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by: Jimi St Pierre

Business managers are regularly warned in the electronics media and elsewhere, to consider the risks of buying cheaper consumer PCs for daily business workloads - but many small firms are still choosing the cheaper models to keep costs down. Such businesses make the assumption that buying consumer class PCs for company use will be cheaper in the long run. But is this truly the case?

The basic answer is to consider the purpose which the PC has to fulfill, and to consider reliability issues in tandem.

Many small businesses only use PCs for emailing and sending documents, plus of course spreadsheets and letters and perhaps also an accounts package too. Not all departments or individuals in the business need access to Server Class equipment on their desks. In these instances, the temptation to buy cheaply at the consumer end is difficult to resist, especially when taking in the fact that failure rates of cheaper PC's continues to be very low, with most problems encountered being caused by software.

So, is it true that despite cost pressures, buying consumer devices is no match for professional business-class hardware? Are many shop-bought computers are not rigorously tested to meet business needs?

Clearly, buying cheaply is only a good idea until a computer failure affects business and damages cash-flow. So as well as a cost difference, there is definitely the business continuity liability to consider. And does the consumer-focused PC have all the applications and tools to really help businesses?

It is a fact that business-oriented computers have no "special ingredient" to make them more reliable - they all come from the same factories as consumer-oriented computers and they use the same parts. Often the main difference is simply the style of the case, the version of Windows preinstalled and the cost. And they do not necessarily come with business applications preinstalled either.

Hence the best advice for business users is exactly the same as that given to consumer or home users - buy the PC which suits the purpose. Often, in the case with memory-hungry business applications, this is a matter of looking at the PC's processor. Buying a Celeron type processor for a business PC is not a good idea if fast performance is needed. That immediately rules out the cheapest PCs, where a Celeron processor is usually specified. Again, Celeron is fine - and can save costs - as long as your eyes remain open to the limits of it performance. For memory-hungry applications, at least Intel Core 2 Duo for today's Microsoft Office packages is a wise investment. Combined with the right Processor type, the largest affordable amount of RAM would be a good matching idea.

Hence, a good place to start when considering a business PC is to look at the array of online stores which cater for business. There, hardware specifications relevant to a range of business styles are likely to be found, along with ideas for an upgrade in business computing style to server-based computing. It is in server-based computing where small businesses on an upward growth path are likely to find an overwhelming case for deployment of hardware fit for long-term business efficiency.

Jimi St. Pierre writes for several Office IT Equipment suppliers in the UK, including office IT systems supplier Officemagic. The Officemagic range of server-based computing hardware including desktops, workstations and peripherals can be found at =>

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