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Hardware Thread, What New Desktops To Buy For An I.T Suite? in Technical; Don't think we do bad to pay around 340 for our pre-built machines. Thats with OS, 5 year RTB, 4gb ...
  1. #61

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    Don't think we do bad to pay around 340 for our pre-built machines. Thats with OS, 5 year RTB, 4gb Ram, 250gb HD, E5700 processor and custom branding on the cases........

    They video edit in CS4 fine, a little slow but they certainly do the job!

  2. #62

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    i'm also with mrbios on this, since i worked here we have bought parts and built the systems ourselves or had them built up and delivered to us. I cant really see how it can be cost effective to go down the HP/Dell route etc, and i dont see a problem with the PC's being respected more if it has a Dell badge on. These new I.T computers we are going for, like mr bios are going to be locked away in cupboards underneath, although we will put them in a case so that they can easily be swapped in and out with a spare and like someone suggested we are looking at putting in those USB/Audio hubs into the desks to finish off the whole look and hopefully they won't get broken too easily but at about a tenner each we could afford to replace a few a year etc if we had to.

    My main gripe at the moment is where to go with monitors. we currently have 17" dell 4:3 minotrs but finding it hard to justify buying some bigger newer widescreens as the current ones are perfectly fine for kids and it would end up with us scrapping about 30 perfectly good monitors, and i dont like to get rid of stuff unless it really isnt useful anymore!

  3. #63

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    Monitors here don't get replaced until they're basically dead. A working LCD is a working LCD. School machines don't generally need giant screens, 17" is perfect for it. Our largest screens in general use are 19" widescreens, but that was due to the pricing available 2 years ago when they went in. Everywhere else we have 15" or 17".

    Only monitors I actively replaced over the last 5 years, before they died, were CRT monitors.

  4. #64

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    Yup I would custom make mine but I purchase around 200 pa and don't have the time to make all those machines although I don't talk with HP/dell but the likes of stone/novatech / misco for custom builds.

    This year for our new it suites we are looking at I5s with 4gb RAM 160gb hdd in a nice looking case

  5. #65

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    @MrBios: Do you have many hardware problems & do you find chasing after manufacturers/suppliers much different to chasing a PC manufacturer?

  6. #66

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    @mrbios - I'm suprised at your driver issues with the AMD gear, we went all AMD for 5-6 years there because they had x64 support long before intel got off their lazy behinds and added it meaning that our AMD ones kept pace much better than the intel equivilents. To be fair most of these were hp so driver support was excellent however even the dirty custom builds had good support from Windows itself and we only really needed to find a couple of audio drivers. The main problems were cheap boards that garnered no support from anyone and intel kit like their dropkick integrated video stuff.

    It all depends on which stuf you get at the start though and to a large extent the luck of the draw as to how the well manufacturer actually ends up supporting its products.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechMonkey View Post
    @MrBios: Do you have many hardware problems & do you find chasing after manufacturers/suppliers much different to chasing a PC manufacturer?
    No problems at all power supplies die occasionally as for a while we were purchasing the cheapest of the cheap, light as a feather ones but since we've started buying nice branded ones like corsair we've not had a problem there Plus there was only a one month warranty on the crappy PSUs, corsairs warranty service though is fantastic

    We've found western digital and samsungs RMA service is fantastic for hard drives so no problems there, don't even need to speak to anyone, just a simple online automated service. I hope intels service is just as good, but now that we're about to start buying solid state drives hopefully they'll be pretty reliable (buying intel ones due to their proven SSD failure rate being a third of that of any other manufactuerer, i'll try and find the statistics report if i can though it was a few months ago)

    As for motherboards/processors we generally go direct with novatech who support us quite well (i've got our accounts manager on MSN for instant access to support). We had to go direct to foxconn for the boards with faulty capacitors though, as they were out of warranty but clearly had a major design flaw.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    @mrbios - I'm suprised at your driver issues with the AMD gear, we went all AMD for 5-6 years there because they had x64 support long before intel got off their lazy behinds and added it meaning that our AMD ones kept pace much better than the intel equivilents. To be fair most of these were hp so driver support was excellent however even the dirty custom builds had good support from Windows itself and we only really needed to find a couple of audio drivers. The main problems were cheap boards that garnered no support from anyone and intel kit like their dropkick integrated video stuff.

