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The business landscape today is fast-paced and technology-driven, and your choice of computers can significantly impact the success and productivity of your organization. Why is it so crucial to have the right computer for your business? The fact is not all computers are created equal. They come in different types, sizes, and configurations, each with its own strengths and limitations.
With a wide variety of computer options available, it can be overwhelming to sift through all the information “out there”.
In this guide, we will explore different types of computers, delve into the key considerations when choosing a computer, and provide practical tips to help you make an informed decision that meets your business needs.
If you need help purchasing your technology, you can always reach out to us and schedule a call.
Computer Type: Desktops vs. Laptops vs. All-in-Ones
The type Form factor refers to the physical characteristics of your computer such as its shape and size. When it comes to your average computer the most common form factors are desktops, portables (or laptops), and all-in-ones.
- A desktop computer generally refers to a computer box that sits on or under a desk, with separate components such as a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Bulky tower cases are long gone. Today, desktop computers can be as small as a hardcover book that can be mounted under a desk or even attached to a monitor. The form factor you choose depends on a number of factors from budget, ability to upgrade or customize components, hardware to connect to the computer, physical space limitations, and ease of supporting the computer. Most computers come with a basic wired keyboard and mouse, however, you have the option of purchasing any keyboard or mouse you’d like.
- A portable computer, commonly referred to as a laptop computer, is a self-contained device that contains the computer itself, a built-in monitor, keyboard, touchpad (to replace the mouse), and a rechargeable battery which is designed to be used anywhere. In recent years, a specific category of portable computers called Chromebooks has gained significant popularity. We’ll discuss the differences between laptops and Chromebooks later on.
- An all-in-one computer combines the computer and monitor into a single unit, offering an aesthetic appeal and space-saving benefits. They are well-suited for users who prioritize style and simplicity and have minimal requirements for hardware customization or upgradability. However, the compact nature does come with some limitations. One major drawback is the reduced serviceability compared to traditional desktop computers. If hardware fails or needs an upgrade, the entire unit needs to be replaced or sent for servicing, including the monitor. This can result in higher costs and inconvenience in the long run.
Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the specific needs of the user.
- Desktop computers typically offer superior processing power compared to laptops within a similar price range. The storage capacity and flexibility for upgrades make them ideal for businesses with demanding computational needs. While the large monitor is considered a plus for some users, it takes up more space on the desk and makes it less portable.
- Laptops, on the other hand, provide portability and convenience, allowing employees to work in various locations. Laptops can be less expensive than desktop computers, especially if you don’t already have a monitor. However, they are more difficult to upgrade and may need to be replaced more frequently, especially with extended use. A monitor can be used over the life of several computers, but when you buy a laptop, you are practically purchasing a monitor every time you buy a computer.
- Chromebooks are a specific type of portable that is an attractive option for educational institutions and certain small businesses due to their affordable pricing. The devices are known for their simplicity and ease of management. However, Chromebooks operate on Chrome OS, which means they are unable to run traditional Windows-based applications. Instead, they rely on web-based apps, which may impose certain limitations depending on your software requirements.
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Factors to Look for When Choosing a Computer
After choosing a computer type that aligns with your needs and work habits, it’s important to understand the essential features or specifications to consider. The key specifications to focus on, in order of significance, are as follows:
- Mac or PC: The great debate on which is better continues. Both types of computers offer excellent options and this question should be determined by your computing needs, software requirements, budget, and personal preference. Don’t be swayed solely by others’ opinions.
- Computer Category: When purchasing a computer for a business environment that involves multiple users or requires compliance and security measures, opting for business-class computers is highly recommended. Unlike consumer models commonly found in big box stores, business-class computers are typically sold directly by manufacturers or IT service providers. Business-class computers provide numerous advantages, including longer warranties, superior support, and repair options in case of any with the computer.
- The processor (or CPU): If your business handles resource-intensive tasks like video editing or graphic design, opt for a high-performance processor. The processor is a critical component that cannot be easily upgraded, so ensure it meets your long-term needs. Intel and AMD are the two companies that make processors. Intel has the brand name recognition while AMD often offers similar performance at a lower cost, depending on the model. Lastly there multiple processor lines from each manufacturer. For most business users the Intel i5 or i7 is best. The AMD equivalents are the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 series.
