by December 2, 2003 0 comments

Choosing PCs for a SME business environment involves much more than defining a system spec and placing the order.

Identify which groups in the company need PCs, and, if they need new ones or would upgrading do? Suppose if upgrading RAM can improve a machine’s performance, it doesn’t merit replacement. Conversely, replacing faulty machines is better than spending on their maintenance. If you have a lot of temporary staff, like in a small BPO operation, then renting machines would be a better option. 

If you have offices in multiple locations, then go for a vendor who can offer support in those areas. Also, check how quickly the vendor can respond to your problems and the way he resolves them. For instance, can the vendor give you a temporary replacement unit if your PC has gone for repairs? You could also check if the vendor has any standard certifications for quality. 

Choosing the specs
Choosing the right combination of the processor, memory, hard drive, motherboard, and graphics card depends on which category you belong to. The three categories are entry-level, mid-range, and high-end computing. Entry-level means basic PC usage, such as word-processing, e-mail and Internet browsing. Mid-range includes more intensive work like software development and running basic audio/video applications for office work. High-end could range from graphics designing to CAD/CAM or 3D modeling. In all cases, choose a spec that will last for at least three years. 

For entry-level, Via C3 and Intel Celeron are the good processor options. You can go for 128 MB DDR memory and a
basic motherboard with onboard graphics and networking so you don’t end up paying extra. Lastly, take a 5400 rpm 40 GB hard drive, unless you require more capacity. 

Decide whether you need to buy new PCs, upgrade existing ones, or rent 
Select vendor that offers support in your area and a good response time
Choose and standardize system specs for long usage and easier manageability 
Do away with the elements that are not required to save money

Options for mid-range include Celeron, Athlon and P4 processors. If you want to go for the latest processor, remember you’ll have to pay more. You can go for at least 256 MB memory and 7200 rpm

High-end specs should have a P4 or Athlon processor, at least 512 MB memory, possibly the latest DDR 333 type. 7200 rpm is minimum for the hard drive, and presumably of high capacity. Graphics are very important, so you can buy a motherboard with an AGP slot, the latest being 8x. You’ll need to put in a graphics card with at least 128 MB of video memory. 

Try to standardize on a particular spec for each group to make it easier to manage. Features are important, but weigh them against how much you’re paying for them. 

Lastly, remember that since you’re buying in bulk, even a small change in specs can dramatically affect the pricing. So, justify the choice of every component. For instance, a 80 GB hard drive costs about a thousand bucks more than a 40 GB. If you’re buying 50 PCs, then 40 GB hard-drive can straightaway save you Rs 50,000. 

Anil Chopra

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