‘Tis the season for sales and deals.  But before you run out and buy that new laptop on sale at the big box store, it seemed fitting at this time of year to spend a little time explaining the difference between consumer-class and business-class laptops and workstations.  While it may seem like a marketing ploy, there are feature differences between the two that could have a significant effect on your small business.    The below list is not all-inclusive by any means, but does highlight some of the more important features that consumer-class workstations lack.


Security Hardware

Many consumer-class PC’s do not come equipped with a with a TPM (Trusted Platform Module).  The TPM is used for things such as disk encryption, which is especially important on laptops.  Encrypting the data on your hard drive helps prevent someone from accessing the data on your laptop or other portable device, should the device be lost or stolen.


Windows Home  Edition vs. Professional Edition

Consumer-class PC’s generally come with Windows Home Edition, whereas business-class comes with Windows Professional Edition.  Windows Professional has feature upgrades such as Bitlocker encryption without the use of a USB key (discussed above),  Active Directory domain join, and group policy.  Smaller businesses may not have an immediate need for Active Directory or group policy, but as the business grows and your employee-base increases, you want your workstations to be able to support those features.

Here is the official Microsoft Windows Home vs. Pro comparison.


Support, Reliability, and Durability

Consumer-class PC’s are built specifically to keep prices down.  Business-class PC’s on the other hand are built to withstand constant daily use, utilizing higher-grade parts which results in more durability and reliability.    Warranties are also available on business-class PC’s which provide next day onsite service, and priority (US-based) support for up to 5 years.  With a typical 1-year consumer-class PC warranty, you’ll be dealing with an outsourced support helpdesk, and shipping your PC back to the vendor for repairs which can lead to weeks of decreased productivity.