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New processors and computers available for students at MU

Jun. 02, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- For many students, summer is a time to consider shopping for a new computer.

Each year Marshall University's Information Technology department puts out a new list of computer recommendations for students looking to buy a new machine or upgrade an existing one.

Later this summer, Intel is set to introduce a fourth generation of Intel Core processors code-named Haswell. This will replace last year's processor line Ivy Bridge. The new processors will be included in the Core i3, i5, and i7 models though an i5 or higher is recommended to most students. The new processors will be featured in a variety of computers from Apple, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo among other manufacturers. The first batch of computers featuring the new processors are set to become available in late June or early July.

"Incoming students if they already have a first generation Core i5 or i7 processor on their computer should be fine keeping their system for a year or two," Allen Taylor, chief technology officer at Marshall University, said. "On average the CPU will last about four years on a notebook once you're in the Core generation. If you have an older processor like the Core 2 Duo, it's probably time to consider an upgrade. Also if you have an older laptop you've probably had to replace the battery."

Battery life is one of the benefits of the new processor, he said.

"One of the advantages of the new Haswell processor is that it will lead to a significant improvement in battery life as much as 100 percent in notebooks," Taylor said. "The other major features of them are a major improvement in the integrated graphics, and the processors will lead to thinner, lighter notebooks. The Haswell processors will not support Windows XP drivers so you can't run Windows XP on the computer. Eventually an operating system needs to be put to rest."

In addition to processor, students should consider looking at how much RAM the computer has. Students are recommended a minimum of 4 gigabytes of RAM and should seriously consider going as high as 8 gigabytes.

Students may also want to think about the kind of hard drive they want. Solid State hard drives improve battery life and speed, but are more expensive than traditional hard drives but currently offer less internal storage.

There are also Hybrid Hard Drives on the market which memory is divided between a solid state hard drive and a traditional RPM hard drive. Other things to consider are the number of USB 3.0 ports, the type of optical drive (DVD+ or Blu Ray), and the manufacturer warranty. Students with existing computers may want to consider an upgrade in RAM or a new battery. They might not want to rush to upgrade from Windows 7 to Window 8 unless they want to take advantage of the new system's touch screen functions.

"We would recommend that students look at a notebook, specifically an ultra book (a small, light computer with long battery life.) as their first computer," Taylor said. "If you are looking at a secondary computer a in the form of a desktop you may want to consider the upsides of an all-in one. Particularly if you live in a residence hall or small apartment where space is an issue. The detriment is that the a large screen in an all-in-one unit may outlast the computer processor. In our computer lab we've gone through two generations of desktop processors and have kept the original monitors."

Students may also want to consider shopping for a smart phone or tablet to use as a secondary or tertiary online device, though tablets haven't quiet replaced the PC on campus. The University's tech center offers support for IOS, Android, and Windows mobile devices.

"For students looking for a tablet on the budget may want to consider the Google Nexus, and the Kindle Fire HD are good solutions," Taylor said. "You should stay away from any of the sub $100 tablets made by unknown manufacturers. We are currently supporting Android and IOS tablets with our MU Mobile and MU Online apps. and we will soon be supporting Android tablets with our Blackboard Collaborate which is a virtual classroom environment. It offers two way video conferencing. We introduced it on the IOS devices last July. On the other side of things The Windows Surface Pro offers a full version of Microsoft Office. If you are a professional and need the full power of Microsoft Office it is a very good value right now."

The full list of computing recommendations will soon be available at: http://www.marshall.edu/personalpurchase. For more information on Information Technology including tech support visit: muwww-new.marshall.edu/it.