Home Office Desktop Computer - What do I need?

jmm57

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Jul 15, 2005
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Hi SoSH-

Now that WFH is going to be a permanent option for my company, I am thinking that I may spend a little bit of money to outfit my home office so that it’s as comfortable as being in actual office.

I haven’t bought a desktop computer in about 20 years, and frankly have been baffled looking around.

We login to the network using Citrix Desktop. Once in, the programs I use heavily are; our accounting software, excel, Outlook and Teams.

I can’t imagine that I need some beefy machine for that but I just want to make sure I’m not wasting money on something underpowered or spending way more than I need to.

A quick google search returned these as options- good enough? Any other suggestions?

https://www.hp.com/us-en/shop/pdp/hp-slim-desktop-s01-af0134z?source=aw&subacctid=291795&subacctname=Digital+Trends&adcampaigngroup=91539&awc=7168_1621169374_4d3124d24eab2e9377373bf6d939bb56&jumpid=af_gen_nc_ns&utm_medium=af&utm_source=aw&utm_campaign=Digital+Trends

View: https://www.amazon.com/Acer-TC-895-UA91-i3-10100-Processor-802-11ax/dp/B088X29HF6


Thank you!
 

Max Power

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An i3 is pretty underpowered, although if you're literally just using it for Citrix it doesn't matter much. How were you thinking Teams would work? I haven't used Citrix lately and I don't know if it can control a remote camera and microphone. If it doesn't, then you need to run Teams on the local computer. Regardless, you'd need to add a webcam to your purchase.

The thing that you're going to find is that it's cheaper to get a midrange laptop than desktop. There isn't much of a market for anything other than gaming desktops these days, so they're a niche product that's priced like one. It might end up being cheaper to buy a laptop and leave it docked to your keyboard, mouse, and monitor than getting a dedicated desktop.
 

jmm57

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Jul 15, 2005
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Thank you-

For reference this is what I have been using:

https://laptopvslaptop.com/laptop/ASUS-K556UA-WH71/1781a

Performance seems fine to me, but I hate having 1 full size monitor and then the smaller laptop screen and the laptop can only support one external monitor. I was thinking the desktop would be a cheaper way to get similar/more performance and support two full size monitors.

As far as teams, I have gone just audio through the Citrix link.
 

Scott Cooper's Grand Slam

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If Mac is an option, the new Mac desktops are amazing. They're more computer than most people need, they'll age well, and they are very fast. There's the all-in-one iMac (the screen is built in) for $1299, and there's the Mac mini for $699 but you'd have to buy your own monitor. Macs will run the software that you listed.

If you'd prefer a Windows PC, I really like The Wirecutter for info on consumer tech:

Cheap Desktop PCs that we'd buy, and how to shop for one
The Best All-in-One Computer
Best Mini Desktop PCs

I've been a permanent teleworker for about six years now. Like Max Power suggests, I use a laptop plugged into an external monitor and an external keyboard. If Mac is an option, get the new MacBook Air. If you'd prefer a PC, take a look at their article on laptops.
 

Scott Cooper's Grand Slam

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Performance seems fine to me, but I hate having 1 full size monitor and then the smaller laptop screen and the laptop can only support one external monitor.
Most laptops nowadays can support multiple monitors. You can run the laptop in "clamshell" mode (closed) and connect it to 2 or more external displays.
 

saintnick912

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If I was going to be using the machine for work, I'd pay a bit more to have an SSD as a primary drive. Both on home and work machines, it has made the biggest difference in things like boot/install times and general responsiveness.

8GB RAM is ok if you're mostly using it as a remote machine. If it's expandable to 12-16 that will give the machine more life. If you think you'd run some heavier things locally (photo/video editing in the non-games division) I'd look at moving up to an i5/Ryzen 5 on the CPU.
 

B H Kim

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If Mac is an option, the new Mac desktops are amazing. They're more computer than most people need, they'll age well, and they are very fast. There's the all-in-one iMac (the screen is built in) for $1299, and there's the Mac mini for $699 but you'd have to buy your own monitor. Macs will run the software that you listed.

If you'd prefer a Windows PC, I really like The Wirecutter for info on consumer tech:

Cheap Desktop PCs that we'd buy, and how to shop for one
The Best All-in-One Computer
Best Mini Desktop PCs

I've been a permanent teleworker for about six years now. Like Max Power suggests, I use a laptop plugged into an external monitor and an external keyboard. If Mac is an option, get the new MacBook Air. If you'd prefer a PC, take a look at their article on laptops.
I’m using a new Macbook Air connected to an external monitor and it’s the best computer I‘ve ever owned. I have no problems accessing and using my office Windows network via Citrix.
 

Max Power

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I’m using a new Macbook Air connected to an external monitor and it’s the best computer I‘ve ever owned. I have no problems accessing and using my office Windows network via Citrix.
That can't connect to two external monitors.

Once you factor in the cost and hassle of a dock with two monitor connections, the desktop starts making more sense. Just make sure you get an i5 or AMD equivalent or better and it doesn't come with a standard hard drive.

Something like this would work...

https://www.microcenter.com/product/625858/lenovo-ideacentre-5-desktop-computer
 

jmm57

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Jul 15, 2005
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I appreciate everyone’s help! Pretty much exactly what I was hoping for and seems like I may avoid sone needless landmines!
 

