Forum Thread

Office laptop?

emelvee 40,166 2,053 April 1, 2016 at 10:16 AM
I'm the in-house IT person in our office (scary!). We've been buying from Dell through a rep for several years, and I'm getting a bit tired of dealing with crappy machines. IT is just part-time for me; I'm in charge of the accounting department as my main job.

We have about 25 machines; replacing one every 2 months on average.They must have the numeric keyboard. I've been buying 15.6" screens, non-touch. Weight isn't an issue as few are used for mobile users. Many users have a secondary display via HDMI (no HDMI, no deal!).

Our most recent order was for a couple of Dell Mobile Precision 3510 laptops. Some basic specs:
- 8 gb RAM
- AMD FirePro W5130M. Previous machines used Core i5
- 500 gb hard drive - this isn't critical since nearly everything is stored on the server
- Win7 downgrade - we can't go to Win10 yet due to some of our software

The software we typically use:
- Sage 300 (accounting software)
- Quick Bid and On-Screen Takeoff (both estimating software)
- Office Home and Business (we only use Excel, Word, Outlook)
The estimating software is probably the demanding as far as resources go, followed by the accounting software. Some users have massive Outlook file sizes, regardless of how much I ask them to clean out their email.

We've been paying around $1,100 to $1,200 per machine including Office, plus tax. It seems like we could do better. Any suggestions? We're not married to Dell (though I think Dell is screwing us Big Grin).

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#2
If you want to get out of the business of day to day support for purchasing and maintaining these, then go with a business contract with someone to service and repair them\get a 3 year onsite\replacement warranty with Dell and buy 2-3 more than you need to use as reserves\spares when one breaks. Being cheap with the company's money in order to save them a couple of grand while people go idle when their machines break is the definition of penny-wise and pound foolish or masochism depending on your point of view lol. I always bought the best machines I could get away with. It made my life easier, made my people's life easier, we got more work done and I really did not care if I "saved" some finance bean counter or fat cat executive a couple of grand in capital expense so they could use it for their bonuses at the end of the year lol.

That being said, the AMD FirePro W5130M is a graphics chip vs an i5 which is the cpu. The Dell Mobile Precision 3510 processor should be fairly decent (i5 6300HQ if the specs are right). With Office, I doubt you get a much better deal for a business class machine. You could try one of the Office compatible clones online, but for business I would stick to MS products. If you wanted to go with non-business class machines you could probably save some money, but it is not worth it imo. They are less durable and when things break you really do not want to be the one having to explain to a VP why someone can't get something done because another machine broke because you got a deal and saved 100-200 a laptop.

As to brands, they are all iffy. And it can vary between different models from the same manufacturer. I found Dell to be OK generally. Support generally sucks with all of them unless you pay extra and even then it can be hit or miss.

My 2 cents.
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Last edited by YanksIn2009 April 1, 2016 at 11:34 AM
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#3
If the machines are not mobile, why go to the expense and trouble of a Laptop?

Go direct with dell, the margins are so small the resellers volume rarely gets you a better deal and is just an area to take more of the margin.My most recent order was Optiplex 3040's with skylake i3 and 8gb ram with SSD's. They were like $650 ish with 3 year on site next business day hardware warranty.

In 3-4 years you upgrade the tower and not the monitors, tends to save money over time, support for more than 2 monitors too. For what your describing for workload you really don't need the professional graphics chip, or an i5. We tend to buy in batches and I replace them in batches. It's nice to keep machines in the same family so you can image them easily.
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Last edited by LiquidRetro April 1, 2016 at 11:49 AM
Vague questions receive vague answers . . . . . .
#4
Quote from LiquidRetro View Post :
If the machines are not mobile, why go to the expense and trouble of a Laptop?

Go direct with dell, the margins are so small the resellers volume rarely gets you a better deal and is just an area to take more of the margin.My most recent order was Optiplex 3040's with skylake i3 and 8gb ram with SSD's. They were like $650 ish with 3 year on site next business day hardware warranty.

In 3-4 years you upgrade the tower and not the monitors, tends to save money over time. For what your describing for workload you really don't need the professional graphics chip, or an i5. We tend to buy in batches and I replace them in batches. It's nice to keep machines in the same family so you can image them easily.
I am assuming they take the machines home for either work from home days or after hours support. Where I used to work, they actually decreed no desktops and insisted everyone get a laptop at one point...which of course made no sense but they were run by a bunch of morons. I insisted on and got an exception for myself and my senior database and dev guys and had to argue with the fools as to why desktops were better and cheaper and that running large\complex database queries over the company VPN remotely from a laptop was idiotic when they could just VPN in to their desktop and run it from there. They combined this stupidity with the "open space" nonsense and wanted everything over wireless in the office (nothing like making everyone as miserable as possible and having database and app support being held hostage to slow wireless). The level of the stupidity was amazing.
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#5
I keep a spare or two as a backup...that's what I'm ordering next since I issued a couple to replace some older machines.

I don't mind spending the time to find a better deal - I'm just not thrilled with the service from our Dell rep, plus I've had issues with some of the recent machines we've received.

We used to have a mix of laptops and desktops, but found it easier to just get everyone laptops. So I guess paying a premium for a laptop (and having to buy a second monitor for several users) conflicts with the goal of trying to save money on the machines we're getting.


