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Dell or Generic Brand PCs for the Small Business

By mattwilson247 ·
I am the IT Manager/NetAdmin at a small business with around 50 workstations/laptops and 4 servers. About 3 years ago we purchased custom built PCs from a small local PC shop. I was not too happy with them after about a year. I began the process of replacing these systems with Dells. We purchased 4 Dell workstations and 1 Dell laptop. So far that's not too many. As we began to replace the rest of the workstations I'm wondering if I should just go with TigerDirect and Systemax and save a few hundred per workstation instead of going with Dell. What should I do? I am the only fulltime technician on-site so I have to handle all the desktop support.


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Stick with Dell

by TheChas In reply to Dell or Generic Brand PCs ...

If Systemax from Tiger is your only other option, I recommend that you stick with Dell.

I would be surprised if you found the Systemax to be any more reliable than the PCs you got from your local source.

These are "price-point" systems along the lines of an e-Machine.


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by Oz_Media In reply to Dell or Generic Brand PCs ...

Well in brief, I would pick DELL over the 'custom cheapo' builds any day, if only on a support and warranty level.

If choosing to use OEM's I wouldn't choose DELL though. This is probably due to the much higher level of support (so I'm told) and quality found in Canadian OEM's from Compaq, HP and IBM but DELL is usually seen as a second rate, bottom feeder for the cheapskate around here, no offense to yourself intended.

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Dell Whitebox

by pgm554 In reply to Briefly

Dell has a non-branded line of PC's called Whitebox(basically OEM Dell's sold through a dealer).

If can find a dealer that sells and supports these ,it might be a cheaper way to go.

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Whitebox is generic term

by JamesRL In reply to Dell Whitebox

I regularly go to a dealer which sells Whitebox or "de-branded" PCs for my personal stuff.

These PCs are sometimes refurbished, but most often they are overstocks. When a manufacturer comes out with new models which make their existing models obselete, the manufacturer often buys back(not at full purchase price) the excess inventory, and then turns around and sells these to some selected dealers and wholesalers.

These PCs are good value, but if consistency is part of your support criteria, its kind of hit and miss - the deal with these PCs is that they are often in limited supply and once they are gone they are gone. They also may or may not have any warranty -no manufacturers warranty anyway- thats why these models are debranded, though quite obvious that just obscuring the logo doesn't mean you can't tell which model it is. They also tend to be more the consumer model rather than the business model.

Given that the total cost of ownership of a PC is usually 3 or 4 times that of the purchase price, think about what drives up the rest of those costs - support. I would focus on getting a good PC thats easy to support.

James Linn

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Dell it is!

by adely In reply to Dell or Generic Brand PCs ...

Hi Matt... considering that you're the only person providing techsupport full-time, you'd might as well stick with Dell. Their customer service is usually top-notch, meaning that you'll be able to free yourself from needing to attend to all those nitty gritty support issues as they arise (especially when the organization grows). It may be a bit pricier, but in the long run is well worth it. Unless there are more full-time techsupport staff to assist in daily support for those "clone" PCs, you'd probably be better of sticking with Dell.

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Actually the support issue is a furfey

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Dell it is!

As if the units actually need to be returned you have to make absolutely sure that you have a total backup of any important and seemly unimportant data before allowing them to leave the office. Dell will just bulk erase these units fit any required parts and send them back working but without your data.

Now anyone here can and will be able to tell you that any part or even the total network is easily replaceable in a relatively short time if required like if you suffer a lighting strike or something similar but without a excellent DR plan in place your stuffed as the data held on the HDD is the most valuable part of any computer/network as it is impossible to replace at all. So no matter what else you do YOU MUST have the absolute BEST DR PLAN in place otherwise it is all just a waste of your time and the bosses money!


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Dell or Custom - give me the custom

by maxwell edison In reply to Dell or Generic Brand PCs ...

If I had to choose between a "cataloged" Dell and some other "off the shelf" competitor, I'd choose the Dell. However, If I had to choose between a "cataloged and advertised" Dell and one that was custom built to my exact specifications, then I'd choose the custom built. Not knowing how involved you are with specifying exactly what you want (or your knowledge of such things), it's hard to make a recommendation.

Because of a change of ownership at my company, not too long ago, I was asked to justify the fact that I built my own computers. Why didn't I just buy Dells, I was asked? So I went through the process of really comparing apples to apples. For example, in my computers, I want a specific motherboard with a specific chip set with a specific FSB speed with specific features (or an approved equal); I want a specific processor and a specific amount of RAM installed exactly the way I want (1 stick of RAM instead of 3 or 4, for example); I want a specific graphics card with precise specifications (or an approved equal); I want to decide the type and speed of CD, DVD, etc; and I want to specify the monitor, keyboard and mouse (or, again, an approved equal); and so on. When I gave those specifications to a Dell representative for a quote, I discovered that my computer actually cost me almost $1,000 LESS than one Dell could build for me. Of course, the Dell came with a preloaded operating system and a variety of other preloaded software, which wasn't in my "specifications", but many people (myself included) don't like the Dell specific OEM software (or any other manufacturer) that they install, and would want to wipe it all clean anyway. Moreover, much of the OEM software can't be transferred to a different machine and remain compliant with the software license agreements. So for me, I would choose a custom-build every time. Even if I didn't build it myself, and I had to rely on a "small local PC shop", I would specify to them exactly what I wanted.

Why many of these local PC shops get a bad name, and why many of them turn out junk, is that they have to compete with the advertised brand names in price. So they, just like Dell, cut corners wherever they can. A customer will see an "advertised" 3.0 GB P4, for example, and expect the local PC shop to provide a 3.0 GB P4 for the same price (or less). But if you "look under the hood", so to speak, you'll realize that not all V-8s (computers) are built alike. To expand on the car/computer analogy, if you go shopping for a "just a car" (just a computer), with a V-8 engine (a P4 processor), equipped with a radio/CD player (CD-ROM/DVD), painted a certain color (graphics card), and so on, you could spend as little as $10,000 or as much as $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 (or more) for a brand new one. Why the huge difference in price? Because of the huge difference in what you're buying, whether it's a car or a computer.

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But I didn't answer your question

by maxwell edison In reply to Dell or Custom - give me ...

I suppose I went of on my own little tangent, there, and I didn't really answer your question. You asked if you should buy from, "TigerDirect and Systemax and save a few hundred per workstation instead of going with Dell".

Given only those two options, I'd buy the Dell.

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Fully Agree

by TheChas In reply to But I didn't answer your ...

Max, I fully agree.

PCs built to our specifications is the "best" way to go.

If you look into Systemax's history you will find that the owners made a number of opportunistic purchases of struggling PC builders.

I don't even recommend Systemax (or e-Machines) for home use.

I can usually throw together a more reliable system from surplus and refurbished parts for someone on a tight budget.


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by Oz_Media In reply to Dell or Custom - give me ...

From what I can see Max, you are referring to retail OEM PC's from a local computer store.

These PC's are NOT designed for business tuse to begin with and yes will be quite cut down models of good working PC's.

I use a dealer that only carries the desktop OEM's and professional workstations that you can't but at the local electronics store, which I would highly recommend as opposed to an over the counter unit.

You can find them by visiting the manufacturers websites and selecting Business Desktops etc.

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