When it comes to purchasing computers, it’s best to balance the needs of employees with the company’s operating budget. Investing wisely in technology usually doesn’t involve buying the cheapest hardware on the market, but it also doesn’t have to break the bank.
Affinity’s team of technology experts customizes specific hardware recommendations based on the goals of the company and individual needs of the employee who will be using a computer. Still, there are some general useful guidelines for purchasing the best computers for your employees, which we’d like to share here.
Step 1: Determine the Type of User
While users in a business environment can vary on a spectrum of needs when it comes to computer hardware, we find it helpful to think of two major categories of users: light users and power users.
Light users typically use their computers for basic, everyday tasks like email communication, web browsing, and basic tasks in Microsoft Office. While speed and reliability are important for everyone, light users often don’t need the fastest or most powerful computers in the office.
Power users, on the other hand, need their computers to be as fast and as powerful as possible. These are typically executives who rely on their computers to run the company, or employees who use tools that require significant computing resources, such as design or media software (Photoshop, CAD), accounting packages, or advanced business analytics tools.
Step 2: Match Computing Specs to Needs
Once you’ve identified the user type, you’re ready to take a look at specifications like processor (CPU) type, memory (RAM), data storage, and screen size. Here’s a high-level breakdown of specs we commonly find adequate for both light users and power users:
- RAM: Minimum of 4 GB, may want to consider up to 8 GB
- CPU: Intel i5
- Storage: Minimal storage size needs, may want to consider a solid state drive (SSD)
- Screen size: For laptops, smaller screens are more portable, but some prefer a larger display.
- RAM: 16 GB
- CPU: Intel i7
- Storage: We recommend choosing a solid state drive (SSD) over a hard disk drive (HDD) for better performance, unless the user needs more than 1 TB of storage.
- Screen size: For laptops, smaller screens are more portable, but some prefer a larger display. Many power users also benefit from having dual monitor setups.
Step 3: Don’t Forget the Warranty
Warranties and support contracts on computer hardware are a must-have for businesses to protect their investments and productivity. Most vendors offer a number of plans varied by years of coverage and support timeframe. For power users, we recommend springing for the better support timeframes (24 x 7 or 24 x 5, with next day shipping for replacements) while for light users, you might be able to get away with more modest plans.
Step 4: Plan Ahead for Hardware Spending
Obviously, your budget plays a role in the amount of money you can spend on hardware, which is why it’s critical to plan ahead for spending. Prices vary from vendor to vendor, but here are some ballpark estimates of cost:
- Light-user machines: $600 - $800
- Power-user machines: $1800 - $2000
Step 5: Save by Re-using Hardware
One way many businesses save on hardware is by reusing or repurposing aging hardware for new hires or lower-level employees. Last year’s power-user hardware may be this year’s light-user hardware. So as new hardware is purchased for power users who need the latest and greatest specs, the company can save money by repurposing their old hardware.