Guide to purchasing computers

Whether you’re replacing one computer or a whole office-full, it’s important to match the new device to your staff and operational needs.
Choosing the right computer

This guide will help you choose the right computer, focusing on machines that run MS Windows. It does not cover Macs or other operating systems, or advice on purchasing tablets.

Computer specification terms

You’ll need to understand a few terms when choosing the right computer.

Processor: The central processing unit (CPU) interprets and executes most of the commands from the computer’s hardware and software. The CPU is considered the “brains” of the computer.

RAM: Random access memory (RAM) is where a computer stores programs, applications or data that are being used. Essentially the more RAM a computer has the more programs the computer can run.

Hard drive: The hard disk drive is the main data storage device for a computer. It stores the operating system, software and files and is commonly labelled the C drive. It’s always recommended to purchase devices with a solid-state drive (SSD).

Minimum specifications

Below are some simple specifications that should work for staff in most organisations. They cover a simple, economy model, and a mid-range computer which can handle a few more complex programs. Each assumes the computer is being used by one or more users running Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc). If you need something more powerful, choose an i7 processor with 8GB and a solid state drive.

In general Infoxchange recommends that you buy new rather than refurbished computers, because then they will last longer and labour is often the most expensive component of your technology environment. The exceptions may be if you are in a terminal server environment or if the computers are only rarely used or solely for public access. You should plan to replace desktops every three to five years and laptops every three to four years. Include software (e.g. Microsoft Office and antivirus) and the labour to install in the overall cost.

Specifications for an economy desktop

  • Intel i5
  • 8Gb DDR
  • 256Gb SSD
  • Integrated graphics and audio
  • 23.8” LED
  • Standard keyboard and mouse
  • Windows 10 Professional

Specifications for an economy laptop

  • Intel i5
  • 8Gb DDR
  • 256Gb SSD
  • Integrated graphics and audio
  • Separate 23.8” LED monitor & docking station for office.  Laptop screen size dependent on user preference.
  • Standard keyboard and mouse plus laptop stand to raise screen in office
  • Windows 10 Professional.

Specifications for a midrange desktop

  • Intel i7
  • 16Gb DDR
  • 256Gb or above SSD
  • HD graphics
  • Integrated audio
  • 23.8” or above LED
  • Standard keyboard and mouse
  • Windows 10 Professional
  • 3 year next business day onsite warranty.

Specifications for a midrange laptop

  • Intel i7
  • 16Gb DDR
  • 256Gb or above SSD
  • HD graphics
  • Integrated audio
  • Separate 23.8” LED monitor & docking station for office. Laptop screen size dependent on user preference.
  • Standard keyboard and mouse plus laptop stand to raise screen in office
  • Windows 10 Professional
  • 3 year next business day onsite warranty.

Not-for-profit discounts for new and refurbished hardware with Connecting Up

Connecting Up offers new hardware from Acer and Lenovo and refurbished hardware all through Reboot IT to member NFP organisations.
Whether you opt for new or refurbished hardware will most commonly depend on the following considerations:

  • your budget
  • the age of the hardware you are replacing in relation to your current requirements
  • for design work, units with discrete graphic cards/GPUs
  • the physical characteristics of the device (such as if it will be used in a dusty or humid environment).

Find out more by chatting with a Connecting Up consultant.