Purchasing Computer Hardware

Before making any computer-related purchase, we recommend that you consult with CSS IT.  They can help you evaluate your needs and come up with specific recommendations. Note that not all equipment available through the vendors mentioned below can be supported by the campus, and compatibility and other issues can arise when non-standard equipment is purchased.

Buying a new computer

A new computer should meet your present needs and the needs that you anticipate over the life of the machine. Because of rapid changes in technology, any computer that you purchase today will likely become obsolete within the next three to five years. A "close-out" model, based on older technology, may reach the end of its useful life before even three years have elapsed.

Where to purchase

The best way for departments and campus-affliliated individuals to purchase new computers is generally through CSS IT.

Be aware that the specific configurations for computers on vendor websites may not be optimized for your specific needs. The specific job duties of your staff and reseach interests of your faculty will deternime the optimal amount RAM, hard disk storage, processor speed, etc., that a new machine should have.

LSIT recommendations

We can provide specific recommendations, but here are some general guidelines for Mac and PC purchases:

  • Mac: LSIT generally recommends the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines of notebook computers.
  • PC: LSIT recommends the Dell OptiPlex line of desktop machines. (Dell's Inspiron and XPS lines, designed for home users, are not appropriate for campus use.) For notebook computers, LSIT recommends Dell's Latitude line.

Our general recommendation for RAM is 16 GB and at least 256 GB of disk storage with a Solid State hard drive, though as mentioned above, the optimal configuration depends on the user's needs. Although a wired Ethernet network connection is still our recommendation for desktop machines on campus, wireless connectivity has become the connectionmethod of choice and convenience for Berkeley.  Wherever possible, we recommend that all machines, including desktops, come with built-in wireless capability.

Personal purchases

If you will using a computer at home for telecommuting, we generally recommend the same types of machines as those that are used on campus.

Individuals affiliated with the campus (students, faculty, and staff) can purchase computer equipment and software at discounted educational prices:

  • If you wish to buy a Mac, you can order directly from the Apple Store for Higher Education and have the computer shipped to you.
  • If you wish to buy a Dell PC, you can order directly using the Dell University personal purchase program.

Other hardware

Peripheral equipment, such as printers and scanners, and accessories are available from a number of vendors on BearBuy. We can help you select appropriate accessories and peripherals for your computer system.