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Specifying computer systems using optimal hardware
based on

Abstract. 1
Introduction. 1
survey. 2
Methods. 4
Office Environment. 4
Results. 4
Discussion. 4
Conclusion. 4
Acknowledgements. 5
Bibliography. 5
(see below). 5
Appendices. 5

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is the purpose of the work?What
methods did you use for your project/experiment? What
were the main findings and conclusions reached as a result of your
project/experiment?Did your
work lead you to make any recommendations for future actions?

The purpose of this report is to build and set up computer
systems based on a specific requirement by a technical manager of “Star
Graphics Ltd”; specifically, a standard office system, and a graphically
intensive high-end system. Benchmarking was used to determine the specification
of the system configurations. The tests were performed by specialized
benchmarking software that focused on stress testing different components of
the computer. This technique has shown to be an effective way of analysing a
system, and allowed for comparison between different components based on different factors such as …

The main


Selecting the optimum set of hardware for systems that
will serve different purposes requires a process called benchmarking, which
will allow for evaluating the performance of specific hardware components, and
also for the whole system in general. For each application type the
specification will be configured at price ranges of Furthermore, the second
half of this report will focus on data storage systems using both virtual and
cloud technology, as a means to propose a more economical storage solution
compared to physical data storage.


The performance of an office computer system should be at
such a level that it allows for smooth execution of all the necessary tasks,
which although very commonly it’s typical office programs, web surfing and
graphics, the hardware should handle any other the necessary software and processes
without issues.


This may raise certain though processes and questions,
because when selecting a specification of a computer for an office, there are
many factors that are required to take into consideration, and they aren’t
always just simply the performance of a CPU or how much RAM is plugged into the
motherboard – the idea is to have a reliable machine that will be quiet, energy
sufficient, and very importantly, affordable; this report will be orientated
around the requirements from a client to specify a system within a specific
price range of £200 – £500. How do we meet these expectations?
What parameters will be the most suitable for such scenario? Should the money
be focused on specific components or is it best if the money is spread out
equally across the whole specification? This report will aim to answer these
questions and draw educated conclusions based on a set of benchmarks and
research performed specifically for this purpose.


It is essential to remember that as much
focusing on making sure that a system meets the requirements of the client,
attention should also be addressed to the higher end of the spec i.e. avoiding
settling on a system that is overkill – which means that it highly exceeds its
required specification, which would leave the client with a PC, or even single
components that are simply too powerful than he would ever need, or use in his


A computer that will serve almost
exclusively for browsing websites, office work or watching movies does not have
to have a powerful processor, dedicated graphics card (in a lot of cases) and a
dozen of gigabytes of RAM. A lot of the time, many cheap 2-core or 4-core units
with integrated graphics cards are sufficient, paired with 2-4 gigabytes of
RAM, since the client will never actually use the full extent of the powerful
components that otherwise much money on. Shortly speaking, a balance of both
ends is needed on the performance spectrum.

Literature survey


Central Processing Unit (CPU)

The processor is undoubtedly one of the most important
components of a computer system, its performance is crucial at almost every
moment of its use – while watching movies, browsing the internet, or rendering
video and multimedia.


No computer can work without a processor. It is the CPU
(Central Processing Unit) that is often referred to as the heart of the
computer. The processor consists of two units – control (CU) and
logic-arithmetic (ALU). The task of the control unit is to instruct the
computer in how it works, direct the data traffic from and to the processor,
store temporary data and control signals. The ALU unit performs logical
operations (e.g. AND, OR, XOR) and arithmetic (addition, subtraction,
multiplication, division). The method of program execution depends on the
result of logical operations.


The individual processors differ among themselves through
different types of connectors, commonly called sockets. It depends on the
socket whether the processor will be compatible with a particular motherboard.
Manufacturers often produce one type of processor on several socket types; thanks
to this, the model becomes available to a wider range of potential users. The
most popular type of slot was Socket 7, which was used by three major processor
manufacturers at one time. A socket with a larger number is usually newer –
e.g. Socket 370 is newer than Socket 7, and this one is newer than Socket 1.
Multiprocessor computer sets or multi-core processors are now very popular,
e.g. two, four or even eight-core is becoming the industry standard.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

Graphic cards are responsible for
generating a graphic signal for the display of a computer. It’s most basic task
is to receive and process the image information received from the computer and
to render and display the image accordingly via the monitor.


Most graphics cards are built according
to the same pattern. It consists of a GPU that is a graphics processor that
generates a picture, a frame buffer that stores image information, textures or
geometry, a ROM (Read Only Memory) chip that usually holds the cards firmware
and two interfaces, the first one for communicating with the computer and the
other for connecting the display. Although the construction of all contemporary
cards is functionally almost identical, depending on the application, however,
they differ in physical structure. The graphics card is most often associated
with an external card placed on the motherboard of a desktop computer.


