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Small Business Moment-of-Truth #2: Retail vs. Commercial PCs

Posted by John Cluzel on Sat, Nov 27th, 2014

Most small business owners begin their operations on shoestring budgets. Even the occasional small business loan is hardly a reason to splurge on the necessities. When it comes to buying workstations and laptops, SMBs are faced with a simple choice: Go the ultra-low budget route through a retailer or purchase it from a commercial dealer. After all, you’re buying the same machines whether it’s retail or commercial, right?
Wrong. There are actually significant yet subtle differences in the quality of machines made for consumers and those made for businesses, even though many manufacturers may label them identically.

Like retrofitting a desktop CPU with a server OS and using it as a server, there’s little to gain and a lot to lose by trying to cut corners with your PC and laptop purchases. So what are some of the differences? Obviously not much that meets the eye, but inside of the machines, it’s another story.

  • Operating System: The consumer model is likely to be equipped with a version of Windows, like Starter or Home edition, while the pro model will have the industrial-strength version.
  • Software: Business PCs have many options, like remote desktop control, data encryption tools, backup programs, and migration and management tools. In addition, there is no pre-installed “bloatware”, or junk programs, from software partners that would impede performance.
  • Built to Last: The business version is usually subjected to more rigorous durability testing than consumer models. Metallic cases, internal metal structures, sturdier hinges and beefed-up display frames are road-tested for business.
  • Better options: These include docking stations, extra, longer-life batteries, and extended warranties not found on consumer lines.
    12-16 month component lifecycles: Choose the same model machine as your employee base expands.
  • Better support options: Longer default warranties and upgrade options, along with dedicated business help desks, are available through a commercial dealer.

In short, the business-class model you’ll get from a commercial dealer is designed to support your critical reliability and performance requirements. The minimally higher investment will pay off with a higher quality computing experience: Increased productivity, longer life cycles, higher data integrity, and reduced down time. It all adds up. As PCMag succinctly puts it, “When shopping for a desktop PC for your small or medium-size business, resist the temptation to simply go for the lowest price. Instead, invest in a system that will get the job done for years to come.”