Most dental offices will need three different types of computers: a server, business workstations and clinical workstations. Each computer type will have different specifications depending on the job it must do. Specs and available options change so quickly it is more useful to present a price range for each type than component specifications.
Server: This is the main computer which stores all the data and distributes it to the other workstations. This machine should have a powerful processor, lots of memory and big RAID 1 dual hard drives for storage. It does not need any sound or multi-media capabilities. If this machine fails the office will not be able to function. So the server needs an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS), high quality, reliable components and a removable or off site backup system. A server for most dental offices will cost from $3,000 to $3,500.
Business Workstations: These are the front desk stations. These will be the least powerful machines in the office. They have modest processing requirements, need virtually no hard drive storage and do not need sound or multi-media. A business workstation will cost $1,000 or less.
Clinical Workstations: These are the chairside computers and these will need to be much more powerful than the business machines. Chairside computers will be used for patient education, image management, digital radiography, cosmetic imaging, perio probing, diagnostics, entertainment, intra-oral camera capture and much more. These machines need full multimedia capability including sound, DVD, powerful processors, USB2, lots of memory and two monitors. They do not need any hard drive storage as all the data will be stored on the server. A clinical workstation will cost from $1,800 to $2,200.
Some offices may need a fourth type, a consultation workstation. This would be used in a consultation room for case presentations. This machine would be similar to a clinical workstation with full multimedia capacity but only needs one monitor and would not be used to capture images, radiographs and other data.