Harry Hooper

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You could consider an All-in-One desktop with a built-in webcam to simplify things a bit, and then add a second monitor.
 

Humphrey

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You could also get a port replicator for a laptop and most of them will enable you to have a second external monitor.

That would also allow you to set it up so that grabbing the laptop and taking it somewhere would be easy.
 

milfordsoxfan

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I’m using a new Macbook Air connected to an external monitor and it’s the best computer I‘ve ever owned. I have no problems accessing and using my office Windows network via Citrix.
When you set it up like this, are you able to use the Windows version of Excel because you're logging into your Windows machine? Those new M1 Macbooks are pretty appealing, but the last time I checked Excel was missing features on Mac for reasons that I presume to be petty and annoying. This seems like a good workaround if it's working the way I imagine. I kind of want to do this with my personal Windows desktop.
 

B H Kim

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When you set it up like this, are you able to use the Windows version of Excel because you're logging into your Windows machine? Those new M1 Macbooks are pretty appealing, but the last time I checked Excel was missing features on Mac for reasons that I presume to be petty and annoying. This seems like a good workaround if it's working the way I imagine. I kind of want to do this with my personal Windows desktop.
Yes, I can use all of the Windows applications available through my office network, including Excel.
 

IpswichSox

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On the issue of desktop versus laptop, I feel like it's the discussion some people had in 1994 -- should I get a bag cell phone installed in my car or get a cell phone that I can put in my pocket? With docks and external monitors, laptops give you so much more flexibility, versatility and choice that to me it's really not a close call. I'm about to get my third work Surface laptop, and most of the time I use it as a desktop in my home office with an external monitor, but also I use the laptop at the kitchen table, on my porch, in my bed, on the couch, etc. Except for some specific use cases described above, there's really few reasons to go with a static desktop, except for personal preference IMO.
 

Bergs

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I used Lenovos for 10+ years, and my company switched to Dells ~18 months ago.

They absolutely fucking suck. Docking stations are shit, firmware bugs out, keyboard layout sucks, Home/End keys don't do what they're supposed to, touch pad sucks, etc etc.

IMHO, of course.

I get a new Lenovo next month. Can't wait.
 

LoweTek

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Depends a lot on what you get, I guess. I use two Dells everyday, 7-9 hours per day and I have no such problems. One is a Latitude laptop with a dock. One is an Optiplex desktop. Docking station issues magically go away if firmware in maintained properly and up to date. Never had the first glitch with the desktop in over two years.

I don't use the laptop keyboard. I have a full size wireless keyboard for it. It runs two monitors with no problem

Both are great performing and reliable machines.

Enjoy your Lenovo.
 

Nick Kaufman

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Yes, I was going to say that although I have no experience, the Dell XPS is considered one of the best laptops in the market.

Having said that, you really need to determine your needs. If you want mobility or the option of mobility , a laptop is the way to go and you can combine it with a docking station and an external monitor, keyboard and mouse.

If you won't need mobility, then a desktop will be cheaper, faster and more upgradeable.

You can get prebuilt desktops from Dell or HP, they have the advantage that it's a ready made solution. However, you should know that all those companies use a lot of proprietary parts that are going to impossible to upgrade when the need comes. They also skimp on stuff the average consumer doesn't pay attention to like the power supply or the memory sticks. For example, a prebuilt desktop from Dell will likely be noisier than a computer you build yourself, because chances are they are using a shitty cooler.

This is your final option. Build it yourself. If you aren't planning on doing any gaming or do any graphics-intensive work, then you shouldn't pay a lot of money for a GPU. Their prices are outrageously high at the moment driven by crypto miners snugging them up.

Then the issue is AMD Or Intel. Over the past couple of years AMD has taken the lead over Intel, especially for productivity applications. As Intel has dropped prices and AMD is struggling to keep up with demand, Intel has become a better value proposition. One thing you should remember is that Intel CPUs have integrated graphics, most AMD ones- certainly not the advanced ones- do not. So, if you get an Intel CPU right now and you don't have any fancy graphics needs , you can skip buying a graphics card altogether. With AMD you must buy one, otherwise you won't get any video signal.

Then the issue is how much space you have and how you view your future upgrade path.If you can't see yourself adding any add in cards on your motherboard and you would like your computer to occupy less space, you can get a smaller motherboard and as a result a smaller case. Right now motherboard sizes are ATX which is is the default and more popular size, the Micro ATX which is a bit smaller and then ITX which is really small and will allow you to do a really small build.

All in all, if I were you, I would try skipping a video card for now, though I would definitely keep the option of getting one when prices drop. I would look into an Intel i5 either from 10th or 11th generation depending on which one is a better price, 2 8GB modules of memory a 500GB SSD and 1 to 2TB hard drive for backup, a good power supply & case that cal last through several builds.

Good luck.
 
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LoweTek

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Dell desktops come in full size tower, small form factor, (my Optiplex is SFF - maybe 12x18 inches), and micro form factor, about 7x7 inches you can mount on the back of a monitor. There are also All In One desktops which are basically a monitor with the computer built in. I'm sure HP and Lenovo have comparable options.

Note, docking stations will be on the slow boat for the foreseeable future (all brands) due to semiconductor shortages. Get used to this concept. It's going to get worse before it gets better. It will impact delivery times on virtually anything with semiconductors in it. Shop carefully if you want something in a few days or weeks. This includes computers, cars, phones, almost everything electronic.