If you are purchasing computers for your business, you may be wondering what the actual differences are between a business-grade machine coming directly from the manufacturer or a consumer-grade machine from a retailer like Best Buy.

At a high level, the differences are:

  • Cost
  • Durability and reliability (average length of life)
  • Business applications and speed
  • Warranties and replacements
  • Availability

Keep reading to get more in-depth about why these differences matter to your business and help you make an informed investment decision.

COST

Business-grade machines will almost always be more of an initial investment than consumer-grade, however, we encourage you to weigh your options of a higher upfront cost or more costs of maintenance over time.

DURABILITY AND RELIABILITY 

Business-grade machines have high-quality components that are tested rigorously to ensure that they can handle taxing use. Because these parts are streamlined, it is easier to replace specific parts when necessary instead of needing to swap out the entire machine.

Consumer-grade machines contain mass-produced parts to keep the overall cost down, so be aware that these are more susceptible to hardware issues and over-working which cause slowness.

Consumer-grade machines last on average 2-3 years while a business machine’s lifespan is 5 years or more.

BUSINESS APPLICATIONS AND SPEED

Business-grade machines have the built-in horsepower to run business applications that may be more taxing than other apps. It is also important to note that they come standard with the business versions of the operating system and essential programs like Office 365 Business licensing.

Consumer-grade machines come with the home or family versions of the operating system or Office 365 which often only includes the fundamental applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and not any of the other essential apps.

Consumer-grade machines are also often preconfigured with tons of apps called “bloatware” which are all those programs you never installed – and they are very difficult or impossible to remove. This ultimately wastes space on your computer which can cause slowness in the long run once the memory runs low.

WARRANTIES AND REPLACEMENTS 

By default, business-grade machines come with more robust warranties that cover things like free replacement parts, onsite vendor support, and hardware replacements that are in place for all 5 years of the device’s lifetime.  

Consumer-grade warranties often have limitations as to what is covered and often end up having out-of-pocket costs. Also, the most common warranty length is 1 year regardless of the lifetime of the device.

AVAILABILITY 

The effects of the pandemic have impacted the availability of various electronics, and computers are no exception.

Business-grade hardware is seeing longer than usual lead times of several weeks and rare cases of a month or longer due to part shortages. While consumer-grade hardware is also seeing delays, there is typically always some in-stock options but be aware that they might not have the necessary specs for business applications. 

In summary, while it is safe to say that you “get what you pay for”, we understand that technology is a big investment for businesses, so we want to make sure you are equipped to make a decision that is right for you.

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