So you’ve decided you need a computer, now what? Before you can begin to decide whether you need a workstation or not, you should first understand exactly what a workstation is. Typically it is understood to be a higher functioning system that is catered to its specific use. Older versions, like those released by Apollo or Sun, were very powerful compared to personal computers, however they were also up to 10 times the cost ( Wallich, 1988 ). Thus, these systems were quite unattainable to the average consumer. In today’s tech savvy times, the line is a bit hazier. There are a number of options, configurations and resources out there that could likely help with any workstation requirements. The trick is to simply make a list of what you need your systems to do and then do some research to find the best solution for you or your firm.
Obviously any end user would desire to have application compatibility and performance, but what else should you look for? Well, first off, you should look for reliability and availability of support. Consumerism 101 tells us that if a company doesn’t back their product to the fullest extent, they’re not the best on the market. This same rule applies to —especially to— technology. Considering that most businesses will require the need to remotely communicate with other systems, perform complicated tasks, and interface multiple software applications, your system will not come out of the box completely ready to go. You will need support while linking all of the pieces together.
Next you should pay mind to the expandability of the workstation. Can you add multiple peripherals? Can you easily add memory, RAM, drives? This all walks hand in hand with compatibility. In addition to your list of needs, you should also make a list of your desired software’s system requirements. There is no sense in buying a workstation that you can’t use efficiently. They are meant to be a vital tool for the business process. This is why they can run software, render graphics, and complete processes that the normal personal computer is not designed to handle.
The most obvious discerning factor when considering a workstation is the return on your investment. Does the need justify the expense? If you are working in the IT, marketing, or design industries the answer would likely be yes. You wouldn’t be able to handle large databases, or engineer and audio recording. Nor would you be able to create and fully render high definition graphics, or edit professional video clips. These workstations have become a staple in many of our industries. They are used for utility grids, manufacturing equipment, engineering, and many other necessities. If you have a large amount of computing ahead of you, you’d be better off to go with a workstation.