Tyler Snyder

By: Tyler Snyder on March 31st, 2020

Print/Save as PDF

Which is the Best Computer for Business: Dell or HP?

Technology Strategy | Business Strategy | Purchasing

It’s overwhelming when you need to replace one of the computers in your business. With the average computer needing replaced every three to five years, you’re likely looking at different specs and maybe even a new operating system than the one you’re replacing. This can be confusing on your end, and frustrating for the employee who’s been using the same computer for years.

In this article, we’ll walk through how to choose the best computer for your business. Since the choices in computer models are infinite, we’ll focus on the to most popular business computer brands on the market, Dell and HP.  

At any given point, there are hundreds of unique options just for desktop computers alone.  At the online retailer, CDW, there are currently 1,158 unique HP desktop computer options. Dell has another 221 options.  Add on laptops, and you get another 2,200 computer options combined between the Dell and HP product lines. When you’re trying to find the best computers for your business, this is overwhelming and daunting. It’s a stressful situation that we often find our customers in.

This leads to endless Google searches using criteria such as "best laptops for 2020" or "HP vs. Dell," all to try and narrow our decision down.  These searches lead to hundreds of comparison sites, random blog posts, and other miscellaneous reviews.  You consume all this data and suffer from analysis paralysis. You end back up where we started with no idea which direction to go. 

Today we are going to break down the question of "Dell vs. HP" and try to help you get some peace of mind in making a technology decision for your business.  We will stay focused on desktop and laptop computers.  Both Dell and HP  go much deeper than just computers. Their product lines include servers, storage, and networking, but we will leave those alone to focus on choosing a computer. 

Innovative is an exclusive HP/HPE partner, but we understand that HP computers may not be the best choice for everyone. To help you choose the best computers for your business, we have put together an objective comparison between HP and Dell computers.    

Before diving into a comparison, let's start with understanding the basic components of every computer. 

What are the Main Parts of a Computer and Their Functions?

All computer systems, regardless of manufacturer, are built with the same main parts:

  • Motherboard – A motherboard is the main circuit board of a computer. It houses and connects all other components of a computer.
  • Processor – A computer processor is the engine for the computer and directly impacts the speed you experience when you use the computer. The processor interprets the 1s and 0s that make up all computer applications and translates them into the user interface you see and interact with on your computer screen.
  • Power Supply – The computer's power supply is the component that converts the A/C power coming from a typical electrical outlet into the appropriate power type and voltage for the motherboard and other connections inside the computer.
  • Storage Computer storage usually refers to the internal hard disks that define how much "stuff" can be stored on the computer. This includes not only the files you create and save but also the operating system and software programs you use.
  • Memory (RAM) – Random-access memory (RAM) is volatile storage or storage that is removed from your computer when it turns off. RAM is the brain of your computer and allows it to read and write data quickly. The more memory a system has, the faster it appears to function because of this speed.

How Does a Computer Work: The Kitchen Analogy

The kitchen analogy is an easy way to remember how the main parts of a computer work together.

  1. The motherboard is the kitchen. It's the place where the chef works, the ingredients are stored, and the dish is created.
  2. The chef is the processor. The chef takes raw ingredients (the 1s and 0s behind the applications) that come into the kitchen and turns them into a meal (the end-user experience on your computer screen) that goes out of the kitchen for the end-user to eat.
  3. The pantry is the storage. The bigger your pantry, the more ingredients you can keep in your kitchen, and the more meals you can create.
  4. The countertop is the memory (RAM). The countertop is where you put all the ingredients that you take out of the pantry to create your meal.

Are computer parts different in different brands of computers?

Computer components are not specific to any one manufacturer.  Processors (the engine) are manufactured by Intel or AMD typically and sold in bulk to big manufacturers, but they can also be purchased directly by consumers.  Hundreds of manufacturers make memory (the brain) components  that you can pick.  Motherboards, power supplies, and desktop/laptop storage are the same situation as well.

This means that your computer guts are the same regardless of which manufacturer makes the computer. 

What Parts Affect Computer Performance and Speed?

Computer performance and speed have nothing to do with the brand you choose and everything to do with the processor speed, storage type, and amount of memory and storage your business requires.  As noted above, these components are often universal across manufacturers.

