One of the more important things that CPAs and other financial professionals should do is to buy good quality hardware. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, but I have two basic rules for purchasing computer hardware
The first rule: Buy hardware produced by a leading manufacturer.
While you can save a little money by purchasing “off brand” hardware, you will almost always lose that time when you have to deal with proprietary device drivers or cheap build quality. Although you could purchase that computer from someone besides HP/Dell/Lenovo, I have a suggestion: Don’t do it. The risk is too high, and the return is insignificant. Don’t.
The second rule: Buy business grade hardware
Most computer makers have two grades of hardware: Home grade hardware and business grade hardware. Unfortunately, many professionals pay more attention to the hardware branding rather than the build quality. I generally feel good about the products coming from the “big 3” major manufacturers – Dell, HP, and Lenovo. I would add to that list (insofar as build quality is concerned) the Microsoft Surface Pro line of tablets (but not the Surface tablet/laptop). I also list Apple hardware as home grade – primarily due to the complexity of dealing with MacOS and Windows on the same machine. Many people disagree with me on this point (the Apple fans, primarily), but given that I do speaking and consulting to CPAs, and they generally are required to use Windows applications, I generally discourage Mac adoption. (I would remind you, the gentle reader, that it’s a free country, and if you want a Mac, go buy one – but don’t complain to me when your users can’t handle dealing with the cost, complexity, and memory requirements of Parallels desktop running a purchased Windows license – to each his (or her) own.)
My current working list of product lines which appear to be “Home Grade” vs. those which are “Business Grade” follows.
Business grade laptop/desktop hardware lines
· HP laptops: EliteBook, ProBook, ZBook
· HP desktops: EliteDesk, ProDesk, EliteOne, ProOne, Z-series
· Dell Laptops: Latitude, some Vostro, Precision Mobile Workstation devices
· Dell desktops: Optiplex, Precision
· Lenovo laptops: Thinkpad, B-series devices
· Lenovo desktops: M-series, P-series, Thinkcentre, Thinkstation
· Microsoft Surface Pro tablet/laptop
Home-grade laptop/desktop hardware lines
· HP laptops: Stream, Streambook, Pavilion , Phoenix, Envy, Omen, Spectre
· HP desktops: Stream, Pavilion, any others not in business grade device list
· Lenovo laptops: Ideapad, Flex, E, G, L, S, U, and Z-series
· Lenovo desktops: A, B, C, H, K, and Q-series. Horizon and Erazer series devices
· Dell laptops: Inspiron, some Vostro
· Dell desktops: Inspiron, XPS, Alienware, 3000, 5000, and 7000 series
· All Chromebooks, Chromeboxes
· Microsoft Surface (not Surface Pro) tablet/laptops
· All Apple-branded laptops and desktops