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Before You Buy: Home Office Computers


The computer you purchase for your home office may be one of the most expensive purchases you will make when setting up your home office. Knowing what specifications to be aware of can help you spend your money more wisely and score a computer that will do the work you need. Spend time to learn about what features each type of computer offers, how that will benefit you and make your work easier. But first, do your research to set a budget.

Windows or Mac

You will need to determine whether you will use a Windows based computer or Mac. Each will have their advantages and disadvantages. Your employer may determine what type of computer you will purchase or if you are self-employed you will make that choice. Mac is the more expensive option of the two and this may be the single factor that determines which you purchase.

Desktop or Laptop

Factors to be aware of when making the decision between desktop and laptop include whether you want a large or multiple displays, how much available space you have in your home office and whether you’ll need to ever travel with your computer. If you’ve never used a laptop before but think it is the best solution for you, ensure that you have gone and tried some different brands and models.


Knowing what type of work you do and how much processor speed you will require is important. If you are working on mostly documents and using the Internet, then the AMD series of processors will be more than suitable for your work. If your work involves video and graphic projects, then looking to the Intel I-series processors will be a better choice for you. When considering whether you should purchase a desktop or laptop based on the processor, desktops do have faster processors.

Hard Drive

There are differences when it comes to the hard drive of desktop and laptops which can be a factor to which style of computer you decide on. Desktops do have larger hard drives and the capability to add in an extra drive which can be useful to use for storage. Laptops do have some options to consider especially those with solid state hard drives. The solid state drives do not have the capacity of traditional hard drives but they start faster and are a sturdier hard drive, since there are no moving parts. It will drive up the price point of the laptop though.

Video Card

For many of us, the onboard video cards are more than adequate for the type of work that we do. Be aware there are higher end desktops and laptops which have video cards that are not integrated into the motherboard and those machines are normally aimed at gamers or those who do a lot of image and video work.


All laptops and many desktops now include wireless connectivity options. Other connections that you should be looking for are the number of USB ports and where they are located. HDMI is another connection that can be very useful especially for a laptop if you need to do presentations. You should also have an Ethernet or RJ-45 port so that when wireless is not available you can still connect to the Internet.

Installation/Setup Charges

It is not as common now to purchase a computer and have the operating system already installed. There may be an additional fee for this service. Research what retailers are charging for this and base your decision on how comfortable you are in doing the work yourself. When paying for a service such as having the operating system installed you are having a professional do the work, they can head off any issues that could arise and save you time.

Extended Warranties

The standard warranty on a computer (desktop or laptop) is one year. You must ship it off to them and then be without your computer for the time it takes them to complete the work. Many retailers do offer some form of extended warranty. Research to see exactly what they will cover, how long their coverage is and what is required of you. There may also be additional warranty coverage available that cover accidental incidents.

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