The trouble with comparing business computers is the component nature of desktop computers. On the most basic level, a desktop computer is a box, often referred to as the chassis, with interchangeable parts. In many ways, a desktop computer is like Mr. Potato Head a characterless chassis that lets you mix and match components, which really makes up the computer's personality.
Almost every desktop computer in our review can be upgraded and customized to your needs, both before and after the purchase. Most of the components that manufacturers use in their computers are made by the same company. For example, every processor in our review is manufactured by Intel. We scrutinized reputable computer manufacturers and based our comparison by selecting the computer closest to $1,000 within a business computer series. This way, we felt, you can better judge the value in relation to the processor, RAM and storage.
The Processor & the PassMark Score
The processor is the most important component of your business computer. It is the brain that allows you to run multiple apps at once. As such, the central processing unit (CPU) received the most attention in our evaluation. We evaluated each processor based on its performance, which is largely the result of its CPU speed, cache and the number of cores it has.
To illustrate the performance of the processor, we turned to the PassMark score, which is determined by benchmarking software developed by CPUBenchmark.net, a third-party organization that collects CPU benchmark results from real-world users and internal testing.
The PassMark score is the culmination of eight tests performed by the PerformanceTest software: the integer math test, compression test, prime number test, encryption test, floating point math test, multimedia instruction tests, string sorting test, physics test and a single core test. Each test gauges the processor's ability to handle multitasking abilities and complex calculations.
The software scores the CPU's performance in each test and averages the results to find the overall PassMark score. Users can then submit these scores, which is added to the overall PassMark score of the specific processor. This overall score is the result of thousands of user-submitted scores.
The higher the PassMark score, the better the CPU is at processing data and multitasking. The best business computers should have a processor with a PassMark score above 9,000. Any scores below 6,000 suggest your computer will experience significant drops in performance when running multiple apps.
Memory & Storage
Memory, or RAM, is the next consideration for a business computer. This is where apps store critical data for quick access while you're using them. Most business apps don't require much memory, but if you're running multiple apps at once, then the required RAM add up. If you use all of your memory, then the performance of your PC can slow down significantly or freeze. As such, it's a good idea to have more memory than you need.
As for RAM specifications, there are two important considerations: how much RAM the manufacturer installed and how much RAM the motherboard is capable of supporting. If you need to add memory as your needs increase, it's good to know how much of a ceiling you have. We also considered the frequency of the RAM, as this can have a big impact on normal work tasks. Most of the computers on our lineup run at 2,133MHz, which has supplanted most of the 1,600MHz models.
As far as storage is concerned, you generally want as much as you can afford. Because we've standardized the price for the computers on our lineup, the PCs with the greatest amount of storage are more appealing.
Most of the business computers we evaluated come with at least 1TB hard drives by default. Should you need more, it's important to know how much can be built in. The most expandable computers on our lineup offer options up to 4TB of storage. If you deal with video files or raw files on a daily basis, make sure your computer has plenty of storage space.
You simply can't afford to have computer components fail. Any downtime results in lost work, lost transactions and lost revenue. As a home business, you don't have a dedicated IT person to help you minimize downtime when you experience computer problems. As such, it's important to consider the tech support of each manufacturer.
In order to help you decide which manufacturers give you the best service, we looked to our colleagues at Laptop Mag for their tech support grades, which are updated every year. Most manufacturers are happy to work with your business to ensure that your PCs have excellent uptime. Of course, when things go wrong and they always do at some point it's reassuring to know that the PC's manufacturer will help you in several ways.
Business.com seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in a way that best serves the consumer. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our evaluation, nor was the evaluation method provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. The results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.