Buying a Business PC – What to Look For
It is very tempting these days to find the cheapest system on sale and deem it your “business PC,” but there are special considerations to make before jumping on the latest sale at your local retailer. Business PCs are in a separate class than Consumer PCs, and as with anything, you get what you pay for. In a business environment, it is important to make sure all of your needs are met without compromising on security, license compliance, usage needs, and more.
High Specs May Not Translate to Performance
If a PC is being sold for less than $500, then you know that costs have to be covered somewhere in the hardware. In practice, the hard drive is usually the first piece of hardware to be of poor quality in a lower cost machine. Even though a cheaper system might boast 1 TB of hard drive space, the actual hard drive itself may not be up to snuff.
Specifically, hard drives come in many varieties. What determines their actual performance relies on how many platters they have internally, the density of data on the platter, and the rate at which the hard drive spins. These specs are rarely listed in the technical specifications of a consumer PC, and to truly find out takes a little bit of extra research. However, performance of the machine can easily bottleneck with a poor performance hard drive. Working with a top-notch processor and ample amounts of RAM will easily bottleneck on the cheapest of hard drives, and the fact that platter density and RPM is rarely reported makes them look better on paper than they perform in reality.
Beware of Bloatware: Another Trick to Lower Costs
Another downside to a cheap consumer PCs is the fact that they come pre-installed with applications known as Bloatware. Just as advertising on TV or Hulu reduces overall costs of the service, consumer PCs are usually shipped with a plethora of extra programs that aren’t only unnecessary, but impact performance and create confusion as to what is actually on your PC. A business PC, however, will not have this extra bloatware. You install what you need, and you have more controls over what is going on in the background of your PC. Most bloatware is advertising in disguise, even if they come from reputable companies. These companies install ads on top of the OS on many consumer machines, which pop up notifications such as “speed up your PC” or “protect your data”, or some other call to action.
Additionally, Bloatware can be extremely difficult to remove. Some appear to uninstall, but leave traces in the registry or startup processes which have a direct impact on the performance of your PC, especially in the early minutes of a fresh boot. If it takes several minutes for your PC to get up to full speed after a boot, Bloatware may be the culprit.
Storage Needs: You Don’t Need Much
Consumer PCs are designed with ample storage space. Consider your home PC – you have photos, images, video, games, or other data which take up most of the space on the PC. For a typical business workstation, you can get by with a minimal amount of hard drive space. For example, if your PC is to have Office, a database program, a browser, and some documents, you can probably get by with a 250 GB hard drive.
Business PCs, in order to comply with licensing agreements and stay legal for business use, must have a Windows Professional operating system installed. Most PCs from your local retailers such as Best Buy, Costco and Walmart come with Home versions of operating systems, and do not comply with the license requirements put out by Microsoft. This fact would require an extra fee to upgrade to the proper version of your operating system.
Servicing and Expandability
Some consumer PCs come with extra expansion slots and can upgrade the amount of RAM or devices installed, but they generally have tighter limits than Business PCs. If you have a business PC with a 3- to 5-year warranty, you’ll want to make sure you can upgrade it with the times. Consumer PCs from just a few years ago, for example, have a maximum RAM that the motherboard will handle and a limit to the type of processor that can go into it. This made many Windows XP machines unable to be upgraded to Windows 7 to comply with HIPAA and other regulatory agencies. These days, a business PC comes with enough expansion power to get up to Windows 8 and beyond, and processors are still being developed that do not exceed the abilities of the current motherboards being produced.
Business PCs are built to last
Finally, a business PC is built to last and come with 3- or 5-year warranties. Many consumer PCs, however, come with only a 1-year limited warranty, which doesn’t bode well for the future of the system a few years down the road. This consideration should be factored into your cost – peace of mind that the PC will last through the warranty, and likely beyond, is worth the extra cost .
Are you Looking for a Business PC?
If you are, and you need advice, consider contacting dmi Networking for a free consultation and recommendations for specific systems to use in your business.