Are you finding it difficult to buy the computers you want for your offices and staff right now? It’s not just you – everyone is feeling the IT crunch because of shipping delays and just-plain unavailable IT parts and products. (Thanks, pandemic.)
The tech experts over at Gartner (and the tech experts right here in the Interplay office in Seattle) suggest that business leaders should consider expanding their range of brands and configurations to better meet their budget and capabilities needs for IT products – especially if they’re in a rush to get new computers. This takes research… and we’re betting your To Do list doesn’t give you a lot of time right now to research a bunch of arcane and inexplicable computer stuff.
To help, here’s your quick guide to understanding options from the two top business computer brands, Dell and ThinkPad, at a glance.
TL;DR: Don’t worry about which is better: Dell vs. ThinkPad. They’re both great brands for business computers. Instead, start comparing your options across both brands, so you can find a computer that fits your budget and timeline. Learn more.
If you’ve been in business for a while, you probably already have a favorite Dell model that you consider your go-to. If you’re running into troubles procuring that precise model at a price and timeline you like, perhaps you’ll want to consider another model.
Dell offers 7 lines for business users:
The Dell Latitude line is billed as an intelligent business PC with built-in AI. For your purposes, this means it will be a little more on the expensive end for Dell laptops, but it will have more speed and flexibility than basic laptop lines. It’s a reasonable upgrade.
The Dell Vostro line is a solid laptop. It’s dependable, it’s configurable up or down based on your needs, it’s a workhorse of a computer. It has good battery life. It starts and shuts down quickly. When you think “computer,” you’re thinking Vostro. Plus, it’s got an optional fingerprint reader for biometric security.
Another workhorse of a computer (Dell is good at these), the Inspiron line also delivers good battery life and flexible configurations. It has a nifty feature that allows you to Wi-Fi connect your smartphone to your computer as an additional screen when needed, which can be handy in today’s remote work world.
The Dell XPS line is the “cool kid” of the Dell computers. It has a snazzy look and feel, comes in a 2-in-1 setup (meaning it can be a tablet and laptop), and has enough power to satisfy creatives who need power to render video and photo files quickly. As you’d suspect, these features put it on the pricier end of the spectrum.
The Dell Precision line is well known as the most powerful mobile workstations they offer, which means they’re really nice, really powerful laptops that can handle any software requirements you throw at them. They pretty much have the power of a desktop. These are overkill for employees who simply read email, create Word and Excel docs, and access the internet.
If your employees work on construction sites, in the Arctic, or on a boat in Puget Sound, you already know about the legendary durability of the Dell Rugged line. If your employees work at their dining room tables, you don’t need to even consider the Rugged. Seriously, these things look like the computers that would survive the apocalypse.
Though it’s a desktop-only line, the Dell OptiPlex is a great solution that fits your precise desk setup with a powerful computer, no matter how much space you have. Because it’s a desktop, this will not be a great choice for remote workers… but if the delivery timeline is right and your employees already have a dedicated desk setup at home, it’s worth considering at least.
Chromebooks run the Google Chrome browser. That’s all they do. Chrome is flexible these days because Google offers Google Sheets, Google Docs, and all the other Google business apps… but a Chromebook doesn’t run Windows and is therefore kind of like a glorified Android tablet. These 2-in-1s can be a great fit for some of your employees (and the battery life sure rocks), but they’re not a great fit if your office is running Windows on all the other computers. They can’t run Teams.
Lenovo ThinkPads are the other leading laptop brand for business users. If you’ve been using ThinkPads for a while but are having trouble procuring the ones you’re used to, consider a different model.
ThinkPad offers 9 lines for business users, each with bizarrely cryptic names:
The ThinkPad X1 line is the cream of the crop when it comes to ThinkPad laptops and 2-in-1s. These are Lenovo’s most innovative and high-tech computers, including the world’s first foldable PC. (The screen folds! The screen!!) These sure are cool… and they sure are pricey. Upgrade with caution.
Like the Dell Precision line, this is ThinkPad’s most powerful mobile workstation. It delivers desktop performance in a laptop size, which means it can handle very demanding software loads. Again, a pricier option but a must-have for some of your remote workers.
(Why does ThinkPad name computer lines after letters? That seems weird and deliberately confusing to us.) The ThinkPad T line is the all-around workhorse of the ThinkPad world. It’s long-lasting and has great battery life. This would be the ThinkPad computer you think of when you think “computer” (but it’s not the ThinkPad you think of when you think “cool computer”).
The ThinkPad X line comes in tiny sizes. If you need to slip these laptops or 2-in-1s into a purse, a small backpack, or a coat pocket, these will be great. Note that tiny computers are terrible to type on long-term and, just like everything else in the world (including a cup of coffee), you’ll be hard-pressed to fit them on a Starbucks table.
The ThinkPad Yoga line is pretty famous. You’ve probably seen the ads. They fold every which way, making them a laptop, a tablet, a tablet with a stand, a tripod… you get the idea. The Yoga was one of the first (perhaps the very first) laptop to do this. These are a great fit for employees who need to present often, and they’re also handy for Teams conferencing.
The ThinkPad E line looks snazzy and costs little. These are a great option if you need to upgrade from the T line due to time or supply constraints because they work well and look modern.
Some of the most affordable ThinkPads available, the L line’s entry-level business laptops may not be sexy (they’re downright clunky by today’s standards), but they are dependable and affordable. They also have spill-resistant keyboards, which makes them the perfect solution for your employees working from home with cats and/or three-year-olds.
Technically a student laptop, we included the ThinkPad 11e line because it is durable as heck. It can withstand drops, spills, and being crunched into a backpack or a carry-on bag, and it will reliably start up day after day. These are hard to find right now. If you find one, make sure you get the Windows version, not the Chromebook.
The Chromebook Enterprise option from Lenovo, the ThinkPad C line is lightweight, durable, and has a great battery life – and it sure is affordable – but you will want to think very carefully before choosing it. Why? Because it only runs the Google Chrome browser and Google apps. Case in point: the C line can’t run Teams (or any other Windows programs). Is that a problem for you?
Dells and ThinkPads are both great option for business users. Both offer cutting-edge computers and dependable workhorse computers. Both have a wide range of prices. Both run Windows (and both have Enterprise Chromebook options, but we don’t recommend that direction).
Instead of thinking of Dell vs. ThinkPad in terms of which one is better, start thinking of which one is best for your timeline and budget right now. You can mix and match, and you can select different laptops for different job functions at your company. (In fact, we recommend that if it saves you money.)
We hope this quick guide comparing the two brands helped you make more informed decisions about which computers are right for your business – but, of course, feel free to reach out as soon as you have questions.
For 20 years, the friendly and knowledgeable IT team at Interplay has helped business leaders across a range of industries get more out of their tech, stress free. Not only are we always (and we mean always) happy to offer the best managed IT services, support, and advice, we’re also the team you can trust for the best cocktail recommendations here in Seattle or in Disney World – we’re versatile! All humor aside though, we’d love to help you get your IT running smoothly and securely, around the clock.