PCs: When to Lease, When to Buy

By Kristian Tuinzing

Client Services Manager, NPI

March 29, 2018

Interested in learning more about NPI’s services?

Contact Us

Is it better to buy or lease PCs? It’s a question that comes up often in client conversations as companies try to discern how end-user PC pricing is impacted in either scenario. There’s not a simple answer to this question, and it’s not an area where fair market value rests on price alone. The major PC OEMs are currently in a competitive dead heat to gain market share and maximize margins, which can mean serious deals for customers both buying and leasing. In fact, across a wider data set, NPI finds that while capital purchases do command a slightly better price average for similar configurations, the gap only amounts to a few percentage points. In many cases, similar volumes achieved equal pricing for leased or purchased assets, particularly for larger spends. At the end of the day, it all rests on how the spend is positioned and negotiated.

When Deciding Whether to Lease or Buy PCs, Consider these Factors

With that in mind, how can sourcing professionals determine whether it makes more sense to lease instead of buy? There are numerous internal factors that can push enterprises to consider leasing as an attractive option. NPI sees the following as three of the most common:

  • More aggressive refresh cycles – Refresh cycles for end-user PCs hover, on average, around 3 to 4 years for laptops and 4 to 5 years for desktops. If an enterprise is more aggressive with a refresh cycle, targeting 1 to 2 years on laptops or 2 to 3 years on desktops, leasing may be a better fit.
  • Capex vs. Opex – Leasing offers the flexibility of accounting for expenditures as an operating cost, if that’s an internal financial goal. Leasing can capitalize some or all costs as well through warranties and other financial vehicles.
  • Warranty Repairs – If a client lacks on-site resources or depots for system repairs, leasing can provide a faster replacement with stocked spares for mission-critical users.

There are areas where capital purchasing may be more appropriate. Significant volumes purchased in bulk can often achieve best-in-class pricing, but only with an upfront buy. Competitive displacements scenarios don’t usually lend themselves to leasing, but NPI sees some of the cheapest unit prices in open bids. These scenarios can offer the best fits when available capital is at hand.