Working remotely may require additional computers, hardware and peripherals than you or your department have on-hand. The following recommendations should allow most people to effectively work remotely. Be sure to follow both UW and your department’s procurement policies when ordering equipment.
Options for faculty and staff
Departments may need to purchase additional computers, hardware and peripherals for their faculty and staff to effectively work remotely. UW-IT recommends the following hardware specifications and purchasing options that should allow most users to work remotely. UW-IT can not provide departments or individuals with computers or hardware for working remotely. Be sure to follow both UW and your department’s procurement policies when ordering equipment.
For new workstations, the following minimum hardware specifications are recommended.
- i5 Processor
- 256GB SSD
- 8GB RAM
These specifications will ensure that you receive a machine that will function well for most needs for the duration of the warranty period. We strongly recommend that you only purchase business-class computers, such as HP EliteBook/Elite Desk, Dell Latitude/Optiplex, Lenovo ThinkBook/ThinkCentre.
The following laptops and desktops are examples of computers that meet the hardware specifications above. Be sure to follow both UW and your department’s procurement policies when ordering equipment.
Laptops & Desktops
Ask your departmental IT or local IT group if they have any reccomendations for laptops or desktops. Generally, the computer you need depends on what you will be doing with it. Review the minimum specifications of the programs you need to run on the computer. If you plan to use the computer to view websites and attend or host virtual meetings, you’ll need a less powerful computer than if you need to run applications such as Adobe Creative Cloud.
You will also need a monitor if you purchase a desktop computer. Both desktop computers listed above use DisplayPort Cables for their video. If you have an older monitor that doesn’t use DisplayPort, we recommend ordering either a new monitor that does or an adapter that converts DisplayPort to the video port on your monitor. Read this guide to video ports if you’re unsure what kind of ports you have.
If purchasing a desktop computer, you may want to also purchase a webcam so you can participate in meetings that use video conferencing.
Most laptops sold today, including the recommendations listed above, have a built-in webcam. If you’re not sure if your laptop includes a webcam, look for a small circle above the center of your laptop display. If your laptop doesn’t have a webcam installed or if you need a webcam for your desktop computer, you may need to order an external one.
We recommend an HD camera with a USB connection, like the Logitech C920 HD Pro Web Camera or the Logitech C270 HD Web Camera. Much like computers, webcam inventories are constrained at most retailers, so you may need to shop around to find somewhere that has one in stock. Be sure to follow both UW and your department’s procurement policies when ordering equipment.
Options for students
Affordable or free computers
Several Seattle-area programs offer affordable or free computers. Some programs may not be operating due to coronavirus shutdowns.
- The City of Seattle maintains a list of low-cost computer retailers available to low-income households in the Seattle area.
- The City of Tacoma maintains a list of affordable internet and devices programs available to qualifying residents of the Tacoma area.
Borrow computers from the UW
Laptops and other technology are available for students to borrow from the UW. In Seattle, the Student Technology Loan Program allows students to borrow laptops and other equipment. Both UW Tacoma and UW Bothell have similar equipment borrowing programs.
Laptops checked out from UW Libraries
The due dates for equipment checked out from UW Bothell and Cascadia College Campus Library may have been extended. Please contact Library Technology Services at email@example.com or 425-352-3145 if you have any questions.
UW Libraries are extending due dates and/or forgiving fines during the coronavirus situation.