The recent release of recommendations for computer configurations from UC Davis’s Information and Education Technology department outlines what specifications students should have to achieve maximum functionality.
The list, the Recommended Computer Configurations for 2010-2011, has key changes from previous versions. It orients students to have more RAM (random-access memory), bigger hard-drives and a new operating system (for both Macs and PCs).
Outdated computers run the risk of not meeting campus cyber security policy, and not achieving desirable functionality both on and off campus.
Mark Stinson, client and services manager of IET, said he recommends following the list’s suggestions and could not think of any negatives of having these requirements fulfilled.
“You’ll probably have a computer that can do all you need it to do as a student at UC Davis,” Stinson said in an e-mail interview.
He said the main differences in this year’s version are in hard-drive size, the wireless card and Apple and Windows operating systems. Stinson said last year a PowerMac G5 computer from Apple was adequate but that has changed for this year.
“[A PowerMac G5] can’t accommodate the latest Apple operating system (10.6 Snow Leopard),” Stinson said.
A newly purchased computer can meet good standards for two to four years, but the fast rate of technological evolution may downsize the proficiency of a computer in shorter time, he said.
Computers falling under the category of obsolete in this recently released list should be replaced or upgraded. Students with these obsolete systems may not be able to receive technical support from IET and be in violation of campus cyber security policy.
Stinson points out that students do have the alternative option of using computer rooms on campus to fulfill their basic computer needs.
When interviewed, some students had skeptical views toward the list and its recommendations.
Danny Huang, a sophomore computer science and engineering major said he did not know that this list was out, or that it even existed.
“Honestly, I don’t think students look at this list at all,” Huang said.
He said he would not regard this list as important, believing its recommendations to be “overkill.”
Much like Huang, Vikram Singh, a junior electrical engineering major, was also unaware of the list. However, Singh said he believes that the list is helpful and that he “would recommend it to friends.” Although Singh said it would not encourage him to immediately purchase a new computer, Singh thought the list is “good for people who don’t know.”
Nevertheless, Stinson understood that not all students have the same needs.
“It depends on how much the student needs the computer for coursework or research, whether the student has alternatives (using the computer rooms, for example), how long until the student graduates and affordability,” he said.
In terms of affordability, students can look to many sources to purchase a computer with the specifications recommended on the 2010-2011 list.
A computer such as those recommended on the list does not have to cost thousands of dollars. It is possible to find a computer that meets most of the IET’s recommendations at major retailers for approximately $479. According to Stinson, such a computer purchase would meet good standards for two to four years.
The recommended computer configurations list for the 2010-2011 academic year is accessible to all students on the IET website (iet.ucdavis.edu), a source students can consult when purchasing or upgrading a computer.
For more information in regards to this list, or any computer needs, go to iet.ucdavis.edu.
ERIC C. LIPSKY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.