Business Class vs Consumer Class. What you should know when buying a new PC for your business

Business Class vs Consumer Class. What you should know when buying a new PC for your business

Today, technology is constantly expanding at an exponential rate. Experts tell us that the optimal refresh interval for new hardware is now 3 years. Statistics say that maintenance costs on a 4 year old PC are up to 60% higher than that of a 1 year old PC.

With those figures in mind, about 30% of computers purchased for SMB’s in Toronto come from retail stores.  This is an upward trend that comes with both positive and negative effects. On one hand, you can save a few dollars on the initial purchase, but what is the real cost? Let’s take a deeper look into Consumer class vs Business Class when it comes to purchasing a new PC.

Build Quality 

An advantage of buying Business class is you plain and simple get a better product. This of course comes at a higher price, but you get what you pay for. Business class hardware will typically use better quality parts and pass more stringent testing and certification before it leaves the assembly line than consumer class hardware.  It can be hard to justify the extra cost when you’re simply told “the hardware is better” until you understand the real cost of time and low productivity levels when cheap hardware breaks. A specific difference with one manufacturer, HP for example, would be that in their business class laptops they use titanium alloy hinges and seamless metal casing. These may seem like no big deal but when you contrast cost with downtime, you soon see the benefit.  Cheap plastic hardware is typically more likely to break, costing your company money in loss of productivity and support time to fix the issue, when investing in a better quality machine would have saved you the cost and the headache in the first place. Even small points like easy access to the chassis of the computer are usually made much more user friendly on Business Class machines.

Business Appropriate features

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen unneeded support hours invested in a laptop the second it is taken out of box. Why? Well, the office manager ran out Friday afternoon and grabbed a laptop from the nearest big box store for a new employee who is starting on Monday, only to find that the computer cannot be joined to the corporate domain. This is because it’s a consumer class machine that was shipped with a “Home Premium” version of Windows, which by design does not have the ability to join a corporate domain. Now, we are faced with a new OS purchase and hours of support time to install and get the machine up to spec so it can be used for business purposes, which we could have avoided by spending an extra $200 on the initial purchase.  This is not an extreme example, it happens all the time. The same goes for software like MS Office and pre-loaded Anti-Virus software.

Business Class machines will come pre-loaded with the applications that you require for your needs as a professional, allowing you to get to work out of the box. Consumer grade PCs also tend to come with much more “bloat-ware”. This is software that is pretty much useless and usually installed in trial mode to attract the user and hopefully have them purchase the full version.  This will have you spending an hour removing unneeded programs from your new computer before you even begin using it. Business grade hardware typically comes shipped with much less unneeded software and instead with applications that relate to your needs.  Sometimes business grade hardware will even come with very handy, full versions of programs installed like disk encryption software.

Support and Warranty

Business Class comes with manufacturers warranties that are longer terms and provide quicker service.  This saves time and money in the case that an issue does occur. Better support means less downtime which means minimal loss of productivity. You also have to take into account the fact that better hardware means less issues, thus mitigating downtime and loss of production even more.  For example, Dell business line of laptops comes with next business day support, which means that if you need a part replaced or experience a failure that Dell will respond with action within 24 hours. I can’t tell you how critical that is when you absolutely need the manufacturer to step in and replace a part. Waiting an extra 2 days for a motherboard to be replaced just negated the savings on the PC with loss of revenue because the user has been without his computer for 3 days now. See my point?


At the end of the day, a lot of the points here will come down to how competent and pro-active the technical team is in employing processes for new machine deployments that are sound and streamlined. Bad or no planning can turn even the simplest deployments into days or weeks of call-backs and support tickets because of bad roll-out by the IT department. The best way to approach new PC purchases is to have an expert on hand like a technical team member, who can procure new hardware purchasesand get proper specs before the purchase takes place. Vendors like Dell and HP can also be helpful if contacted directly with your needs in mind. Knowing what you are getting is half the battle when it comes to smooth roll-outs, so talk to an expert before you run to Future Shop! Happy computing!