- Memory (or RAM): While RAM, short for Random Access Memory can be upgraded, it’s advisable not to skimp on it initially as it is relatively inexpensive to get more. Ample memory allows for smoother multitasking and better overall performance of your computer.
- Storage Type and Capacity: For your primary operating system (OS), we strongly recommend solid-state drives (or SSDs) due to their superior speed and reliability. If your business deals with large files or requires extensive storage, consider a computer with a larger hard drive or the ability to support multiple hard drives. As more businesses move their data to the cloud, large hard drives on individual computers become less necessary.
- Display Quality and Size: When choosing laptops or free standing monitor(s), pay close attention to the display quality, especially if your business involves graphic design, video editing, or other tasks that demand accurate color reproduction and detail. If you are buying a monitor for a desktop computer, consider long-term features you might require as you’ll own the monitor over the life of several computers.
- Operating System: PCs come with various editions of the Windows Operating System. Windows Home edition is intended for consumer use, while Windows Professional edition is specifically designed for business users. There are several key features in the Professional edition such as drive encryption, the ability to join a business domain, and additional networking capabilities. Business-class computers typically come with the professional version of Windows pre-installed, which is why we strongly recommend investing in business-class computers for your business.
- Brand: Unless you have extremely specific requirements, we highly recommend buying a complete system from a major manufacturer. Established brands like Dell, Lenovo, and HP are widely recognized for their business-class computers. These brands offer support, warranties, and a range of customizable options. Be cautious of lesser-known brands that may offer cheaper alternatives but compromise on quality, long-term durability, and warranty support.
- Warranty: Your warranty will vary depending on whether you purchase a business-class or consumer-class computer. Business-class desktop computers typically come with a 3-year warranty, whereas laptops only have 1 year. On the other hand, consumer computers offer a standard 1-year warranty. It’s important to note that servicing a consumer computer may require you to ship a broken computer to the manufacturer, which can be time-consuming and inconvenient. With business-class computers, the manufacturer sends someone to your location to repair the computer. Check with the seller the details of the warranty, including what is covered and any exclusions.
- A note about custom-built systems: While building a custom computer offers flexibility in component selection, be aware that each part may have a different warranty from various suppliers. This can make troubleshooting certain problems extremely difficult, time-consuming, and therefore costly.
Considering Your Specific Needs: Ask Questions.
Choosing the right technology is about optimizing performance, enhancing productivity, and future-proofing your investment. By carefully evaluating your business requirements, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your budget and supports your operations effectively.
Consider the following questions:
How many employees do you have, and what is your budget?
Determining the scale of the technology solutions you require, and your budget constraints will help you find a balance between affordability and meeting the needs of your employees.
Do you have employees working from home or on-the-go?
Empower your remote workforce to stay productive wherever they are. If remote work is a common practice in your business, consider laptops with good battery life and reliable connectivity features.
What kind of work do your employees do?
Understanding the nature of your employees’ work will help you determine the hardware that best suits their needs. For example, tasks involving data analysis or engineering may require higher processing power, ample memory, and storage capacity.
Do your employees need to perform tasks on specific software?
Different software may have varying system requirements, so ensure that the chosen technology can support the software your team relies on for their daily tasks. Those working with photo editing, video production, or web design, usually require more processing power and larger screens.
Will your devices be plugged in or require wireless connectivity?
For desktop computers, consider whether they will be situated in fixed locations with easy access to power outlets and wired network connections. If flexibility and mobility are important, laptops with wireless capabilities may be more suitable. Wireless capabilities can be added to any computer, but it’s important to remember that wired connections will provide the best performance and reliability.
What will you do if your computer needs to be serviced?
This is one of the most important questions for anyone using their computer for business needs. Even a new, high-quality computer can have problems that require downtime to resolve. Work closely with your IT provider to understand your options and develop a contingency plan for computer emergencies.
How often should I replace my computer?
In a business environment, the average lifespan of a computer ranges from 3 to 5 years. It is recommended to budget for a computer replacement every 5 years to ensure optimal performance and keep up with technological advancements. If your computer is functioning well, it is possible to continue using it for a little longer.
Don’t waste time navigating the complex world of computer technology. Whether you’re a small startup, a growing enterprise, or an established corporation, we are here to assist you.
Our experienced team is dedicated to understanding your specific technology requirements and finding the perfect computer solutions for your business.
Are you ready to drive your business forward? Contact us today to book your discovery call!