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5 full computer systems needed for very basic IT/ICT teaching @ Community Centre - UK

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#1
Hi there experts!


I'm in great need of your advice. Any help would be much appreciated, so many thanks in advance.

My dad works in a community centre in his spare time and received a grant of £3,000 GBP/$5050+ USD to buy 5 computers for a community centre. So he wants to use the opportunity to help others who lack in IT skills, and those who are not familiar with using PC's to use these systems.

He'll have to think about getting in a lecturer at a later time, but for now I need to help him get around to setting this up within the budget. And I'm not very knowledgeable in setting these things up when it comes to networking side especially. But know the basics somewhat...I think aha!

Here are things to consider:

1. We don't want to blow the whole 3k on 5 computer systems - we want to save aside as much as possible to invest towards chairs, tables, decorating etc. That will be a separate financial matter but every little saved will help. I know it would be a laughable budget IF for 5 GAMING systems, but that's not the aim here


2. These systems will be used for very basic IT training - How to use Microsoft Office applications, for those who have hardly used a PC to get to grips with one, very basic web browsing etc.

3. NO complicated network with admin controls and restrictions required. It's a small room and will be easy for 1 lecturer to see what's going on with 5 computers around them at one time. But I would like them to be networked in such a way so that it is all running self-sufficiently and securely.
Will be going for the wired internet option rather than a wireless network. I've never done this kind of thing with multiple systems, so I'll go more into what I'll be getting so that people can correct and advise me if I'm going wrong anywhere....


Hardware to buy:

1. x5 full computer systems...
That are good enough to run basic applications such as Microsoft Office applications, and for basic web browsing. If someone could give a decent system as reference from THIS SITE DABS.COM in the UK (then a search from price low-high) that would be great. Then I can shop around everywhere to find the best priced system of similar spec.
Provided mouse and keyboard would be a bonus, otherwise I will buy these separate anyway.
No need for a fancy Blu-ray drive either, just a basic DVD drive. IF pre-installed with Windows 7 x64 and works out cheaper that way then would be a bonus.
Just one system for example (without looking into it too much right now) might be this 'Zoostorm mATX Intel Pentium G3220 4GB 500GB No OS' @ £200 GP /$336 USD (better details HERE):

Processor Intel® Pentium® Processor G3220 (3M Cache, 3.00 GHz)
RAM 4GB DDR3 1333MHz
HDD 500GB SATA Hard Drive
Graphics Card On Board
Optical Drive DVDRW
Audio 5.1 Audio
Network Card 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN
Case Silver mATX Case
Chipset Intel H81
Warranty 1 Year Return to Base Warranty
Accessories Keyboard and Optical Mouse
Sure the specs might be somewhat laughable, but need to consider what these systems will be actually used for. Again will probably be room for better systems anyhow when I start to look for the best deals around.

2. To accompany the systems each will need a monitor. So 5 monitors to consider. Again nothing crazy fancy needed.
So something like this Acer K192HQLB 18.5" will do.

3. x8 lots of Ethernet cables - a few extra added.

4. A switch box like this D-Link 24-Port 10/100Mbps Nway.
Again if there's a better and cheaper option please let me know. I thought I'd consider a 24 port switch just in case the community centre might add more computers in the future. This will be connected directly to the internet service providers ROUTER FROM BT.
The internet speeds aren't great at the community centre either. I did a wireless speed-test there some weeks back:

So might be a struggle if 5 people are browsing at the same time. But again will be for light and basic use. May consider upgrading speeds if it becomes too much of a struggle.

5. Printer. I'm thinking of a mono laser printer for heavy printing tasks? We don't need a colour printer, just for black and white printouts only. Could someone recommend a few that is good on running costs? Thanks.


SOFTWARE:

1.Microsoft Windows 7 Professional OEM Licence and Media LCP SP1 64-bit x5 - DEPENDS if the systems bought are already inclusive of Windows 7. There are some that are inclusive of Windows 8.1 but that OS won't be very useful for learners. Unless I buy Stardock's START 8 licenses to make them run like W7? See what works out most effective in costs and usefulness. Your opinions would be greatly appreciated


2.Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 - 32/64-bit - 1 License (No Disc) x5

3. Recommended decent FREE anti-virus software that's not too heavy on hardware? x5 - If say I end up with W8 then I guess the default Windows defender would suffice I guess. It all comes down to what OS boils down to.

