Space vs performance – what’s most important?

Steve Evans

Sunday 11 October 2015

It can be tempting to get a PC with the highest possible specifications, but that may not actually be the best option for your business. A smaller computer may meet your needs better, as well as looking neater throughout the office.

You could be forgiven for thinking that PCs are being edged out in the popularity stakes by tablets and other mobile devices, but many businesses simply cannot operate without a desktop infrastructure.

According to ICT sales tracking firm Context, unit sales from the top 10 PC vendors across EMEA rose 15.6% in Q2 of 2014, while early figures for Q3 2014 show a 19.1% rise across Western Europe. The end of support for Microsoft Windows XP, which arrived on April 8 2014, was one of the main drivers behind new PC purchases, but very often a company will just need to update an ageing infrastructure that no longer meets its needs.

Installing a new PC infrastructure in your office is not as simple as buying a load of new computers. A business must work out exactly what it needs from its PCs before taking the plunge. Does it base its investment on performance, size, storage capacity, reliability or longevity? While buying the cheapest PCs, may be a tempting choice, it will almost certainly backfire on your business as, soon or later, they will fall short of the job they’re expected to do — and that’s bad for productivity and the bottom line.


What factors shape your desktop purchasing plan?

So, how do you choose the right equipment? Clive Longbottom, founder of IT analyst firm Quocirca, said that establishing the use case is the first step in deciding whether space saving or performance should sway your decision.

“The organisation has to look at what’s impacting them. If most of what they’re going to do is done through a browser, they don’t need a high-powered PC, they can go for a smaller, low power PC,” Longbottom says. “Don’t look at it from a historical view, look at it from a future point of view as that can change attitudes. If you’ve always used on-premise applications that are now available online, then maybe you don’t need a big machine.”

If what you are after is space saving, then it’s worth looking at mini-PCs or all-in-ones. All-in-ones are great at getting rid of wires and freeing up space under the desk, but they don’t have to compromise on power as many come with the latest processors and operating systems. These are ideal for companies that do most of their work online but have cloud-based applications and storage requirements.

However, this does not work for all businesses. Many will require power and performance, and therefore will be less concerned with saving space and de-cluttering desks. Companies that have a heavy focus on design and graphics will almost certainly be looking at performance computers.

Computer games design, CAD, data warehousing and 3D modelling are just a few examples of the sort of activities that require intensive computing power; power that cannot be gained from smaller PCs. It is also the sort of power that cannot be implemented online, so cloud-based applications are not suitable in this instance.



For those businesses interested in the sustainability side of technology, there are a couple of important things to note when making a decision on desktops.

All-in-ones and mini-PCs are restricted in terms of the space they offer for upgrades. Their form size means adding extra hard drives, additional memory or optical drives can be difficult, and if the screen breaks it can render the whole machine unusable.

Towers, on the other hand, have plenty of space inside to add or replace new bits of hardware such as those listed above. Being able to carry out repairs and part replacements can considerably extend the lifetime of a computer.

For any businesses worried about energy costs and green credentials, it’s worth noting that mini-PCs often run on a lower wattage than big, powerful computers.

Ultimately, there will be a PC set-up that is right for your business, whether it’s smaller form factors or big, powerful beasts.

Some businesses will be happy to have a combination of the two, with workers getting PCs that fit their job description. As with any new technology implementation the key is to establish exactly what your business needs before making the decision.