Faculty and Staff Computer Recommendations


NOTE ABOUT MCECS PROPERTY: All equipment purchased using PSU funding are the property of PSU/MCECS – funding directly through PSU indexes or via research grants are included in this definition. Special programs within MCECS used to purchase equipment, such as MCRP (the MCECS Computer Replacement Plan), always supersede ownership regardless of other funding included.

What Level Of Support Do You Want?


When you purchase a new computer system for use in MCECS, a primary consideration is how you plan to have it supported. The CAT provides supported and managed desktops for use on wired on-campus networks for Windows and Linux only. (There are no CAT managed configurations for Apple computers. We may be able to provide incidental assistance for problems based on time availability.) In MCECS, the level of support is designated by the Support Tier of a computer. Tiers 1 and 2 are managed and supported by the CAT. Tier 3 implies self-supported or support by another IT entity, such as OIT.)


If you are interested in campus hardware standards, you can look at https://www.pdx.edu/technology/technology-purchase-consulting. Some faculty members pick configurations from the hardware standards list. Others either develop their own configurations or work with us to come up with a system that meets their needs.

If you have specific questions about computer system purchases or upgrades, please feel free to ask the CAT directly. (This is particularly important if you are looking at a CAT supported computer.)

Purchasing of departmental computers is usually handled by individual departmental administrative staff.


The CAT provides Tier 1 and 2 support for Windows desktops and Tier 1 support for Linux desktops.

For Desktops, we recommend either Dell Optiplexes (a business class PC), or Dell Precisions (for high end performance).  Both have had great success in MCECS, and we currently run them in many labs and faculty/department offices.   Regardless of what you buy, we recommend a 5-year on-site warranty, just in case something goes wrong.

Note that our supported desktop loads are for wired systems on the campus network only.

Important: If you would like any help picking out a system, please contact us at support@cat.pdx.edu


Depending on the model and age, the CAT can load laptops with a CAT supported Tier 1 load. Due to Tier 1 and 2 systems needing to get to MCECS resources to function, it will always need an internet connection to operate properly. On the other hand, many laptop users in the college setup and manage their own laptops (as Tier 3 self-support). A few others get them loaded with an OIT managed load.

With laptops, we advise you to purchase them with everything you think you need at the time of purchase (such as memory, internal storage, etc.). We also advise you to buy them with the version of the Operating System you want to run (instead of buying it with a cheap OS revision and trying to upgrade it to a different variant after purchase) and a 5-year on-site warranty (such as what Dell offers) if possible. 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.

As with desktops, if you have any questions about specific laptop configurations, feel free to contact us.

Deciding between Tier 1 / 2 support vs. Tier 3 (self-supported)

Tier 1 and 2 support provides you with a fully managed load provided by the CAT. It is integrated with MCECS resources used by students, faculty and staff in the College, and similar in configuration to systems available to students in MCECS computer labs. The latter aspect is useful for developing computing related teaching materials for MCECS classes. Administration, patching, security, and other software updates are handled by the CAT.

Tier 3 support is for a self-sufficient user who is used to getting they want out of their computer. By going Tier 3, you take on the responsibility of setting it up, administering it, installing software and keeping it patched and secured.

For Tier 3 users, the CAT can provide access to media for Windows and other campus licensed software as available.  We provide applicable  site licenses for faculty and staff, and limited assistance with installing it.  Some software may be available for download through our Intranet. See https://cat.pdx.edu/services/software/users/

Windows Operating Systems for your Tier 3 (self-supported) Computer

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

We recommend you choose a system that offers the OS you intend to run, and if purchasing the OS separately, to purchase the OS you intend to run. Avoid buying the hardware with a consumer Windows license and then trying to upgrade it when you receive it. Hardware Drivers and support may not be available if you downgrade the OS. Upgrading the OS later is usually a simpler process.

Tablets and Other Mobile Devices

The Computer Action Team only supports desktops. All tablets and smartphone-type mobile devices are considered Tier 3 (self supported). The CAT currently has no structure in place to support these types of devices.