Consumer vs. business computers, is there a difference?

Working with many different small businesses we often get asked this question. Frequently purchasing a new computer is left to the last minute and at first glance is seems easier to run out to the nearest retail store and pick up a shiny new system. In addition these same retail stores are often advertising systems at great discount prices, but is it really cheaper in the end? What’s really the different between the consumer models found in retail stores and the business models available through resellers or directly from the manufacturer?

When comparing different computer models the conversation quickly focusses on the technical specs. The speed and type of processor, how much RAM and storage the system includes, among other details. These technical details are definitely important items to consider, however the total cost of the system also has other considerations. Three other considerations often overlooked are: operating system, warranty and install time.

Consumer model systems come with the Windows Home operating system which is not designed for business environments. The Windows Pro operating system is required to connect to servers, it also has remote connection capabilities and built in management tools that are needed to properly maintain a business computer. While Windows Home can be upgraded to Windows Pro after the fact, this costs an extra $80 - $150 for the software upgrade license, in addition to the labour to have this installed.

Warranty is the next differentiator between consumer and business models. Brand name business computers sold by HP, Dell and Lenovo all offer full onsite warranty coverage. Retail systems most often are sold with depot warranty. In the event that the computer needs to be serviced, a retail system has to be brought back to the store, or a repair depot. Businesses typically prefer to have a technician come onsite and repair the system versus packing up the system to be shipped away for repair which can take days or even weeks.

Install time is another cost that is often not considered when purchasing a new computer. If you purchased a consumer model, now you have to upgrade the Home operating system to Pro, install all the latest patches, install Microsoft Office and then finally you are ready to start configuring all the other data and line of business applications. The business computers save time by having Windows Pro already preinstalled, plus many of them even include the latest Microsoft Office software preinstalled. This results in shorter install times which translates into lower install cost.

So if consumer models require an operating system upgrade, don’t include onsite warranty and take longer to install is it really cheaper in the end? Often these extra costs can add up to $500 or more, not taking into account the additional stress that this can cause. Looking for a new or replacement business computer? Give us a call and we’ll help you save money and have less stress!

Leave a comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.