The perfect home office

If recent events have shown us anything, it is that in order to thrive, we must adapt and do it quickly. The changes that we have seen have been unprecedented – never in peace time have schools and workplaces been so firmly closed, all leisure pursuits suspended and even limitations placed on the frequency with which we could leave our homes.

Every element of life has been turned upside and none moreso than our work lives. Businesses have realised than productivity isn’t dependent on being in a set office and that flexibility doesn’t cause as many problems as previously feared. As a result of this, the likelihood is that even when normality resumes, more people will work from home at least part of the week. Not only will this benefit the workforce in promoting a better work-life balance with greater flexibility, it will also allow companies to have smaller workplaces resulting in lower costs. There will be additional benefits too, such as the improvement in air quality with reduced pollution thanks to less commuting traffic.

So if your new normal will allow you to continue working from home, then you need to ensure you have the right set up to facilitate a conducive working environment. Here are our recommendations for how to get your home office just right…

The right computer

It all starts with your machine. This is, after all, what will allow you to get your work done, everything else is merely ancillary. There are several to choose from and if you aren’t a total tech-lover, you might not know where to start. One of the key questions you need to ask yourself is “how portable do you want your computer to be?”. If the answer is anywhere around the “extremely” mark, then you will want to consider a laptop. If it’s more “not very”, then a desktop is what you’re after.

The key benefit of a laptop is the ability to move it to wherever you need it. Whether that be within your home, taking it to the office or even going to meetings, a laptop is the best solution for this.

As great as laptops are for portability, there are compromises to be made when choosing one. Due to the size constraints of both the hardware and the fans required to cool high powered kit, they are far less likely to be able to process the demands placed on them, workwise. That’s where desktops are far superior. At Expertec, we recommend two desktop brands in particular – Dell OptiPlex and HP.

About Dell OptiPlex computers

There are several benefits to this type of machine, including:

  • Stability – they are well-known to have a long lifecycle with standard configurations to aide with this. Regular updates are issued with plenty of warning if you wish to implement them too
  • Durability – Dell has extremely strict supplier relationships as well as quality assurances meaning their products are well built. They also collect a huge amount of data and use it to better improve their manufacturing processes
  • Usability – intuitive design features mean you will have no trouble using a Dell machine and it is even designed to ensure it is accessible for any maintenance work that is required
  • Security – they understand the intricacies of individual requirements and make sure that the OptiPlex products can be tailored to meet your individual ones

Our favourite Dell OptiPlex is the Dell OptiPlex MT with i3 processor, 8GB RAM and 500GB hard drive.

Dell OptiPlex MT

But we have a huge range available so give us a call on 0800 2600 688 to see which one is best for you.

About HP computers

Hewlett Packard computers are well-known for a reason so make sure these form a good chunk of your research when buying your next machine. They feature:

  • Performance power – not only will they keep you connected, they will enable you to complete all the work functions you need them to in a timely and efficient manner and it’s all delivered a competitive price.
  • Stylish design – they have a very modern look and feel meaning they will look great in your home office for years to come.
  • Security – tight security protects not just your work, but also your home network, from breaches by hackers and other rogue attacks. Staying safe online will give you great peace of mind.

Our favourite is the HP Compaq Elite 8200 with i5 2nd Gen processor but again, we have plenty more available.

HP Compaq Elite

All the computers mentioned above are in our ‘Refurbished Desktop’ range which offers incredible value for money. They are all tested and serviced by our expert technicians and come with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty. If you want anymore guidance on what is right for you, either read our blog, ‘Choosing the right tech for you’ or get in touch with us.

There are other considerations too when setting up your home office such as having ergonomic accessories (desk chair, keyboard, mouse etc) to ensure you don’t end up with any aches and pains. If possible, also try to ensure you have a dedicated work area that is quiet and free from distractions if at all possible and it’ll help you be more productive.

For all your tech needs, get in touch with us at Expertec and we’ll help you get set up in no time.

