SideXSide: Comparing the Best Desktops For Your Business

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 04-15-2011 Print Email
There are plenty of organizations that still rely on the computing power of desktops, and computer makers are continuing to innovate with new features. Here, you'll find a SideXSide comparison of features for three of the latest desktop computers -- from Dell, HP, and Apple

A number of recent research reports have been sounding the death knell for the desktop computer, predicting that it will be phased out in favor of notebooks and even tablets.  However, there are plenty of organizations that still rely on the computing power of desktops, and computer makers are continuing to innovate with new features.

Not only do desktops generally deliver better performance than their mobile counterparts, they can be managed by IT with far more ease, since they are always in the office. Here, you'll find a SideXSide comparison of features for three of the latest desktop computers -- from Dell, HP, and Apple. You might wonder why we included Apple's Mac Pro in this round-up. The answer is simple: Apple's desktop is widely considered one of the most capable on the market. And, corporate concerns about Mac OS X have been declining over the years. Plus, Windows can run on Macs, making them all the more useful in the enterprise.

SideXSide: Three Enterprise Desktop Frontrunners

Features

Dell Precision T7500 Tower Workstation

HP Z400 Workstation

Apple Quad-Core Mac Pro

Operating System

Windows 7 Professional 32-Bit

Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Users can dual-boot Windows, thanks to Apple's Boot Camp software.

Key Hardware Features

Standard: Intel Xeon Quad-Core 1.66GHz processor and 3GB of RAM. It also boasts a 250GB SATA hard drive and a 512MB ATI graphics card. The device comes with optional RAID controllers, Gigabit Ethernet, high-definition audio, and much more. 

Standard:  Intel Xeon 2.66GHz quad-core processor, 6GB of memory. The workstation boasts a 250GB hard drive and a 1GB Nvidia Quadro graphics card. It comes with a 16X DVD +/- RW dual-layer SuperMulti drive. As one might expect, the platform comes with Ethernet connection and the ability to add more hard drives. 

Standard: 2.8GHz quad-core Xeon processor and 3GB of memory. It offers a 1TB hard drive built-in and an 18x SuperDrive. The device's graphics card is the 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5770, though users can upgrade to multiple graphics cards. Offers multiple USB slots and FireWire. 

Support Considerations

Dell offers some of the best support deals in the business. The company's ProSupport for IT includes 24-hour access to help centers, escalation management, and a "fast-track dispatch for Dell-certified technicians." Businesses that want help setting up their new system can take advantage of Dell's deployment services, client migration, installation, and much more. The workstation comes standard with basic limited warranty. An upgrade to three-year ProSupport costs $109.

HP offers a slew of support options. Business customers can choose from 9-to-5 support or 24-7 coverage. In addition, HP offers on-site support when users require it, as well as disk-retention services for as many as five years. A tune-up service is also available. Depending on options, its three-year service plan costs about $249.

Apple's support services are widely regarded as some of the best in the entire technology industry. The company is responsive to issues and delivers some of the best phone support in the business, according to most recent surveys. Apple won't offer all the same options as Dell and HP to corporate customers, but its business staff at Apple Stores is responsive to corporate needs and its "Geniuses" can address most issues customers might have.

Configuration Options

Dell's workstation delivers all kinds of configuration options. Users can choose to upgrade the processor, add memory, load hard drives into the device, and install a RAID controller when multiple drives are in use. Users who require high-end graphical performance will find a slew of graphics cards to choose from. 

HP's offers several configuration options. Users can add graphics, additional memory, and extra hard drives. All those extra hard drives can be managed with the help of a RAID controller. An upgraded sound card, additional accessories, and many other components can be added.

Apple offers the fewest configuration options in this comparison. The company lets users get an upgraded processor, improve memory, and add an additional graphics card. It also lets customers buy a RAID Card when they add multiple hard drives to the device. An optical drive and Fibre Channel Cards can be added to the Mac Pro. 

Security Considerations

Since the Dell workstation is running Windows 7, it's incumbent upon users to beware that there will be many potential security risks when using the computer. However, there are also several security solutions in the wild that enterprise customers can employ to limit the chances of issues breaking out. Windows 7 is still a potential security issue that can't be ignored.

Since the HP workstation is running Windows 7, it's incumbent upon users to beware that there will be many potential security risks when using the computer. However, there are also several security solutions in the wild that enterprise customers can employ to limit the chances of issues breaking out. Windows 7 is still a potential security issue that can't be ignored

Unlike the other computers in this comparison, the Mac Pro runs Mac OS X. And for the most part, Mac OS X is a more secure operating system than Windows. But that doesn't mean customers can be lackadaisical. It's important that employees are informed of potentially hazardous activities and proper safeguards are in place so data isn't stolen. Users running Windows on the Mac Pro should adhere to the same security standards they would on any workstations.

Productivity Concerns

If your company has been running Windows XP, and the employee using the Dell workstation will be using Windows 7 for the first time, there might be a slight productivity hit in the near-term. However, it's important to note that the Dell workstation's Windows 7 installation should make users feel right at home after a short amount of time.

Like Dell's computer, it's important for HP workstation customers to realize productivity might be hit in the short term as employees learn how to use Windows 7. Over time, however, it will be just like their old desktops. And productivity over the long-term might actually pick up, since Windows 7 delivers more functionality (and usability) than Windows XP.

If it's improved productivity customers are after, the Mac Pro is at an obvious disadvantage. Apple's computer runs Mac OS X, an operating system that many employees might not be comfortable using for quite some time. Moreover, the experience of using a Mac is much different than a Windows box. Apple says using its products is easier, and over time, that might be the case, but for an extended period, companies might see productivity slip with the Mac Pro.

Program Compatibility

Outstanding. Thanks to Windows 7, users should be able to run many of their top programs on the Dell workstation. However, it might be worth upgrading to a more-capable version of Windows 7 to get Windows XP mode.

Outstanding. Thanks to Windows 7, users should be able to run many of their top programs on the HP workstation. However, it might be worth upgrading to a more-capable version of Windows 7 to get Windows XP mode.

Dependent upon the user. In some cases, the same programs on Windows are available to Mac OS X. But in those cases, companies will need to spend extra cash to buy the Mac versions. It's also worth noting that many enterprise applications don't run on Mac OS X, potentially causing a productivity issue for users.

Performance Concerns

None. With a quad-core processor and ample memory, users won't have any trouble performing tasks on the workstation. However, it would probably be a good idea for companies to improve the processor and graphics card for video editing.

None. The HP workstation boasts an even more capable processor than Dell's, which means more capacity to perform high-end tasks with the computer. It's important, however, to remember to improve the device's graphics card (and perhaps its processor) if video editing is required.

For the vast majority of tasks, the Mac Pro will be ideal for enterprise customers. However, it's important to note that with just 3GB of memory, video editing will be difficult. It's also recommended to improve its processor if memory intensive applications will be used. For ordinary apps, the standard processor offers plenty of punch.

Price for standard configuration

$1,459

$1,469

$2,499 

Source: CIO Insight based on vendor information, April 2011



 

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