There are a few changes for 2014 in terms of configuration trends for Desktops to watch for. First, we are seeing a number of new All-in-One (AIO) solutions from HP, Sony, Dell and others. The Dell Vostro 360 All-in-One, Inspiron One 23 All-in-One, the business level OptiPlex 390 small form factor and the OptiPlex 790 ultra small form factor are good examples. You can find examples of these at Dell, of course. Some of HP's entries into the business class All-in-One includes the HP Omni 100z series, HP 3420 All-in-One Business PC, HP TouchSmart Elite 7320 Business PC and many more. All of these are pretty lightweight contenders and we recommend for light use areas only such as receptionist, receiving and distribution, and education. The beneifts are a relatively small footprint that requires less space and simple maintenance.

Otherwise, our standard and advanced recommendations for 2014 follow and are slightly changed over the last four years.

Standard or Casual User

Intel iSeries processor 1.7 GHz or better. The iSeries includes the i3, i5, and i7. The higher end options include the new Extreme iSeries with Sandy Bridge technology that has much improved performance and energy conservation. There are a number of comparision charts of the Intel Core iSeries to help you decide.

4GB of RAM (32-bit OS can only manage 3GB of RAM, but for the investment go with 4). If you are going to use 64-bit operating systems, consider using 6-8GB of RAM.

500GB SATA fixed disk drive 7200 RPM minimum (this is the speed the disk turns. The faster the speed, the quicker your data is stored and accessed).

Windows 7 Home Premium will most likely be the operating system of choice for standard, or light duty, users, but reporting as high at 16% of the world-wide market, Apple's Mac OS is a strong contender. Dr. Bob, for example, carries a 2011 Mac Air Thin Laptop, running Windows 7 Professional and all the Windows based software he needs, in a VMWare Fusion virtual machine with great performance, giving him the best of both worlds. We are beginning to see more Apple desktops, and particularly laptops in the workplace. Visit www.bobspencer.com/app/apple.htm for more discussion on Macs in the business world.

Data Ports to include a minimum of 4 USB (version 2.0 is pretty standard, but look for at least one USB 3.0 in the grouping and at least two of the ports should be Powered Ports.) Expect USB 4.0 to begin appearing this year. Make sure you have a multi-media port for flash memory sticks and camera flash devices.

High-speed 10/100/1000 Ethernet (Gigabit is pretty standard)

802.11G/N Wireless, depending on LAN connectivity strategy

256-512 MB (on-board) Graphics card with dual DVI interface

High resolution DPI mouse and high-quality tactile keyboard - We have lectured heavily this year of the value to upgrade to a quality laser mouse with high resolution, 1000 DPI or better. Especially with multiple monitors, this will improve productivity and reduce mouse stress.

Estimated Pricing: $650 - $1100

The following brand name options are for example purposes only and not a specific recommendation.

 

 

Advanced or Power User

Intel iSeries processor 2.0 or better. See note to the left.

6-8GB of RAM You will need to use 64-bit operating systems.

128-256 Solid State Drive. SSD drives are becoming much more popular for those wishing the fastest possible access times. Current trend is to use a SSD as the primary boot drive with applications loaded and files used most often, then have a large capacity secondary drive for all other data files.

Plus 1 1TB 7200 SATA fixed drive (primarily for backup and large quantity local file storage)

Windows 7 Professional is the choice for business or office environment where computers are networked and have heavy data processing requirements. See note to the left. However, a good long-term strategy is to use Microsoft's Open Licensing with Software Assurance, which grants you license to use Windows 7 Enterprise. Having an Open License with Software Assurance lets you use Microsoft's encryption capability with BitLocker in Windows 7 Enterprise, permits using Microsoft's imaging technology, Windows Deployment Services (WDS) and you receive upgrades such as the new Windows 8,

Minimum of 6-8 USB Ports with a mix of USB 2.0 powered and un-powered and USB 3.0 Superspeed ports. Include a port for multi-media flash memory as well.

Dual 10/100/1000 Ethernet Ports for faster throughput. Depending on your office connectivity you might have an 802.11N/G Wireless port as well.

Dual 512MB, or higher (on-board) Graphics cards with dual DVI interface (total of four monitor ports) This is a real power-user system where the use of multiple monitors is expected.

High resolution 1000 DPI mouse or better and high-quality tactile keyboard, see note to the left.

Estimated Pricing $1200 - $2400

The following brand name options are for example purposes only and not a specific recommendation.