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Purchasing Computer

Contract Suppliers

USC Purchasing Services has established numerous contract computer suppliers.  Contract Suppliers are suppliers which the university has a negotiated or bid agreement that could include price discounts, simplified ordering methods, set delivery arrangements, specialized customer service requirements, and billing payment methods.

Bidding is not required when a purchase is made with a Contract Supplier. Partial listing of contract computer suppliers below:

Email Address
Apple Computer Stacey Mello smello@apple.com
Dell Computer

Jeff Dahlmann
Dave Otto


Hewlett Packard Kevin Kim kevin.kim@hp.com
Lenovo Jackson Tsao jtsao@lenovo.com

For a complete listing of contract computer suppliers, please consult 

What brand should I buy?

Viterbi IT does not recommend specific brands of computers.  However, we recommend that you investigate via computer publications or websites such as PC Magazine's at www.pcmag.com. You can also view ITS Computing Recommendations for helpful hardware comparison tables.  Typically, your choices will come down to Microsoft Windows PCs, Apple OS X computers or Linux.

PC: Currently Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise is installed on computers managed by Viterbi IT.  When purchasing a new PC, Windows 7 or Windows 8  may be options for installed operating system.  This will not be a problem as Windows 7 or Windows 8 will work fine on USC network.

Apple:  Apple Mac computers works fine with the existing Viterbi IT infrastructure.  However, please keep in mind that software choices may not be as plentiful and varied as on the PC.  You may need to consider the following software options for a Mac if you would like to run Windows software.
• Bootcamp (which comes installed and lets the user install Windows on Intel-based Mac computer) needs at least a 5GB partition on the computer to work. 
• Parallels, an additional piece of software, requires only 100MB plus space to allocate to your virtual machine. 
• VMFusion, similar to Parallels, requires 275MB plus 1GB (minimum) per virtual machine.
• Virtualbox, free from Sun.

Please note: All the options require the additional purchase of the Windows Operating System.

Should I get a desktop or a laptop?

This is one of the most common questions that we get and one of the hardest to answer.  Both have their own set of advantages and drawbacks.

Current laptops are very powerful and have enough power for many computer users in the engineering community. The Viterbi IT computing labs provide wireless access to those who bring laptops into the computer facilities.  Desktops provide the most bang for the buck in that they are more powerful and expandable than laptops, but are relatively immobile.

What office software should I get?

Microsoft Office 2010 is the standard productivity application for the Viterbi School of Engineering.  Microsoft Office 2013 is currently being rolled out during the Fall, 2013 semester.  For those wishing to purchase a personal version of Microsoft Office, it is important to know that you can get it cheaper than what most manufacturers charge.  Microsoft offers a "Student and Teacher Edition" which can be found at many electronics stores.  The Trojan Computer Store (213-740-7692) currently offers a discount on Office Professional. Please call them for the current price.

We suggest visiting your local electronics store to shop around for laptops with different screens for your personal preferences.

If you plan to run Virtual Machine software you should get at least 4GB of memory.

Extended Warranty - Laptops experience much more wear and tear than desktops, and can be very expensive to fix. Getting on-site repair reduces the time you will spend without your computer.


Last Updated: 11/17/2016