Mac girl in a PC world
August 26, 2010 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Help me decide which Windows desktop my company should buy (mostly for bookkeeping/financial)

My very small company needs to replace our ancient desktop PC and I'd love some recommendations. I personally prefer Macs and the rest of the office uses them, but our bookkeeper and accountant insist that we have one Windows machine for financial stuff. The PC would mostly be used for QuickBooks, spreadsheets, word processing, and accessing the web. We might use it for some very basic image editing, but not in Photoshop or anything heavy-duty like that.

I'm fairly tech savvy, but I've had Macs at home and at work for several years now, so I'm a little out of the loop when it comes to PCs. I checked out the suggestions here, but as the question is from 2005 I'm guessing most of that info is out of date now. Any recommendations on what brand I should order and what basic specs to look for would be much appreciated! Keep in mind that it's a very small office with no IT department, so while the best answer might be "build it yourself with parts from New Egg," that's not really an option for us. Something we can buy online and use out of the box would be perfect.

Also: we're a non profit, so if there are any companies that offer good discounts, that would be very helpful. And we're open to getting a refurbished desktop (we've had great experiences with refurbished Macs).

Thanks hive mind!
posted by theseampsgoto11 to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'm pretty sure that for your use cases it doesn't matter what you buy as long as it's new. Get a Dell machine to have them be your IT department, but apartment from that: whatever suits your budget will be fine.
posted by oxit at 11:29 AM on August 26, 2010


My neighbor (a Mac girl) was in the same boat - her husband runs a construction business, and they needed Quickbooks. Your accountant doesn't want a Mac for that because the Mac version of Quickbooks is apparently so godawful and so featureless that it wouldn't be worth the time to even try it.

Dells are pretty cheap, yes. But these are your finances we're talking about, and Dell has a reputation for offshoring support, cutting corners on hardware, and generally making shoddy computers over the last 10 years or so. I would avoid them at all costs. Check out Lenovo instead - they are making the systems IBM used to sell, they have a good track record for reliability, and their desktop systems should be rock-solid. I haven't personally dealt with their desktops but the laptops are (as far as I know) just as good as they were when IBM made them.

With Win 7 things should be fairly secure, but it's still Windows. Firewall the hell out of the system, block access to all non-essential services, don't use it for web browsing unless you have to, and make backups often.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:39 AM on August 26, 2010


It would make sense to get something with an i5 chip and at least 4GB of RAM that you can expand to 8GB or whatever in the future. This should last you for 5 years or so.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:50 AM on August 26, 2010


Don't buy a consumer-level model. Buy a business model from HP or Dell, avoiding the very bottomest-of-the-line cheapies.
posted by sageleaf at 11:50 AM on August 26, 2010


Seconding sageleaf. As long as you get a business machine and avoid the consumer support you'll be ok. HP and Dell are two safe bets.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:54 AM on August 26, 2010


And: Before you press the "order" button, be sure to run it by the person/people who will actually be using it -- there might be a completely reasonable preference as to a feature that might not be obvious to someone else.
posted by sageleaf at 12:01 PM on August 26, 2010


TechSoup.org has really good computer hardware and software deals for nonprofits -- I would certainly start there.

Any PC desktop sold in the last five years will run QuickBooks and MS Office without discernable effort. Just make sure you avoid Windows Vista (Windows XP and Windows 7 are both fine).
posted by gum at 12:03 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, my personal favorite Windows box is a MacBook, and since you already seem to have a few of those, why not just install Windows on one? ... But, I'm also pecking this out on a year-old Dell Latitude E6400, which is pretty well built and runs swimmingly (way better than the Inspiron d620 I had a few weeks ago).
posted by General Malaise at 12:13 PM on August 26, 2010


Dell business class support is much better than their consumer support. Otherwise, consider someplace local with business level support.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:16 PM on August 26, 2010


Thirding sageleaf.... most consumer line PC's are "shoddy" ... because the only way to make them cheap is to cut corners and use cheap components. (IE = may be cheap to purchase.. but going to end up costing you in the long run in support costs and will most likely end up costing the same as the expensive PC you should have bought in the first place)

Pick a business-line PC (I work for a city government and we standardize on DELL Optiplex workstations.. and they have proven to be very reliable. )
posted by jmnugent at 12:16 PM on August 26, 2010


I second General Malaise. Save some money and install Windows on one of the Macs you already have. Apple's Boot Camp tool makes it fairly easy.
posted by XerxesQados at 12:31 PM on August 26, 2010


Seconding a business level PC. I'm pretty partial to HPs, but considering you're all Mac office, why not get another refurb, a Windows 7 license, and boot camp into Windows?
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:42 PM on August 26, 2010


Because of what you need the computer for:

1. Avoid Dell, I recommend Lenovo
2. Wherever you buy from, make sure you buy from the business line
3. When in doubt, spend less on CPU, and put that money towards the monitor(s)* and RAM

*2 monitors is a godsend when doing lots of spreadsheety/graphic edity stuff.
posted by demagogue at 1:25 PM on August 26, 2010


Why not run Parallels on a Mac?
posted by k8t at 3:25 PM on August 26, 2010


Thanks everyone, this is all really helpful. I was leaning toward Dell, but will definitely check out Lenovo.

gum, we've used TechSoup for software, didn't realize they did hardware too.

Thanks!
posted by theseampsgoto11 at 1:10 PM on September 1, 2010


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