I will add that we do get the 3 year warranty with these machines, so I guess I'm not getting a bad deal after all. I appreciate the input.
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#6
I've been a longtime user of the Lenovo business laptops (back to when it was IBM). They're not cheaper than Dell, but they're solidly built and easy to repair. As a user I have no idea what Lenovo is like to deal with from a business support perspective.
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#7
Quote from YanksIn2009 View Post :
I am assuming they take the machines home for either work from home days or after hours support. Where I used to work, they actually decreed no desktops and insisted everyone get a laptop at one point...which of course made no sense but they were run by a bunch of morons. I insisted on and got an exception for myself and my senior database and dev guys and had to argue with the fools as to why desktops were better and cheaper and that running large\complex database queries over the company VPN remotely from a laptop was idiotic when they could just VPN in to their desktop and run it from there. They combined this stupidity with the "open space" nonsense and wanted everything over wireless in the office (nothing like making everyone as miserable as possible and having database and app support being held hostage to slow wireless). The level of the stupidity was amazing.
OP said few were used for mobile users. So the people that use them as mobiles get a laptop, everyone else gets desktops. Unless your traveling or whatever most accountants tend to use desktops with full keyboards, bigger monitors etc. OP didn't mention they were really setup for remote work either most likely with a terminal server or citrix style environment.

Sounds like your previous place didn't want people to do their best at their jobs.
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#8
Quote from LiquidRetro View Post :
OP said few were used for mobile users. So the people that use them as mobiles get a laptop, everyone else gets desktops. Unless your traveling or whatever most accountants tend to use desktops with full keyboards, bigger monitors etc. OP didn't mention they were really setup for remote work either most likely with a terminal server or citrix style environment.

Sounds like your previous place didn't want people to do their best at their jobs.

Lol...my previous place was run by a bunch of imbeciles and jerks (I am being kind as I can't use the word I want to online). To show you how inept and stupid they were, they put an English Literature major who was formally a secretary in charge of IT. She once mentioned in a staff meeting that she did not understand why the data center had no Apple servers and why everything could not work like her IPad and why we needed all Unix and Windows servers and she would prefer to get Apple products and hated MS. Yes you can not make this sort of thing up.

She also made the entire company switch off of MS Exchange and went to Google mail (because she hated MS and having to pay for Office products). When the head of the Mail group complained and noted the security and other issues involved globally, she fired him. She moved everyone into open space and wireless connections, then she and the senior management of the company outsourced most of the IT staff nationwide to H1b types when the stock price tanked. And there were plenty of other senior IT mangers\directors\VPs with no technical background. Like I said, place was run by imbeciles. The people who got things done, did so despite the system until they were all let go.
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Last edited by YanksIn2009 April 1, 2016 at 04:42 PM

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#9
Quote from emelvee View Post :
I'm the in-house IT person in our office (scary!). We've been buying from Dell through a rep for several years, and I'm getting a bit tired of dealing with crappy machines. IT is just part-time for me; I'm in charge of the accounting department as my main job.

We have about 25 machines; replacing one every 2 months on average.They must have the numeric keyboard. I've been buying 15.6" screens, non-touch. Weight isn't an issue as few are used for mobile users. Many users have a secondary display via HDMI (no HDMI, no deal!).

Our most recent order was for a couple of Dell Mobile Precision 3510 laptops. Some basic specs:
- 8 gb RAM
- AMD FirePro W5130M. Previous machines used Core i5
- 500 gb hard drive - this isn't critical since nearly everything is stored on the server
- Win7 downgrade - we can't go to Win10 yet due to some of our software

The software we typically use:
- Sage 300 (accounting software)
- Quick Bid and On-Screen Takeoff (both estimating software)
- Office Home and Business (we only use Excel, Word, Outlook)
The estimating software is probably the demanding as far as resources go, followed by the accounting software. Some users have massive Outlook file sizes, regardless of how much I ask them to clean out their email.

We've been paying around $1,100 to $1,200 per machine including Office, plus tax. It seems like we could do better. Any suggestions? We're not married to Dell (though I think Dell is screwing us Big Grin).
I am wondering why you would want to add to your responsibilities in today's workplace environment, IT support for computers and everything that entails for free? Are you a glutton for punishment? Do you know what you could be getting yourself into? How would you like to be dragged into court to represent your company because you did not insure that backups were not created regularly and accurately? What if your employer told the judge "I thought that was what he was doing" What about the other hundreds of reasons why that is a bad idea.

Take it from me [(I've seen it] (fortunately not to me)]. If you are not a 21st century IT support technologist? Don't do it! If you are not getting paid for it tell your boss you are not qualified to do it, and refuse to do it. If he/she wants to pay you for it they need to pay for the training you need and they need to pay you at least $38.00 an hour!! [Estimated National Average considering California's new minimum wage] after you get that training. Not enough in my opinion.

WAIT READ ON! I know you don't know me but even if you think I am a kook on the internet is it not worth your time to at least research what you are getting into, ask your wife, ask you parents? Trust your instincts.

OK I'm done, I've done all I can do.Roll Eyes (Sarcastic) OH GOD I hope I did enough!

Tread carefully. OMG
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Last edited by dale_101798 April 1, 2016 at 08:44 PM
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#10
Quote from dale_101798 View Post :
I am wondering why you would want to add to your responsibilities in today's workplace environment, IT support for computers and everything that entails for free? Are you a glutton for punishment? Do you know what you could be getting yourself into? How would you like to be dragged into court to represent your company because you did not insure that backups were not created regularly and accurately? What if your employer told the judge "I thought that was what he was doing" What about the other hundreds of reasons why that is a bad idea.
It's my main job (managing the financial operations of the company) to make sure we're getting the best value for the assets we purchase. My typical work load gives me plenty of time to shop for these computers.

I don't know how searching for a better deal for the computers ties in with backups, but we have a decent system in place - redundant drives; offsite tape backup with a tape rotation for daily/weekly/monthly tapes.
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