4. Not quite sure about the type of software licenses above with it being a community centre, but hopefully I'm okay I think



THAT'S ALL FOR NOW


If you think I'm going bonkers and in the wrong direction with anything please give me a shout. Any help would be very much appreciated. Please consider that the aim is not to blow the whole budget away. Once I know the specs to go for THEN I will shop everywhere for the best prices.
Thank you for taking the time to reading all this!

My small part for trying to help others learn, even I might end up jumping on a course if I don't make sense in this post lol.
Hope it all works out in the end
 
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#2
Avira and Avast are okay free antiviruses. Windows defender doesn't really protect against much and MSE will be inadequate for a community center.

You might want to install something like K9 parental control to reduce the risk of people visiting websites that they shouldn't.

The only other thing I can think is that you'd be better choosing 2nd hand core2duo systems, to reduce costs, but you might run into issues if you aren't that knowledgeable about setting things up.

Or you could go the route of the A1 socket chips by AMD. They are cheap and should suffice for basic browsing and office applications.
 
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#3
looks good, but for printer, even its color you can set it gray scale when printing
and yes, maybe you could consider freeware word processing, like libre office or like that, so you have alternative apps
 
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#4
Thanks for the replies.

@silkstone
So as far as free software protection goes:
- Will go with free Avira thanks :)
- K9 parental control. No harm in installing this so I'll do this also.
Someone suggest Malwarebytes as well. So I'll be installing that on top as well.

@ micropage7.
True for the printer settings part. Only problem is that these systems will most likely be used for people who much experience at all with computers and most likely will only print off B&W documents. Either way we want to avoid using colour or give people the ability to hammer away on colour printouts / save on costs. There is already a heavy office use colour printer in the office. So for odd occasions when needed, colour can be used by learners (sorry I didn't point this out before).
I think I may still be going for Office Home and Student. It all depends how much I spend on the hardware.

Again I'm no network guru by any means. But to save on costs someone recommended the 'TP LINK 16-port 10/100 Desktop Switch' @ £17.19 GBP.
This has already saved money VS the original D-Link 24-Port 10/100Mbps Nway @ £35.08 GBP. I'm assuming the TP LINK switch is still a very good choice for what I need to do.

I will look properly for competitive prices once my mind is set on the hardware. Could even squeeze for intel i3 PC's but I'll see first what bargains I can hunt down on.
On another note I won't be looking into building systems as I know this would save me money/have better spec systems for the same price. Last time I built a system was 10 years ago and that was just 1...yikes!
My free time is limited and am doing this all for free for the community centre :)

Again appreciate the suggestions. Any more advice is very welcome.
Thanks again :)
 

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#5
May I recommend you call insight direct and novatech directly. They're who I buy my kit from at my grammar school, and usually come in very competitively priced. They'll also allow for some custom choices in your builds and offer you some interesting for avenues. I'm I'm the UK so you're welcome to PM me if you need in depth details
 
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#6
Thanks for the recommendations RCoon.
I might drop those companies an e-mail and see what they have to offer. Least I will be able to think more clearly seeing things typed :)
 
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#7
You are underestimating the effort needed to limit the users from using the Internet for donkey pron. That is the part that needs to be well thought out.
 
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#8
True, but hopefully any lecturer I'm hoping has the ability to see what's happening around 5 computers I hope. Twice as many units and more would be of concern.
 
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#9
Another thing to consider is some routers come with parental control and web filtering, this is much easier from a management standpoint and a lot harder for someone to bypass.
 
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#10
Software filters like K9 have their downsides--you boot to a USB stick and you can still get donkey pron. Many routers/switches have "family friendly" controls that cannot be circumvented. You will want to educate yourself on your options.
 
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#11
Guess no set-up is safe these days, but will try my best to leave things safe as best as I can with what I have. Thanks for pointing out these things.
 
