Desktop Computing Recommendations for Penn:
|Figure 1 Recommended Minimum Configurations for New Desktop Systems|
|Hardware||Processor||Pentium 4 550J/551 (3.4 GHz) or
Pentium 4 650 (3.4 GHz) or
Athlon 64 3500+ (2.2 GHz)1
|PowerPC G5 (2.0 GHz)1|
|Memory (RAM)||1.0 GB||1.0 GB|
|Hard Disk||120 GB2||120 GB2|
|Monitor & VRAM||17-inch CRT or 19-inch LCD
(17-inch LCD optional)3
64 MB VRAM
|17-inch CRT or 19-inch LCD|
(17-inch LCD optional)3
64 MB VRAM
|Sound||Built-in audio & speaker||Built-in audio & speaker|
|Miscellaneous||CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive||CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive|
|High-bandwidth||10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet||10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet|
|Low-bandwidth||56 Kbps V.92 modem4||56 Kbps V.92 modem4|
|Operating System||Windows XP Professional Service Pack 25||Mac OS X version 10.4.x6|
|Support Period||Until July, 2009||Until July, 2009|
|Estimated Price||$1,150 to $1,4007||$1,500 to $2,2007|
ISC's Performance PC Buyer's Guide offers quarterly purchase recommendations for new systems that meet or exceed these specifications.
The remainder of this document is divided into several sections:
Penn's administrative systems desktop requirements are consistent with the recommendations for general purpose workstations specified above, with a few exceptions for BEN Financials on Macintosh systems. Currently, Mac users are able to access/view/markup invoice images in native Macintosh mode without using Virtual PC. Please note that Mac users will still need to use Virtual PC to access the Oracle applications (i.e., BEN Balances and BEN Buys). Although a Macintosh with Virtual PC can access the Oracle applications using the current Windows Java client, Virtual PC is not certified by Oracle; therefore support is not guaranteed.
The following configurations represent the desktop recommendations from three years ago. They will be supported by ISC for one more year only.
|Figure 2 Phase-Out Configurations for Existing Desktop Systems; Supported until July 2006 ONLY|
|Hardware||Processor||2.0 GHz Pentium 4 or
2.0 GHz Celeron or
1.7 GHz Athlon
|800 MHz PowerPC G4|
|Memory (RAM)||512 MB||512 MB|
|Hard Disk||40 GB||40 GB|
|Monitor & VRAM||17-inch CRT
32 MB VRAM
32 MB VRAM
|Miscellaneous||CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive
Zip 250 drive
1.4 MB floppy drive
|CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive|
Zip 250 drive
|Network Connection||High-bandwidth||10/100BaseT Ethernet||10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet|
|Low-bandwidth||PPP (56 Kbps V.90 modem)||PPP (56 Kbps V.90 modem)|
|Operating System||Windows 2000 Professional
Windows XP Professional
|Mac OS X version 10.2.8 +|
|Support Period||Until July, 2006||Until July, 2006|
Several distinct categories of laptop computers are available, each designed to suit the needs of a particular class of users. Generally, laptop computers cost more than equivalent desktop computers and often lag a generation behind them in technology. Also, given the physical conditions they are often subjected to, laptop computers generally have a shorter useful life than desktop systems (typically three years or less). Therefore, ISC is providing support for three years for major brands of laptop computers that meet or exceed the 2004-2005 recommendations published last year. The Laptop Computer Purchasing Guide was developed to help you determine which combination of features will best serve your needs.
Given the continuous rapid change in computing technology, purchasing a new system based on last year's recommendations and replacing it in three years (by June 30, 2008) may reduce purchase and support costs. Schools and Centers interested in purchasing systems at lower cost are encouraged to use the 2004-2005 recommendations as a guide, with the understanding that those systems will only be supported for three years. The Value PC Buyers Guide offers recommendations for current systems that closely match the 2004-2005 specifications. Choosing between a three- and four-year strategy requires an understanding of local School or Center computing needs.
Finally, many manufacturers now offer four-year warranties, up from the fairly standard three years. If a workstation is going to be in use for the full four year life-cycle, these warranties (which typically add about $50 to the overall cost) may be appropriate.
Leasing may make sense as a way to manage purchases and reduce total cost of ownership in cases where desktop equipment needs to be refreshed on a two-year life cycle. This is particularly true if systems cannot be redeployed as they are replaced. While we do not recommend leasing, this strategy may be appropriate for some campus computing labs.
Buyers with limited budgets may choose to purchase less expensive configurations (in particular, less RAM initially). In such cases, an upgrade may be necessary during the life cycle of the desktop system to ensure four years of useful life. Buyers with limited budgets may also choose to trade off various components of a desktop system depending on specific needs: for example, memory versus additional hard disk space versus a larger monitor. Remember, it is easy to add additional memory or peripherals later, but some components (like a smaller monitor) cannot be upgraded effectively.
ISC recommends purchase of extended warranties where departments are not prepared to make repairs themselves, especially beyond the first year or two of a computer's useful life.
If you are considering migrating from one type of desktop operating system to another (e.g., from Windows 2000 Professional to Windows XP Professional) you should carefully plan for this action. At a minimum, consider changes that will need to be made to the LAN server in the department and software license costs. The level of expertise you have with the new operating system is also an important factor, and you should plan for training costs if appropriate.
Operating System Support
While ISC expects support for recommended operating systems to persist through the four-year life cycle of the desktop recommendations, that may not always be possible. Windows XP Professional and Mac OS X offer enhanced security options that may be needed to support strategic goals in the future. As such, aging but still supported operating systems such as Windows 2000 Professional may face earlier retirement than previous versions of the Windows Operating System Life-Cycles document indicated.
Please refer to the Windows System Specifications and Mac OS System Specifications for ISC recommendations regarding system configurations which support specific operating systems and versions. Long-term guidance is also available for Windows Operating System Life-Cycles and Mac OS Operating System Life-Cycles.
Low-Cost PCs Not Recommended
Price reductions resulting from market competition and continued technical innovation make definition of "Low-Cost PCs" a moving target. It is generally true, however, that computers priced in the bottom 30% of the current range compromise some combination of performance, reliability, compatibility, or expandability to achieve the lowest possible costs. Compatibility with recommended network products is a particularly important consideration at Penn.
Bearing in mind that in most cases you get what you pay for, and that the costs associated with supporting these systems typically far outweigh the actual purchase price, ISC does not recommend that "Low-Cost PCs" be purchased for general use.
The Value PC Buyers Guide offers recommendations for competitively priced systems that are compatible with Penn's network environment and are widely supported on campus.
The Computer Connection offers Apple, Dell, and IBM configurations that match the recommendations discussed above.
ISC provides information on supported products.
Purchasing Services provides information on purchasing desktop computers.
All desktop systems should have important data backed up and be virus-free. Additional information on information system security can be found at http://www.upenn.edu/computing/security/.
For more information on off-campus network connections see http://www.upenn.edu/computing/remote/.
If your School or center is considering major changes or investments, ISC strongly recommends a consultation to weigh pros and cons in today's rapidly changing environment (contact John Mulhern III in ISC, firstname.lastname@example.org; x3-3567).
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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