An important consideration when buying a computer for work is whether you should purchase a consumer model or a machine that's specifically designed for business. Many computer manufacturers offer what appears to be the same computer make and model in both their home and business divisions, but these computers are not the same.
Here's what you need to know about the differences between consumer-grade and business-grade PCs, and which kind you should get for your home or mobile office.Tara Moore / Getty Images
Percent of Business vs. Personal Use
First, determine how often you will use the computer for business. If you telecommute infrequently (for example, only during rare severe weather), then a consumer-class PC should be fine, provided the machine has the appropriate applications and resources for your job. Likewise, if you'll use it for personal entertainment 90% of the time and only 10% for work, a consumer computer might be more fitting.
Computers sold to consumers usually cost less than business PCs, and many retailers sell consumer computers.
Durability and Reliability
For dedicated work use, invest in a business-class computer that offers more value in the long run than the consumer counterpart. Business computers are built to last, with higher quality components that are tested more rigorously.
Parts used for consumer computers might be generic or cheaply made, while machines designed for professional use typically include higher-grade materials and name-brand parts. This emphasis on durability means that a business-class laptop or desktop should last several years.
Business Appropriate Features
Business-grade computers offer more features for professional work, such as fingerprint readers, remote desktop control software, and encryption tools. Also, the professional operating system version on business PCs is more suited for workers than the home version. Another benefit is that business PCs typically don't include the bloatware that bogs down many consumer PCs.
Service and Warranty
Business computer systems come with better support options and might be more easily supported by your employer's IT department. The default warranty on business computers is usually more extensive than those on consumer models.
Business users also tend to get priority support through a dedicated support line, and you can opt for on-site tech support available within hours rather than having to send in your computer for repair, which could take weeks.
Business-class computers are designed to reflect and support companies' critical reliability and performance needs.
If you're buying a laptop or desktop PC to make money or for work purposes, invest in one designed for business users. The investment should pay off in terms of better reliability, easier troubleshooting, and more professional features.
Should you find a consumer model that you're interested in, find out whether the manufacturer offers a similar model in its business division.