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#12
i dont see anything overly wrong with your set up. the G3220 should be more than enough for what you say you plan to use them for. maybe some amd offerings could be a bit lower priced (im not usre though) prehaps an a8 apu set up ..
i dont think you need 500Gb hdd on each system. 1/2 of that would probably be more than enough, and enourage the people who come to learn to buy a small usb pen drive. and anything they need to save can be added to that.
this will also help them learn with saving/transfering files

I would highly reccomend a single shared network printer like the samsung ml-2250 (it is only black and white) its what i use at home my self after years of using trafditional ink based printers.

it may be expensive to re fill with toner. and the initial purchace could be quite high. but it is absolutley in a different planet when it comes to how long toner lasts versus ink.
they are also a LOT faster printing. "there is a start up process delay though. where it will warm up and get ready for a good 10-15 seconds. then its just spitting the pages out at you)
genuinely you would replace the ink in a printer atleast 10 times before you had to change it in a decent toner using printer. and once you start doing that the better printer is paying for its self.

a second option for a network is to just rout the computers all together using crossover cabes. but this would require an additional lan cards in all but one of them. and some ics settings so it is probably easier just to get a router/hub im sure there are plenty of 5-6 port routers out there so you wont need a seperate switch and can always set it up as a repeater to your current network if you have one.. or you could just go wireless "although i probably wouldnt go wireless"
 
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#13
@ Shambles1980 - Thanks for your input and time to respond.
TBH there's always things with pre-build systems I could do with taking out and not doing with. Like with the 500GB HDD you mentioned - no need for that much. But I'll just make do with what I can do with pre-built ones, as unfortunately I don't have the time or effort to build all these systems. Also not so confident either as I haven't built one for a long time either :D
Decided on the HP LaserJet Pro M1132 Mono Laser Multifunction Printer. A little pricey for what I wanted to spend but in the long run I can get replacement toners for these pretty cheap so it'll pay off. For example a toner for this printer @ £16.99 GBP with free delivery HERE. Just hope they do the trick fine.
I think I will stick to the original TP link switch purchase to use with the original router provided from the ISP. Least it will future proof for more PC's to be added later, with £17.19 not breaking the bank either.



Now this is the final hardware set-up I'm heading towards:

x5 Zoostorm 7877-1036 I3 systems. SPECS HERE = £1263.15

x1 TL-SF1016D TP LINK 16-port 10/100 Desktop Switch = £17.19

x5 19" Dell E-Series E1913S LED Monitor = £300

x5 Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 64 Bit = 174.95 - Huge savings from original price!

x1 Office 365 Small Business Premium for 5 COMPUTERS! = £119.99 - Again huge savings from original price direct from Microsoft!

x1 HP LaserJet Pro M1132 Mono Laser Multifunction Printer = 114.72


TOTAL = £1990 GBP / $3347.28 USD.
Original budget £3,000/$5046.15 USD

I think that is great. With the huge savings in the software department I can cram in Intel i3 systems instead, bigger monitor, and still have a lot spare which can be used to invest in other things in the community centre.

I was just sceptical about the Office 365 Small Business Premium software for 5 PCs @ £119.99 GBP / $201.83 USD direct from Microsoft HERE of all places! :D
Wasn't too sure about the license terms for community centres. So I had an online chat with one of their live chat support reps, and its fine to use, so big plus there! :)

I guess other small costs would be Ethernet cables, but I'll just simply buy those off eBay.
The Zoostorm i3 systems I haven't tried to haggle down in price yet, so could save even more.

Hopefully I've not forgot anything else major.
 
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#14
Remember that office 365 is subscription based, so you have to re-subscribe each year.
 
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#15
Look at pchcables for ethernet cables. Cheap and good quality.
 
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#16
That's fine Silkstone. I think the original Office purchase I was going to make was for a 1 year license only also. Except that was @ £94.99 GBP each x5 :eek:
This time it's an absolute bargain :)
Thanks for making sure I'm aware, sometimes I can easily miss out on details like that.

EDIT: OOOOOPS. Actually my mistake yes different types of licenses! Thanks for pointing it out actually yikes! But may still go for 1 year only just to see how it goes.

