2016 - 2017 Specifications (Added 11.04.16 / Updated 01.23.17)
The specifications for the 2016-2017 bid winners are now available! Many of the changes to the available machines this year are minor progressions which will not impact the average user notably. We are still running Windows 10 across the board with the exception of a handful of notebooks/laptops running Chrome OS (Chromebooks). All Windows devices also include the Microsoft Office 2016 Pro office suite.
Hardware-wise, new Windows machines all have 8GB of memory and use solid-state drives. The memory allows for the multi-tasking required for today's workloads (a few office documents open, various browsers with multiple open tabs, etc.). Solid-state drives have much faster transfer rates and much lower latency as compared with traditional spinning drives, which equates to less time from when a program is launched to when it is available and faster boot times, updates, etc. Chromebooks usually run fine on 4GB and have a specialized type of SSD. This year's mini tower build (Config 1), like last year's, is the most capable configuration of running CAD or demanding Adobe software (licenses will need to be purchased, accordingly).
A note on Ultraportables
We now have a few ultraportable configurations. An Ultraportable is a lightweight notebook PC which won't burden the carrier as heavily when accompanying them for a day on the move. Due to their price and performance ranges, some ultraportables are best-suited for use as testing devices or supplemental computers while more powerful models can function as desktop replacements; these can plug into a stand-alone monitor and connect to a mouse and keyboard to emulate a traditional setup, while still providing a similar computing experience "on-the-go."
While the 12" 11e confguration (Config 5) isn’t as powerful as a full sized notebook (laptop) computers, it features a reasonable screen size, comfortable (almost) full-sized keyboard, and weighs just under 3 pounds -- far below the ~5 pounds of many traditional 15" notebooks. The other ultraportables are not notably underpowered.
For general purpose computing, the SFF (Small Form-Factor, configuration 2) configuration with the 23” wide screen flat panel monitor is our recommended buy. The price is great, and there are very few drawbacks with this configuration. We'd recommend SFF alternate configuration for more heavily-used machines or to future-proof a little. The Tower Configuration is great if workspaces are specifically designed for this size of machine or if the additional graphics-processing capabilities are needed for specific tasks (ie, CAD work or Adobe Suite use).
The All-in-One configuration (configuration 3) has many benefits. It is a powerful, space-aware, minimal clutter, and aesthetically pleasing setup. Although the price (with monitor) is comparable to the SFF recommendation, the more fragile nature of AIO PCs and increase in difficulty when repairing the device means we don’t recommend this unit for everyone.
The touch-screen 24" All-in-One unit (configuration 4) is a good choice for minimizing wires/clutter for teachers/administrators or for users who could benefit from touch-functionality (although, be warned, touching will tire out your arm quickly as it is much more work than operating a mouse). The SFF (Config 2) Alternate build and a 23" screen are a notably better bargain for better performance if that is the appeal.
It is difficult to recommend portable configurations due to all the circumstances to take into consideration.
For anyone often on the go, the Ultraportable Thinkpad 13 (Configuration 9) or Thinkpad L460 (Notebook/Laptop Configuration 11) are good option as they are the smallest traditional setups we recommend which can function as a desktop replacement. The Thinkpad 13 is lightweight, while the L460 weighs a lttle more but offers a little more screen size. Both are good general-use machines, but power users may want to consider higher performance configurations. The 12" Ultraportable Yoga (Configuration 7) has similar performance to these machines, and is impressively lightweight, but the 12" screen may seem a little small for many users.
For a portable option which will be used as a supplemental computer, a Chromebook (Configs 6, 8, or 10) is a wonderful options. As our district leans more heavily on Google (G Suite/Google Apps) for Drive and Docs usage, these may eventually be perfect for a user's only device. For now, a traditional setup (even a shared desktop) may be needed occasionally. The student ultraportable device (Configuration 5) is a little underpowered for our recommendation. It will handle one or two simultaneous taks reasonably, but the limited processing power will be noticeable so we mostly recommend that for device for testing or research or writing papers with limited multi-tasking. The previously mentioned ultraportable notebook (Configurations 7, 9, and 11) are reasonable options, but may lack the power some users require for heavy use.
The 15" Thinkpad T560 (Configuration 12) is great and will more properly simulate a desktop experience, but will be less transparent to carry around due to the 5-pound weight that comes with the more powerful setup. Note there is an alternate configuration for this device which adds the the graphics processing power avialable (most people will not need this). These are recommended for users who need portability (moving from one building to another) and enjoy the screen size, but not for those who carry their computer from meeting to meeting, room to room, all day, which leads us to...
Our high-end ultraportable is a ThinkPad Yoga 260 (Configuration 13). It is a sleek, powerful, and lightweight notebook. The price is indicative of the quality and refinement. The Yoga also features a 360-degree hinge which allows tablet mode for times when that is the more convenient form-factor, although the weight is a little heavier than a traditional tablet (iPad). The Yoga can be a supplemental computer, but is normally intended to function as a user's sole computing device -- replacing the traditional desktop. A popular usage model would be to use the Yoga 260 on the go, but attach to a larger display in extended mode when "in the office" for a time, to offer more workspace and a potentially more productive environment.
Current Bid Winner PC Specifications (Vendor: Presidio)