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What Are the Best Hardware Devices for Virtual Desktop?

Virtual Desktop


The answer depends on each individual deployment, but no matter the use case, admins will have to work with legacy hardware and consider new devices to support a virtual desktop initiative.

Desktop as a Service (DaaS), which delivers virtual desktop infrastructure from a cloud provider, allows devices other than PCs to access fully featured desktops that are hosted in the data center. Because servers do all the heavy lifting, these client devices don’t need to be particularly powerful, enabling a new wave of BYOD confusion and excitement, as well as the opportunity for capital expense reduction through less expensive client devices.

The main options for virtual desktop client hardware are:

  • Standard PCs. Whether legacy computers or new, lower specced laptops or desktops, the good old personal computer is still the most popular hardware, even for virtual desktop. Standard PCs offer more power and complete functionality with complete applications and mouse and keyboard input.
  • Thin client devices still include an operating system and some compute resources but are lacking most hardware. They may not have internal disk drives, instead accessing all applications through the server.
  • Zero client devices are essentially a monitor, keyboard, and mouse connected to the network. They rely entirely upon servers for compute resources, storage, applications, etc.
  • Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are similar to a thin client in that they lack the power of a traditional PC. They can be used on the go and still receive a full desktop experience, albeit one without a keyboard and mouse for interaction. This limits the functionality of virtual desktops on mobile devices. End users on mobile can only really be productive with e-mail, internet browsing, and custom or public applications designed for mobile productivity.

Admins need to consider the needs of each user or department including where and when they work and what applications they use in order to determine which hardware client is best.

When legacy computers are available and still have several years of life left, they can still be used for virtual desktop without much cost or effort. For complex applications including detailed/large spreadsheets, graphical editing, and application development, traditional PCs are still the best option as some computing can be done locally and the applications require the flexibility of mouse and keyboard.


Increasingly, basic applications like document editing, simple spreadsheets, and e-mail can all be accessed via the cloud. Thin clients and zero clients are great for these uses. A call center, for example, is the perfect environment for zero client hardware accessing hosted virtual desktops, as each user is on a shared machine with a unique login and many client devices are in use. Thin or zero client devices use significantly less energy than traditional PCs: one case study found cost savings of $50,000 in the first year due to energy savings alone. They can be easier to manage and more secure than a traditional PC and also last longer.

Mobile devices are best used for light applications like e-mail and basic document editing, unless they have a keyboard and mouse input. With more and more applications designed for mobile, and end users becoming more accustomed to using mobile devices on a regular basis, full Windows applications can be enabled on these devices, but only if users are educated and aware of the possible limitations of the platform.

For most organizations, the answer will be using legacy PCs for virtual desktops in the office and enabling mobile device support for users working from home or in public. Going forward, these companies should consider thin client devices for virtual desktop as they deliver considerable cost savings on procurement and operational expenses.

Source: easySERVICE Data Solutions


One comment on “What Are the Best Hardware Devices for Virtual Desktop?

  1. StellarPhoenixS
    July 18, 2014

    Reblogged this on Stellar Phoenix Solutions.

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