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Selecting the Right Desktops for Your Small Business

Purchasing computers for employees is perhaps the most foundational investment every small business must make prior to launch. Once a company is operational and begins to scale, additional machines will need to be introduced to the fleet on a continual basis as new employees are hired.

Company-wide technology refreshes should be conducted every three years to ensure that all workers have the necessary tools to help them be productive. When deciding which computer is best for a small business, the first question that must be answered is obvious: desktop or laptop?

Are desktop computers obsolete?

When you walk into a café, you’re bound to see a swarm of laptops and notebooks. Even with the prevalence of laptops, desktop PCs running a Windows operating system are still the cornerstone of today’s businesses. Sure, laptops offer mobility, but they should only be provided to employees that absolutely must take their workstation with them wherever they go. Why? Because desktop computers are definitively cheaper than laptops. Whatever money a company spends on a laptop, that same amount could be used to purchase a considerably more robust desktop.

Additionally, the primary components within a desktop are swappable, making repairs and upgrades a lot simpler. This often saves small businesses from having to purchase entirely new machines if one part of the desktop malfunctions. Since desktop component parts are largely inter-operable, a small business could significantly cut down on the loss in productivity triggered when a computer breaks down. By maintaining a modest inventory of spare parts, there would be no need to ship faulty gear to the original manufacturer and wait for a replacement.

Are refurbished computers good?

An excellent way to further reduce IT spend is to consider purchasing refurbished desktops when it’s time to get an employee a new computer. This doesn’t mean you’d be giving them used or beat up equipment that would hinder their productivity. It’s actually quite the opposite.

The vast majority have not been used at all, and unlike “used” equipment, if a refurbished system has any faulty or underperforming components, they are repaired or replaced. Refurbished systems are also comprehensively cleaned and pass rigorous testing. Since the components in refurbished products have been tested more extensively than “new” equipment, the chances of you getting a faulty unit are actually less.

How long should a desktop computer last?

New desktop computers should last a minimum of 3 years. The typical lifespan for small business computers is about 3 to 5 years, but if faulty parts are replaced as needed, it’s possible to get almost a decade out of a machine. Once a computer has trouble multitasking or cannot handle the operating system required to support the applications your business depends on, it’s time to buy a new machine.

How much RAM does a desktop need?

RAM, not to be confused with storage, enables a computer to conduct multiple tasks at the same time. For typical business activities, 4GB to 8GB of RAM will suffice. Less than 4GB of RAM would not suffice for your standard productivity applications and is typically found in lightweight computers running Chrome OS. For workers that frequently run several applications at the same time, configurations between 8GB and 16GB would provide valuable performance. Configurations greater than 16GB are unnecessary except for employees that are using labor-intensive applications, such as graphic design software or work with very large, complex datasets.

How much storage does a desktop need?

The proliferation of affordable cloud storage available through offerings, such as OneDrive within Office 365, reduces the magnitude of native desktop storage small businesses must purchase. However, confidential or compliance-sensitive data should not be stored in the cloud.

IT purchasers must also decide between traditional Hard Drives (HDD) and Solid-State Drives (SSD), the latter of which is faster, but more expensive. In order to improve the speed of a desktop, it’s best practice to configure the machine with two hard drives. It’s advisable to install a smaller SSD that contains just the operating system and frequently accessed applications. While the second drive should be a larger traditional hard drive that stores files accessed less often.

What is the best processor and processor speed for a desktop computer?

Since chip manufacturing has reached a point where we don’t have the technology to pack anymore capacity within a single chip or “core”, processors are therefore developed with multiple cores. Intel is the tried and true processor manufacturer for business desktops, touting years of solid performance and durability ratings. Their Intel Core i3 processor is perfect for small business use cases. It is fully equipped to handle typical business activities, such as document management and browsing.

For small business users that want superior performance while running multiple applications at once, but not engaged in any graphically intensive activities, the Intel Core i5 is a solid option. This chipset can be purchased with 2 to 4 cores. For applications that require intensive computing power, the Intel Core i7 is a must-have. Like the i5, it comes with up to 4 cores as well.

What is the most common desktop monitor size and resolution?

Once you have selected the appropriate desktop for a small business user, you subsequently need to pair it with the correct monitor. Unless an employee is dealing with graphics or video as part of their job, a monitor resolution of 1,366x768, which allows 720p, would suffice. This is the typical resolution for a 22-inch screen, which most employees are happy to use. Graphic designers should have their desktops complemented by a more robust screen that offers 1080p and is at least 27-inches with a maximum resolution of 2,550x1,440.

What is the best desktop computer for small businesses?

Small businesses should seek customizable desktops that are cost-effective and built for their daily business operations. Models such as the Dell OptiPlex and HP Elite are ideal for small business use. The key is to never rule out refurbished as an option. Since these machines are compatible with component replacements and often come with a strong warranty from their vendor, you are more likely to get a longer lifespan out of a desktop than a laptop.

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