Computers come in all shapes and sizes to serve different purposes. Generally speaking, the greater the capabilities of the machine, the pricier it will be, so a preliminary question you need to ask yourself is what your staff members will be using your machines for in the first place. To illustrate, graphics designers, 3D modelers, video editors, and sound engineers will require considerably greater computing power compared to blog writers and accounting spreadsheet users.
Specs you need to know
Once you know your team’s needs, you can then shop around for machines that will fulfill them. Here’s a quick gander at what computer specs are in the first place:
More technically known as the central processing unit (CPU), the processor is essentially the brain of your machine. Just like how our brain turns sensory inputs and information into thoughts and decisions, the processor:
- Fetches program instructions by going to “addresses” — memory locations where instructions are stored — that are queued in a program counter
- Decodes or turns those instructions into binary code, the language machines understand
- Executes the decoded instructions, which can be to:
- Process calculations
- Transfer data from one storage location to another
- Jump from one instruction address to another
- Stores output data (i.e., post-execution feedback) onto memory
There are two main characteristics to consider when looking into processors:
- Clock speed refers to how fast the CPU processes instructions and is expressed in gigahertz (GHz)
- Number of cores refers to how many computation units the CPU has, with varying unit types having different functions and being capable of run processes simultaneously with others
Again, our human brain can serve as a point of comparison. If you catch something with your bare hands, something that, unbeknownst to you, was very hot (such as a freshly boiled potato), the reptilian part of the brain — the part that regulates bodily functions and contains instincts — will merely take a split-second to instruct our hands to drop the hot potato to prevent it from burning our skin. The instinctual brain is an illustration of a core type, whereas the former’s reaction time corresponds to clock speed.
Random access memory (RAM)
Simply called “memory” in many technical specs tables, RAM is what enables computers to run multiple programs simultaneously. Just think about multitasking: doing the laundry, cooking dinner, watching the news, and talking with a friend over the phone. It takes a lot of short-term memory to remember that you’ve got clothes hanging out to dry but might get drenched when it rains, a ratatouille that might scorch at the bottom if you don’t stir the pot every so often, the time your favorite TV show comes on while the latest traffic report shows a four-car collision, and the time and place you agreed to meet your friend after lunch (or was it after dinner?).
The more tasks you take on, the harder it is to keep track of them all. The same is true with computers and RAM. With internet browsers letting users maintain multiple tabs, computers now usually need at least 8 GB of RAM to operate smoothly and without dips in performance.
Storage space or hard drive
A hard drive is a high-capacity storage device where your programs, files, and data are locally stored. Unlike with cloud-based systems that require you to connect to the internet to access apps and data, you can work completely offline when you have the necessary resources in your local storage.
There are basically two types of hard drives: hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs). The former is being overtaken by the latter as SSDs provide lightning-speed start-up times, transmit data more quickly than HDDs, and consume less power, too.
The higher the storage capacity of the drive, the more expensive it will be, so factor in how much data you want to store locally, and how much of it you can actually have on the cloud instead.
Graphics processing unit (GPU)
Professions in fields such as graphics design, video editing, engineering, and architecture need top-notch GPUs in their machines, whereas the rest of the working population doesn’t really need such hardware. Different GPUs or graphics cards specialize in different tasks. For example, the AMD FirePro and the NVIDIA Quadro are meant for computer-aided design (CAD), whereas the likes of the GTX 1660 and the RTX 2070 are best for video editing.
Recommended computer specs based on type of work done
As previously mentioned, different types of tasks require different levels of computing power. Here are our recommendations based on what a staff member will use a computer for.
For employees who just use productivity tools such as text editors, spreadsheets, email programs, and web browsers, basic machines will go a long way. These are apt for many in business administration (e.g., HR personnel, accountants, managers, etc.) and production-level staff who are not involved in anything that’s related to graphics, databases, and software development.
- Clock speed
Value-for-money specs for graphics work
As there is a dizzying array of options available, we opted to show you the specs of two of the most economical standard-bearers as of this writing.
- Clock speed
Besides technical specifications, you’ll also need to look into other factors such as prestige (i.e., do you want to project a high-end image by using expensive computer brands?) and portability (i.e., do you want your staff to be able to take their work with them outside of the office premises?). Your choice of machines all boils down to one thing: purpose. Pin that down, and the rest is sure to follow.
Know what your business needs computers for before purchasing an entire fleet of them. Once you’ve figured that out, look at the recommendations we made for you.
Capstone IT provides highly responsive computer IT network support, strategic guidance, managed services, and cloud services to organizations in Rochester, Buffalo, and throughout Western New York. Email us to schedule a complimentary network consultation at [email protected] or contact us at www.capstoneitinc.com/contact-us/.