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Bringing technology to your business doesn't have to break the bank.

This story appears in the May 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Sure, the PC may be the technological anchor of your business, but that doesn't mean it has to weigh down your start-up. Picking out a desktop for yourself can be confusing enough, but when it comes to outfitting your entire office, the options multiply like rabbits in the spring. Fortunately, you're in luck: With PC manufacturers overstocked and PC sales slow, now is a great time to stock your employees' desks without busting your budget. Following is a quick primer on the basics of picking out the right PC, from the name on the box to the amount of RAM inside.

  • Name Brands: Purchasing computers somewhat parallels buying groceries: You can buy either the Nabisco Shredded Wheat for $2.99 or the Super-DuperValue Wheat Squares for $1.99. You pretty much know what you're going to get with a name-brand PC; you don't have to think too hard about it. But if you decide to go the route of buying a built-to-order from the local computer shop, you'll likely save money.

If you're technically inclined and know how to ask for it, you can get a very specifically configured computer with exactly the components you want. If that's not a big deal, you might feel more comfortable paying a little more and opting for the name brand. As a rule of thumb, however, generic computers are as compatible and reliable as name brands, but always check out the warranty terms and customer service reputation of whomever you decide to deal with.

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