    It all depends on which stuf you get at the start though and to a large extent the luck of the draw as to how the well manufacturer actually ends up supporting its products.
    It's not so much an issue, more that they weren't much cop a while back so we went all intel, and now that we run an entirly intel school i don't want to faf about adding all the VIA chipset and ATI graphics drivers to WDS etc. Plus keeping to what we know as reliable in warranty terms.

    We have 6 core phenoms in our media suite (9 PCs) we bought some decent motherboards for those rather than the cheap as chips ones but i don't feel as confident in there build and features as i do with most intel boards.
    Last edited by mrbios; 2nd June 2011 at 12:39 PM.

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    @Mr Bios: How do you cost your staff time for doing the builds

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hecate View Post
    @Mr Bios: How do you cost your staff time for doing the builds
    Simple answer: we don't.

    Personally i see school money in the way that 1 of money in a budget doesn't compare to 1 of staff time. Money saved in the budget is money well spent in staff time.

    Replacing 62 machines this summer, goingto start building them in the next couple of weeks as and when people have free time to get it done.

  10. #70

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    If your going to say 'building the machines ourselves is better value than buying pre-built' then you have to include the time it takes to build them in the equation?

    Otherwise it's hardly a fair comparison as companies include a labour charge for pre-built machines, your excluding that even though it is taking up your / technicians time to put together the machines. Doesnt the old adage 'time is money' come into play?

    I dont think you can simply say "100 of our budget is the equivalent of 5 hours of my technicians time" but you have to take the building time into consideration imo.

  11. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTFM View Post
    If your going to say 'building the machines ourselves is better value than buying pre-built' then you have to include the time it takes to build them in the equation?

    Otherwise it's hardly a fair comparison as companies include a labour charge for pre-built machines, your excluding that even though it is taking up your / technicians time to put together the machines. Doesnt the old adage 'time is money' come into play?

    I dont think you can simply say "100 of our budget is the equivalent of 5 hours of my technicians time" but you have to take the building time into consideration imo.
    We take it into consideration as far as "do we have time" to which the answer is "yes we do"

    When we first started doing it it was risky, as we didn't have time, but now the whole school is deployed in the same way, with the same image on every pc in the school we have time. Over the past 5 years from when we started doing it this way up to now it was a case of make time, to make the pcs, to save money, and it's paid off Now we have time to do it without having to make time like we did in the beginning.

  12. #72

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    Thats fair enough from a point of 'do we have time' and 'yes we do'. That's down to how you want to justify it.

    From a direct comparison cost wise it's still not entirely accurate to not include labour in the sums.

    Quick edit; A lot of schools might not be in the position to have the time from a staffing point of view, so for them i guess it is more cost effective to buy in pre-bought units. From that view point its quite dependant on number of staff, workload, etc etc

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTFM View Post
    Quick edit; A lot of schools might not be in the position to have the time from a staffing point of view, so for them i guess it is more cost effective to buy in pre-bought units. From that view point its quite dependant on number of staff, workload, etc etc
    Very true, reading back i said in an earlier post that whether our method works depends on the school in question rather than it being a one glove fits all type solution.

    But labor cost or no labour cost i think the question Hecate asked is an impossible one to answer, as i firmly believe that vs internal staff costs can't be compared with the labour costs of someone external.

    PAT testing is one example to switch it around, we're now doing PAT testing internally, that's one job i firmly believe should be external as A. a large portion isn't even IT and B. It's far too time consuming. Whereas building PCs internally is the opposite, the labour costs added on to pre build PCs are far too costly for the time we can spend doing it in house. Each tasks needs to be evaluated depending on the school and task in question, and for us here this school and building PCs ourselves works, it saves money and we have time to do it, where as others may not, that said, i wonder how many simply don't want to do it themselves rather than simply not having the time?

