The holiday season is a great time to look at new computers for your small- or medium-sized business (SMB). Most PC manufacturers offer massive discounts leading up to the new year, so you have plenty of options. However, don’t just base your decision solely on price. It’s important to find a computer that fits your needs in 2020 and beyond. Here are the computer specifications you must consider before making a purchase.
Central processing unit (CPU)
The CPU handles all the computing required to run applications and critical functions. To evaluate processors, there are two elements you should focus on:
- Clock speed is the speed at which the CPU operates, measured in gigahertz (GHz).
- Cores are the computation units of the CPU that receive instructions and perform calculations. CPUs can have multiple cores, each of which can run different processes.
The CPU you choose will largely depend on the type of work you do. If you only need a computer for word processing and web browsing, it doesn’t make sense to opt for a 3.7 GHz 18-core CPU. A PC with 2.3 GHz and six to eight cores should be more than enough for SMBs.
As for the brand, you can’t go wrong with an AMD or Intel processor. The latter is the most widely used brand and offers different computer chip families — core i3, i5,i7, and i9. Computers with i7 and i9 chips are the fastest, but they can be expensive. For SMBs, i5 chips provide a good balance of performance and price.
Also, check the first digit of the model number for the generation of the processor. For example, the ‘8’ in the Intel Core i5-8600 means it’s the eighth generation. Intel is releasing 10th generation processors as of this writing. With this in mind, it’s worth purchasing the latest generation processor. Buying PCs with older chips won’t save you much money in the long run since you’ll need to upgrade much sooner than you think.
Random access memory (RAM)
RAM is the computer’s short-term memory that keeps track of applications and data, so they can be easily accessed by the CPU. With more RAM, the PC can retain more information and manage more programs at one time.
Today, 4 GB of RAM is hardly enough for the average user. Google Chrome and other enterprise applications consume a ton of memory. This means you’ll likely experience massive drops in performance when you load dozens of browser tabs and programs. For 2020, 8 to 16 GB of RAM gives you a lot of headroom for several tabs, productivity apps, and database programs.
Solid-state drives (SSDs) are a must when it comes to storage. Unlike traditional hard drives, they offer high-speed start-up times, fast data transmission, and reduce power consumption.
The most important aspect of SSDs you should consider is their read/write performance. This determines how fast it takes to open and save data on the storage drive. Ideal read/write speeds should be upwards of 1,500 MB/s. Better yet, check SSD performance benchmarks to compare and contrast your SSD options.
SSDs have between 500 GB and 4 TB of storage. You’ll want the most space available while accounting for your budget. If you can only afford 500 GB, don’t worry. You can always install a secondary hard drive or store data in the cloud.
Graphics processing unit (GPU)
Most business users usually don’t need to pay attention to the GPU, but it’s vital for those in multimedia design, manufacturing, and architecture. A dedicated GPU is vital for graphics-intensive programs such as apps for computer-aided design (CAD), 3D modelling, and video editing.
The newest NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards are your best options for video editing, yet there are exceptions. NVIDIA Quadro or AMD FirePro, for instance, were designed primarily for CAD software. Also, keep in mind that laptop GPUs can be difficult to upgrade, so you’ll need to purchase the latest model to future-proof your business.
The look and feel of the keyboard should also have a bearing on your decision. Some users will feel more comfortable with tactile mechanical keyboards, while others prefer wireless or more compact setups. If you tend to work with numbers and Excel, you’ll need a keyboard with a numerical keypad for easy data entry.
Touch screen PCs are great for design- and field-based employees, though there are a few must-have features. The PC should have touch screen sensitivity settings and a pressure-sensitive stylus for design work. If you’re taking the PC on the field, make sure it’s equipped with a rugged case and screen shield. This will protect it from high drops, small particles, and moisture.
Size and weight
The size and weight of the laptop boil down to personal preference. A 12-inch ultrabook (30 cm) that weighs 1.3 kg makes the most sense for remote workers. The trade-off is, these lightweight machines tend to have small displays and won’t have much room for high-performance hardware.
On the other hand, 17-inch laptops (43 cm) are bulky and can weigh you down. An average 15-inch laptop (38 cm) weighs approximately 2.3 kg and is the best compromise of performance and portability.
SIM card slots
Hybrid devices that come with a nano-SIM slot are a must for remote workers in 2020. LTE connections will allow users to work from any location while avoiding unsecured public Wi-Fi networks. If this is what your business needs, Microsoft Surface Pro devices fit the bill.
Shopping for the right computer can be an overwhelming process, but Empower IT can make things easier for you. We’re a professional managed IT services provider in Australia that can make sure you have the right computer specifications to meet the requirements of your SMB. Consult with us today to get the computer that will jump-start your success in 2020!