These days, most organizations have many devices. What I have found is that in many cases people who are not computer geeks don’t fully understand what they are paying for. In this article in this article I will discuss the various kinds of computers including their benefits and drawbacks so you can get the most bang for your bucks.
Budget and Needs
You must consider your budget and needs. How much can your organization afford? What are you wanting to do? Do you want to go Mac, PC or both? Do you need desktop or notebook? You need the answers to these questions. You also need a line item of your organization’s budget to be constantly funding technology upgrades.
I also highly recommend buying more than you need today. That will help you future proof your investment. Event with the latest stuff it seems it will be out of date by the time you get back from the store and open it. If you only buy what will barely get the job done today, it means you will need to upgrade more often.
Mac or PC
Should you go Mac or PC? That is the age old question. Well, just for full transparency, I prefer Mac but I also use Windows all the time too. Just want to let you know I am biased.
Let’s start with Mac. Where Macs excel is in the digital media (audio, video, photo) area. They actually come bundled with applications to this this. These are iTunes, Garage Band, Photos, iMovie (oh they also come with applications for Mail, Contact and Calendar too). They also tend to use high end components, which is why they are more expensive. However, a similarly outfitted Mac will cost about the same as a PC with similar components and software. Finally, they really only sell 5 models (all built by Apple). These are the Mini (closest thing Apple does to entry level), iMac (all-in-one), MacBook (notebook), MacBook Pro (higher end notebook) and MacPro (high performance desktop).
Windows on the other hand excels on business applications, especially enterprise level. But don’t expect a lot of default applications on Windows, you’ll have to buy those separately. If you want an entry level ($300) computer Windows is you ticket. But don’t expect that to do much more than internet and email. And basically everybody and their brother that makes computers (other than Apple of course), makes PCs (with a wide range of computing power and price as well). Now lets move on to computing power.
By computing power I mean is how effectively will the computer handle the task you are asking it to do. This is a combination of mostly two components the CPU (brains of the computer, means Central Processing Unit) and RAM (Random Access Memory). However, the graphics card and hard drive space also play a key role.
Remember, the CPU is part of the mother board (the green circuit board that everything else plugs into) so while everything else can be upgraded, if you want a better CPU you essentially need to buy another computer. I look at 3 details of the CPU: its speed, cores and cache. The speed is measured in Gigahertz (GHz), the cores are essentially its sections and the cache speeds up operations (by pre-processing repeated tasks). For all three variables, the higher the number the better.
RAM will help your computer perform better. It handles the amount of tasks your computer can do at any one time. With more RAM you have better performance on running many applications at once. Like the CPU the higher the number the better.
Also consider hard drive space. This is highly dependent upon what you are doing. If you are doing a lot with video you will need a lot more space because video is really big. I highly recommend using solid state drives, they are much more efficient and will give you better performance. They cost a bit more but are worth it.
Finally, don’t forget about software. Much of what you want to do isn’t done by the computer itself but the software to run on it, so plan for that as well. And remember, not all software is cross platform (both Mac and PC). Some is but some isn’t. Always make sure the software you get runs on your device’s operating system.
Desktop computers is where you will get the most computing power for your money. If you are just after the most speed and computing power, go for the desktop. You can get the most computing power with a desktop because it has the most space for components and inputs. Small components generally mean that aren’t quite as fast. Clearly the drawback of desktops is mobility but if you don’t care about that then a desktop could work for you. However, a great benefit from desktops (especially towers) is that they have lots of inputs for external devices and monitors and more monitors will make you more productive.
These are becoming more and more popular in the last couple of years. If you don’t know what I mean an all-in-one is a desktop computer where the computer and monitor are a single unit. An popular example of this is an iMac. You don’t have to connect a ton of cables between the computer and monitor. You just plug it in, connect the internet and you are set.
The clear advantage of the all-in-one is easy setup. But know what you are paying for. With the case of an iMac a bunch of what you pay for is a really good screen, not computing power. Also, just like a notebook which I shall discuss next, an all-in-one has limited space, so it cannot offer the same computing power as a tower.
Notebooks and Notebook / Tablet Hybrids
For years the notebook computer was the gold standard of mobility but in the last many years the tablet industry has been introducing what I call tablet hybrids. These are the devices that can be a tablet or if you attach a keyboard they can become a notebook. This is really great for the consumer. I know a few people that have these and they really like them. Their drawback is you cannot run everything like a traditional computer would.
Even the traditional notebook computers still offer great mobility. I have been personally using a notebook for about 15 years. The mobility factor is just too good for me. However, I do realize that I am giving up some computing power by getting a notebook. It just doesn’t matter to me. I don’t do enough tasks that require that much computing power.
So which is right for you and your organization? It depend on what your budget is and what you intend to do with it. It’s also a preference. Some people like Mac, some Windows. If you want to cut video and live stream your church’s worship service your best bet is probably a desktop. If you need a computer for your office and all-in-one is a good bet. If you are a sales person that is constantly on the road, a notebook / tablet hybrid is probably your best deal.