(Last Updated 7/31/2008)
Buying a computer is an investment in your future. It makes sense to buy the hardware and software that is most commonly used and supported at GSC. You don't want to waste time coping with incompatible systems when you are busy studying or working. We are assuming that you want to write assignments, surf the World Wide Web and use email. If you want to play games, you will need to buy a more powerful (and expensive) computer. This page lists minimum requirements, but try to look to the future - the minimum may not be good enough a few years down the road.
These are the general elements which are most common in computers. Some of them are absolutely necessary, like a processor or operating system, others aren't required, but are generally included.
Microsoft Windows is the most common operating system and is fully supported by Gainesville State College. Recent versions include:
- Windows XP (Home and Professional)
- Windows Vista (Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate)
- The processor is what does the "thinking" in a computer.
- We recommend processors with a speed of at least 2.0 GHz (Gigahertz).
- Information is stored in memory for quick access. This storage is not permanent and requires power.
- In general, more is better. We recommend at 2 GB (gigabytes) of memory.
- The device where all data resides. This includes the operating system, documents, pictures, music, and/or videos. While there no errors, this storage is permanent.
- We recommend at hard drive size of at least 80 GB (gigabytes).
- Used to read from and record to optical media such as CDs and DVDs.
- A CD-ROM, which can only perform reads from CD media, will be necessary at the very least. New computers should come with DVD-ROM, read only, drives or DVD-R/RW, which can write to the appropriate format of CDs and DVDs.
- A 17" LCD monitor is ideal for most of the school work a student will encounter. Bigger is better, but also more expensive.
- These render an image and transmit the image to the monitor for display.
- Ranging up to 512mb, the more memory a video card has the better video intensive programs will perform.
- New computers will always have some sort of video output already on them. Unless they are in a program of study that has special requirements*, this will allow them to do everything they'll need with respect to school work.
- Like video, the sound capabilities a new computer is shipped with will meet all the needs required to successfully complete their college taskcs.
- Useful for data backup and transport.
- Sizes are up to 32 gigabytes and continuing to get bigger. Most poeple won't need more than a 1 gigabyte thumb drive.
- It is important to ALWAYS back up your data. Do not store all your documents and files exclusively on a USB thumb drive.
- Take care of what personal information you store on them. If your drive is lost, the finder can read any unencrypted files on it.
- Remember, before physically removing a thumb drive from a computer, be sure to safely remove it first. Look for the green arrow icon located in the system tray, which in the lower right corner of your desktop. Clicking this will give a list of removabled devices to shut down. Select your device and click Stop before physically removing the Thumb drive.
- Some form of Broadband connection (DSL, Cable, Satellite) is recommended. Even the lowest class of broadband available will allow students the needed capacity.
- Broadband internet connections generally require a Network Interface Card (NIC) or USB Port on your computer to connect to the service provider’s modem. These are standard on new computers, but check it out and find out where they are located.
- Lower bandwidth connections (Dial-up) are still commonplace today. In rural areas dial-up internet may be your only option. It is significantly slower than broadband, but is usable when necessary.
- Students will need access to word processing software. On campus they will have access to Microsoft Office 2007 on campus computers. We encourage purchasing Office 2007 for home computers or laptops, so that students may work on assignments without being forced to be on campus.
- Antivirus software is a must for any computer connected to the internet. Be aware that while most new computers come with a trial version of antivirus software, it will cease to update itself after 60 to 90 days after purchase. Being up to date is crucial for antivirus software to be effective. There are multiple antivirus solutions available for purchase and for free. Find one you like and use it.
- Internet Security Suites are gaining in popularity as well. These software bundles come with anti-virus, firewall, and in several instances, anti-spyware software as well. These programs are designed to secure your computer as well as possible keeping your private data safe.
- Students in specific programs of study may have other software requirements.* Please talk to your advisor or someone involved with your program of study to find out more.
Warranty and Support
- Make sure you understand the terms of your warranty, and who you should contact if your computer has a problem.
- Find out if support is available, either from the place where you are buying your computer or from the company who manufactured it. Also understand whether you will be paying for support on a per use basis, or if support is included in the purchase.
- Larger screens weigh more and will drain the battery more quickly. A screen of 14" - 15.4" should be fine for most users and will keep the weight managable.
- Battery Life is very important in a laptop. Find out what the battery life of the model is before you buy, and ask about options to extend it.
- Test the keyboard on the laptop you're considering before buying. A few minutes of testing will help you decide how comfortable it feels.
- Most laptops feature integrated Audio and Video built directly onto the motherboard, instead of being included as add-ons. These cannot be upgraded. The only way to upgrade the Video and Audio capabilities of most laptops is to replace them.
|Removable Storage Media:
||1 GB Thumb Drive|
||4+ USB ports|
||Windows XP Home or Windows Vista Home Basic|
* GIS students should contact Chris Semerijan
for specific software/hardware requirements for those programs.