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Purchasing a new computer?

A computer can be a significant cost and while IT Services would like to help, all we can provide are guidelines.

Here are a couple of suggestions. Decide if you're purchasing a computer for educational purposes and how will you use it. Most new computers will meet everyday needs, but many UAS students have specific technological requirements - many related to a specific degree program - that should be taken into consideration while shopping for a new computer. Therefore, take the time needed to discuss computing resources you'll need with your instructor(s) and advisor. If you'll need specialized software, you may need a more robust computer (i.e. image and video editing, mapping software, large volumes of statistical data, etc.)

How will you use it?

For school, this is mostly a matter of what discipline you will be studying and what software/equipment are commonly used within that discipline.

Everyone will need to be able to write papers, send and receive emails, and browse the Internet. You should arrange for your computer to have word processing software, such as Microsoft Word, Open Office, etc. The University provides Microsoft Office 365 for all active students.

In many areas of study, you will need to manipulate spreadsheets, graphics/images, and web pages. Programs for these tasks vary, though Excel is nearly universal for working with spreadsheets and is part of the Microsoft Office suite mentioned above.

Finally in a few disciplines, you may need a highly specific or demanding software, such as video editing. Many computers come with basic video editing packages, but if this is something you will be doing routinely, then you should consider specialized hardware and programs.

To further determine what software you will need for your area of study, speak to your program advisor, as they will have more specific information of what will be required for your studies.

Since computers are often used for recreational pursuits, you should take your hobbies into account as well. For example if you are into music or photography, you will want lots of storage space on your computer for keeping data.

New computers often come with a lot of trial edition software for your use (and further purchase if you desire).

Many instructors use Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). The UA system offers a version of Microsoft Office licensing for students. This software may be purchased online through Microsoft's Office 365 program.  Alternatives are available through the UA Technology Center or an educational discount software company like Creation Engine.

Adobe Student Pricing

University students receive academic pricing for a variety of products, including:

  • Creative Suite Design Standard CS
  • Creative Suite Design Premium CS
  • Creative Suite Production Premium CS
  • Creative Suite Web Premium CS
  • Creative Suite Master Collection CS
  • Adobe Photoshop Extended CS

Please call Adobe at 800-585-0774 for pricing and order.

Windows 10

Microsoft is fully supporting Windows 10, and no longer directly sells Windows 7. 

Product and Purchasing
Student Discounts

If something breaks on your computer, you want a good warranty from the manufacturer. A standard warranty is usually one year, but for laptops we recommend an extended warranty due to the increased risk of moving laptops frequently. Normally, warranties on computers do not cover breakage from drops, drowning, etc., but in some cases, accidental damage protection can be purchased as well. 

Also, computer manufacturers will often allow the purchase of an extended warranty for some time after you've bought the machine. Ask to be certain. 

Pricing your new computer

Most new computers will be capable of running today’s most common software. So how much you spend will determine which extras you can get. Start with what your budget can handle, and stick firm to it. Adding features which seem neat can be a slippery and costly slope.

Brand new desktop computers can range in price from $350 (monitor not included) to several thousand dollars.

Laptops will generally be more expensive due to the smaller components. Full size entry level laptops usually begin around $500.  Netbooks, which are much smaller, are available from $300. 

Also, keep in mind that you may need to purchase additional software to meet your needs.

Technical Recommendations

As far as technical specifications for the university, nearly any new computer purchased will meet your basic needs. Here are some general recommendations to consider:

ProcessorProcessing power is not as important in a computer, unless you play 3D games, edit videos, or crunch big data sets. Generally speaking, the faster the processor, the faster the computer.
Memory minimum of 2 GBMemory is what allows multiple programs to run at the same time. Most programs today do not use memory efficiently. More memory will generally improve day-to-day performance of any computer. It is extremely helpful for working with images and video as well.
Hard DrivesMost computers now will have hard drives that far exceed most needs. Consider a bigger hard drive of at least 250GB+ if you store lots of music, images, or at least 500GB+ for videos.
Disc DrivesMost computers come with DVD burning drives for backing up your data and burning movies. DVD drives with backwards compatibility to CD are available on most computers with the exception of netbooks. USB thumb drives can also serve this need.
VideoMost video cards will perform very well. Don't worry about a higher end video card unless you are a gamer or do a lot of graphic design or digital photography.
Screen sizeA bigger screen means you can see more of what you work on, but it also means a heavier laptop.

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