Computer Specifications

2017 - 2018 Specifications (Updated 03.09.18)

The specifications for the 2017-2018 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 or Chrome OS across the board.  All Windows devices also include the Microsoft Office 2016 Pro office suite.

Hardware-wise, all machines have solid-state drives and all Windows machines (except 1) have 8GB of memory, while the outlier and 2 of the 3 Chromebook configurations only have 4GB.  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 notably faster boot times, updates, etc.  Chromebooks usually run fine on 4GB and have a specialized type of SSD.  This year, the Mini Tower (Config 1) is still the most capable configuration for running CAD or demanding Adobe software (licenses will need to be purchased, accordingly), but the SFF Alternative Build (Config 2 Alt Build) is equally powerful and a little cheaper.  Unless the mini tower form-factor is needed or a little more space for a more powerful GPU is required, it is hard to recommend the Mini Tower at this point.  The 15" ThinkPad T570 laptop build, Configuration 8, performans similarly in a smaller form-factor, in case that is needed.  Another option would be adding a graphics card from the Additional Components section of the specs to an existing, otherwise capable, lab.

Chromebooks all have a Management License bundled in the cost, so much of the administration of those devices can be performed from central office.  Your building tech will need to enroll each device initially (unless the white glove service is added), but the process is relatively short and the required time should be slightly less than the typical setup of a new Windows PC.

A note on Ultraportables

We now have a few ultraportable configurations.  An Ultraportable is a small, 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 (12" models) are best-suited for use as testing devices or supplemental computers while more powerful models (13" 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 desktop setup, while still providing a similar computing experience on-the-go.  

While the 12" 11e confguration (Config 5, standard build) 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.  This device would be best suited for student testing or other single-task usage...if you want a notebook for use during meetings only and dont' mind the small screen, for instance.  Chromebooks of any configuration are quickly becoming reasonable options for similar use, so you may want to consider them. The other ultraportables are not notably underpowered, so could easily be a supplemental device or a user's only/primary computer.

 

 

_Recommended Buys_

 

Desktop Configurations

For general purpose computing, the SFF (Small Form-Factor, configuration 2) configuration with the 21.5" or 24” 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, as the alternate builds feature more processing power, available storage space, and a better graphics card for 3d applications or heavy computational loads.  The Tower Configuration is great if workspaces are specifically designed for this size of machine, but the same resources can be found in the SFF alternative build for less, so it is hard to recommend otherwise.

 

All-in-One Configurations

The All-in-One configuration (configuration 3) has many benefits.  It is a powerful, space-aware, minimal clutter, and aesthetically pleasing setup.  The price is a little higher than a comparable SFF configuration and monitor, though.  AIO PCs are also a little more fragile and less repairable, so we don’t recommend this unit for everyone.  

The touch-screen 24" All-in-One unit (configuration 4) is, similarly, 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 24" monitor are a notably better bargain for better performance if that is the appeal.

 

Portable Configurations

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 L380 (Configuration 10) or Thinkpad L470 (Notebook/Laptop Configuration 7) are good option as they are the smallest traditional setups we recommend which can function as a desktop replacement.  The 13" L380 is lightweight, while the 14" L470 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 like the 13" Yoga 370 (Config 9) if light-weight is a priority or the 15" T570 (Configuration 8) if a larger screen is preferred, even if it comes with some more weight.  The 12" Ultraportable Yoga (Configuration 5, Alternate build) has similar performance to these machines, and is impressively lightweight, but the 12" screen may seem a little small for many users, and the price bumps into price of the 13" models mentioned above.

For a portable option which will be used as a supplemental computer, a Chromebook (Configs 6 or 11) 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, unless you are fully comfortable with your feet in the Google stream, 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 recommend that device for testing or research or writing papers with limited multi-tasking.  The previously mentioned ultraportable notebook (Configurations 7 and 10) are reasonable options, but may lack the power some users require for heavy use.

The 15" Thinkpad T570 (Configuration 8) 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. 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 13" ThinkPad Yoga 370 (Configuration 9).  It is a sleek, powerful, and lightweight notebook and the price of this configuration is indicative of the quality and refinement. The Yoga features a touchscreen and 360-degree hinge allowing tablet mode when that is the more convenient form-factor, although the weight is 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 on the go, but attach to a larger display when "in the office" for a time, to offer more workspace and a simulate a more traditional keyboard and mouse environment.

 

_Current Specs._

Current Bid Winner PC Specifications (Vendor: Presidio)

Waterbury Public Schools
236 Grand Street
Waterbury, CT 06702
Phone: (203) 574-8000

Fax: (203) 574-8010