Bringing a computer?

Recommendations for Computer Configuration


We hope you find the following information helpful as you consider your purchase. These are minimum recommendations and are given with a price-performance ratio in mind and are, to the best of our ability and knowledge, reasonably robust configurations. We've also included some standards that will assure connection to our campus network.

Operating System

We recommend Windows XP SP3 (any edition), Windows Vista SP2 (any edition), or Windows Seven (any edition).

Processor Speed

Laptop: Intel® Core™ i3 2.2GHz minimum
Desktop: Intel® Core™ i3 3.3GHz minimum

Hard Drive size/speed

• Laptop: At least 160GB of storage space
• Desktop: At least 250GB of storage space
• A faster hard drive (7200 rpm vs. 5400 rpm) will enhance the overall performance of the computer. Increasing this is probably the second most important thing you can do to improve computer performance (after increasing RAM).
• You may have noticed that our recommendations in hard drive size differs greatly between desktop and laptop computers. To get a high-capacity laptop drive you would pay considerably more money than you would for a desktop with a comparable drive. We suggest that laptop users augment their storage with external USB 2.0 drives.
• Smooth computing depends on ample storage space.

Integrated Video vs. Dedicated Video

Integrated video shares memory with the computer, while dedicated video has its own memory and will enhance performance when graphics-intensive applications are run. If you play high-end games or are doing graphic or video development, this will have an impact on the computer's performance. Under normal circumstances (while writing papers, surfing the web, doing IM or e-mail, etc.), you should not see any difference. Some features of Windows Vista and Windows Seven may work better on computers with dedicated video.

Monitor

For desktop computers, we strongly recommend that you purchase a 19" (minimum) LCD monitor.

Optical Drive

DVD Writer (internal or external): we suggest purchasing a computer with a DVD writer/burner. A DVD drive can write to and read from DVD's and CD's. Also DVD's hold nearly 5 gigabytes of storage and make multimedia authoring and data backup easy.

RAM/Memory

• A minimum of 4GB RAM is strongly recommended.
• Ideally, memory should not be shared with an onboard video card. The video card should have 256MB of video RAM.
• The 4GB of RAM should be on one DIMM if possible to allow for upgrades. Laptops typically have two DIMM slots, so upgrading a PC with both slots filled entails removing some of the RAM that's already installed. Buying one DIMM avoids this potential waste.

Network Connection

Wired: All computers should have a Network Interface Card. An ethernet patch cable is available at the IT Department in the Library.
Wireless: Laptops should be equipped with wireless networking capability. The wireless card is usually pre-installed, however, be sure this is the case with your computer. We recommend the 802.11g/n ethernet card.

Mouse

An optical or laser mouse is recommended.

Printer

If you purchase a personal printer that attaches directly to the computer, be sure to have a USB cable for your printer.

Small Storage Needs

USB drives: We strongly recommend using USB drives (2GB minimum) that go by several different names: flash, pen, mobile, memory, thumb, or jump drives.

Surge Suppressor

A surge suppressor is the basic form of protection that can be used to protect the computer from sudden power spikes and surges. At a minimum, we suggest that you protect your equipment with a high-quality surge suppressor, inserted between your computer and the electrical outlet. Be sure the suppressor has a rating of 330V each UL1449, and it should have a Surge energy rating of at least 1750 Joules.

Security Cable

A security cable with a key lock is a must for laptops and small form factor CPU's, and a good idea for all CPU's. Don't just buy a security cable - USE IT!

Warranty

A warranty on a new computer is a good thing, especially since we are quite a distance from any computer repair facilities. On-site warranties make the vendor send someone out to where you live and are more expensive. Regular warranties cover parts and labor, but not shipping. Laptop computers usually have costly repairs so we recommend purchasing the extended warranty for a laptop. Remember that a warranty is like an insurance policy, sometimes you never have to use it, but when something goes wrong, it is nice to have it covered, especially for those people who don't know much about computers. The important thing is to look into getting a good warranty and accidental damage protection.