Purchasing a business computer for the office is not something that is done for fun, impulsively or frivolously. Generally you need a new device because the old one has broken; the old one is tooo sloooow; you’ve purchased a new version of CAD software for 3D rendering; you have a new employee; you want an additional device for another office; or, you need to be portable for meetings, traveling, sales, supervisor etc. Please contact us to chat about your new computer requirements, we want to ensure your new PC is your best employee to help your business grow.
What is the job of this business computer?
A computer is a tool and as such must suit the task required of it. Just as you interview an employee for a role, a computer must also be fit for purpose. Some examples follow:
- USER A) I need a new PC for reception to access the CRM, emails, websites. Usually only a couple windows open at the same time.
- USER B) We require a computer for accounting software, emails, websites, Microsoft Office suite, with a few windows open at the same time.
- USER C) Our business will need a PC to create and edit images to send to clients and put on Facebook as well as emails, CRM, websites. I’m always multitasking. I run a lot of reports and need them done quickly. I edit videos or compile programs.
- USER D) I want a workstation to render full 3D using Archicad 20. (Not really general office use, but here to show the differences).
Each of these examples would require a different business computer and will be used in the points to follow.
Don’t buy the cheapest computer you see.
When it comes to computers and moving parts, the cheapest is not going to do you any favours. Computers can be cheap because there is low quality components; little after sales support; short warranties; difficult to apply warranty; or old technology components. Some components are made and rejected due to low quality output by high end manufacturers and rebadged as generic brands (think John West tuna vs home brand tuna). So yes, there is a difference in speed for the exact same specification of different brands. Be careful when a computer is ‘on sale’, find the year of manufacture, check you can upgrade the RAM, Harddrive or CPU (note below) in the future.
A good computer for Users A and B should cost around $800-$1100 ex GST, including 3 years warranty and not including any screens, office software, or antivirus. User C, expect to pay around $1000 – $2000 ex GST (or more depending on your needs).
Buy the business computer with the fastest CPU you can afford.
Once you have purchased a computer, you are least likely to upgrade the CPU, so getting the fastest CPU is the best advice. The reason why you are less likely is because of the way components work together, a certain CPU can only fit on a certain mainboard. Every single component is connected to the mainboard. Think of the mainboard as a road, highway, freeway, and transport network. The better the mainboard the better the transport network. So a computer that you buy today might be a four lane highway, in 2-3 years the CPUs may only work on 8 lane highways; so you also have to upgrade the mainboard, and then the RAM… You may as well now just buy another PC.
For this reason, an i3 CPU has no place in an office environment. Perhaps for User A, but the higher i3 CPUs are the same price if not more than the lower end i5 CPUs. As the i5 CPUs can carry heavier loads on more lanes than the i3 CPUs, Bang for Buck i5s are better for office scenarios. User C would require an i7, more lanes, faster freeways, heavier loads.
Consider the usable computer life
Functional business computers that do not operate as the tool you need will slow you down and will cost your business much more money than what it would cost to purchase a new computer.
Actual computer life (before the cost of fixing outweighs the cost of replacing) may be anything from 3 years to 6 years. If any hardware fails occur within warranty, these costs are reduced – get the warranty! The power supply (PSU) might fail, replace and install for around $150; RAM needs an upgrade around $150; Harddrive fails, around $200 (depending on backups!); mainboard fails – get a new PC; Windows operating system version software incompatibility – get a new PC; Latest version program issues – get a new PC; New printers/peripheral connectivity issues – get a new PC.
Usable computer life is how long you can use a computer in the job you purchased it for, while continuing to remain current with all software. This is closer to 2 – 3 years. *When you buy a PC that is last years stock you have lost a year of usability, not always worth the discounted price. When a computer becomes an incorrect fit for use you can repurpose the PC, User C computer can be repurposed to User B after 2 years and so on. Older computers can be used as hot desks, print servers, firewalls, school children or can be donated to various charities.
4GB RAM is nice, 8GB RAM is better
Some PCs and laptops fuse the ram in place and you can’t upgrade it. If this is the case and you still want to purchase, make sure it has at least 8GB RAM. RAM is memory, it is that thing that stores what is happening right now on every single screen or window open on your PC created by a program. Computers for User A will be fine with 4GB RAM, Users B and C with 8 GB RAM, User C may require even more GB’s. After 2-3 years, RAM is most likely the first thing you want to upgrade.
Harddrive SSD or HDD?
A drive stores your programs and data. A HDD (Hard Disk Drive) contains layers of spinning platters using magnets and an ‘arm’ to store and retrieve data. Moving parts generate heat, react badly to bumps, are noisy and have a shorter life span. An SSD does not have any moving parts. Data is stored and accessed from flash memory modules. Due to how the data is stored and accessed on SSDs it is very fast, the speed of HDDs depends on how fast the drives spin. When buying a laptop, particularly if you are going to transport it, make sure it has an SSD. A business computer will also benefit from a SSD drive. The machine will start up quicker, open programs quicker, access data quicker and generally run quicker.
When buying a new business computer make sure the SSD is no smaller than 128GB, you will most definitely regret anything smaller. Use an external drive, NAS or cloud storage or all if you can’t afford a bigger SSD. (*Note backup is a whole new post).
If you think you will be traveling or work out of your car, a computer would not make sense – you need a laptop. All the above conditions apply to laptops as well as computers. Know that thin aspect laptops have mostly fused components, getting the fastest CPU and RAM you can afford at purchase helps the usable time. Many of the smaller and lighter laptops from all brands are at risk of not being able to accommodate operating system updates in future years and without the ability to upgrade you are left with a paperweight. The heavier and thicker laptops can generate a lot of heat and can potentially be upgraded. But they are heavy and not as cute/easy to carry as a commuter or traveler, also battery life will be shorter, will this stop you from using it? Do you really need a CD/DVD tray?
User C will need a budget of at least $2000 ex GST. Laptops can be rugged and durable for use on minesites, construction sites, wet areas, dusty areas – make sure you let your IT company know what you want to do. These rugged laptops are around $3000 ex and more.
Buy a Brand or build a computer?
Unless you have very specific requirements, buying a branded business computer is much more cost effective and efficient for all. We specifically use and recommend HP and Lenovo computers for all of our customers. We have repaired, upgraded and called in warranties for every other manufacturer, including Acer, Asus and Dell. What we have found is that we would rank HP first followed by Lenovo for warranty and after sales support for business computers.
HP and Lenovo both use quality components, not secondary offcuts and include long warranties; honouring them without any issue. We have a good relationship with HP and Lenovo support, HP have been known to warrant even after warranty expiry. Other brands do not have warranty outlets or service agents in this state, or have a ridiculous exclusion list, or have such poor support channels that it takes weeks to claim and months to receive a warranty conclusion.
If you get a business computer built, a same day warranty turn around is unlikely. We have sent graphic cards directly to the manufacturer for warranty that have taken 6 months to return! While we do supply temporary devices this wait time is outrageous. The cost is no different to purchase a computer built from quality parts or a HP/Lenovo branded computer. Choose the branded business computer with the 3 year warranty and your likelihood of needing to call in that warranty ever in its usable life is around 5% (HP/Lenovo).
I am sorry, this has turned into a long article, if you have made it this far, congratulations! In time this article will be shortened as the points will have their own articles. Please contact us to chat about your new computer requirements, we will help you find the right computer within your budget.