Should I Upgrade My Computer or Buy a New One?

Highlights:

  • Laptop or Desktop

  • RAM Upgrades

  • Components

  • PC Bottlenecks

  • When to Start Over

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For a small business owner, your computers are the backbone of your business. If your employees’ PCs are slowing them down, you have a decision to make: Is it worth the time and effort to upgrade existing computers or is it time to invest in new PCs?

When deciding whether to upgrade or replace a PC, there are many factors to consider. Here are the key areas to assess before you make your decision.

Laptop or Desktop?

Do your employees currently have laptops or desktops, and do those PCs fit their needs, both now and in the future? For example, employees who often work remotely or travel to visit customers could benefit from laptops, thin and lights, or 2-in-1 computers; whereas, a graphic designer who works in the office may enjoy a powerful desktop computer with one or two large monitors. Consider these pros and cons:

 

  • Desktop computers typically provide more features, power, and speed than laptops at the same price point. Desktops can also be easier to upgrade than laptops.
  • Laptops can easily deliver performance equal to powerful desktops; you’ll just have to pay a bit more. Another pro: Many workers prefer the flexibility of laptops, like working from home, so providing laptops may help you attract more employees.
  • Combining a touchscreen tablet with a full-sized detachable keyboard, 2-in-1 computers offer versatility and portability, as well as a slick way to present information to clients during sales calls.

If the computers your small business is providing employees don’t match the needs of their job, it may be time to upgrade to new PCs.

RAM Upgrades

According to data collected by Intel researchers, a PC under one year old takes less than a minute to start up on average. Once a computer is more than five years old, however, it takes more than four minutes on average to start up.1 Over a year’s time, employees using older computers can spend as much as 11 hours just waiting for their older PCs to start up.2 Overall, older PCs can reduce employee productivity by 29% and cost your business as much as $17,000 a year per employee in lost productivity.3

Upgrading to a computer with more RAM (random access memory) can help boost speed and performance. RAM is short-term memory storage where the PC puts data it’s currently using so the information is easily accessible. The more RAM a computer has, the more data it can juggle at one time.

Another way to maximize the performance of RAM is a more powerful processor. The central processing unit (or CPU) is the “brains” of the computer, telling it what to do. The faster and more powerful the PC’s processor is, the better the computer’s performance will be. Intel® Core™ processors offer advanced performance for a wide range of business uses. Choosing a business-class device on the Intel vPro® Essentials platform for your small business can provide greater protection from security threats than software alone.

How Old Are the Components?

The age of your computers and their components (if purchased separately) is another factor in your decision whether to upgrade a computer or buy new. Older computers are more likely to need repairs than newer ones. Intel researchers have found a five-year-old computer incurs an average of $662 annually in repair costs. In the same study, small businesses reported that, on average, 43% of their computers more than five years old malfunctioned each year, compared to slightly over 5% of computers less than a year old.4

Depending on how old your business’s computers are, the cost of repairing and maintaining older PCs can quickly add up. Reviewing how much you’re spending on computer maintenance annually can help you decide whether to upgrade or replace PCs.

PC Bottlenecks

Today’s business applications are more data-hungry than ever, demanding more power from your PCs to run effectively. With operating systems taking up an increasing amount of storage space, outdated computers can cause bottlenecks as employees wait for their PCs to boot up or for files to load or save. Multitasking—essential to many of today’s jobs—can be difficult if a PC lacks the RAM and processor capacity to run multiple programs simultaneously. This not only affects productivity; it can lead to embarrassing issues like video conferencing or presentation apps freezing during client meetings.

If you use modern applications such as artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, cloud computing, or visually heavy applications such as video conferencing or video editing, you may need more power than your current PCs can provide. Identifying the specific processes that are suffering bottlenecks as well as the technical issues behind the bottleneck (such as insufficient memory) can help you determine if it’s more cost efficient and easier to upgrade a computer or buy new.

When Is It Best to Start Over?

When is it best to start over? In some cases, you can upgrade existing computers by adding more RAM, more storage, or faster processors. In many cases, however, it's simply best to buy new PCs, especially if you have any of the following scenarios:

  • Your employees currently have desktop computers and need laptops or 2-in-1s so they can work outside the office.
  • The cost of necessary upgrades, including service fees if you choose not to do it yourself, is close to the cost of a new PC.
  • Your computers are five years old or older.
  • Your business computers are key to your company’s success.
  • Your employees are using their own personal devices for work and potentially exposing critical business data.

Whether it makes sense for you to upgrade your business’s PCs, or purchase new small business computers, making this investment will pay off in greater productivity, efficiency, and employee satisfaction.

Read our PC Upgrade Guide for more information on ways to upgrade a PC.

Product and Performance Information

1The J. Gold study is based on a 2018 web-based survey, commissioned by Intel and conducted by J. Gold Associates, LLC., of 3,297 respondents from small business in 16 countries (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, UAE, UK, USA), to assess the challenges and costs associated with deploying older PCs. Get the details of the study here.
2Assuming one start-up per day and using an average start-up time that was calculated by taking the midpoint of the time survey respondents estimated it takes to start up a PC that is more than five years old, employees were estimated to spend up to 11 hours a year starting up a five-year-old PC (4.07 minutes X 5 days per week X 52 weeks per year divided by 60 (to get to hours) X utilization rate of .67 so 4.07 X 5 X 52 / 60 X .67 = 11.8). To review this statistic and the full report, visit here.
3Survey respondents estimated that for PCs more than five years old, employees would be up to 29% less productive – based on an average assumed employee’s salary of US$60,000, the lost productivity cost will amount to US$17,000. To review this statistic and the full report, visit here.
4J. Gold research indicated that the failure of a PC under warranty cost a company $1,070 for each failure, and the cost of failure for a machine out of warranty was $1,525. We can allocate a cost per user per year based on the above calculated costs of failure (assuming an in-warranty failure cost for year one and a non-warranty failure cost for all other years) where: Cost = 43.42% (average failure rate) X $1525 (cost of failure outside of a warranty) 1 (usage from Q2).