Today, it’s easy enough to go pick up a computer from Best Buy, Costco, Amazon or other tech retailer. The question is whether you get the RIGHT computer for your business. There’s a reason these places are considered CONSUMER electronic stores – not BUSINESS electronic stories.
The most common mistakes when buying computers for a business happen in these 6 areas:
Also called RAM, memory impacts how many applications you can have open at once without having your system slow down or crash. Think about memory like your office desk. Having more memory is like having a larger desk, where you can lay out more projects and paper all at once, without anything getting buried (which will slow you down).
If you like to have lots of browsers and applications open all at once – and/or you do a lot of video or photo processing, you’ll want to invest in more memory – 16-32 GB. If you’re a normal office user 8 GB will be adequate and will save you money.
Some computers allow you to expand memory later – but you must be mindful to use the SAME type of memory. Mixing and matching computer memory does not work.
2. Hard drive space
With cloud computing being so prevalent, hard drive space is becoming less of an issue – unless you want to be able to access files while offline. The hard drive controls how much data you can store. To follow our office analogy, if memory is the size of your desk, the hard drive is the size of your file cabinet. If you only use your computer for surfing the web and email, and most of your data is in the cloud or on a server, you can get by with a smaller hard drive. If you want to work on your local computer, and/or you work with large files, you should invest in a larger hard drive (typically over 512 GB).
3. Processor Speed
For Windows computers, there are two main manufacturers of computer processors – Intel and AMD. Beyond the processor, you have a model number and processing speed. So what’s the difference between a Intel Core i7-7800 and a AMD A10-7800? You have to have some serious computer nerd cred to know the difference.
In general, the newer the processor, the faster it will run. Windows 10 can be processor intensive, so if you’ve upgraded to Windows 10 from a machine that was running Windows 7 or 8, you may feel like computer is running slow. We generally recommend Intel processors (mostly because we recommend Dell computers). The Intel i5 is a great fit for most business users, and the Intel i7 for processing-intensive users.
- What are you using this computer for? Travel? Is it light enough? Can you open it in a coach airline seat?
- Do you need a docking station? Be sure your computer has docking capabilities.
- Do you need to connect to two or more monitors? Make sure you have the right types of connections – HDMI, VGA, DVI, DisplayPort.
- Do you have enough USB ports?
- Do you want to be able to use SD cards or micro SD cards to expand storage?
- Do you need a video card? A video card will improve speed and visuals for games, video editors and other graphics-intense users.
5. Operating System
There are 4 main operating system environments – Microsoft, Apple, Google and Linux. While switching between these systems has gotten easier over the years, users are often frustrated to find that the app that works so great on their Mac isn’t available (or isn’t as good) on Microsoft. We advise our IT clients to pick a main operating system and stick with it as much as possible.
Some applications don’t yet work with Windows 10. If you’ve had expensive custom developed software created, be sure to ask your software developer if the software will be compatible with the computers you’re buying. We have several clients who are still running Windows 7 or 8 to keep their IT environment as stable as possible.
Also, many people don’t realize that the Windows 10 Home Edition doesn’t work well in business environments, when you want to be able to authenticate a computer on a server or domain.
Laptops in particular come with high risk – from both theft and damage. Getting the right warranty at the outset can help you minimize downtime if anything should ever happen to your machine. One of the reasons we love Dell computers is because their warranties are so good.
Ask before you buy!
We advise clients to call us before they make hardware purchases. The primary reason is not the consulting income. We don’t want to tell you that the brand new hardware you purchased won’t work for you.
One 15-minute phone call to us or your IT Services Provider might save your company thousands of wasted dollars.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I avoid when buying a computer?
Common mistakes when buying computers come from these areas:
2. Hard drive space
3. Processor speed
4. Hardware considerations
5. Operating system
What should I check before buying a new computer?
Make sure the computer has enough memory, hard drive space, and processing speed for your needs. Getting the right warranty can help minimize downtime if anything should ever happen to your machine.