Processor Speed

Processors are made up of multiple cores. Each core can handle one task at a time. The more cores in your processor, the more simultaneous tasks your computer can execute at any given time, or the faster your computer appears to run.

As we mentioned earlier, Intel and AMD are the two most common processor manufacturers found in almost all mainstream computer brands. Intel and AMD each produce a wide variety of processors to meet a variety of computing needs. As a rule, functions like gaming and graphics or video production require significantly more processing power than basic word processing and text or numerical data entry.

The highest-speed (and highest-cost) processors are usually necessary only in the gaming and graphic/video production worlds. This means most of the online content around processors is written about higher-end processors targeted toward this audience. This does a good job of explaining the different levels of processors required for different types of computer users. While the specific products mentioned may change as new processors come to market, the same rules apply to the types of users that require faster processing speeds.

Dell and HP/HPE both offer computers with Intel and AMD processors. Currently both brands favor Intel processors in computers targeted to office users, and AMD processors in computers targeted to gaming users. Those tendencies may change as Intel and AMD continue to evolve their product offerings.

Innovative currently recommends Intel i3 (good option), i5 (better option), or i7 (best option) processors for the average office computer user. The AMD-equivalent processors are the Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7.

The average office worker will not see a difference in performance between the equivalent Intel and AMD components.

Storage Type

The computer's storage or drive size determines how much data it can store. The type of drive determines the speed at which that data can be pulled in and out of use.

There are three types of computer drives:

  • Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) drives can handle a larger quantity of data that is moved at a slower pace. SATA connections pull data from the hard drive one bit at a time. They are great for storing large amounts of information that you don't need to access very often.
  • Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drives (SCSI stands for Small Computer Systems Interface and is commonly pronounced "scuzzy") move data at a much higher speed. They reprioritize the order in which data is moved based on the speed at which it can move it. So, it has a much higher read/write speed, and these drives are commonly found in servers and higher-end computers.
  • Solid State Drive (SSD) drives can read and write even faster than traditional hard drives. This form factor is also a bit smaller in most cases. They contain no moving parts, which also helps with shock damage.

SATA drives are best for a storage heavy system that doesn't access the information very often (think storage of your data archives).  There is a performance decrease with drives of this type as compared to the others.

Memory and Storage Capacity

In our experience, most general office users require about 4 - 8 GB of RAM to perform their job functions.  Windows 10 requires 2 GB of RAM just for to run the operating system. Add on other job-related applications, and more memory is required.  Memory is not a very expensive component, so if you are not sure which way to go, we would always recommend going higher.

Storage decisions come down to the usage of the system.  Innovative has installed thousands of computers in business settings, and every business operates a little differently. 

If you have a server, most everything you do should be stored there to ensure the data is central and properly backed up.  These environments don't need very much storage for their workstations.  Other businesses that don’t have a server might need staff to store everything on their computer, which will require a larger storage drive. 

Different industries also consume storage differently.  Graphic designers and CAD engineers need significantly more storage because the data files they are dealing with are significantly larger than the average spreadsheet others might be storing.

Laptop vs. Desktop

Beyond the computer guts, the form factor is the final decision to make.  Many businesses select laptops because of the remote flexibility they offer, but their price tag is higher.  Smaller desktops consume far less energy than typical tower models and give users back significant desk space at a reasonable price. 

Most desktops these days are not the older tower you might remember sitting under your desk and collecting dust.  Those options still exist for high-performance needs where specialized graphics cards and upgradability is a necessity.  For the rest of us, PCs are about the size of a book and are called “minis.” 

The minis sit up on your desk or even mount to your screen in some cases.  Conversely, a laptop is not much bigger but meant to be portable.  It contains a battery that can usually run the computer for several hours and great for workers that need mobility.  It is also a great business strategy to ensure your staff can work offsite when required.

Most Common Business Computer Configurations

The technical specifications and configuration of your computer is the only thing that matters to the speed and performance of your computer. Since all manufacturers essentially use the same parts, you won't see much difference in performance from one brand to another. But that still leaves you with thousands of options. How do you select a computer with the right configuration?

The breakdown we use at Innovative is:

Basic Option:  Intel i3 processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB SATA disk.  This system can run a few applications well but nothing too crazy. It works well for basic web browsers and simple word processing functions.

Moderate Option:  Intel i5 processor, 8 GB RAM, 256GB SSD disk.  This system will run circles around the good option but is still not an overly powered system.  We tend to stick with this middle of the road option for most business users.

