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Computer Hardware Purchasing Recommendations (7.08.14)

This list represents the Nebraska Library Commission's recommendations for libraries planning to purchase general-purpose computer hardware or software. It is not intended to cover all applications or all situations. Specialized applications such as automated library systems, desktop publishing, gaming, or network servers may require significantly different configurations. We also recommend viewing two of the NCompass Live sessions on the topics of computers: What to Know Before You Buy, and Setting Up Your Public Access Computers.

♦ Desktop Computers or Workstations

Processor: i5 meets or exceeds typical library applications. The icore CPUs use less power, generate less heat, and have better built in graphics than older processors. icore CPUs have two physical cores, plus two additional logical cores making them better at multi-tasking. Their versatility versus cost is better than either the i3 or i7. The motherboards that accommodate the icore processors are supposed to allow an easy upgrade path to a better CPU down the road.

How to select a processor

Compare Intel Core processors

Operating System Software: For workstations, the Library Commission recommends Microsoft Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate edition. We recommend 64-bit Windows provided any workstations to be upgraded and any essential peripherals (printers, scanners, etc.) are 64-bit compatible. Libraries that are considering purchasing a Windows 8.1 machine may want to wait until late 2014 for Microsoft Windows 9 release. Windows 8 and windows 8.1 have been plagued with negative feedback from PC users and Microsoft has already announced that it will be moving on to Windows 9 (which "fixes" many of the concerns of users Windows 8 machine) Spring 2015. Consumer reports offers a reveiw on the decision to move to a Windows 8 machine or wait for WIndows 9, Should you stick with Windows 7, at least for now?".

Memory (RAM): 2GB minimum, 4GB if feasible [more is better, but 32-bit workstations can only  fully utilize approximately 3.5GB]

Hard Drive: 120GB or larger.

Monitor: 17 inch or larger LCD. Monitor Comparisons & Reviews

Video: If the workstation will be used for gaming, be sure the video card provides sufficient speed and memory.

Sound: Be sure to include speakers and/or headphones as appropriate.

Optical Drive: DVD-RW DVD - Specifications, Terminology, History, etc. (from Wikipedia)

Media Reader/Writer: Provides access to memory cards from cameras and other portable devices.

Keyboard and Mouse: Keyboard and mouse may use either PS/2 or USB ports. If you are planning on re-using an existing keyboard or mouse, be sure your new computer includes the necessary ports or adapters. Note: the same caution applies to barcode readers, trackballs, and other input devices.

Network Card: Gigabit Ethernet card.

Printer: Ink-jet or laser printer [Higher resolutions are better: 600 dots per inch is better than 300 dpi, for example. Higher pages per minute ratings are better: 8 ppm is better than 4 ppm, for example.] A 24-pin dot matrix print may be required for continuous feed forms.

♦ Notebook or Laptop Computers

Special Considerations: weight, screen size, battery life, and/or keyboard touch & size. Also a bag to carry it in and its accessories.

Wireless LAN Options: 802.11b/g or 802.11b/g/n integrated wireless network card. For more information, and search for 802.11.

Fixed Optical Drives: Laptops generally come with at least DVD/CD-RW drives at a minimum; extremely light-weight laptops may not include an optical drive.

Support/Warranty: Purchasing a technical support agreement is up to the user depending on cost and how much the user feels they will need help. Warranties are recommended as these mobile workstations tend to take some abuse during travel. If you are especially hard on such equipment, check out your options for "no-fault" warranties that will repair or replace your laptop no matter how your laptop was damaged.


Software Purchasing Discount for Public Libraries and School Media Centers:

TechSoup Stock Software Donation Program for U.S. Public Libraries: TechSoup Stock now serves U.S. public libraries. TechSoup Stock connects nonprofits with donated and discounted technology products in the supportive environment of the TechSoup Website. Choose from over 240 products from the 25 providers including Cisco and Microsoft.

♦ Additional Considerations

The links below provide checklists that should be useful once you have your new system up and running. It's also a good idea to apply them to any existing computer systems.

Related links

Computing References on NebraskAccess

For more information, contact Holly Woldt.