. Now, my laptop is my primary source of entertainment (programming), so I had to find a replacement quickly and - thanks to the sabbatical being unpaid - relatively cheaply. My main requirements were heaps of RAM (I make extensive use of virtual machines), two cores, a big screen (my laptop rarely leaves the house), and enough hard drive space to store vast amounts of code and its associated media.
Fortunately I stumbled across NDC, which is a reseller of refurbished Dell hardware. Now, I was a little sceptical - did "refurbished" mean "tattered and knackered"? Still, stinginess overcame scepticism, because for under £500 I picked up a 17-inch WUXGA+ laptop with a Core 2 Duo chip, 4GB RAM, 250GB of hard drive space, an Nvidia card and a DVD-RW. And when it arrived just a couple of days after I placed my order, it was in absolute pristine condition: not so much as a single scratch anywhere, no dead pixels, and all lovingly wrapped in protective packaging.
It's not often I recommend things, and I certainly can't speak for other companies selling refurbished kit, but I can highly recommend NDC - the prices are low, the kit is in excellent condition, and there's a huge range of hardware to choose from.
And now, back to programming...