  14. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbios View Post
    PAT testing is one example to switch it around, we're now doing PAT testing internally, that's one job i firmly believe should be external as A. a large portion isn't even IT and B. It's far too time consuming. Whereas building PCs internally is the opposite, the labour costs added on to pre build PCs are far too costly for the time we can spend doing it in house. Each tasks needs to be evaluated depending on the school and task in question, and for us here this school and building PCs ourselves works, it saves money and we have time to do it, where as others may not, that said, i wonder how many simply don't want to do it themselves rather than simply not having the time?
    Regarding PAT testing, we have someone who works under the premises manager who does PAT testing and his contract is for 16 hours a week, however, I don't think external companies necessarily give value for money or a full service due to the fact they are in for, say 2 weeks in the Summer and thats it. At least with someone onsite if you get new machines or equipment in it can be PAT tested immediately rather than waiting for the external company to come back in.

    We're quite lucky it isnt pushed onto the IT department I suppose.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrbios View Post
    vs internal staff costs can't be compared with the labour costs of someone external
    Going back to the topic of pre-built machines Vs build in-house machines. What are your arguments for stuff like warranties. I know you have warranty on all your parts, but your technicians are responsible for fault diagnosis, taking the PC apart, sending the item back, fixing the PC when the new item comes etc. Compare this to us, for example, who have a 5 year RTB. It dies, we box it up and send it back, another is here next day in its place. Done.

    I really don't think, value for money wise, we do badly with our pre-built machines. We get; E5700 processor, 4gb DDR3 Ram, 250gb HD, win7, 5 year NBD swap out and custom cases for 350 (give or take a little depending if we get anything special put in). Pre-built, we just image them and put them in place. Job done.

    Clearly an hour of an internal technicians time isnt going to cost the same compared to what an external company would charge, but then some schools (mine for example) consider the technicians to be here to support the teaching and learning of the students as much as to build 100 new machines., if that means the teaching and learning is being negatively impacted to save a small(ish) amount of money, i don't know if all senior management team's would be happy with that.

    That's a little more ambiguous but it does take into consideration what else a technician could be doing if not building all these machines. Again that is partly down to how many people in the team, responsibilities etc etc.

  15. #75
    mrbios's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTFM View Post
    Going back to the topic of pre-built machines Vs build in-house machines. What are your arguments for stuff like warranties. I know you have warranty on all your parts, but your technicians are responsible for fault diagnosis, taking the PC apart, sending the item back, fixing the PC when the new item comes etc. Compare this to us, for example, who have a 5 year RTB. It dies, we box it up and send it back, another is here next day in its place. Done.

    I really don't think, value for money wise, we do badly with our pre-built machines. We get; E5700 processor, 4gb DDR3 Ram, 250gb HD, win7, 5 year NBD swap out and custom cases for 350 (give or take a little depending if we get anything special put in). Pre-built, we just image them and put them in place. Job done.

    Clearly an hour of an internal technicians time isnt going to cost the same compared to what an external company would charge, but then some schools (mine for example) consider the technicians to be here to support the teaching and learning of the students as much as to build 100 new machines., if that means the teaching and learning is being negatively impacted to save a small(ish) amount of money, i don't know if all senior management team's would be happy with that.

    That's a little more ambiguous but it does take into consideration what else a technician could be doing if not building all these machines. Again that is partly down to how many people in the team, responsibilities etc etc.
    We have spare machines made up for instant replacements at all times, so staff and students learning is never negativly impacted by the time we spend building them, if we're building machins and staff or students need help we simply drop what we're doing to support them, if there machine has died we can simply swap it out there and then, change the name and location in AD then bring the old PC back to repair. When you repair as many machines as we have to here diagnosing the problems and fixing them isn't a long process by any means, most of us can spot a problem pretty quickly,.....99% of problems are resolved by replacing a power supply or hard drive or simply reimaging the machine.

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