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Computer Hardware Purchasing Recommendations (8.08.15)

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: The expression "have you been living under a rock the past six months?" comes to mind if you are not aware that Microsoft Windows 10 is now available for consumers to upgrade existing computers and purchase on new computers. Recommendations of as to or not to upgrade your existing  Windows 7 and 8.1 library computers and/or purchase new library computers that are using the new Windows 10 platform are all over the Internet. With the release of the Windows 10 platform at the end of July, 2015 it might be prudent to consider waiting three to six months before upgrading or purchasing new computers for the library. There are definite considerations that you want to keep in mind as Microsoft is offering free upgrades to Windows 10 for specific versions of Windows 7 and 8.1 computers for one year. It would be prudent to be sure that all existing computers that are included in the free offer are upgraded by the one year deadline. If the library plans to upgrade existing computers to Windows 10 it is important to:

  • Make sure the library computers are able to upgrade to Windows 10.
  • Determine if the library computers are eligible for the free Windows 10 upgrade and complete the upgrade before it expires.
  • Confirm that all third-party software that is installed on the library's computers is compatible with Windows 10.
  • Plan and research before you being your upgrade

Currently we do recommend that libraries hold off on attempting to upgrade to Windows 10. The Library Commission is working on putting together resources for libraries on Windows 10 migration. We are becoming with the Windows 10 upgrade process and will be sharing resources in the near future on this webpage.

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.