If your company doesn’t use computers, you’re doing something wrong. Even a small bakery is going to need computers to keep track of customer orders, finances and even utilize social media for the sake of exposure. Unfortunately, it’s expensive to afford a single computer, let alone a dozen of them for your future employees. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to find a great computer deal and it all starts with your knowledge.
This will be a complete guide on finding budget computers for your new startup. Whether you have a bit of knowledge or none at all, you’re going to walk away from this article with full knowledge on how to pick out the best deals, what parts to look out for and also how you can use second-hand or refurbished parts to your advantage. Without further ado, let’s get started.
What do you need a computer for?
Firstly, define what you’re going to be using a computer for. This is going to change depending on the type of business you run and it may even change depending on your workflow. For example, staff that operate a restaurant don’t necessarily need many computers. However, if you want to be a high-tech restaurant owner then you’ll probably give your employees tablet devices to record orders instead of giving them a pad of paper. It all depends on how you want to use technology.
The main thing to think about when purchasing a computer is where you’re going to use them. A standard office computer that is only needed for word processing and spreadsheets doesn’t need to be very powerful. In fact, it could be argued that you could use tablets or even smartphones in place of a computer if you don’t need much power.
On the other hand, if you plan to use image editing software, audio processing or even video production, then you’re going to need a much more powerful workstation computer to keep up with those demanding tasks. In short, if all you’re doing is basic office work or light productivity then you can get by with a cheaper. If you’re planning on using your computer for productivity, then it’s a different story and you’ll need to look deep into the recommended specifications before you spend money on a computer.
Write down what you plan to use your computer for and then use it as a reminder when you’re buying computers. It’s easy to see a bargain and attempt to snatch it up even though it’s more expensive and has hardware that is too powerful for your needs. Similarly, it’s also easy to save too much money and accidentally buy a low-powered computer that would struggle with running basic image editing software.
Breaking down the components of a computer
This section could be an incredibly detailed explanation of what the components of a computer do, but we’re just going to break it down by listing the basics that you need to be concerned about. Firstly, let’s take a look at the four main parts of a computer that show up in almost every product description.
- Processor – The processor acts as the brain of the computer. The more powerful this is, the more powerful your computer will generally be. There are currently two powerhouses in the CPU industry: Intel and AMD. The naming conventions are different for each brand so it’s difficult to tell the relative power of each individual processor so here’s a basic rundown. If you only need your computer for basic office tasks, ignore the processor because it’s the least of your worries. If you’re going for heavy productivity use, then look for an Intel 7 processor or an AMD Ryzen 7. These are the top-of-the-line processors (not counting enthusiast or server-grade components) that are available to most businesses and consumers.
- Operating System – This is another huge decision. If you’re comfortable with Apple products then stick to a Mac OS computer. If you want a bit more flexibility then go with Windows. Apple is generally seen in the business industry as limited and occasionally frustrating to work with, but if you don’t expect your staff to have too much knowledge on computers (for instance, if they are designers that occasionally work with a computer) then Mac is suitable thanks to its easy-to-use nature. However, if you want scalability, power and customisation, then there’s no other choice than Windows.
- RAM – Much like picking the processor, RAM will depend heavily on what you need your PC for. Look for a minimum of 4GB of RAM when you’re putting together or searching for an office-based computer that is only needed for internet tasks and basic office work. If you don’t plan to do heavy internet browsing then it’s possible to lower this to 2GB, though you won’t be saving too much money by doing so. For heavy productivity tasks, it’s recommended to have around 16GB of RAM to cope with more stress on your PC.
- Hard Drive Space – If you’re going to work in the cloud with cloud storage then there’s not much need for storage space. You can get by with the cheapest storage option you can (typically a 250GB or less standard hard drive) and be done with it. If you’re not using cloud storage then it’s a good idea to switch so that every computer in your business can access group-related files. Unless you absolutely want each individual computer to have its own files, you should look into switching your workflow to accommodate cloud storage.
Now let’s move onto the less-important components that will depend on your industry.
- Video Card – A video card is mainly used for playing video games, but there are specialised graphics chips that are made for the sake of producing content and managing demanding tasks like rendering videos and 3D scenes. As a result, it’s important to have a video card in your computer to speed up these tasks. Luckily, if you don’t plan on doing productivity work then you don’t need a video card because your processor will likely have on built-in already.
- Additional Software – Software that comes bundled with your computer or components could make a huge difference to your choices. For instance, there are some business computers that come bundled with things like trials for Microsoft Office or pre-installed productivity software. While it’s useful to have some of this software it’s not needed and you can do just fine without it.
- Monitor – You don’t need a huge or complicated monitor for basic business work. You don’t even need a standard widescreen monitor either. As long as it displays a picture, you’re fine picking virtually any monitor. However, if you’ll be using it for art-related productivity, then it’s going to cost you a lot of money to get a correctly calibrated monitor that is capable of producing life-like colours. These will set you back several hundred but they’re important because your design needs to reflect what will become of the final products.
- Other Accessories – Things like keyboard and mice aren’t a huge issue. There are only two scenarios where you should pay attention to the keyboard or mice you buy, and most of the time it involves buying third-party peripherals. The first case is if you or your staff type a lot. In this case, you don’t want to burn your employees out and give them repetitive strain injury, so get a comfortable keyboard that is either ergonomic or relaxing to type on. The other case is if you need a keyboard with programmable macro keys to help speed up the workflow, but these are both a matter of preference.
This should hopefully explain what you should be looking for when picking computer components. Now, let’s see how you can get these for cheaper to build the ultimate budget office computers.
Getting the best bargains
Finally, let’s take a look at how you can find some fantastic deals when you head out to buy your computer.
- Learn to build yourself –
- Search for deals – The internet is full of fantastic deals. For instance, you can find some excellent Dell deals via DontPayFull and there are entire communities and websites dedicated to finding the best prices on the internet.
- Buy refurbished or second-hand – Don’t be afraid of purchasing second-hand components or whole computers. As long as they come with some form of warranty or guarantee you’ll be fine and they can still last a long time with a bit of attention.
- Scour eBay – Now and then, companies will drop their entire computer stock on eBay because they’ve been liquidated, they’re moving, downsizing or they just want to upgrade their systems. You can pick up an entire collection of office computers for an incredibly low price if you find the right deal.
- Go the upgrade path – And finally, there’s the upgrade method. Essentially, this means buying low-powered components for cheaper so you can get computers up and running quickly, but then upgrading them down the road with better components. It’s a smart way to both save money and get work done, but it’s important to have a trusted advisor by your side to tell you when there are new compatible computer parts or when it’s time to start looking.
Hopefully, this guide has shed some light on what to look for in computers and how you can get them for cheaper. Just remember that knowledge is everything, so study computer components, learn where to get them cheaper and consider even building your own.