Businesswoman working with a desktop computer at her office

How to Choose Between a Workstation and a Standard PC

8 Dec 2017 by Junelle Bautista

It’s the end of the workday, and an employee is putting the finishing touches on a big project. As he goes to save it, the screen starts to render the large files and the computer suddenly freezes and crashes — and he loses all of his work in the process.

Occurrences like these unfortunately happen more often than they should due to outdated technology. And, although significant, computer crashes are not the only issue businesses have to worry about when dealing with aging equipment. Abacus Data Systems lists the top five risks of using outdated technology as:

  1. Crashes and system downtime
  2. Increased costs
  3. Decreased productivity
  4. Security holes
  5. Legal and regulatory compliance risks

Many companies have recognized these concerns and are making strides to combat them. According to the 2017 Insight Intelligent Technology Index, 50% of companies increased their technology budgets between 2016 and 2017. And 32% of those funds were devoted solely to adopting new technologies.

Where’s the money going?

Figure 1 shows the average age of personal computers in the United States will continue to rise to 4.56 years old by 2021, up from 4.28 in 2016. If companies are investing in new technologies, then why is this number increasing instead of decreasing?

Bar graph depicting the age of personal computers in the US from 2016 to 2021 (in years)
Figure 1

Although some businesses have moved toward modernizing, many are still behind and aren’t investing in the right technologies to meet their employees’ specific needs. New computers in the market are built to facilitate day-to-day office tasks such as web browsing, email and word processing. But much of the workforce — including engineers, architects, video editors, animators, financial analysts and product designers — requires a more robust workstation.

Workstation vs. standard PC

Modern workstations are designed to handle larger workloads and offer higher, faster performance than standard PCs. Think of a workstation as a sports car and a standard computer as a sedan. Both have four wheels, an engine and essentially the same functionalities. But one is clearly more powerful than the other.

A Redshift by Autodesk article lists five features that classify computers as workstations:

  • Error-Correcting Code Memory (ECC RAM), which helps prevent crashes and system downtime by proactively fixing errors
  • Multiple processor cores, which enable the processing of more data than standard computers
  • Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID), which keeps your data safe by storing it in multiple internal hard drives
  • Solid-State Drives (SSDs), the faster and safer version of standard hard drives but with no moving parts
  • Optimized Graphic Processing Unit (GPU), which eases the central processing unit’s workload to make things move faster

Although they bear a large upfront price, workstations can end up saving you money in the long run because of these features.

Advantages of upgrading

Modern workstations are powerful devices for virtually any industry. Their increased performance, usability and reliability make them ideal for engineers, architects, video editors, animators, financial analysts, product designers and more, who rely on performance, speed and power.

Software can be developed specifically to help these roles, but the hardware it’s run on must also be up to speed. Modern workstations, such as the newest line of Lenovo ThinkStation computers, can operate up to 43% faster than similar systems from just three years ago.

Storage capabilities are another advantage. Modern workstations can typically hold about twice the memory of a standard desktop PC. This added storage allows workers to run many intensive applications at the same time and work on multiple projects at once — without loss of performance.

System downtime is something no business can afford. The huge burden that comes with hardware repairs can be resolved with an upgrade to a workstation.

Making the decision

When choosing whether or not to invest in a modern workstation, consider the costs of maintaining and repairing outdated technology — not to mention the time spent waiting for processes to load, which leads to employee frustration and high turnover. The large price tag of a workstation may seem like a steep immediate investment, but when you evaluate it against what’s involved in keeping your current computer systems afloat, the benefits monumentally outweigh the costs.

Equip your workers for success.

Insight and Lenovo can help you find workstations to handle even your toughest jobs.

Learn more