How Much Does a Computer Upgrade Project Cost?

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No matter how advanced, state-of-the-art, or robust your organization’s computers may be, all machines will age and eventually fail.
 
The unfortunate reality is that computers generally have a lifespan of about 5 years—beyond this point, performance, security, and overall reliability become a very real issue (in fact, speed starts to be an issue after year 3).
 
So, when it comes time for you to replace some or all of your organization’s computers with upgraded models, what should you expect to invest?
 
With almost 25 years of IT outsourcing under our belts, we’ve managed (and billed) our fair share of workstation replacement projects. The good news is that, as far as IT upgrades go, this is one of the most straightforward projects your organization will take on both in terms of the work and the cost.
 
Below we’ll work through the factors that most closely influence your overall investment, along with the average price range for computer upgrades in general.
 

What factors affect the nature of your computer upgrade investment?

What you’ll end up investing in your upgrade project will depend on the following factors:

  • The size of your organization. How many people do you have? Do they all have dedicated machines? Do some users have one machine at the office, and another at home?
  • Your upgrade cycle. Are you replacing all of your machines in one fell swoop (recommended)? Do you have a 3-year cycle, where you upgrade one-third of all of your machines annually?
  • The actual machines you’ll purchase. Are you looking at low-end desktops? Sleek, high-powered laptops? Will they need docking stations? Keyboard and mouse? Additional monitors?
  • Engineering labor. Do you have a team in-house who will be responsible for getting the machines up and running? Will you outsource? To what extent?

 

What is the average price range for a computer upgrade project?

Depending on the above factors, your total project investment can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars when all is said and done. If we break the project down by element, you’ll quickly see where this disparity comes in.
 
First, the number of machines you’re actually going to purchase will have the single largest influence on your total investment; a computer upgrade for 1/3 of a 30-person association is not going to cost anything near a full-scale replacement for a 50-person law firm.
 
Depending on the particular machine you’re going with, you should expect to invest between $600 and $1,000 per desktop, and between $900 and $1,500 per laptop. Any extra monitors will run around $150 on average, as will a docking station for laptops. A keyboard/mouse combo will be another $50 to $100.
 
For each workstation, you should also assume around four hours of engineering time to get them configured, set up with the right user profile, set up with the correct applications, and generally ready to rumble. If you have an in-house IT team, you’ll need to allot the proper amount of time for this work. If you outsource, you’ll generally see this kind of labor running between $125 and $175 per hour.
 
From there, it’s a simple mathematical equation.
 
(Note: If you’re adding any additional workstations, you’ll also have to factor in the cost of software licensing for those particular users. With a straight computer replacement, though, any applications can generally be transferred seamlessly from the old machine to the new one.)
 
All in all, then, computer upgrade projects are a fairly straightforward investment. The real key here is to have a strategic plan as far as when and how your organization will replace your machines before they become so old that you’re losing hours of productivity.
 
But, as usual, there are plenty of resources that can help you work through projects of this magnitude, from planning the upgrade project to helping you select the right computers for your organization. Just ask!

Is your organization facing a computer upgrade project? Struggling to find the  right machines? Need help putting together a practical replacement strategy?  Let us know--we can help.