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Consumer vs Corporate Hardware – What’s the Difference?



In a recent GBM Podcast Truc made a comment about the campus store stocking the consumer Dell range as opposed to the corporate range.

Many OEMs have two ranges and I thought it would be worth taking a few minutes to explain in broad and general terms what the differences tend to be.

Corporate Mobile PCs

As already stated I’m generalising – there will be exceptions.  That said the corporate ranges tend to have:

  • A higher degree of engineering – especially around the common mobile PC failure points.  This will include features such as shock mounted hard drives and spill resistant keyboards.  The upshot is that you tend to have a longer mean time between failure in the corporate ranges. 
  • Business focused hardware features such as Trusted Platform Modules.  Bitlocker, the Vista drive encryption works best with a TPM and it is only supported in the Enterprise and Ultimate versions of Vista, which is why I would call this a corporate hardware feature.
  • Business focused accessories such as docking stations.
  • More standardisation across accessories and spares such as power supplies.
  • Defined lifecycles for the chipsets used internally – this is important in reducing the variance in the corporate fleet and making the standard builds more stable.

Consumer Mobile PCs

Contrasting with the above and still generalising in the consumer ranges you will tend to find:

  • A range a build qualities spread across a fairly wide price range.
  • Cheaper units at the bottom end of the price range.
  • Fewer “corporate” hardware features.
  • More hardware innovation because they are not tied to the defined chipset lifecycles.
  • More consumer hardware features such as high end audio and video outputs, web cameras and blu-ray drives.

The Lines are Blurry

The difference between the corporate range and the consumer range use to be pretty clear cut, but this is no longer the case.  There is also a clear middle ground emerging that some call the “prosumer” range that offers most consumer and corporate hardware features and more innovation. 

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