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Tech Profile: the Good Ol' Stationary Computer

Stationary computers: more diverse than you'd think.

With computers getting smaller and smaller, it would be easy to assume that desktop computers are antiquated and doomed to extinction. There are however lots of reasons to opt for a stationary computer, even today.

What stationary computers excel at

Stationary computers are a must for anyone who's going to spend a significant amount of time in front of the computer and here's why:

Comfort

Portable technology, for all its wonders, is also wrecking our bodies over time. A stationary computer set up on a desk with no attention to ergonomics is still much better for your health than a laptop, tablet or smartphone used with the same amount of care.

Performance benefits

A computer with a constant, reliable access to power can fire on all cylinders without concerns of battery drain.

Also, the harder a computer works, the hotter it becomes; sometimes dangerously so. This is something full-sized designs can handle with relative ease.

Better Cost to Performance to Durability ratio

This advantage has diminished considerably in the recent years, but it remains that full-sized components will typically last longer, be stronger and/or cost less than their miniaturized counterparts.

Upgrades and maintenance

Full-sized computers are built from modular pieces. So, if something breaks or gets outdated, you have options to prolong this computer's life. As computers shrink, parts are combined to fit in smaller cases. As a result, life-prolonging options become scarcer and trickier.

In my house for instance, 10 years-old computers are still in use daily. Among them, not a single laptop.

What stationary computers do not handle so well

In its largest form, a stationary computer is the pinnacle of performance, durability and comfort. There still are a few drawbacks:

You can't take them with you

This is obviously the biggest limitation of stationary computers. If you have computing needs away from your desk at all, you will need another device.

The bigger they are, the better they fare

Most of stationary computers' advantages is directly related to their size. The smaller the computer gets, the closer you get to laptop territory in terms of:

  • Performance
  • Bang for the buck
  • Upgrade options

It's not a complete loss however; they remain less accident-prone than laptops and tablets; the ergonomic benefits also remain unaffected by miniaturization.

They're the most vulnerable to power-related incidents

Being always connected to the power grid means being subject to every single service disruption in the area.

I would consider power surge protection to be a necessity for stationary computers. Investing into a battery backup or UPS is recommended, especially if power outages are common where you live.

The case for miniaturization

Considering the drawbacks of space saving on computers, you might be tempted to take a "go big or go home" approach to PC shopping but consider the following:

A common mistake when getting a stationary computer is to set it up on a desk where you dislike spending time. It doesn't matter how good a deal you've got on a computer you seldom use: it remains a bad investment.

If you don't like to spend time in the computer room, try to bring the computer in a room you already enjoy. If that means getting a space-saving unit to be hooked to the TV or getting an all-in-one for the kitchen counter, so be it.

A time-tested design

As you see, stationary computers still have a lot to offer and, if adapted to your lifestyle, offer the best value for the money. I strongly recommend considering one the next time you go shopping for a computer.