Shopping for Business Computers

071013-buyingcomputersNo matter what type of small business you run, you’re going to need at least one computer – more if you’ve got employees. It can be tempting to shop sale circulars at department and electronic stores for cheap PCs, but you might get something that won’t stand the test of time. Not sure where to start? Here are some tips for shopping for business computers. Don’t buy more than you need!

Buy Business PCs

Buy computers meant for business, whether you’re buying desktops or laptops. They often come without the bells and whistles – you likely won’t need serious video capabilities – and can be easier for a service technician to work on. Plus, these computers are meant to stand heavy daily use; they’re going to be more durable than the economy PCs you see on sale.

Consider Your Needs

Do your employees need to run several applications at once? Do they need to crunch large amounts of data? Do they need to edit photographs or video? Figure out how you and your employees will use the computers, and that will help you determine what features the machine needs. For example, here are a few things to consider:

Video card: You don’t need a dedicated video card unless you need to watch and edit video. Dedicated video cards are designed to handle gaming and high-end video work.

RAM: Random access memory is the short-term memory your computer uses to open and run applications and handle data. Buy a machine with too little RAM, and you risk frustrating your employees and wasting their time as they wait for the computer to do something. If your employees will need to use several programs at once, go higher on RAM – between 6GB – 8GB.

Storage: Will your employees store their files on their computers or on a network or cloud? Answering this question will help you determine whether you need more or less storage per machine. In most cases 320GB to 1TB will be more than enough for office files.

Drives: Unless you’re in the movie business, you probably don’t need a Blu-Ray drive on your computers. A simple DVD burner will suffice for reading and creating disks.

Desktop or Laptop

When all of the technical specifications are equal, desktop computers are still less expensive than laptop computers. Unless your employees need to travel or take their work home, a desktop computer should be enough. But, for employees who need to take their work on the road, a laptop with docking station is the way to help them always have access to the files and software they need.

Tax Benefits

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Section 179 of the tax code provides tax benefits for equipment purchases made before the end of the year. Typically, when you purchase an item for your business, you can claim a tax deduction for it. But fixed assets are not counted in the year of purchase. Instead, they must be depreciated over a number of years. Section 179, however, allows you to fully deduct the cost of assets such as computers, certain business software, and more in the year of the purchase – up to a certain amount.

Be sure to talk to your tax advisor or accountant for more specifics on qualifying purchases, and read more from the IRS about deducting business expenses.

Still have questions before you go shopping? We’re happy to help! Contact us today.

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