Buying professional computers is a quirky business because a professional grade machine looks basically identical to a “home” machine to the untrained eye. Usually once or twice a year we prepare a quote for, let’s say six professional-grade laptops, and submit to a client for approval. The client then turns around and buys six laptops from Best Buy. Comedy (and tragedy) ensues.
From our perspective, the big box computers should never even be considered for business use, unless you are a sole proprietor working from home. Even then, we still wouldn’t advise it.
Big box vendors buy computers in massive bulk orders, and focus on price above all else. If you’re Walmart, or are competing against Walmart, then you had better deliver your machines at a stunningly low price. Buying in bulk is only part of the equation. They also rely on cheaper internal parts to hit that low price point.
We’ve been dealing with “home” computers for years. They just don’t last nearly as long as business-grade machines. For this reason alone, true cost of one against the other tends to even out.
Some other compelling reasons to stay out of Best Buy, Walmart, Costco and the like when buying business computers:
- Warranties. A business-grade machine typically comes with a 3yr, “next day service” warranty. Home machine warranties typically cover only the first year. So, for example, if your hard drive goes bad in year two, your home computer isn’t covered, and won’t be fixed the next day. What’s the true cost of being without a computer for several days? Let’s not find out!
- Software. Big box computers come with “Home Versions” of operating systems. This often means your computer will not be able to do simple, expected network activity like joining your office’s “domain.” Remote desktop users will also be surprised to find that the home computers cannot support this practice.
- Bloatware. The big box stores also pre-installs often useless software such as games, trial versions of anti-virus, etc. This only slows down your computer from the get-go.
- Hidden expenses. The reality is, if you buy a home computer and intend to use it in a modern business setting, you will surely have to hire someone like Promethius to get it up-to-snuff.
Don’t get me wrong. Some day you might bump into me in the Walmart cereal aisle, the soap aisle, the freezer section, etc. But you will never, ever catch me in the computer section. I’ve got standards.