Byte Me Article 340 – Workstation Flexibility

14th October 2017

The Workstation is the IT Swiss Army Knife

Why buy a Swiss Army Knife?  There is good reason that the basic design for this knife which is now sold under the name Victorinox has lasted 127 years!  It is a multi-purpose tool, it is entirely flexible, it is the knife you buy to take on unknown future challenges so it is exactly what you want when you need more than just a knife.

A similar tale can be told in the IT industry for the standard workstation.  It is the computer that you buy when you are not sure what you need now or in the future.  It is the computing device that offers the most flexibility and upgradeability for its owner.  During 20 years of sales in this industry I have rarely ever heard anyone say that they shouldn’t have purchased a workstation.

I am not able to say the same about tablets, laptops and all-in-one computers.  In fact this week we have again had 2 customers disappointed with the choice that they made a year or two ago to purchase an all-in-one PC.  While these devices have their place there is little that can be done to alter their intended use.

In both of these customer cases the original intended use of these devices was for Internet connectivity, emails and some documents for the household.  This has since changed with the parents principally going to their own computers and now the children are a year older and want to play some games.  However, to play modern computer games you need a modern graphics card.

Like laptops, all-in-one computers have very limited upgradeability.  You can sometimes upgrade their RAM which can be a finicky job with having to match specific brands and part numbers and you can usually upgrade their hard drives.  However you can rarely ever upgrade the CPU and you can never install a better graphics card into these devices.  What you buy initially is what you are stuck with.

This upgrade limitation is even worse with Tablets as they are not able to be upgraded at all.  Once you purchase a Tablet there is no making it faster, more powerful or giving it more hard drive capacity.  These limitations will be fine for some however for others their usage patterns or circumstances change.

The other often overlooked advantage of workstations is their future compatibility with yet to be invented/introduced options.  During the last 20 years all of the following could be ‘installed’ into a workstation that was no more than 5 years old – CD Burners, DVD Burners, Wi-Fi Adaptors, Bluetooth Adaptors, extra USB ports, more RAM, larger hard drives, extra hard drives, extra connectivity ports, bigger power supplies, more modern/powerful graphic cards and in many cases – even more powerful CPU’s.

If you try to compare the above workstation upgrade options to Laptops or All-In-Ones then there is no comparison.  If the two customers from this week had purchased standard workstations then we could have easily turned them into very handy PC gaming machines.  If any new worthwhile computing ideas come out in the next few years then manufacturers will make them compatible with existing workstations to make them worthwhile ideas.

If you are wanting a new computer device but are at all unsure of its future role then apart from portability, a standard workstation still offers the best base from which to take on future IT challenges. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

For more advice and assistance from Kerr Solutions, like and follow us on Facebook