Thursday, October 26, 2006

Office PCs – White Box versus Major Manufacturer

From time to time someone suggests that it would be cheaper to buy computers from a local computer store than from a major manufacturer or that locally assembled computer produce better performance. Computers assembled purely for performance criteria tend to have a shorter life cycle than those assembled for reliability. Over-clocking processors and other performance techniques are fine and good for a gaming application, but are less than desirable for office environments.

For corporate environments where employees are relying on their machines day in and day out to be productive, machines produced by a corporate manufacturer prove to be more reliable, are better supported by the manufacturer, and are more cost-effective over a three to four year period.

Local computer store assembled machines are not typically covered by three year or longer warranty service. If they are, local shops require the client to break down their machine and carry the machine into their storefront for service/repair. Major manufacturers cover their machines with three year warranties onsite next day service and offer longer terms for an additional price.

Additionally, major manufacturers maintain a database of every machine manufactured. At any point in time a customer or a customer support representative can access the online database, enter the serial number for the machine, and access all of the latest driver downloads and a complete listing of the machine’s original configuration allowing for easy identification of upgrade components (compatible memory, etc). Local shops typically do not track this information leaving the customer to have to break the machine down and open the case to determine what memory or other components are in each machine before ordering upgrades.

Major Manufacturers typically build a consistent machine (motherboards, bios, network cards, video cards, etc), such that a customer can buy an identical machine for 6-9 months apart. This allows the customer’s I.T. support staff to maintain one image for multiple machines. Local shops tend to assemble with what they have on hand at the moment. If a customer purchases machines 6-9 months apart (or even three weeks apart), the machines will be composed of significantly different components leaving the customer’s I.T. staff to maintain a different image for every machine that comes in the door adding significantly to the storage overhead and overall burden to the support staff.

Finally, local shops cannot afford to employ a fulltime R&D staff where major manufacturer’s typically employee electrical engineers and commit R&D resources to all of their commercial workstations. The end results of such R&D work are workstations that have a longer lifecycle in the corporate office environment.

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