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Office of Information Technology's Role in
Supporting the Student Computer Ownership Program

The most important step in choosing a computer is determining exactly what the computer is going to be used for. It is critical to look at future uses as well as current needs. Purchasing a computer without taking into account your future needs may make your computer purchase obsolete quicker.

At Georgia Tech, computers will be used for e-mail, course work and research. The software applications that are required include Microsoft Office, Matlab, Maple, Kaleidagraph, PageMill, Netscape and Eudora (Mac users will also be using Telnet). Initially, students need to purchase Microsoft Office, Netscape and Eudora. All of the other applications can be purchased when needed for specific classes.

All students living in the dorms will be required to have a 10Base-T ethernet card to interface with the Georgia Tech network so it is very important that computers purchased from a source other than the bookstore are designed for ethernet usage. Some computers designed for home use such as the Hewlett Packard Pavilion line do not support ethernet. Students living off campus will need a modem that is no less than a 33.6 baud to interface with the Georgia Tech network.

What factors should I focus on when purchasing a computer?

Macintosh vs. Windows
It doesn't matter which operating system you purchase. Both systems are compatible with the required software and the Georgia Tech network. Each platform has its own advantages. Some feel the Macintosh is an easier computer to use while others prefer the Windows environment because it is more prevalent and more software is available. If you are familiar with one operating system, there is no need to change.

Portable vs. Desktop
Portable computers provide the convenience of being able to take your computer to class or other destination easily. However, portable computers are more expensive and they are a security risk. Most students purchase desktop computers because they can get more for their money.

Processor/Clock Speed
Although the minimum requirements for the Student Computer Ownership program are a Pentium based processor running at 133Mhz or a PowerPC processor running at 120Mhz, it is strongly recommended that individual purchase the fastest computer they can afford. Since technology changes so rapidly, purchasing the minimum configurations today may
require a new computer purchase or an upgrade within a few years.

RAM (Random Access Memory)
RAM is the space where programs reside when in use. The minimum recommendation is 32MB. Memory can be added later as needs develop.

Hard-drive Capacity
Hard drives are where programs and data is stored, regardless of whether the computer is turned on or not. The minimum requirement is 1GB. However, very little storage space will be left after all of the required software is loaded so a 2GB hard drive or larger is strongly recommended.

This is the most critical of all the requirements. If you live on campus, your dorm room will be equipped with ethernet allowing access to the Georgia Tech network. It is crucial that you purchase a computer that is network certified and can support a 10Base-T ethernet adapter. When choosing an ethernet card, it is important to understand that all ethernet cards are not alike and that the Department of Housing (Resnet) will provide unlimited support for those whose computer has a 3Com brand ethernet card. Resnet will provide only 30 minutes of technical support for all other brands and there will be a charge if more support is required. 3Com is not the cheapest ethernet card but it is the only one guaranteed to work at Georgia Tech and it is available from the Computer Store.

Modems are not necessary if you live in a dorm. If you live off campus, a 33.6k modem or faster is required to network with the Georgia Tech environment.

All of the required software comes on CD so a CR-ROM reader is required.

Dorm rooms will accommodate 15" monitors comfortably. 17" monitors require a modification to the shelves in selected dorm rooms. Regardless of what size monitor you purchase, it should have a resolution of at least 800 x 600 and a dot pitch of .28mm or less.

Sound Card and Speakers
A 16-bit sound card and speakers are required and will be used in the development of multimedia presentations. 

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Notwithstanding any language to the contrary, nothing contained herein constitutes nor is intended to constitute an offer, inducement, promise, or contract of any kind. The data contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not represented to be error free. Any links to non-Georgia Tech information are provided as a courtesy. They are not intended to nor do they constitute an endorsement by the Georgia Institute of Technology  of the linked materials.
Last Modified: September 11, 1998 5:00pm
Approved by External Affairs 10/23/97