Computers are a big capital expense so you want to do it right. If you go for the mobility of a laptop, are you giving up performance and capabilities of a desktop? And if you’ve been in business, COVID-19 might have caught you off guard, scrambling to outfit your home office with the hardware needed for effective remote work.
So what computer types are best for your business? We’ll do a computer comparison and explore how each can help your small business.
A desktop personal computer (PC) is a stationary computer that has four parts: a tower, a keyboard, a mouse, and monitors. Desktop computers usually offer large amounts of computing power via the CPU (Central Processing Unit), which functions as the “brain” of the computer. It controls all of the computer’s operations, and the faster the CPU performs, the faster the computer will be. All computers have CPUs, but desktop computers typically have faster ones for the same price.
Desktop PCs also usually have a larger hard drive and more RAM (random access memory) than other kinds of computers, giving you more long and short-term storage options. In addition to this, desktop PCs usually have easy-to-upgrade graphics cards and options for larger screens.
Why you want one
Desktop PCs are easy to upgrade and hard to damage. They may be intimidating at first, but you can typically run an entire small business from a desktop PC and store all of your files on your computer. For an added layer of protection, you can back up everything to a cloud service, so if your computer stops working one day for any reason, your information is likely still stored in the cloud. Desktop PCs are also considered reliable because they use electrical power and usually remain operational as long as you keep them plugged in and you’re not experiencing a power outage.
Why you don’t want one
Desktop PCs are large, and you can’t take them home for the night. For all their computing power, if you’re only using it for documents or email, you may not get the most out of a desktop computer.
A laptop (also known as a notebook) is a portable device that usually has port connections on the sides for peripherals like a mouse or external hard drive. You don’t have to buy separate monitors or a keyboard since it usually already has those built into its compact body.
Why you want one
Laptops are sleek, fast, and best of all–they’re portable. You can always stay connected to your business with a laptop. Most high-end notebooks also have excellent CPUs and plenty of RAM to give you a reasonably fast computing experience.
Laptops are at their best when they are used for light work like reading, emailing, word processing, using social media, or streaming videos.
Why you don’t want one
Unless you get a top-of-the-line laptop, your notebook will be slower than many desktop PCs. It’s hard to get the same performance out of a laptop because it’s harder to cool the parts inside of them. Desktop PCs have the tower space to run fans that cool down the CPU and other electronics inside. Laptops have much smaller fans, so they can be prone to overheating and shutting down if used extensively.
Laptops are also limited by their battery life. Most modern batteries are big enough to offer 12 or more hours of continuous power to your laptop computer, but they will need to be recharged and that takes valuable time out of your day. Or you keep them plugged in, so there goes the portability.
Do you need a tablet?
A tablet can be a great addition to your workflow, especially for desktop users. It can perform all of the tasks of a laptop via mobile computing. Tablets are great peripherals, but trusting your entire business to run on a tablet is risky, as tablets can be dropped and break. Also, if you choose to use the tablet over public wi-fi, you are opening your business up to very serious potential security threats.
Making the decision
If you already have some combination of a desktop, laptop and/or tablet, work with your internet provider to make sure your internet is fast enough for your business’ needs, and make sure you can access the internet from all of your devices.
Use your desktop PC for word processing and sensitive storage like financial documents and personnel files. Deploy your laptop for document creation and file sharing. Take your tablet with you wherever you go, and use it for emails and instant messaging.
If you can only have one device, consider making it a laptop computer. Laptops are portable, powerful, and generally less expensive than desktop PCs. You can usually work from anywhere in the world on your laptop and use an external hard drive for increased storage.
Addressing your staff’s needs
As more and more small businesses are going full-remote, employees will need more than just the “family computer” in their living room to get their work done. If you can afford it, offer to help your employees by upgrading computer components, whether that means a new monitor for their old desktop PC, a graphics card upgrade, or a new notebook. If that option is out of reach, asking your employees to make sure they have fast and reliable internet service at home is also a way to ensure your team will meet its goals.
As you move forward, keep computers up to date
If you or your employees have computers over five years old, you may cost the company money in the long run. According to a J. Gold Associates study commissioned by Intel, a global worker with a computer over five years old loses 29.45% of their productivity over the course of a year. If that employee is making $60,000 a year, they are costing their organization $17,667.
As you start up your business, you will know your needs better than anyone. With the right hardware and internet service at your fingertips, you can stay in touch with your clients, customers and suppliers and stay on top of your business.