There are so many computer options out there today and with the bring-your-own-device movement, choosing the right ones for your different types of users is more difficult than it seems.
Here are a few considerations before you make your buying decision.
Consumer-Grade Computing is Not for Business
This is an issue that we as an IT consulting company run into quite often. Consumer-grade equipment isn’t built to be as reliable, its licensing may not be legal or even usable for your business needs and the support options you get with them aren’t ideal. The Geek Squad may not be able to help you with some of your business issues and Microsoft may be breathing down your neck about misuse of their licensing.
When you typically buy a laptop from Best Buy or somewhere else, it can come with Microsoft Windows licensing that’s meant for a consumer, not a business. Home versions of Windows aren’t compatible with lots of enterprise software and Microsoft is constantly on the lookout for violations of their licensing policies.
Having support for your business-critical computers can make or break someone’s entire workday or week. With business-class support, you can have technicians or parts onsite in as little as two hours and you can get faster and much improved phone support. Can you afford to have your employees standing around twiddling their thumbs unable to work? Can you afford hours on the support line waiting to be helped?
Better Security and Features
All business-grade laptops can come with Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which works with Bitlocker (encryption program) to seamlessly protect your users’ data in the event of machine theft. Consumer-grade laptops do not support this feature natively and you would have to install third-party programs to try and achieve what comes standard with a business-grade machine.
Business-grade laptops also come with a Kensington lock, which is a slot built in where you can chain the laptop to the desk, essentially, not unlike a bike lock. This keeps your machines and data secure in your office if you need to.
And like I said before, with your consumer-grade Windows Home, the antivirus and software protection options are not built to protect your critical business data.
Management and Remote Access
Having a hodge podge of consumer-grade computers makes it very difficult for your IT team to manage and support them. With business grade, there are management and remote access features that allow IT professionals to easily access, troubleshoot and manage hardware. For example, business-grade devices come with Intel vPro technology that allows remote access and advanced out-of-band management capabilities. In other words, if you’ve got a faulty logic board that’s preventing your user from even using the computer, an IT professional can still access the computer “out of band” of the Operating System or your business network in order to troubleshoot.
Your hardware will be better certified to standards and the encasing will be made of higher quality, more durable materials. For example, if you have a lot of graphic designers or engineering workers, there is a drastic difference in the hardware required to run their professional software for it to function properly. An engineering workstation most likely will have an Intel Xeon Processor, which is certified to run 24/7 workloads and is compatible with error correction control (ECC) memory. From the outside, it may look the same and run the same, but the difference is that highly precise work like engineering and design has a much lower tolerance for error and loss.
Addressing the Price Misconception
Generally people believe that business-grade computers cost a lot more money than just any computer you can pick up at Best Buy. However, there is a common issue with buying hardware that is unable to keep up with the business-level wear and tear. For example, a business-grade laptop hinge is designed to be opened and closed at least 20 times a day whereas a consumer’s laptop may only be designed to handle twice a day. Typically, business-grade computer depreciation rates are between four and six years, but a consumer-grade computer may not achieve the same longevity because it’s not built for it.
Think of it like this: if I were running a construction company that hauled lots of equipment or material and I bought Ford F150s to handle it, the trucks would wear out much quicker under that strain than if I had invested in, say, F350s, which are built to handle that level of use. Yes, F350 pickup trucks cost more up front, but the total cost of ownership over the next five years would be lower with less repairs, enhancements and replacements.
Yes, that Dell Latitude may have an initially higher price tag than the Inspiron you saw at Best Buy, but you’ll probably replace it sooner and spend more time and money troubleshooting and maintaining it in the long run.