There are also other variants on the market;
most common is an integrated graphics chip. As the name suggests, an integrated
graphics card is part of the motherboard or a CPU, and cannot be replaced by
another one unless a new motherboard or processor is purchased. This has a
number of advantages, mainly the fact there is no need to purchase an
additional unit, which is a significant saving when building a computer set,
which still being able to browse the internet, perform office work, and even
play less demanding games and graphics programs.


The disadvantages are also apparent, as
an integrated graphics chip usually has lower performance, as the memory of
such devices is shared with the RAM memory of the entire system, this
automatically regulates the BIOS. Dedicated cards, which are separate systems
on the motherboard, have their own VRAM memory, which largely determines their
higher performance.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

Often you will find that the more RAM you have in your
computer, the better. Most standard RAM modules are not very expensive, and
currently available PC’s can handle even hundreds of gigabytes of memory. In
practise, however, it turns out that there are only so much performance gains
that are provided by RAM – if you have enough memory, additional modules will
not make your computer more efficiently. When your computer does not have
enough RAM, however, performing operations and running programs will cause your
operating system to use virtual memory.


Virtual memory connects the RAM to a temporary space on
the hard disk, and when you are running low on available RAM, virtual memory
transfers some data from RAM to the disk space, called a paging file. This
frees up RAM and the computer may once again perform tasks. This is exactly why
we wish to have enough memory to ensure that we will always have enough for the
day to day tasks that the machine will be used for, but also some leeway for
future, just to be sure the configuration will be relevant for as long as


Hard drive

The hard drive is storage for our data. Similarly like
with RAM, very few people actually consider the speed of their HDD’s, and only
focus on the capacity. This can be misleading, because the overall performance
of a computer system can be greatly affected by the read and write speeds of
the hard disk drive. Currently, we are at a time where SSD’s (Solid State
Drives) are slowly but surely displacing the older HDD’s, and commonly the only
thing that’s stopping consumers from switching is the hefty price tag attached
to any decently sized SSD.


The issue with hard disk drives is not their capacity,
because currently they are in fact larger than SSD’s, but their reliability and
speed – HDD’s are much slower and their rotating plates and read and write head
are all moving mechanical parts that can be negatively affected in case of a
drop or a strong impact on the computer, or just simply wear out over time.


SSD’s don’t have this problem because the media is based
on flash memory, which are not only resistant to mechanical damage, but also
provide greatly increased read and write speeds, so the system and all types of
applications will launch and fell much quicker as opposed to a HDD, no matter
how good your other components are. An interesting alternative are hybrid
drives, which combine the features of SSD and HDD media in one drive.



Standard Office Environment configuration

A computer
system that is designed for office purposes should be able to operate a mail
program, a text editor and a program for creating presentations. It should not
cause problems when using the Internet, including reading and downloading
documents and files in the cloud, or using a network attached storage system.
When operating an office computer, the user should also be able to print and
scan documents, as well as the use of various types of communicators, commonly
used for conference calls.


For most
office work, we do not need a very efficient and, consequently, expensive
configuration. It is more important that the system will use the components of
reliable manufacturers, and therefore trouble-free, solidly made and


A good choice
for the office is a desktop computer or a mini workstation, to which you can
attach peripherals. Writing on a separate keyboard is definitely more
convenient than using a keyboard on a laptop. If needed, the desktop computer
will also meet the hardware requirements of more advanced programs, and leaves
room for future upgrading of the system, or easier maintenance in case any of
the components fail.





The results in this analysis provided insight on the actual
performance needs of an office computer. This means not striving for the most
powerful configuration possible right on the monetary limit of what the client
requested, but actually analysing the requirements of the machine for the tasks
it will need to perform on a day to day basis. Of course the more expensive
machine beat the cheaper Dell in almost every category, but that doesn’t mean
it isn’t a more suitable choice for what the user wants from us. For every one
lab computer, he could probably purchase two Dell machines that will perform
just as well in what they’re needed for. What’s interesting, is that for the
RAM benchmarking, only the more intensive tests showed a difference in the
overall performance of the machine, while the less straining tests showed
almost identical results (even better scores for the lower RAM amounts compared
to 12GB), which suggests that less intensive tasks such as word processing, or
databases or spread sheets will be handled equally well, no matter if you spend
extra money on extra memory. The same thing can be said about the hard disk
drive, it seems unreasonable to buy a 1TB HDD, when 250GB should be more than
enough for the purpose of the machine. This, together with the fact that
graphics performance isn’t a priority in the office (unless it is a multimedia
machine used for rendering video content, however that wasn’t specified by the
client) makes me more lenient towards the Dell OptiPlex, which seems like a balanced
configuration that is good value for the price, and covers all bases of the
typical office machine.




References (see below)



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