The power of processing

If you’re an IT-phile, the chances are you know an awful lot about the inner workings of your computer. You know your RAM from your SSD and can reel off the meaning of all the abbreviations ASAP. You won’t glaze over when talking to IT professionals and might even be able to teach them a thing or two.

But if you’re not tech-mad, the chances are you might need a little help in understanding the intricacies of it all. You’ll need a bit of background knowledge to make sure that when you do purchase your next machine, it is the right choice for you and your needs.

One of the main areas of confusion surrounds the power of your machine to handle tasks and that comes from its processor, which you’ve probably heard of. It’s also known as the CPU or Central Processing Unit so if you see that term, know it’s the same thing. A CPU has two key elements that define its capability – the number of cores it has and the clock speed.

Computers typically have between two and ten cores, depending on how much it can handle; the higher the number of cores, the more it can do at once without slowing down. When it comes to clock speed, this denotes how many operations a processor can complete each second and is measured in gigahertz (GHz). For obvious reasons, the higher the number of GHz, the quicker it will be.

When it comes to the CPUs themselves, there are so many types available, it can be difficult to ascertain which one you need to complete the tasks you want to. So we’ve created a bit of a guide to help you out…

Intel vs AMD

There are a few main companies which make processors, two of which feature in the machines we sell so this is the first thing to consider – who do you want to manufacture yours? In a nutshell, they both make quite similar processors if you look at the key criteria of power, performance and price. On the whole, AMD chips are more popular for gaming because they have more cores for the money and the graphics can be good-enough quality. Intel ones usually offer improved performance per core.

AMD makes both the A-Series and Ryzen processors, the latter of which is much superior for gaming. The A-Series is an Accelerated Processing Unit or APU, which means the same die holds both the CPU and the graphics processing unit. The Ryzen processors, on the other hand, are based on a different architecture which is much faster. Whilst the superior A-series processors can handle gaming, the Ryzen ones are generally better for advanced gaming.

Intel makes a huge range of processors, all at different price points and with varying degrees of speed and functionality. We’re going to take a look at them in closer detail.

Our favourite Ryzen powered desktop

Best desktop PC - Aerocool

AMD A-Series bundle

Celeron vs Pentium

These are the entry-level processors used in machines that would be categorised in the lower price bracket. Pentium processors sit just above Celeron in terms of performance and can be found in many mid-cost laptops and desktops. They’re great on power which is why they work well in a laptop – they don’t drain the battery too quickly!

i3, i5, i7

This is where it starts to get a little more complicated. Not only do these numbers mean something themselves, there is a whole host of other numbers and letters which all mean something too. Here’s an overview:

Core i3 – great cost to performance balance and perfect for those who only want to do straightforward tasks. They lack the hyper-threading (which imitates more cores) you’ll find in more powerful processors. Instead it uses a turbo boost

Core i5 – similarly to the i3, these also lack hyper-threading but the turbo boost is even better

Reduced! Dell Core i5 desktop

Core i7 – these have either six or eight cores, and some have hyper-threading

Core i9 – these have either eight or ten cores and therefore are the most powerful made by Intel.

Hyper-Threading is recommended if you want to use particularly demanding software for things such as video editing. If it’s simple word processing and internet browsing you’ll be doing, Hyper-Threading might not be a requirement for you.

But in addition to the Core numbers, there’s more. You need to look at the specification sheet of the exact processor you’re considering as different ones have different features that affect performance. There is a letter after the processor ‘title’ and it’s this which gives you more information.

No letter – expect everyday efficiency with the ability to edit photos and videos quickly thanks to a high clock speed

T – similar to no suffix but with a lower clock speed

K – the best performer it has one of the highest clock speeds

U – this one is ultra-low power and are slower meaning bigger tasks take a lot longer

HQ – these drain your battery in a laptop thanks to the power they require but are higher performance

Y – these are suitable for basic tasks and use the least power meaning your battery will last longer. They also don’t need cooling with a fan so can feature in slim laptops

This is just an overview of all the different elements of processors so if you want to know more, get in touch with one of our team here at Expertec on 0800 2600688 and we’ll be happy to help.