Recommended Computer Configurations

The Computer and Network Services department recommends purchasing the newest computer technology that you can afford with your budget.  By buying the newest equipment possible it will guarantee that you will get more use out of it before it becomes obsolete.  It will also continue to run the applications and services required by your library to serve your patrons.

As of November 1, 2010 Dell no longer offers Windows XP as an operating choice.  All new computer purchased from this point forward will have Windows 7 installed.This change requires third party security software for all public Internet stations, PowerPAC computers, dedicated download stations or any other public computers that need security.

The recommended OptiPlex computers, currently the model 990, will work for Public Internet, PowerPAC, Circulation and Tech Services.

The computer listed here is the baseline

Most components listed can be upgraded to fit a libraries specific needs.  Consider upgrading things such as processor, system memory, hard drive space, CD and/or DVD burners and monitors.

This configuration is based on currently shipping Dell Computer systems and was arrived at by balancing cost, performance, quality of design and warranty and technical support.

Prices of computers and components fluctuate quite frequently and prices drop often as newer technology comes on the market.  Software upgrades are frequent in some areas and yearly in others.  As soon as a recommendation like this is made, assume that something newer has already been released.

Circulation/Tech Services/Public Internet/PowerPAC ConfigurationOptiPlex 990 with Monitor

OptiPlex 990 Desktop Intel Core i5 2400 Processor 3.1GHz
Operating System(s) Windows® 7 Professional 64-bit
Memory 4GB DDR3 Non-ECC SDRAM (1 DIMM)
Video Card 512MB AMD Radeon HD 6350 (DVI)
Keyboard Dell KB212-B USB 104 Quiet Key
Mouse Dell MS111 USB Optical Mouse
Hard Drive 250GB SATA 6.0Gb/s
Media Card Reader* See below
Removable Media 16X DVD+/-RW w/ Roxio Creator & Cyberlink PowerDVD
Audio Solutions Integrated Digital Audio
Network Adapters (NICs) Intel® 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet
Speakers ** Dell AX510 Sound Bar
Monitor *** Dell Pro P2210 22″ Wide Monitor
Hardware Support Services 5 Year Limited Warranty plus 5 year NBD On-Site service
Factory Installed Software None
Mouse Pad None
Price $824.91

* Floppy drives have been phased out and replaced by multi card readers which support memory cards from cameras, MP3 players, cell phones and various other portable devices.  This option is not configured as standard on new computers, but is recommended by the CNS department, and can be added for approximately $16.91.

** The base configuration includes an AX510 Sound Bar speaker.  The Dell AX510 Sound Bar is recommended for Circulation and Tech Services computers and, while not required, for Public Internet computers.  The Sound Bar is not required or recommended for PowerPAC or other public access computers.  Removing the Sound Bar will reduce the price of the computer by $26.00.

*** The CNS department recommends the 22″ Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor.  Other sizes are available, some for a price savings while others are more expensive.  Libraries with upgraded monitors, or those that are in good working order, have the option of removing the monitor from a new purchase.  The savings would be $125.91.  Reminder that all new monitors purchased with a computer are covered by the 5 year warranty as well.

Dell Computer Case

The above configuration uses Dell’s Desktop case.  The OptiPlex 990 is also available in Minitower, Small Form Factor and Ultra Small Form Factor with prices varying.  Depending on the location or specific task, one of these cases may be a better option.

Upgrade/Downgrade Options

As mentioned in the notes above, there are several options available with the OptiPlex 790 that either increase or decrease the price depending on the requirements of the library.

Price Savings

Monitor (price savings: $125.91)
Most computers will be ordered with a monitor but there may be a situation where a library has recently purchased new monitors or has acceptable working monitors that do not need to be replaced.  We do not recommend keeping any CRT monitors or flat panels smaller than 17″ as neither would meet the standards for acceptable end user experience.  While removing the 22″ Widescreen flat panel from the above configuration will save about $125.91, it may also be possible to order a monitor in a different size, also saving money.  The 22″ Widescreen is the current monitor recommended by the CNS department based on performance, viewing area and price.  Keep in mind that monitors purchased new with a computer are also covered by the 5 year warranty.
Speakers (price savings: $26.00)
The base configuration includes Dell’s AX510 Sound Bar and is recommended for Circulation, Tech Services and Public Internet computers.  The Sound Bar is recommended over standalone speakers as it integrates with the monitor to reduce the computer’s footprint and eliminate at least two cables from the workspace, one of which is a power cable which also frees up a power outlet.  The Sound Bar also has an integrated headphone jack which eliminates the need for patrons or staff to access the computer case to plug in.  This is convenient for libraries that have the computer on the floor or in a cabinet that patrons would not easily have access to.  It is not recommended nor required for PowerPAC computers, LibData Reservation computers or dedicated download stations that do not need sound for the public.

