Periodically I like to review the consumer retailers and what they offer for PC’s, laptops, and other consumer devices. I do this, so I can stay on top of all the options available for my clients. I want to make sure I can best guide my clients in making the best business decisions regarding IT.
I’m often surprised by the extreme amount of horsepower you can buy in a consumer level computer. They often sell PC’s with specifications that would match a high-end engineering workstation, at the price of a mid-level office PC. This has led me to research what is the difference between these consumer PC’s and their business counterparts.
Often a consumer PC will come with a 90 day, or 1-year warranty. Whereas a professional grade PC start with a 1-year warranty, and often come with a three-year warranty.
Another difference between these two is the business grade PC will come with an onsite repair, with a certified repair technician arriving the next day. Consumer pc’s typically require you to ship your PC to a repair depot.
This is a major issue if your reception area is unable to take new patients, or your shipping department is down. Having a technician on site, the next day, and your computer working within 48 hours, versus shipping your computer to a repair depot. The shipping alone can take 24-48 hours. In our experience repair depots often take multiple attempts to fix the issue. Your pc can be out of service for days, even weeks.
Professional operating system
Consumer grade pc’s come with the ‘home’ version of the windows operating system. This means that the machine is not designed to function on a business network. Your pc will not integrate with servers, cannot see network resources, like printers, and will not have the needed features for securing the pc.
Quality of components
If you are buying a device that has the same specifications as a high-end engineering computer, at the price of a mid-grade business computer, something must be missing. This difference is made up with the quality of the components. I like to compare it to automobiles. Anyone who has ever watched the movie ‘Cars’ has seen a ‘Nascar’ vehicle pull a road paver, and dig up a road. The line from the movie states “He can do it, he has the horsepower!” This situation is similar to using a consumer gaming computer in an office environment. The pc definitely has the horsepower, but its missing some majorly important features. In an office environment longevity, and reliability are prized over speed. These features require higher quality components. A truck built to pull road pavers, and dig up asphalt is going to last longer, and be more reliable than a race car doing those jobs, even though technically they both have 500 horsepower, and plenty of torque.
Consumer grade pc’s are often subsidized by software companies. The software companies pay to have their software preinstalled on the PC. Most of this software is not friendly to businesses. They are insecure, slow the PC down, and can cause issues with management of the PC. If you are in a regulated environment, such as HIPAA, or NIST, these programs may cause you to be non-compliant.
Often consumer PC’s are not upgradeable to meet future business needs. In the world of laptops often the devices are not upgradable at all. Business machines on the other hand often come with several upgrade slots available and are built with future upgrades in mind. These PC’s are engineered to make upgrades simpler, and cheaper.
Business PC’s are also built with parts that are stocked much longer, and thus can be maintained longer. This offers the ability to keep the machine longer, and keep it operating reliably with components built for it.
I know that business PC’s are not right for every business. But generally, when you add up the benefits of owning a business class PC, over time the cost is drastically lower than owning a consumer grade PC. Going back to the car analogy, towing that trailer cross country with your Camaro may be possible, but using your ¾ ton pickup is probably a whole lot better.