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 wireless desktops, laptops or 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


The CAT has no support structure for laptops currently, essentially making them Tier 3 (self support) in our support model. Most of our laptop users in the college setup and manage their own laptops while a few people get them loaded with an OIT managed load.  All we can provide for Tier 3 users is some basic troubleshooting.

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 1/2 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 will provide 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 (eg. Windows 8 -> Windows 10)  is usually a simpler process.

Tablets and Other Mobile Devices

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

When to go with an OIT load for your laptop

OIT provides managed loads for Windows and Mac (both desktops and laptops). In order to do this at no cost, they require that you provide a computer model that is on their supported list of hardware. This can be found at:


An OIT loaded system is an ideal solution for a user who wants the mobile convenience of a laptop but doesn’t want to deal with administering it. OIT  provides a “locked down”, centrally administered system that is tied to their central computer account (the Odin account, which is separate from your MCECS account). Users will typically not be administrators on their laptop. What you gain is centrally scheduled upgrades, patching and security. This gives the machine access to much of the PSU software that they own, and certain utilities they support and is generally integrated with their environment, not that of MCECS.  This will also give you to access to network drives over the PSU Wifi (namely PSU Secure, and PSU).  OIT monitors these machines through their Active Directory.  This also means that OIT will be the ones to provide service to the machine as The CAT currently lacks Local administrator access on all OIT loaded machines.

Access to most MCECS network resources (file servers, web services, login hosts) are available, with a little effort, from an OIT loaded computer. You mainly need to keep track that you will need to use your MCECS account credentials to authenticate with MCECS resources.

OIT provides laptop loads for both Windows and Mac.

Getting an OIT load generally takes between one and two weeks, depending on their workload.  If you would like to know when they could get to your machine and to send in a request to get your laptop/desktop imaged by them, call them at.

Note: Number for PSU OIT – (503)-725-4357

Software on OIT Loaded Laptops

Platform Default Available Software
All OIT Loads
  • VLC Player
  • Microsoft Office and Outlook
  • Cisco Anyconnect
  • McAFFE
  • Acrobat 2015 Reader
  • SelfService (OIT’s software distribution platform)
  • Adobe Flash
  • TextWrangler (BBeditor)
  • Stuffit Expander
  • FileZilla
  • Microsoft RDP
Windows ONLY
  • 7zip

NOTE: For OIT to help you install software you have purchased externally, it’s smart to save all documentation.  This includes order information, product codes, and activation keys.  

OIT also supplies software used to encrypt your hard drive for added security.  Both Bitlocker (Windows) and FileVault (Mac) can be installed and set up when you retrieve your machine, they will also give you a passcode that locks your drive.

Admin Accounts on OIT loaded laptops

OIT loaded boxes do not give admin rights, there are exceptions, but they are case by case.  That means that you will be unable to make local accounts, and install some software without contacting OIT and arranging for them to perform the work for you.  

Connecting to MCECS Printers from an OIT loaded laptop

Printing in MCECS is a little harder with an OIT load, some printers have drivers that are not included in the stock OIT build.  Make sure that when you fill out the OIT Load form, you label any printers you wish to print to, so the CAT can specify what drivers are needed.  

Connecting to MCECS Services from an OIT loaded laptop

In order to reach many MCECS services, you will need to install VPN software, either Tunnelblick (Mac) or OpenVPN (Windows).  

Note: When installing Tunnelblick on Mac, you will need to contact OIT about changing the permissions on the Tunnelblick folder.  You will not be able to add VPN connections without access.

Requesting an OIT load

To request that your laptop be OIT Loaded, fill out the form below, and send a copy to the CAT.

Note: OIT Load Request Form unavailable. Contact the CAT for assistance.