Source: Intel

As a small business, you’re constantly pressed to do more with greater efficiency. Every employee has to do the work of three people. Every capital investment has to last a long time.

However, the “last a long time” strategy can backfire where your computers are concerned. While enterprises refresh their PCs about every three years, small businesses typically hold onto PCs for five to seven years.

“They still work!” you say. However, old PCs drain time and money away from your business in hidden ways. Let’s break down the true cost of maintaining older PCs so you can make an informed decision.

Old PCs Often Cost More to Repair than Replace
A recent Techaisle* global survey of 736 small businesses in six countries+ found that the cost to repair an older PC equals or even exceeds the cost of buying a new one. The study reveals that small businesses are spending an average of US$427 per PC that is 4 years or older on repair costs, which is 1.3 times the repair cost for a PC that is less than 4 years old. Similarly, the cost of upgrading an older PC is 1.6 times the cost of upgrading a PC that is less than 4 years old. This does not include the cost of lost productivity when employees are without their computers.

Old PCs Hinder Employee Productivity
Which brings us to the next and even bigger hidden cost of old PCs: lost productivity. The Techaisle study found that an average of 42 productive work hours a year is lost while older computers are being repaired, versus 21 hours of annual repair time for PCs less than 4 years old—twice as much downtime. But this is just part of the time that old PCs can consume.

Older PCs have trouble running multiple applications at once, consume more power, and have a shorter battery life. The latest processors, memory, disk drives, operating systems, and applications run far more efficiently than their five-year-old counterparts.

New PCs return minutes throughout the day to your time-strapped employees performing operations as simple as computer startup and shutdown, running multiple applications at once, and establishing remote connections to your network. These cumulative time savings add up throughout the day to dozens of hours per week for your business—time your staff could spend making more sales calls, helping more customers, and coming up with more product ideas.

Mobile employees (and who isn’t mobile these days?) often reap the greatest benefit from the new tablets and Ultrabook™ 2 in 1 devices that convert easily between a full-performance business laptop and a versatile tablet. Salespeople and other field employees move constantly between office, car, customer sites, airports, hotels, and coffee shops. Ultrabook 2 in 1 devices containing the Intel® Core™ processor and running the Windows* 8 Pro operating system give them near-instant startup, quick connection to the office network, rapid multitasking between applications, and additional security to protect your business data on the road.

New PCs can make the difference between multitasking, always-on, always-productive employees and employees who are frustrated and idled throughout the day.

Old PCs Make Your Business Look Dated
When employees are in front of customers, PCs that are behind the times make your business look behind the times. You wouldn’t walk into a business meeting wearing a 1970s suit (unless that’s your style) or present the same company website that you designed in 1990. Yet, when customers see your employees using clunky old desktops and laptop computers, drum their fingers while waiting for those laptops to load a presentation or price sheet, and watch your employees struggle to connect to a local printer—they naturally assume that your entire business is behind the times.

That is not the impression your business needs.

By giving your employees—especially your mobile, customer-facing employees—the latest tablets and Ultrabook 2 in 1 devices running Windows 8 Pro, you show your customers that your business is on the cutting edge, capable, and innovative.

New Computers Are the Best Investment
So before you pour more money into keeping old PCs limping along, consider all the costs of old PCs. The high cost of repairs, upgrades, lost productivity, and poor impressions may lead you to see that replacing your PCs is the best investment of all.