Purchasing and Managing Client Computers
This book aims to be platform-neutral, but the fact is that more than 90 percent of
networked desktop computers are PCs. While this book is just as applicable to Macs as PCs, the
remainder of this chapter assumes a PC environment.
Reliability and Serviceability
The most important features to look for in any desktop computer are its reliability
and serviceability. Studies have shown that the actual price of a desktop computer is a
small percentage of its lifetime cost, which includes software costs, training costs, and
When assessing reliability, you need to look at the whole picture. Reliability comes
from several sources:
The computer uses tested, high-quality components.
Those components are engineered to work well together. You can make a cake
with the best ingredients available, but if your recipe isn't good, you still get a
bad cake. Computers are no different. Even the best components don't always
work well together. Top-tier manufacturers test all the components that go into
their systems and ensure that they're compatible with one another.
A reliable combination of software is used on the unit, and whenever possible,
the software has been certified on the computer.
Serviceability is closely related to reliability. Serviceability simply means that working
on or repairing a particular computer is relatively fast and easy. Features that enhance
serviceability include cases that are easy to open (requiring no tools), quickly replaceable
internal components (such as hard disks, memory, or video cards that require simple or
no tools), and Basic Input Output System (BIOS) that is easy to update.
Serviceability is also strongly influenced by the services available from the
Does the computer manufacturer stay current in offering updates to its
Does its web site offer a lookup that lets you determine the configuration of a
computer based on its serial or service ID numbers?
Is technical information about its systems readily available, or does the vendor
tend to gloss over any discovered problems?
How quickly can you get replacement parts?
Does the manufacturer include on-site service for a period of time that reduces
your support burden?
What is the warranty on any given computer?