Desknote Purchasing Guide

Revised October 26, 2012

This desknote purchasing guide includes specifications from Information Systems & Computing (ISC) for a category of workstation that includes some of the portability of a notebook along with some of the performance of a desktop. Desknotes generally are not usable as conventional notebooks - they are too large (6 to 9 pounds) and often have too little battery life (often under 3 hours). They are, however, a reasonable trade-off for users who rarely move their workstations or who need maximum portable power for uses such as CAD or video manipulation.

Desknote manufacturers that ISC has had good experience with include Apple and Dell.

If your school or center is considering a significant quantity of desknote purchases, ISC strongly recommends a consultation to weigh the pros and cons in today's rapidly changing environment (contact John Mulhern III in ISC, mulhernj@isc.upenn.edu; 573-3567).

Desktop Recommendations

These systems are generally used as a primary desktop system or ‘desktop-equivalent’. These desknotes tend to weigh between six and ten pounds and have larger (15.4-inch to 17.0-inch) screens. In performance and capability, they tend to meet or exceed last year's desktop recommendations.

Revised October 26, 2012 - Specifications are reviewed and updated as appropriate.

Windows OS X
Processor

Core i5 (any)

(Core i7 optional)

Core i7 (any)1

Memory (RAM) 8.0 GB 8.0 GB
Hard Disk 500 GB hard drive

750 GB hard drive

or 500 GB solid state drive

Display & Graphics

15.6-inch to 17.0-inch high resolution 

discrete video card or 

Intel integrated graphics (HD 3000 and above)

15.4-inch

discrete video card

Miscellaneous

DVD±R/CD-RW drive

internal Bluetooth

integrated webcam

DVD±R/CD-RW drive

internal Bluetooth

integrated webcam

Network Connection

10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet

internal 802.11a/b/g/n (Wi-Fi)

10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet

internal 802.11a/b/g/n (Wi-Fi)

Recommended Operating System

Windows 7 SP12

Mac OS Mountain Lion3
Support Period 42 months to 4 years 42 months to 4 years
Estimated Price $1,250 to $1,5504 $2,0504

Examples of these systems are the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch, the Dell Latitude E6530, and the Lenovo ThinkPad T530.

These systems are generally used as portable workstations, with specialized software loadouts, optimized hardware, and considerable expense. These desknotes tend to weigh between six and nine pounds and have larger (15.4-inch to 17.0-inch) screens. In performance and capability, they tend to easily exceed last year's desktop recommendations.

Revised October 26, 2012 - Specifications are reviewed and updated as appropriate.

Windows OS X
Processor

Core i7 (any)1

Core i7 (any)1

Memory (RAM) 8.0 GB 8.0 GB
Hard Disk 500 GB/7200 RPM hard drive

750 GB/7200 RPM hard drive

or 500 GB solid state drive

Display & Graphics

15.4-inch to 17.0-inch high resolution

integrated graphics or discrete video card

15.4-inch high resolution

discrete video card

Miscellaneous

DVD±R/CD-RW drive

internal Bluetooth

integrated webcam

DVD±R/CD-RW drive

internal Bluetooth

integrated webcam

Network Connection

10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet

internal 802.11a/b/g/n (Wi-Fi)

10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet

internal 802.11a/b/g/n (Wi-Fi)

Recommended Operating System

Windows 7 SP12

Mac OS Mountain Lion3
Support Period 42 months to 4 years 42 months to 4 years
Estimated Price $1,600 to $2,9004 $2,400 to $2,8504

Examples of these systems are the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch, the Dell Precision M4600, the Dell Precision M6600, the Hewlett-Packard EliteBook Mobile Workstation series, and the Lenovo ThinkPad W530.

  1. Processor speed is no longer considered important, but the class of processor (such Core i5, Core i7, etc.) is. A more detailed University-centric perspective on AMD and Intel processors is available from ISC's Processor Guide.
  2. Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (32-bit and 64-bit Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions) is supported and recommended for new systems. ISC does not recommend, but will support the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 Home Premium Service Pack 1. Home Premium lacks important networking, security, and compatibility features, such as domain-based authentication, that are essential to many Schools and Centers in the University. Note that Windows 7 Professional includes all of the multimedia features present in Windows 7 Home Premium, and therefore is recommended as superior to Home Premium. ISC does not recommend and will not support any version of Windows 7 Starter or Windows 7 Home Basic. Starter and Home Basic lack many important networking, maintenance, and security features that are critical to many Schools and Centers at the University.
  3. Windows 8 (32-bit and 64-bit Pro and Enterprise editions) is supported for new systems and recommended for desknote systems with touchscreens. ISC does not recommend, but will support the consumer version of Windows 8, which lacks important networking, security, and compatibility features, such as domain-based authentication, that are essential to many Schools and Centers in the University.
  4. OS X Mountain Lion is the only supported and recommended choice for new Macintosh systems, as Apple's newly released systems always require the latest version of OS X. Apple's Boot Camp technology offers added flexibility for users who need to use Windows 7 Service Pack 1 occasionally. It should not be used to turn a Macintosh into a full time Windows system. Boot Camp requires that both the Windows and the OS X operating systems be patched and maintained.
  5. Estimated pricing for these desknotes includes three-year service plans from the manufacturers, which ISC strongly recommends. Note that the three year warranty is an extra cost for some desknotes (including Macintoshes) and that this cost is reflected in the estimated price. Pricing is generated using the online configurators available from Dell and Apple and is for general reference only. Support providers often can generate significantly more competitive pricing, often with the assistance of the University's Computer Connection.
Print This Page Share:
Date Posted: May 25, 2013 Tags: Essentials, Hardware Recommendations, Purchasing Guide

Was this information helpful?

Login with PennKey to view and post comments