Cascade Support provides assistance with pre-purchase as well as receiving, pre-installation, installation, and ongoing monitoring and maintenance of all major PC brands. (New, Refurbish, or Used)

PC (New)

Business grade workstations from Dell, HP, and Lenovo are among the most popular that our tech team see out in the field. All the major brands tend to have similar attributes when competing in each of their respective categories or class of machine. What it really comes down when purchasing new desktop computers for your organization is how much “desktop” does the average user need.

If all you need to do is surf the Internet, write Word documents, or make simple spreadsheets, then an entry-level desktop is the way to go. You will have to make some compromises in terms of graphics, power, RAM, and storage compared with higher-end systems, but then again, you won’t be paying as much, as entry-level PCs typically cost less than $600.

You’ll find a wide selection of Intel and AMD processors in this category, from the budget AMD Athlon X4 and Sempron, as well as Intel Celeron up to the slightly more expensive (and much more powerful) Intel Core i3 and i5 processors. You should look for a minimum of 4GB of RAM, while 2GB is acceptable for sub-$300 machines. Only 16GB of eMMC flash storage is found on the least expensive desktop, but 64GB of flash storage or a 500GB hard drive is a better option for most users.

A subcategory of entry-level desktops, the chromebox (and its all-in-one counterpart, the chromebase) is a desktop that runs on Google’s Chrome OS. Both can be found for as little as $179, utilizing free and paid Google cloud services to store your files, install your programs, and manage your digital life. If you spend a large portion of your computing life online, they’re a fine alternative to yet another inexpensive Windows desktop, but given that they typically have scant onboard storage (think 64GB maximum of flash storage), you’ll need a good wireless connection to be able to access the cloud-based storage and apps.

Midrange desktops will stay functional longer, thanks to more CPU power and speed, memory for multitasking, storage, or a larger built-in screen. You will have to make some sacrifices, but even demanding users will be able to find a midrange system that will last them at least five or six years. Look for a capable AMD Ryzen 5 processor, or an Intel Core i5 CPU in this category, along with 8GB to 16GB of memory, and a 1TB hard drive or 256GB solid-state-drive (SSD) storage.

High-end desktops offer top-of-the-line components, like the latest CPUs that will give you all the power you need for multimedia projects, loads of storage (a 512GB SSD or 1TB hard drive, but typically 2TB or more), 3D graphics capability for gaming, or a combination of all three. These high-performance machines typically start at $1,500, and can go up to $5,000 and beyond for workstations or gaming rigs with customized paint jobs and multiple GPUs.

While sticking to one of the three price ranges, we recommend that you buy just a little more than you need for the tasks you do now if you can. That way, you future-proof your purchase and won’t have to shop for a replacement for a while.

PC (Refurbished)

If buying a brand new computer is not in the budget, then buying a refurbished PC may be the answer. Not only is it budget-friendly to buy a “refurb,” but it is also environmentally friendly. When talking about price, refurbished computers generally cost anywhere from 30 to 50 percent less than the retail price of a new computer. However, the significant price difference should not be your only consideration.

What to Consider Before Buying a Refurbished Computer

If you use the computer mostly for surfing the net, updating your Twitter page, reading your email, and working with the word processor, then you can likely settle for an older PC without a lot of bells and whistles. However, more memory and an increased processing speed would be necessary for playing video games and downloading music and images.

Figuring out what you will need from your computer before you go shopping will help ensure your satisfaction once you make your purchase.

Unless you have a lot of experience with the inner workings of a computer, it is best to stick to retailers and manufacturers who are qualified refurbishers.

Generally, it is best to buy refurbs from a retailer that is also authorized to sell new products. Buying from online auctions, off of Craigslist, or from a listing in your local paper could become problematic later on and add to the expense in costly repair bills.

A refurbished computer may be rebuilt by a manufacturer or by a third party.

When refurbished by a third party you may find that the machine was fixed with whatever available parts were on hand and do not necessarily match the original specifications. It is helpful to compare the specifications of the refurbished product with the new product to see how it matches up. Ideally, it should be the same.

Cascade Support provides assistance with pre-purchase as well as receiving, pre-installation, installation, and ongoing monitoring and maintenance of all major PC brands. (New, Refurbish, or Used)

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