Desktop Computing Recommendations for Penn:
|Recommended Minimum Configurations for New Desktop Systems|
|Hardware||Processor||Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13 GHz)
or Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (2.0 GHz)1
|Core 2 Duo T7300 (2.0 GHz)1|
|Memory (RAM)||2.0 GB||2.0 GB|
|Hard Disk||160 GB2||160 GB2|
|Monitor & VRAM||19-inch LCD3
128 MB discrete video card
|17-inch LCD or 20-inch LCD3|
128 MB discrete video card
|Sound||Built-in audio & speaker||Built-in audio & speaker|
|Miscellaneous||DVD±R/CD-RW drive||DVD±R/CD-RW drive|
|10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet||10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet|
|Operating System||Windows XP Service Pack 2
or Windows Vista4
see important notes above & below
|Mac OS 10.4.x5|
|Support Period||Until July, 2011||Until July, 2011|
|Estimated Price||$1,300 to $1,4006||$1,250 to $1,5506|
ISC's Performance PC Buyer's Guide offers quarterly purchase recommendations for new systems that meet or exceed these specifications.
It is recommended that all new hardware purchased for Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Vista systems be listed on Microsoft's Windows Marketplace Test Products List site (only works with Internet Explorer 6 and above).
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 two exceptions for BEN Financials and Business Objects.
Several distinct categories of laptop computers are available, each designed to suit the needs of a particular class of users. Historically, laptop computers have cost more than equivalent desktop computers and often have lagged a generation behind 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 2006-2007 recommendations. 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, 2010) may reduce purchase and support costs. Schools and Centers interested in purchasing systems at lower cost are encouraged to use the 2006-2007 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 2006-2007 specifications. Choosing between a three- and four-year strategy requires an understanding of local School or Center computing needs. Note that Schools and Centers that choose Windows XP Service Pack 2 and hope to avoid a mid-life operating system upgrade may wish to consider a three year life cycle.
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.
For computers with warranties of less than three years, ISC strongly 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 desktop operating system to another (e.g., from Windows XP Professional to Windows Vista) 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 Vista and Mac OS 10.4.x offer enhanced security options that may be needed to support strategic goals in the future. As such, currently supported and recommended operating systems such as Windows XP Service Pack 2 may face retirement within the four-year life cycle.
Note that Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP Service Pack 1 and below will no longer be supported as of July, 2007 and Mac OS 10.3.x will no longer be supported as of July, 2008. Please refer to the Windows Operating System Life Cycles and Mac OS Operating System Life Cycles charts for long-term guidance.
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 Lenovo 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/.
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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