Price Additions

Hard Drive (price addition: $29 – $32)
For Public Internet, PowerPAC and other computers, the 250GB hard drive should be sufficient.  For staff computers that need additional storage space Dell offers a 320GB hard drive for an additional $29 or a 500GB hard drive for an additional $32.
Media Card Reader (price addition: $16.91)
The media card reader can be added to the basic configuration and would be acceptable for all staff and public Internet computers where saving data may be a requirement.  The Media Card Reader would also be recommended for dedicated download stations for use with OverDrive.  It would not be recommended for dedicated PowerPAC or LibData Reservation computers.
Video Card (price addition: )
The video card included in the base configuration of the OptiPlex 990 was an upgrade on previous models.  Unless you need to build a high-end workstation with dual graphics cards, there isn’t a current upgrade option recommended.
Monitor (price addition: various)
As mentioned above, the base configuration includes a 22″ Widescreen monitor which can be removed to save money.  However, it’s also possible to increase the size of the monitor to 23″ or 24″ widescreens.  Pricing for upgrading the monitor ranges from $29 to $71.20 for an UltraSharp 23″ monitor.
Processor (price addition: various)
Intel’s Core i5 2400 processor included with this configuration is the entry level processor.  Upgrading the processor will add speed to the system and increase the life expectancy of the computer as it will be able to adapt to newer applications.  Prices range from $35.60 to $82 for faster processors.
Memory (price addition: various)
Adding memory, as with the processor, will increase speed of the computer and add to the end user experience.  Currently, 2GB is the base level for Windows 7 but we’re recommending, and configuring, with 4GB to go along with the 64-bit version of Windows 7.  Doubling the memory to 8GB would add $60 to the cost.

Security Software

Until 2010, Microsoft had offered a security package for use with public computers to keep them virus free and maintain a constant state of usability across multiple sessions.  The package, SteadyState, offered two pieces of protection, Policies and Disk Protection.

The Policies portion of the application keeps patrons from changing web browser home pages, desktop wallpapers, installing software or changing personalization settings.

Disk Protection locks the hard drive and eliminates any changes made to the computer the next time it’s rebooted.  This offers protection against virus, malware and adware applications and undoes any changes that a patron may make that isn’t disallowed by Policies.

SteadyState is not compatible with Windows 7 and it does not appear that Microsoft has any interest in upgrading this package in the future.  To replace SteadyState, the CNS department has chosen two software applications from Faronics; WINSelect and Deep Freeze.

WINSelect handles the Policies portion of securing public computers while Deep Freeze replaces the Disk Protection portion of SteadyState.  Unfortunately, while SteadyState was free from Microsoft, there will be a cost associated with the Faronics applications.

Faronics offers several break points in pricing for the standard edition of their packages.  The minimum number of licenses that can be purchased and receive a price break is 10 of each for a total cost of $514.92 or $51.49 per computer.  There are price breaks at 25, 100, 250, 500 and 1000 licenses.  It may be possible for the CNS department to purchase licenses and distribute them to the individual libraries in a similar manner to Symantec AntiVirus.  This could possibly reduce the cost per computer by $10, $20 or even $30.

Additional information on pricing for the Faronics applications will be forthcoming.

Minimum PowerPAC Configuration

Included below is what FLLS considers to be the minimum computer configuration you can have and still be productive moving forward to 2011 and beyond.

If you have computers at or below this minimum you should consider replacing them.

Two items of note;

  • FLLS no longer supports Microsoft Windows 2000 or previous operating systems nor Internet Explorer 6.0 or older.
  • In most cases the minimum configuration is hardware that is not currently available at retail.  This configuration is given as a comparison for computer systems you already have in your libraries or if equipment is being offered as a donation.
Pentium® 4 Processor 2.0GHz
1GB RAM
100GB Hard Drive
DVD Player
16MB Graphics Card
17” Flat Panel
10/100 Network Interface Card (NIC)
Sound Card *
Mouse
Keyboard
Speakers *
Windows XP Professional using NTFS
Symantec AntiVirus

* Sound cards and speakers are not required for PowerPAC or LibData Reservation computers.

Computers being donated to a library should meet or exceed these criteria.  If they do not, FLLS recommends not accepting them.

It’s also preferred that all computers, donated or purchased, should come with software installation disks for the operating system (Microsoft Windows) and any other software that is installed as the installation disks generally mean that the software is properly licensed.  If disks that include software drivers for the installed hardware are also available it would be an added benefit.