Business Or Consumer Grade Hardware?

5 years ago | by Chris O'Brien

As a business owner, we’re sure you’ve thought about saving costs by purchasing devices from your local electronics store, rather than your IT Provider, but will it actually cost you more in the long run?

Let’s cut to the chase: yes, purchasing devices from your local electronics store will cost you more in the long run. When we’re referring to purchasing devices for your business, we’re talking about things like desktop computers, notebooks, monitors, switches, WiFi Access Points etc. And while we understand that saving money is a top priority for any business, those heading to their local electronics store to purchase these for business use, need to think carefully about this decision, as the differences between consumer and business grade hardware in a business environment are astonishing when you take a closer look… Consider just the fact that the average life expectancy of a consumer grade notebook is 12 – 18 months, whereas a business grade notebook is 3 – 4 years. We know, it’s a big difference! Here’s what else you should consider before you purchase:

The thing you want to remember as a rule of thumb, is that you get what you pay for when you buy consumer grade hardware – it’s exactly that – made for consumers, not businesses. Consumer grade hardware is generally known for its entry level capabilities. They give you user-friendly benefits as any home device would, but for a business, you need hardware that’s reliable and offers fast support, so your business can work as efficiently as possible. The potential down-time associated with home grade devices is worrying. Think about the instance that your laptop crashes. With consumer grade hardware, you generally have 12 months warranty, so in this case, you would have to spend a whole bunch of time trying to get support through consumer call lines, only to be asked to send the device back to the manufacturer so they can examine it. This process might leave you without your device for weeks! With business grade hardware, you’re offered a minimum of 3 years warranty, with fast and local support, as well as next business day onsite service. This should be at the forefront of any business owners mind when purchasing a device. Business grade hardware certainly provides value for money when you consider minimised down-time and lower support costs. When you’re getting goods from B2B companies, you’re dealing with people that understand the impact of down-time – this is what we constantly work to minimise. Consumer business on the other-hand just doesn’t have that sense of urgency.


When you think about it, buying anything BUT business grade hardware for your company is actually harmful, as you’ll be limiting your capabilities in a number of critical ways. Consumer grade hardware was never designed to meet the performance demands a business requires. Business grade hardware is built to last – think about a device such as a Lenovo ThinkPad – it’s designed to take the blows of business travel, with a unique roll cage allowing it to survive rough wear and tear. It’s also what’s under the hood that’s important. Home computing generally has much lighter use than business computing, and that shows in the specs built into business grade hardware. Businesses leverage devices with more memory, space and a more powerful processor so they can handle business-critical tasks like rendering, saving large documents and networking with other computers. Home computers are mostly used for personal tasks – like checking emails, browsing online or gaming. This means a design with less memory, space and processing power. Pushing consumer grade hardware to perform in a business environment will cause them to fail far quicker than business grade hardware too, leading to additional costs for servicing or replacing. Again, this is important to consider when thinking about value for money when you’re purchasing a new device. Businesses are always thinking about ROI, right? So while consumer grade hardware has a lower upfront cost, the life span of business grade hardware is worth the extra dollars, as you’ll more than save that in the long run.


The luxury of remote monitoring or support might not be offered on your consumer grade hardware. From a business perspective, this is bad for a few reasons. Firstly, you won’t be able to gain real-time support if you’re experiencing technical issues. Simple things like email issues or problems with saving that usually only require a tech to remote into your computer and take a look at the issue, will change to getting a tech onsite to solve your problems. Certainly a time wasting and expensive exercise. Another bummer here is that you won’t reap the benefits of automated security updates that are pushed to computers within a network, meaning your computer & business network becomes far more vulnerable to cyber-attacks – something that could cause massive issues with privacy, cost and down-time. Maintenance is also key here. Remote monitoring and management is something that most IT Providers do for their clients in the background. They have people dedicated to ensuring there’s no imminent threats in a system and everything is as up-to-date as it can be. If you buy consumer grade hardware that isn’t compatible with this service, you’re practically asking for greater risk and higher costs.


Business grade devices typically come with a business version of the Operating System. To cater to businesses, they’re designed for networking, encryption and remote working. They also boast other superior security features and tools to give great reporting and analytic insights – all things that are incredibly useful to businesses. Consumer grade Operating Systems are designed for ease-of-use at home, so while you might ‘get by’ with it, you’ll be lagging on performance and the ability to carry out certain tasks, not to mention the lack of competitive advantage and the lost productivity your company will experience without leveraging a business grade Operating System.


Security is something that’s far superior in business grade hardware as well, in fact, it’s often the core of business hardware. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the security features in things such as business notebooks are very impressive. Everything from fingerprint sensors, to vein readers, to NFC (Near Field Communication) or smart card readers, and even TPM (Trusted Platform Module) embedded solutions. Business hardware totally smokes its consumer counterpart when it comes to security. There are even options that offer encryption by default – so if you lose your device, or it’s stolen, you can rest easy knowing your data is totally safe. This hardware gives you additional security you just can’t get in consumer grade devices.


There’s also a difference in what you see when looking at a consumer screen vs a business grade screen. Business grade screens tend to incorporate matte displays with better viewing angles in the build. Consumer hardware on the other hand often has glossy displays that promote ‘shininess’ and arguably more vibrant colours. But this makes for terrible viewing angles, particularly for office spaces where you’re under artificial lighting that promotes terrible glare on glossy screens. Matte displays are easier on the eyes, easier to view in AND outdoors, and have far better viewing angles! It’s the little things that are thought about in business grade hardware that make them even more appropriate for company use!

Just so we’re clear, it’s not only businesses that would benefit from spending a little more initially on business grade hardware, we believe consumers can benefit too! If consumers are in a position to obtain business grade hardware for home use, we would strongly encourage it. It’ll be a long-lasting, durable device that’s built for wear, with more security features and better overall long-term performance. Wouldn’t you want that at home too? 😉

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