CXO

Real-world recommendations for standardizing PCs

Standardizing PCs can be a real boon to your bottom line and your clients' service satisfaction. Take a look at these specifications for creating PC standards for your organization.


Standardizing PCs can save your organization money and improve services to clients. Here are some real-world specifications and recommendations for creating PC standards. Bear in mind that these specifications may vary significantly for each organization.

Enhanced desktop specifications
An enhanced desktop configuration is intended for power-users and reflects the need for greater computing power, improved speed, faster multitasking, and greater flexibility with respect to peripherals. This category can be used to refer to users of computing-intensive applications, such as CAD, network administration/monitoring, financial modeling, and application development. This category probably represents 25 percent to 33 percent of an organization’s clients. See Table A for specifications and recommendations.
Table A
Item Rationale
Processor/bus

Clients are likely to access CDs and DVDs as they become more prevalent for data storage.

CD-RW burns data onto CDs or is used as a personal backup device.

Writable DVDs are not warranted except if clients are involved in DVD creation/distribution for other staff, in such case a DVD+RW/+R is fine.

Memory Ample RAM is required for optimal performance of resource intensive applications and to assist with multitasking.
Monitor

Larger monitors provide a greater viewing area, which is especially useful for network monitoring, spreadsheet manipulation, programming, and presentation graphics.

Performance-series monitors should be considered for clarity reasons (faster refresh, smaller dot-pitch, flatter screen).

Optional flat-panel screens could be considered.

Chassis Mini-tower form factor accommodates more devices.
Video Better performance for graphics-intensive applications, such as CADRAM,and performance from on-board video is insufficient to satisfy most requirements. Video on some configurations only provides 4 MB, dedicated video, with additional video RAM being shared by conventional RAM.
Hard Disk Allows ample space for more program and data files. HDD should be >= 7200 RPM.

Basic desktop specifications
A basic desktop configuration is intended for regular users who run standard business applications and who do less multitasking. This represents the vast majority of an organization’s client base. See Table B for specifications and recommendations.
Table B
Processor/bus

With less multitasking and more modest application usage, the lower-speed processor is more suitable.

Optical Device
High likelihood of needing to access applications or data stored on a CD.
Memory

Has sufficient RAM for running Windows, Internet browser, and an Office suite application.

Monitor
Single-tasking usage doesn’t require as large a viewing area.
Chassis
Small form factor minimizes desk space requirements. Expandability is not a concern.
Video
Provides satisfactory performance for basic office applications. Use of on-board video is acceptable.
Hard Disk
Has sufficient disk space for installation of corporate applications.

Enhanced laptop specifications
Enhanced laptops are for mobile power users with greater computing requirements. These will be people who want the convenience of a laptop without sacrificing the power of an enhanced desktop. See Table C for specifications and recommendations.
Table C
Processor/bus

Has higher computing power for multitasking and financial modeling, and should be sufficient for general business applications.

Optical Device
There is a higher likelihood of needing to access applications or data stored on a CD.
Memory

Has ample RAM for optimal performance and to assist with multitasking; More memory is especially useful for spreadsheets and presentations.

Display
Larger viewing area is beneficial for spreadsheet viewing.
Video
Has enhanced performance for presentation graphics.
Hard Disk
Has additional disk space for installation of more applications as well as larger data files.
Communications
Ethernet 10/100 and 56 Kbps modem required, ideally integrated to allow maximum flexibility for additional PC Cards.
Docking
Is essential for connecting peripherals conveniently and providing Ethernet connectivity.

Basic laptop specifications
Basic laptops are for mobile clients with typical computing requirements. Most application usage will be limited to Microsoft Office suite applications and Internet browsing. Multitasking will be likely limited to two or three applications. See Table D for specifications and recommendations.
Table D
Processor/bus

Modest application and multitasking will require less processing power.

Optical Device
There is a higher likelihood of needing to access applications or data stored on a CD.
Memory

Has sufficient RAM for running Windows, e-mail, and Office suite applications.

Display
Single-tasking usage doesn’t require as large a viewing area.
Video
Has satisfactory performance for basic Office applications.
Hard Disk
There is sufficient disk space for installation of business applications (MS Office, browser(s), financial applications, archive utility, etc.).
Communications
Ethernet 10/100 and 56 Kbps modem required, either integrated or as a PC Card device.
Docking
Is essential for connecting peripherals conveniently and providing Ethernet connectivity.

Ultra-portable laptop specifications
Ultra-portable laptops are for mobile clients with typical computing requirements but for whom convenience and portability are the primary concerns. These clients travel extensively and do not want to be burdened with carrying heavy laptops around. In addition to the weight and the size of the laptop, you should pay attention to selecting smaller and lighter carrying cases for transporting these ultra-portable laptops. Failure to do so would negate the benefits of purchasing the smaller computers.

Most application usage will be limited to Microsoft Office suite applications, e-mail, and Internet browsing. Multitasking will be likely limited to one or two applications, particularly when away from the office. See Table E for specifications and recommendations.
Table E
Processor/bus

CPU speed is not the primary concern, portability is. Pentium 4 is preferred but a PIII exception can be made if the preferred hardware manufacturer doesn’t offer an ultra-portable laptop with a Pentium 4 processor.

Optical Device
Theres is higher likelihood of needing to access applications or data stored on a CD.
Memory

Additional memory should be added to compensate for processor deficiency.

Display
Smaller form factor will result in smaller screen.
Video
Video performance is not a major concern, default video capabilities are adequate.
Hard Disk

Sufficient disk space for installation of basic business applications is all that’s required.

Faster drive should also be substituted to compensate for lack of processor speed.

Docking
Is essential for connecting peripherals conveniently and providing Ethernet connectivity.

Monitor specifications
Monitors are not required with every new PC purchase. Clients with only 15-in. monitors, with monitors that are three years old (or older), or those experiencing screen problems should automatically be upgraded during the time of their PC purchase. It’s often more economical to purchase a monitor with a PC package than to purchase both items separately. When selecting monitors, a matrix similar to desktops and laptops may prove useful (see Table F).
Table F
  Enhanced

Basic

CRT 19" Professional series 17" Standard series
Flat panel 19" Professional series

17" Standard series


Recommendation
I don’t want to bias anybody towards any particular vendor, so I won’t mention names. However, if you do your homework and properly develop your systems criteria, it will be relatively easy to fill in the blanks when it comes to actual product specifics.

 

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