@ Lightbulbie - aren't they based in the US? I'm in the UK, so prob not worth the time to wait on. Also correct me if I'm wrong but aren't most Ethernet cables even on eBay to good standard quality these days right? Usually if the feedback is in the 100's and 1000's of items sold I usually go for them.
 
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#17
Oh. Apologies. I didn't see that you're in the UK.
 

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#18
You might want to invest in a few locks in case someone feels like carting them off.
 
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#20
I'm sure you know more about your needs but you mentioned a black and white only printer, but plan to do Microsoft Office instructing with this setup? I know power point presentations tend to use color a good bit, idk if you'll print them or not. Just a thought as excel also uses colors sometimes such as accounting charts and whatnot, red for deficits. Food for thought :)
 
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#21
@ Fourstaff, micropage7, a_ump - thanks for your input.

To be quite frank, once this is set up that's me done there.
I'm far from an ICT/IT person, hence some of my random questions here lol! Safe to say I won't be the one teaching, I still need to teach myself :p
This community centre isn't owned by my dad and isn't associated with myself at all. Just a community centre my dad just supervises on very odd occasions part time of his own free will. The 'higher-ups' who run the place will have to be responsible for how these systems will be run, looked after, who to employ to teach etc.
I just happen to offer to try and find the best deals I can with the grant they've received, that is all. But I will do my best to leave the systems running as best I can :)
This is all happening only because they received the grant so they're just trying it out to see how it goes. If it doesn't work out then it doesn't - no loss at all for them. Also with this I think the 1 year Office subscription is a more sensible choice rather than blowing over £400+ for 5 computers.

I'm not sure how in depth the teaching will be. I think TBH from what I've been told most of these people will need to be taught how to turn on a computer even :D

BTW anyone think these systems are decent for their basic purpose in the centre?
Zoostorm 7877-1036 I3 systems. SPECS HERE
 

Fourstaff

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#22
Plenty of power. Hell, my laptop is not even half as powerful (see specs) and I play Civ 5 on it (graphics card is marginally better than Intel's, but you get the idea).
 
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#23
Cool :D
 
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#24
Most of it's been covered, but might I recommend Deep Freeze for when those novices go deleting files because they're named weird, or they decide the machine is running too slow, and didn't have enough space? I would also consider Image for Windows as a backup solution ($30 US from here: we've purchased several licenses thru them, and zero issues). IfW is good for getting a good image of these machines, and being able to restore them with an external drive and CD/USB, "bare metal". Deep Freeze is a good day to day recovery option, reset it at the beginning or end of each class :)

There's also this open source relation to "Kiosk" (OpenKiosk), which is supposed to let you setup a PC like a (duh) "kiosk", to minimize what can be done, but that would require a pretty solid bit of IT to manage it, and may restrict more than you'd like...
 
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#25
@ Fourstaff, micropage7, a_ump - thanks for your input.

To be quite frank, once this is set up that's me done there.
I'm far from an ICT/IT person, hence some of my random questions here lol! Safe to say I won't be the one teaching, I still need to teach myself :p
This community centre isn't owned by my dad and isn't associated with myself at all. Just a community centre my dad just supervises on very odd occasions part time of his own free will. The 'higher-ups' who run the place will have to be responsible for how these systems will be run, looked after, who to employ to teach etc.
I just happen to offer to try and find the best deals I can with the grant they've received, that is all. But I will do my best to leave the systems running as best I can :)
This is all happening only because they received the grant so they're just trying it out to see how it goes. If it doesn't work out then it doesn't - no loss at all for them. Also with this I think the 1 year Office subscription is a more sensible choice rather than blowing over £400+ for 5 computers.

I'm not sure how in depth the teaching will be. I think TBH from what I've been told most of these people will need to be taught how to turn on a computer even :D

BTW anyone think these systems are decent for their basic purpose in the centre?
Zoostorm 7877-1036 I3 systems. SPECS HERE
so do i, im far from IT man, i learned by doing :D
it looks good, especially for basic need
oh yeah i remember something, beside you using like deepfreeze
maybe you could consider Free System Restore Tools
http://lifehacker.com/5303067/five-best-free-system-restore-tools