How to build a business desktop

What makes a good business desktop and what characteristics should be considered when building one. It may surprise you how these decisions affect a company's efficiency

What is a desktop?

A desktop computer is by definition a computer that stays in a fixed place, for instance, a desk. It’s usually composed of the computer itself inside a box, one or more monitors, and a mouse and keyboard.

Its hardware and software configuration highly depends on its intended usage, so as a result its cost may range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.

The most common uses for desktops are:

  • Web browsing
  • Gaming
  • Office and productivity
  • Programming / development
  • Design


What is a business desktop?

A business desktop is a desktop dedicated to a professional activity.

The characteristics depend on the task at hand but usually, the most important factors to consider are stability, durability, power consumption, cost, and generic application speed.

How to build a business desktop

There are two approaches that can be taken. One is to buy a premade computer, this has the benefits of less setup time, and potentially a more stable system. If the budget isn't an issue then Apple computers offer high-reliability guarantees. But even on not so high-end budgets, there are excellent brands to choose from like Asus, HP, Dell, Microsoft, ...

The alternative approach is to build your own desktop, the two main advantages of this approach are more customization and usually cheaper prices.

When building a computer the main decision to take is what components one should choose. I usually make my decision based on the following order:

1. Processor

The first step is to choose the ideal processor for the task. Here one should consider cost, speed, cache, high-end, and heat performance. I recommend sticking to the two dominant brands Intel or AMD.

On mid and high-end end processors it’s advisable to also have an improved cooling unit.

2. Graphics Card

The next step is to choose the graphics card, which can be a major decision or be an indifferent one, all depending on your requirements. If you don't have graphical processing requirements you can event have a motherboard with an onboard GPU.

Here the factors to take into consideration are cost, memory size, memory speed, GPU speed, and heat performance. Also notice that with faster cards you might need an improved cooling system.

3. Motherboard

After deciding on the processor and graphics card then you are ready to pick a motherboard. It’s important to notice that each motherboard is made specifically for a given CPU socket, so be careful to select a compatible one or it will be impossible to assemble your PC. 

It’s also important to check if the motherboard has the necessary sockets for the graphics card. I’m partial on this one, but I usually go with ASUS. Don't try to be too cheap here, since the motherboard has a great impact on the system's overall stability.

4. Memory

For memory, the factors to consider are size, speed, cost, and the number of modules.

Check that the memory you choose is compatible with your motherboard, in both formats, number of slots, and maximum overall memory per slot.

Why not select the memory before the motherboard? Well, the reason for this is because motherboard selection is more strategic than the memory. By selecting a specific type of memory first you may be restricting yourself to a limited range of motherboards.

5. Power Unit

After you have your core setup it’s time to select a power unit adequate for your needs. Here the factors are power output, rating, and cost.

The rating measures how efficient the board is at delivering the power consumed to the components. It’s advisable to get a gold or platinum power unit since you’ll have more efficient power consumption and by consequence lower energy costs, and better system stability.

The component which most of the time is the biggest power hog is the graphics card. So don't overkill with your graphics card since it may hurt the overall system stability and energy costs. 

How to make a cheap business desktop

Usually on a business desktop one can save some money on components that would be expensive on other setups like gaming. For instance, you can have a cheap graphics card, low-speed memory, average CPU, and average power unit. I don't recommend saving money on the storage device, and although they are more expensive one should usually opt for SSD disks instead of HDD, this is because they are more durable and much faster than the HDD counterparts.

As for peripherals, it’s important to have an ergonomic mouse and keyboard but to save money you can select ones with high latency rates. I also don’t like to save too much money on the monitors because of eye strain and general quality of work environment, but if you must you can choose smaller and lower quality screens, in either case, you can choose high latency monitors as it rarely has any effect on work performance.

Business desktops for office productivity

Office productivity can usually get by with the standard business desktop. But if you want to improve the quality of your worker’s productivity you should focus on having larger or multiple monitors, and more memory, because both allow for more efficient multitasking.

Business desktops for programmers

A desktop dedicated to programming has three important requirements that distinguish it from a standard desktop. It needs to have a large amount of memory, fast storage devices, and a fairly decent CPU.

These requirements help with compiling times which is a recurring task of any developer, with the software used for development which is becoming more and more memory hungry, it also helps with the general workflow by not having to interrupt the thought process due to application lagging. Imagine if you save 10 minutes per day of your developers time by having a more efficient computer, if that worker costs $40 per hour, which is a cheap price, we’re already talking of $1600 per year saved by having a fast computer. And we’re not talking about pc crashes, overheating, applications freezing, etc.

Business desktops for designers

What differentiates a good desktop for design from others is the capability to efficiently process images and videos. Graphic processing software usually benefits from having fast processors, good graphic cards, and large fast memory. It can be said that this desktop variant is among the most expensive builds.