Criteria for choosing a computer system for your small business will likely differ from those “must haves” when shopping for a personal computer. For starters, the appearance or style of the computer is typically not important for a business, while the power and speed can be critical.
In deciding between a Mac and PC, there are “three critical pieces [to consider],” Bob Gaines, manager at IT services firm All Covered, told BusinessNewsDaily:
- Required applications of the business
- Type of back-end system the computers will tie into
- Skill level of the intended users
“If the applications they need are predominantly Microsoft based, such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, the Office Suite, then typically you want to focus on the Windows platform,” Gaines said. “If their business relies heavily on graphics – multi-media, AutoCAD and engineering type of things – then they’ll probably want to look at a Macintosh.”
“And then from there you want to look at the second component, what are they tying into on the back-end, so what kind of server do you have on the back,” Gaines said. For businesses using things like Microsoft CRM to track customer management, for example, a PC is the best choice. “You want to keep the workstations with a similar operating system as the server just for ease of administration,” Gaines said.
The third component to consider when deciding between a PC and a Mac is “the skill of the end users and how do you want to enable them to do their various jobs,” Gaines said. A small business might consider a Mac to support employees who are either savvy computer geeks with a passion for all-things-Mac, or not so savvy and need the simple interface provided by Mac products, Gaines said.
Under the hood
Once settled on a Mac or a PC, a small business will decide which features are most important.
“This is going to be business specific in many ways but the most important features to maximize ROI are going to be processing speed and power, storage space and the amount of memory installed,” Aaron said. “These are typically the things that determine how long a new machine will be functionally sound in a business environment. Monitors, keyboards, mice, even CD/DVD drives can be easily changed out and upgraded along the way,” Aaron said.
While the processing speed is important, however, the processor on most computers these days is overkill, Gaines said. Instead, the amount of RAM or memory – typically 2GB to start – is important for determining the speed of the computer.
“When it comes to storage, storage these days is very cheap and so it’s not uncommon for you to get 500 gigs of space on a new hard drive for a computer,” Gaines said.
If you’ve decided to go with a PC, and you have a good idea of what you want in terms of speed and storage, the next question is one of brand. There are many brands and no-name computers available that will fit the bill.
“What you want is a name you can recognize,” Gaines said. While generically built machines are cheaper, they don’t come with the same kind of reliability and a good warranty, Gaines said. One problem with no-name machines is that they are not as extensively tested to ensure compatibility with a wide range of applications.
Gaines recommends that small businesses purchase an extended warranty even with these name brands.