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arrowHome arrow Fac/Staff arrow Recommended Computer Systems Wednesday, 23 August 2017  
Recommended Computer Systems Print
Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Computer hardware changes very rapidly, so we can't provide specific recommendations for amount of RAM, processor speed, hard drive capacity, etc. What we do provide are general recommendations for Windows desktop purchases and some basic advice for purchasing laptops.

When you purchase a new desktop computer system for use in Maseeh College, a primary consideration is how you plan to have it supported. Read about the CAT Support Tiers for more information on the kinds of support we provide.

If you have specific questions about computer system purchases or upgrades, please feel free to ask us directly.

Desktop Hardware Recommendations

We have had good luck with Dells with the 3-year on-site warranty. We recommend either the Optiplex or Precision lines -- these are the business-grade workstations.

If you are unfamiliar with Dell's computer offerings, they are divided into these classes:

We recommend:

  • Dell Optiplex  - "Business Class Leader", A good choice for a standard Office/ Staff box.
  • Dell Precision - "Demanding Performance", The number crucher, especially suited for high-end research uses that need the extra performance. This is also what the CAT runs in its student labs (EB 325, FAB 55-17).

We mostly avoid:

  • Dell Dimension - "Home and Small Office", We mostly avoid this line.
  • Dell Vostro - "Home and Small Office", We mostly avoid this line.
  • Dell Inspiron - "Exceptional Multimedia and Entertainment", We mostly avoid this line.
  • Dell XPS - "Gamers", We mostly avoid this line.

  • Hardware Components & Windows Drivers

    Some systems with cutting edge or unique hardware may have driver issues if you change what the Vendor provided on the system (including upgrading the OS). The Vendor may also refuse to support any O/S not provided with the box. HP systems are notorious for this.

    Our experience with Dell systems shows:

    • Dell Optiplex systems offer stable, tried & true hardware/drives and have not caused any headaches with a Home to Pro upgrade.
    • Dell Dimension/Vostro/Inspiron/XPS systems have caused headaches, mostly with fancy Multimedia components and drivers. Often these components are just fluff that business users don't need. We generally steer clear of Multimedia and/or Home systems unless the usage "requires" it.
    • Dell Precision systems frequently have newer drivers that will first need to be investigated and integrated into our deployments (for CAT-supported systems).

    The bottom line here is that in case of difficulties, the CAT generally cannot help you if your hardware vendor doesn't support the hardware/drivers on the OS you intend to use. If you buy the system with Windows 7, which matches our deployed systems, it's more likely your hardware will work with our system deployments. See also the CAT Support Tiers article.

    Windows Operating System Licenses

    What PSU offers to faculty, staff and PSU-owned equipment is a site UPGRADE license. This means that every computer must be purchased with an operating system (OS) and then any upgrade is free.

    We recommend you choose a system that offers the OS you intend to run and if purchasing the OS, to purchase the OS you intend to run. It is not always a simple matter for example to purchase a system that is only offered with Windows 7 and then reinstall with Vista. Hardware Drivers and support may not be available if you downgrade the OS. Upgrading the OS later (eg. Vista -> Windows 7)  is usually a simpler process.

    Application Software & Support for Desktop Systems

    Please review the CAT Support Tiers article for an overview of our support structure.


    Laptop Hardware Recommendations

    With laptops, we advise you to purchase them with everything you think you need at the time (such as memory, CD burners, etc.). We also advise you to buy them with the OS you want to run (don't plan on upgrading) and a 3-year on-site warranty (such as what Dell offers). These recommendations typically make laptops more expensive to purchase up front, but make them less expensive down the road when you are relying on it and something breaks.

    Support & Application Software for Laptops

    MCECS do not have a supported Tier for Laptops; they are all considered Tier 3 ("CAT networking, user supported").

    We do not take Laptops and return them fully configured as we do with Desktops. Laptop hardware and configurations vary greatly, and the help we can provide is limited to basic troubleshooting on a time-available basis (i.e. the definition of Tier 3).

    We can offer CD media for softwar


    e we have Faculty/Staff site licenses for (like MS Office) and limited help installing it.

    PSU (via OIT's helpdesk) provides limited support for faculty with "T3" laptops (which is, by definition, all faculty at PSU with laptops).  They have invested some significant resources in providing reload/re-imaging services for people with laptop's that need to be reloaded, as well as assistance for people who are trying to get problems resolved.  OIT's helpdesk can be reached by calling x5-HELP.


    PSU Fac-Staff-Student Personal Purchase discount web site at Dell

    Last Updated ( Monday, 13 April 2015 )

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