High-Performance Option:  Intel i7 processor, 8 GB RAM, 256GB SSD disk.  This system has the fastest engine and is best for the power users at your office. These are the people who have multiple windows at once, are moving in and out of many different applications all day long, and use customized integrations to connect different functions in different applications.

Choosing a Computer Brand

Knowing that most computer brands use the same components, you're probably wondering why the brand of computer is even a factor in choosing the best computer.

The computer brand or manufacturer has very little to do with the expected speed and performance of the computer. The brand plays a role in the aesthetic design of the devices, and more importantly, in the warranty and service you can expect from the manufacturer. Services and warranties are the factors that should truly help you decide what type of computer is best for your business.

Comparing HP and Dell Computers

Dell has been one of the leaders in the personal and business computing space since the early 2000s.  It has been a publicly-traded company twice (most recently in 2018) and has acquired many other companies along the way to make them a powerhouse in the PC/Laptop, Server/Storage, and networking space.

HP Inc. split its business into two separate companies, HP and HPE, back in 2015.  HP focuses on PC's and printers, while HPE focuses on enterprise solutions, servers, storage, and networking.  They have also acquired several companies along the way.  This business split was part of a 5-year plan to allow HPE to focus on server/storage/cloud growth while keeping significant momentum in the PC space as well.

Dell is a slightly larger company in terms of revenue (90 billion for 2019 as compared to 87 billion with HP/HPE combined for 2019), but both continue to post strong numbers and show no signs of slowing down.

Dell also offers small business services that make them a little unique.  If you are not a great fit for a managed IT service provider, but need some basic business IT guidance, Dell Business Services can be a good route to help you gather information and make a decision.  They assign you an advisor that is responsible for making your buying experience easier.

HP/HPE, on the other hand, relies on its partner network to provide wrap-around support services for their devices. If you have a relationship with an HP/HPE partner, their devices could be the best choice as your service provider can service and support those products better due to their bulk purchasing power and direct access to the manufacturer.

So now what?  The systems are all very comparable with one another, and both companies are healthy and continue to innovate and grow.  How do I choose a side and ultimately decide what my business needs?

Why Does My IT Company Prefer One Computer Brand?

We mentioned earlier that Innovative is an HP/HPE partner. Why would we prefer HP over Dell when the differences are so minimal?

The answer is simple.  IT companies get better service and access to the resources they need by aligning exclusively with one brand. As you can see from the reviews above, Dell is an excellent company offering excellent products. But due to our established relationship and history with HP/HPE, we're able to guarantee better service, faster repairs, and smoother warranty claims processes by establishing an exclusive relationship with one partner.

For us, that partner is HP/HPE. If your trusted IT partner is aligned with Dell or any other reputable manufacturer, it's always in your best interest to go with their recommendation.

Since the technology and form factor of the system will be the same regardless, you need to ensure that your trusted partner has:

  • Easy access to parts if something breaks.
  • Has the necessary certifications/partnerships to "skip the line" and gain high-level support when necessary on your behalf.
  • Familiarity across all computer models to ensure the techs understand the various complexities of each model.
  • Loaner systems to ensure your employees have optimal uptime while keeping the same image across the organization.

These points are called out to provide more uptime and efficiency for your business.  When a provider knows EXACTLY how to work within your technology, there is no learning curve time needed with troubleshooting.  If your system is down, you won’t suffer because there isn't a delay in placing orders or you’ll have access to a loaner or familiar hardware.  Techs also know how to access the support channels in the most efficient way possible to get you back up and running quicker.

Any decent technician will be able to work on any system, but even a short delay can be very costly to your business.  Why not let your trusted IT provider truly own the solution so you can rest easy?

Which is Better for Business, Dell or HP?

It's a tie. Both Dell and HP will perform wonderfully for your business.  Both companies manufacture superior hardware and will be around for a long time.  Innovative has been with HP/HPE since 2001 and has had phenomenal success.  We also know many other IT companies that have the same story with Dell, which further clarifies the points above.

If you don't want the weight of this decision resting on your shoulders, I encourage you to reach out and speak to your trusted IT advisor for guidance.They can present you with options like we displayed above and get you the right technology that is aligned with your business strategy.   

download business technology template