From the Desk of Kaleb Jacob
If you are an Eagle client, then you know that we are a one stop shop for most technology needs. We quote a lot of equipment for our clients including firewalls, switches, PC’s and laptops. We spend a lot of time researching, quoting and procuring hardware and licensing because we view it to be a necessary service to ensure you are building a good quality network. We believe, by doing so, we avoid costly rework, time delays and time wasters for both the client and our Technicians. This part of our business is not a big profit center to us. We keep margins low because we have to. There simply isn’t a lot of great discounting on computers available to resellers.
Better hardware translates to less support calls to us. So, ironically, buying a laptop from us at a low profit margin to us means that we are likely not to get as many calls about the computer failing or needing actual hardware maintenance. As we convert our client base to Complete Support plans, we are looking for fewer unplanned emergencies which that has always been the case anyway. Good solutions cost more, but they are less disruptive to business continuity.
We frequently get the feedback “I think I can get a better deal at Best Buy or Staples.” It’s a fair question, especially when faced with rising prices and inflations at every turn. It deserves a thorough answer. Below are a few bullet points on comparing consumer grade computers to business / enterprise grade computers.
- Warranty: Consumer grade computers usually come with a 1yr mail-in depot warranty. We have sent a laptop away several times for a screen repair or RAM diagnosis/replacement and it usually takes over 2 weeks to get it back. Sometimes they send a postage paid box to you to ship it in, which takes a day or two to receive. Sometimes the hard drive is wiped and data was lost even if the issue was not the hard drive at all. Commercial grade laptops often carry a 1 or 3 year, next business day, onsite warranty. These machines also show up in our portal to be able to extend warranties after the initial term if this is of interest to our client.
- Consumer Lines verses Business Lines of Products: Computer manufacturers produce different lines of computers. Typically, what is found in big box stores are consumer grade lines. With Dell, the business lines we carry are Latitudes, Optiplex, XPS and Precisions. Dell’s consumer line is Inspiron. Lenovo has a similar approach. We’ve learned the hard way to stick to Lenovo ThinkPads (not the less expensive Thinkbook) and keep it to the “T” or “P” series of ThinkPads. Those are suitable, durable business lines. The others can be problematic. Why? Because of the quality of their components and parts. For example: the quality of the motherboard in a Latitude is going to be superior than the quality of a motherboard in an Inspiron. Commercial grade PC’s and laptops are manufactured with higher grade electronics and parts. They are also more durable. Often times, consumer grade models are plastic and twist easier, therefore don’t stand the test of time. With Associates frequently moving between home and work with their laptop, durability becomes more important as that machine is now being transported frequently.
- Windows Professional. Consumer grade models come with Windows Home and need to be upgraded to Windows (10/11) Professional for business use. Windows 10/11 Professional allows the PC to connect to a server (cloud or on premise), allows remote desktop access to it without extra software. It has more security for data stored on it especially in environments where more than one user shares the PC. The cost to upgrade Windows Home to Windows Professional is $199 at the time of this writing. Buy and Download Windows 11 Pro | Microsoft Upgrading also uses extra tech time from us.
- Something we often see with big box stores is that when a computer is purchased, they often recommend a personal edition of Microsoft 365 for your Office software suite. This is the bundle of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook. This version is cheaper than the business version, but the licensing agreement doesn’t allow it to be used for any business/commercial purpose.
In closing, the purchase price is really the only benefit to buying a computer at a retailer. I have a 4 year old Dell Latitude 7490 laptop that travels with me everywhere. It has been in my backpack on several multi-day snowmobile trips in subzero weather and rough trails. It has been dropped more times than I care to admit. It has battle scars and it even has a corner missing from the back of the monitor lid. It’s still going strong and hasn’t let me down in this fast paced industry. The extra investment I made in this laptop is hard to put a price on when it comes to reliability and uptime.