Published: Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Have you ever been in the market for a new computer and wondered what the difference is between a business class workstation and a computer used for personal use?  Most people don’t realize there is a difference between them, but there is.  Would you use a screwdriver to hammer a nail into a wall?  They are both tools, they both push similar types of objects inward, but there is a big difference between both tools. Computers built for business application are designed differently, for a different audience and purpose.

Some major differences between the two are that business desktops are built to last longer, run 24/7, and are easier to service than consumer PCs.  The longer a business PC is down, the more money it costs you in lost earning time.  Another big difference is storage space and hard drive speed. Business PCs require less storage but faster speeds than consumer PCs. Most consumer PC hard drives run at 5,400 rpm while business class hard drives typically run at 7,200 rpm. This allows for faster read/write speeds and more productivity. Since storage is so inexpensive these days, a hard drive with 300GB to 500GB of space is a good balance between economy and space.

An increasingly important issue businesses face is security.  Once a business expands beyond a half-dozen employees with PCs, consulting with an IT expert is recommended. At this point purchasing business class workstations with corporate IT features will provide added security to your network as well as make deployment and troubleshooting easier. Business computers are better equipped to deal with the business environment.

Software is another reason to purchase a business PC. Personal use software is not always compatible with professional use applications.  One example of this can be seen in the world of CAD engineering software.  According to HP’s Jeff Wood, VP of product management, “the workstations have been highly tuned for professional applications. Another consideration is [that] many of the CAD software vendors are unwilling to provide software support for non-certified consumer PCs.”  Compatibility between hardware and software involve cooperation between both software and hardware vendors. “While in some instances using a high-end consumer PC or even a gaming PC may work to meet the minimum requirements for desktop CAD applications, typically these systems are maxed out and provide little to no room for future expansion,” says  Andy Rhodes, executive director of Dell Precision workstations in Making the Case for Professional Engineering Workstations.  Most consumers are not aware of the difference between licensing for personal use and commercial use.  “Independent Software Vendor (ISV) certification ensures the system is qualified and supported by the ISV for workstation software applications,” says Al Makley, director of ThinkStation Architecture and Technical Solutions, Lenovo. Often times the work behind the scenes for software and hardware compatibility happens before a line of computers is brought to market.  Compatibility issues for different software versions were tested prior to release in different environments. Certification is a rigorous process.  Many consumer desktop PCs do not have ISV certification.

These days, it may be tempting to grab the cheapest system out of a sales circular and call it your "business PC", DON’T DO IT! You and your business will be much better off going with a business class workstation of your favorite PC maker. It will be faster, more secure, last longer and offer better support than a consumer PC that comes with an array of bells and whistles that you won’t use in a business environment.

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