Office of Information Technology

Recommendations for Buying a New Windows Desktop


Recommended Configuration

Please note: Any new computer on the market will have sufficient power to run office applications, e-mail, and surf the Web; but, we do recommend the following configuration:

Microsoft Windows - Desktop
  • Microsoft Windows 7 or Windows 8
  • Microsoft Office
  • 4 gigabytes or more random access memory (RAM)
  • 500 gigabyte or larger hard disk
  • DVD-writer drive
  • built-in Ethernet network interface
  • flat panel display
  • inkjet or laser printer
  • three-year extended warranty


Other Options to Consider

Most people will find that selecting a computer in the middle of the range of prices will offer the most features and performance for the money.

  • Lower cost computers will generally perform well when it comes to running office applications and surfing the Web, but may not include Microsoft Office, or much of a warranty.
  • Higher cost computers will include features such as: a high-end 3D gaming graphics card, surround-sound audio and speakers, and more RAM and storage space.
  • Gamers, statisticians, and graphic artists are among those who will see the performance gains from a high end machine.

Most new systems will be able to meet your needs for the next three or four years. Larger cases will be easier to upgrade over time, but smaller cases take up less space. Low profile, small form factor, or mini-ATX cases fit nicely in residence hall rooms or offices, but may limit your future upgrade options.


Below are some other options that you may want to consider:

  • Upgrade to 8 gigabytes (GB) of memory, for better performance, if funds permit.
  • Consider upgrading to a larger hard drive, for greater multimedia storage, if funds permit.


Academic Discounts

AU has negotiated special prices on certain computer configurations for personal purchase. Links to the vendor sites are available from the myAU.american.edu portal under the TECHNOLOGY section. In addition, the Campus Store sells standard Dell configurations for students to purchase.