Desktop Computing Recommendations for Penn:
|Recommended Minimum Configurations for New Desktop Systems|
|Hardware||Processor||Intel Core i5 (any)
or Intel Core i7 (any)1
|Intel Core i5 (any)
or Intel Core i7 (any)1
|Memory (RAM)||8.0 GB||8.0 GB|
|Hard Disk||500 GB2||500 GB2|
|Display & Graphics||20-inch LCD3
discrete video card or
Intel integrated graphics (HD 4000 and above)
discrete video card
|Sound||Built-in audio & speaker||Built-in audio & speakers|
|Miscellaneous||optional DVD±R/CD-RW drive
80% efficient power supply
hardware-based systems management
|optional DVD±R/CD-RW drive
80% efficient power supply
|10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet||10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet|
|Recommended Operating System||Windows 7 SP14
see important notes below
|OS X Mountain Lion5|
|Recommended Lifecycle||Until July, 2017||Until July, 2017|
|Estimated Price||$1,000 to $1,2506||$1,250 to $1,6006|
In response to what is often rapid technological change, ISC's Performance Desktop Purchasing Guide offers purchase recommendations for new systems that meet or exceed these specifications. Specifications are reviewed and updated when there are significant changes for performance systems
Penn's requirements for desktops used to access the University's administrative systems are consistent with the recommendations for general purpose systems specified above. ISC maintains a detailed page on the specific desktop environment requirements for administrative systems such as BEN Financials, the University's budget planning applications (Oracle EPM/Hyperion), and Webi/Business Objects here. In general, ISC is comfortable with Windows 7 Service Pack 1 as the operating system of choice for administrative systems.
Several distinct categories of notebook systems are available, each designed to suit the needs of a particular class of users. Given the physical conditions to which they are often subjected, notebook systems generally have a shorter useful life than desktop systems (typically three years or less). Therefore, ISC provides support for three years for major brands of notebook systems that meet or exceed the 2012-2013 recommendations.
The current Notebook Purchasing Guide can help you determine which combination of features and capability will best serve your needs.
For computers with warranties of less than three years, ISC strongly recommends the purchase of extended warranties when departments are not prepared to make repairs themselves, especially beyond the first year or two of a computer's useful life.
Manufacturers such as Apple and Dell now offer four year warranties. If a system will used for the full four year life cycle, these warranties (which typically add about $70 to the overall cost) often are appropriate. However, support providers should expect the rate of system failure in the fourth year to be higher than that in the first three years.
Another option is to self-insure for the fourth year by allocating the additional $70 per system that would otherwise be spent on warranty extension into a fund to fix or replace systems that fail during the fourth year of service.
Operating System Life Cycle Support
While ISC generally expects support for recommended operating systems to persist through the four year life cycle of the desktop recommendations, that often may not be possible. Please refer to the Windows Operating System Life Cycles and OS X Operating System Life Cycles charts for long-term guidance on the University's supported operating systems.
University IT staff are encouraged to continue adopting measures that promote "Green IT". One option for LSPs is to purchase small form factor or all-in-one desktops when possible — they use less power and significantly less materials than towers. The University's hardware vendors now offer high-efficiency (80% or higher - often branded as 80 PLUS) power supplies at little or no additional cost. For information on the relative power usage of modern desktops and notebooks commonly used at the University under various operating conditions, see the Approximate Desktop & Notebook Power Usage page.
Hardware-based systems management technology (examples are Intel Standard Manageability, iAMT, and VPro) offers the capability of booting remotely from a completely off (not just sleep) condition. It allows Windows-based systems to save substantial energy and still be available for remote access, patching, and backup.
Ultra Low-Cost Desktops Not Recommended
Price reductions resulting from market competition and continued technical innovation make definition of "Ultra Low-Cost Desktops" a moving target. It is generally true that computers priced in the bottom 40% of the current range compromise some combination of performance, reliability, compatibility, expandability, and warranty period to achieve the lowest possible costs.
Bearing in mind that "you get what you pay for" and since total costs of ownership associated with supporting any desktop system always far outweigh the actual purchase price, ISC strongly discourages purchasing "Low-Cost Desktops" for general use.
As an alternative, the Value Desktop Purchasing Guide offers recommendations for competitively priced systems that are compatible with Penn's computing environment and are widely supported on campus. ISC has certified low-cost enterprise-class systems for use at the University. However, these systems may not always be the best choice as they often lack important manageability or configurability features. Please see ISC's Computing Hardware Resources page for detailed reviews of various desktop systems.
Controlling costs continues to be important, though other considerations also must be weighed to insure that business needs are met. A cost and resource savings option already commonly employed at the University is to buy high quality displays with LED backlights every other life cycle instead of every life cycle. Another option is to bundle significant numbers of identical systems into a single purchase, often resulting in an additional discount from the system vendor (note that most desktop systems available from the University's Computer Connection already reflect bulk purchase pricing).
The Computer Connection offers Apple and Dell configurations that match the recommendations discussed above.
ISC provides information on supported computing applications, middleware, and operating systems.
All desktop systems should have important data backed up and be kept virus-free. Additional security information from the Office of Information Security can be found here.
The Office of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety provides information on computer ergonomics.
If your School, department, or Center is considering major changes or investments, ISC strongly recommends a consultation to weigh the pros and cons in today's rapidly changing environment (contact John Mulhern III in ISC, email@example.com; x3-3567).
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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