Purchasing Considerations

Faculty & Staff Computers

If you are purchasing computing hardware using university funds, you will need to buy your computer through the Purchasing Office. The Purchasing site also provides hardware recommendations of specific models that will satisfy most faculty and staff needs.

Student Academic Computers

Incoming Parsons students will need a laptop that meets minimum laptop requirements as specified by Parsons.

Personal Computers

Degree and credit-seeking students, and all faculty and staff can purchase Apple hardware for personal use at an educational discount. Go to my.newschool.edu and click the link “Computer and Software Deals” in the Information Technology channel to make a purchase.

Evaluating Computer Features

Depending on your need, you may or may not opt to enhance certain features when purchasing a computer. Below are some factors to consider when making a computer purchase.

Desktops, Laptops & Tablets

Laptop and desktop computers as well as tablet devices each have their advantages and disadvantages. Think about what you are going to use it, if you want to upgrade it in the future, and your budget.

  • Desktop computers take up more space than laptops and tablets and offer little mobility, but are generally faster, less expensive and easier to upgrade. They also generally last longer than laptops because they endure less wear from transport.
  • Laptop computers take up less space and offer mobility. They can be used at various locations on campus by connecting to the campus wireless network. They are harder to upgrade, however, and because they are constantly moved around they tend to wear out faster than desktops.
  • Tablet computing devices are smaller still than laptops, are lightweight and offer mobility.They can be used at various locations on campus by connecting to the campus wireless network. Tablets are great for keeping notes at meetings. Tablets aren’t always the cheaper option however and they are not as easy to upgrade as desktops and laptops and certain software is only available on a desktop/laptop. If you plan to do extensive word processing and emailing on a tablet device, you may also want to consider purchasing a compatible keyboard.

Windows vs. Mac

When deciding which computer platform to purchase, personal familiarity and comfort can be a factor in your decision to purchase either a Windows or a Mac workstation. Both have strengths:

  • Windows computers are generally less expensive and are easily integrated with the various network-based services at the university, such as printing, and data storage. Windows computers are generally preferred by those whose work involves use statistical software, or modeling applications. Windows is also the native platform for the more commonly used Microsoft Office suite of applications and is generally preferred by those who routinely use Word, Excel and Powerpoint applications in their work.
  • Mac computers are generally more expensive and typically require a few additional steps to integrate with the university network services. However, Mac computers are often preferred by those working with graphic and media intensive applications.

Operating System

You decision about which operating system to run on your computer will be determined by your decision to purchase either a Mac or Windows station.

  • Windows: When you purchase your computer, if you are given the choice of operating system, choose Windows 7 Pro. When the IT Service Desk (formerly Help Desk) sets up your computer for you, they will upgrade it to Windows 7 Enterprise version, if possible.
  • Mac: Check with the IT Service Desk (formerly Help Desk) at itservicedesk@newschool.edu to determine which version of the Mac OS is preferred.


  • What it is: The speed at which your computer runs programs or completes tasks is determined by your computer’s processor. A processor’s basic job is to receive input and provide the appropriate output. Computers with powerful processors are generally faster and more responsive.
  • What to consider: In most cases, an Intel i5 processor is sufficient for routine office tasks. An Intel i7 processor will be better for multimedia tasks, high-end gaming, and scientific work. i7 processors are aimed at people who complain that their current system is "too slow."
    • Note: The Windows 7 or Windows 8 operating systems and applications written for it will require advanced processors (Intel i5 or Intel i7) to be used effectively.


  • What it is: RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It refers to the memory needed to simply access and run programs.
  • What to consider: Computers tend to run better and more reliably the more internal Random Access Memory (RAM). 4 GB is sufficient for routine office tasks. If your work involves lots of multimedia tasks or scientific programs you may want to consider upgrading to 8GB of RAM.
    • Note: If you plan to install and use the Adobe CC Photoshop application on your workstation, it is recommended that you have 8 GB memory to ensure that your workstation will run this program efficiently.

Video RAM

  • What it is: Video RAM (VRAM) refers in general to all forms of random access memory (RAM) used to store image data for a computer display. Your Video RAM serves as a buffer between the computer processor and the display. In short, VRAM yields better graphics performance.
  • What to consider: If you plan use your computer for graphics-intensive applications and multimedia tasks, you may want to consider purchasing additional VRAM.

Internal Storage/Hard Drive

  • What it is: Your computer’s hard drive is a data storage device used for storing and retrieving digital information. A hard disk retains its data even when powered off.
  • What to consider: If you plan to store large volumes of multimedia content on your computer, this will greatly increase your storage needs. Consider also what applications you will install on your computer.
  • Note: As outlined in the Information Resource Acceptable Use Policy (PDF) , internal storage is not appropriate for all data and is not backed up. As such, you may be compelled to store your work files in an alternate drive space, reducing your need for file storage on your internal drive. However you will need sufficient space on your internal drive to download and install applications.

Optical Drive

  • What it is: an optical drive is a disk drive for reading/writing data to/from optical discs (CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray). Some drives are read-only, but commonly optical drives provide both read and write capability.
  • What to consider: If you are working with large file sizes, recordable disks are capable of backing up and transporting these larger files. Additionally consider if you want the ability to write DVDs or Blu-Ray discs for playback-viewing on a DVD player or Blu-Ray. If so, you will want a drive with the ability to burn discs for playback.
    • Note: As outlined in the Information Resource Acceptable Use Policy (PDF) and our outline of appropriate data storage practices, storage of university data on a recordable disc is not appropriate for all data.


  • What it is: Networked computers can connect to the campus network and the Internet using wired or wireless connections.
  • What to consider: Any desktop computer you purchase through the Purchasing Office will have a built-in Ethernet port so you can connect to the campus network with an Ethernet cable. If you are purchasing a laptop you will want to make sure that it is equipped for wireless.
    • Windows laptops should be compatible with 802.1x authentication.
    • Mac laptops should be equipped with Airport Extreme.

Support & Protection

A warranty will assure that your computer is protected in the event of disrepair. You will want to understand both the extent of coverage offered by the standard computer warranty and the period of coverage. The manufacturer's warranty will cover faulty hardware, but you may want to consider additional coverage of laptops against accidental damage. If buying a laptop, consider also purchasing a bag to protect your computer.