So you need to buy a new computer (or a dozen of them) for your business, but you don’t know what features you need.get into pc
We get it! Tons of people use computers every day, sure, but the vast majority of us simply aren’t computer whizzes. When it comes to comparing CPUs and RAM, we don’t blame you if you don’t know what’s better―much less what’s worth paying more for.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to essential computer features for businesses―including the operating system, hardware, display, and accessories. We’ll break down what you need to consider and what features you should look for when buying a desktop or laptop computer for your business.
Things to consider before you start shopping
Before we get into specific computer features you may or may not want, we need to point out that computing needs can vary a lot from business to business, department to department, and even employee to employee.
For example, the video editor on your staff will probably need a much more powerful computer than your front-desk receptionist will. Likewise, a programming team will need better features than your average data entry team.
In other words, you shouldn’t spend money on a supercomputer when a cheap desktop would do―but you also don’t want to get stuck with an underpowered computer when you need a real workhorse.
So as we talk about computer features, you should keep a few questions in mind:
- How will this computer typically get used?
- Are there any priorities (like speed, power, or portability) for that typical use?
- Do you have computer programs you regularly use (or plan to use)?
- If so, what are the minimum system requirements to run those programs?
- What is your computer budget?
These questions will help you make sure you’re getting the features you need without overspending on features you don’t.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the different computer features to look for.
Operating system (OS)
We suggest you figure out your operating system, or OS, before you start thinking about other computer features. That’s because picking an OS is one of the easiest ways to narrow down your computer choices.
As you may know, the two most popular OS choices are Microsoft Windows (with Windows 10 being the current version) and Apple’s macOS (with macOS Big Sur as the current version).
Put simply, are you a Mac person or a PC person? It’s time to decide.
(Yes, you could always opt for a Linux OS instead―but if you’re considering that, you really don’t need this guide.)
Should you choose macOS or Microsoft Windows?
People can fight all day about whether Windows or Apple computers work better and what advantages and disadvantages they really have. Some people swear that if you’re serious about graphic design or video, you have to use a Mac, and others insist that if you want real power, you need a PC.
But honestly, for the average user, it mostly comes down to personal preference―whether you prefer the Windows start menu or the Apple computer app dock.
There are some exceptions:
- Some computer programs don’t work with both Windows 10 and macOS (though most do). So if you’re tied to a specific software, you may want to double-check compatibility.
- A Windows PC offers more customizability (since you can buy from so many brands or build your own). That shouldn’t matter to your average office worker. But if you’ve got a team of power-users, it’s worth thinking about.
Otherwise, though, choose whichever OS you and your team prefer. You can even mix and match if you’re buying multiple computers (though don’t get surprised if team members express very strong preferences for one OS or the other).
Now that you’ve got an operating system in mind, let’s talk about the computer hardware features you should consider in your device.
Another easy way to narrow down your computer choices? Decide if you’d prefer to use a desktop computer or laptop computer for business.
You probably already have a strong preference for one or the other. (And lucky for you, you can get laptops and desktops for both Windows and macOS.)
But in case you need help deciding, we’ve got some more decision-making criteria you can use.
Just remember that―generally speaking―desktop computers offer more customizability. You can swap components in and out (or pay someone to do it) to add more power or simply to keep your computer from becoming obsolete in a few years. Plus, as an added bonus, desktops usually cost less than laptops that have similar specs. You just have to be fine with a stationary workstation.
Of course, desktops can’t compete with laptops when it comes to portability. If you need something that works from home, the office, Starbucks, and everywhere else, you’ll definitely want a laptop. Remember, though, that you won’t be able to upgrade your laptop much, so you may end up replacing it sooner than you would a desktop.
Your hard drive gives your computer storage. It’s where your computer stores all its files (including files necessary to run your OS).
You need to consider two things when looking at a hard drive: how much storage you need and whether you prefer a solid state drive (SSD) or a hard disk drive (HDD).
You definitely don’t want to run out of storage space (imagine taking the time to comb through files finding ones you can delete), so make sure you get a large enough hard drive for your needs.
Now, if your business uses cloud storage (like Google Drive), you may not need a large hard drive. And you can always expand your storage by getting an external hard drive (that plugs into a USB port). But if you’re mostly saving files to your desktop, you’ll want more storage.
And remember, the file type matters too. If you’re dealing with simple text documents and spreadsheets, you don’t need much space. You might never fill up even a 120 GB hard drive. But if you routinely handle photos or especially video, you’ll want a lot more space.
SSD vs. HDD
Aside from size, you’ll also need to figure out what type of hard drive you want: a traditional hard disk drive, or HDD (which uses a spinning disk) or a fancier solid state drive, or SSD (which relies on flash memory).
The big differences? SSDs tend to be faster (like your computer can boot up in seconds faster) and more durable (in case you drop your laptop), but they cost more. HDDs offer a cheaper storage solution, though they’re slower and more breakable.
For most computer work, a cheaper HDD will work just fine. But if you need your computer to run large programs without a hitch, a faster SSD will give you the better experience.