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I'm currently assigned the task of standardizing new laptops before deploying them to the field. Are there certain guidelines to evaluating a new test laptop. As for example, the processor speed, the applications used, the load on the CPU and RAM.

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Buy quality devices from Tier-1 vendors, and use a consistent configuration.

Intel establishes price/performance bands for CPUs... "value", "mainstream" and "performance". Depending on your budget and the user population, it generally makes sense to pick a price band and stick to it over time. (That keeps your average cost consistent.)

My personal preference is Lenovo Thinkpad T-Series or X-Series or the HP high-end series for execs and road warriors, midrange Dell for people who don't travel alot and when $$$ are tight. Don't buy junk -- the cost to support broken laptops is higher and the level of disruption to the end user is generally more severe.

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+1, good advice. – 21st Century Moose Mar 18 '10 at 4:39
Is there a way to determine which 'band' a given laptop is in? Is it price? parts? – Scott Mar 18 '10 at 15:26
Intel (and AMD) publish CPU roadmaps. If you are big enough, you can get an NDA roadmap from Intel or your PC vendor that will project out into the future, especially for Intel. Here's the public roadmap from the Intel site:… – duffbeer703 Mar 18 '10 at 17:35
Processor bands aren't just about performance... new features tend to trickle in as well. Consumer or "value" platforms are not going to include things like AES instructions, driver/image stability, etc. – duffbeer703 Mar 18 '10 at 17:37

I would be more concerned that the laptop can run the applications / includes required features. Examples are Enough USB Slots DB9 Serial Ports etc

What you are referring to sounds more like a benchmark to me, of course you also need to be sure that the laptops can handle the selected Operating System etc.

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Yes its pretty much a benchmark. I'm just finding it difficult, and yes mundane, to find the best tool for benchmarking. – steveng1999 Mar 18 '10 at 0:56
Benchmarking PCs in 2010 is a waste of time, unless you have people with very specific/unusual needs. If you have an app with high I/O requirements, SSD vs. Disk might be a useful comparison... For some users, graphics speed might be relevant. But those cases are like <10% of all laptop use cases. I'd suggest editing your question to include the requirements that you have. – duffbeer703 Mar 18 '10 at 13:29

In short - "Best practice" involves determining what is required and ensuring the machines meet those requirements.

There is not, and indeed cannot be, a standard for this kind of thing. What you need to do is start by finding out exactly what the machines will be required to do and what peripherals they must work with. From that point you need to determine whether the machine specs are suitable. i.e. Will it do the job at all and if so, will performance meet the expectations of the users?

Determining which applications are to be installed is something you need to work out in consultation with others within your organisation. We cannot know what you and your users require, or what corporate dictates and policies might apply.

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