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Buying Computer Hardware


This guide gives information on buying computers and other IT hardware.

  • guides you through our process, policy and service levels
  • provides examples of some common purchasing scenarios
  • answers some frequently asked questions
  • directs you to where to find help and support if you have any further questions

Computer hardware includes laptops; desktop computers; connected peripherals such as keyboards, mice, monitors and docking stations.

Computer hardware should be ordered directly from our contracted supplier in line with our procurement policy and standard hardware specifications. Functions and schools are responsible for securely disposing of University owned computer hardware.

Workplace computers are different from the computers you buy for personal use. Typically they are designed to operate for much longer hours than a consumer equivalent. They also need to be configured as a University asset to work fully and securely on the University network and with other University services.

The University has recently adopted a 'laptop first' approach to procuring staff computers. This enables flexible and mobile working. This change has been a decision which has been considered over a number of months but cemented by recent events. Staff should now procure only laptop computers for general use. It is recognised that in some circumstances a laptop computer is not appropriate, and in these situations an IT Hardware Exception Form should be completed. In this form you will be asked to provide the requirements or functionality which cannot be met by the standard laptop.

The University's sole supplier for Windows computers, Apple computers and IT peripherals is XMA.

XMA orders should be requested through their portal (the XMA HE Hub) at:

Users can log into XMA's HE Hub by following the link in the top right corner of the portal to register an account and filling in your details. The University of Reading Account number is 17021653, this is needed to make sure you are linked to the correct UoR account and see the correct pricing. You will be able to use the site once you have received confirmation by email of your login username and password.

Buying Windows Computers

Standard specifications

The standard Windows laptop is a Microsoft Surface Pro 7 with;

The Surface Pro 7 is a lightweight device (0.77kg) which allows for more flexible and mobile working. With the addition of an e-Pen, the Surface Pro provides very effective "digital inking" for whiteboards/OneNotes etc. It is as powerful as any good performing modern laptop/desktop but it also has a detachable keyboard which allows it to be used as a full functioning tablet.

A docking station is recommended to allow for easy connection to the network, monitors, and external keyboard and mouse.

How to order a Windows Laptop

1. Order from XMA via your departmental purchase administrator

2. Request installation via the DTS Service Desk

3. Our supplier will deliver on an agreed date

4. Configure your installed hardware for your needs and preferences

Buying computers for PC labs/classrooms

Digital Technology Services can also provide support for PCs in a PC lab or classroom. This is however a different way of running the PCs compared to a typical staff office. Any school or department considering this option must contact DTS to discuss requirements before buying the computers, this can be achieved by raising an IT Hardware Exception Form.

Buying Apple Computers

If you choose to purchase an Apple Mac computer please ensure that you can perform all your required functions with macOS. We are unable to support a dual boot Windows option or a virtual PC environment except in exceptional circumstances which must be agreed before ordering.

There are however some important factors to consider before choosing an Apple product. Accessing University corporate systems from a Mac may not be possible or it will require additional support time and licensing costs. Other software applications may not be available for macOS or may not be covered by our existing software licences.

iPads are suitable for individual use but if you require a device with a touchscreen our recommendation is to buy a Microsoft Surface Pro running Windows rather than having a computer and an iPad.

Standard Specification

The standard MacBook has the following specification:

  • Intel Core i5 processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 512GB Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • Intel Iris Plus Graphics

How to order an Apple computer

1. Order from XMA via your departmental purchase administrator

2. Request installation via the DTS Service Desk

3. Our supplier will deliver on an agreed date

4. Configure your installed hardware for your needs and preferences

IT Peripherals And Additional Hardware

Place your order via the XMA HE Hub. See above for details on how to register for XMA's HE Hub.

Buying Non-Standard Equipment Over £75

We understand that there will be instances where specialist equipment is required such as a high-performance PC for research or a rugged laptop for outdoor use.

When requesting any item of IT hardware that is not listed on the XMA or Academia UoR web sites, the requester should complete the TOPdesk IT Hardware Exception Form. This will enable Digital Technology Services to assist staff in choosing a nonstandard model as well as ensuring that the choice is compatible with the University's software and hardware systems.

This form offers two options:

1. You would like to provide general requirements for DTS to recommend appropriate hardware and provide a quote.

2. You already know the specific hardware that you require and would like DTS to check and approve the purchase.

(Examples include a specialist need for a specific computer configuration, manufacturer or certified hardware. In this instance please attach a quote for your required specification along with any supporting information. DTS will check that we can help support the equipment before approving the purchase).

Please Note:

Any non-standard equipment that is purchased without prior authorisation may have restricted network access (i.e. Wi-Fi access only) and may not be supported by DTS.

Submit your Specialist Hardware Equipment request on the link below:

IT Hardware Exception Form

If you are not already logged into the DTS Self Service Portal:

1. Select the 'Use Self Service Portal' and login with your University username and password

2. Select 'Place a Request' and then 'User Support'

3. Select the 'IT Hardware Exception Form' from the list on the right and complete.

As soon as you complete the form in TOPdesk a ticket will automatically be created and sent to a support technician. They will contact you to assist and offer advice with your purchase.

How to Pay For Your Goods or Services

IT and Computing equipment must be bought using a Purchase Order or by using a University Purchase Card. Except in very rare circumstances (for example an urgent need to purchase a laptop charger), it is not permissible to purchase IT or computing equipment using expenses. For details on what is allowed and not allowed, please refer to the University Expenses and Hospitality Policy (PDF-476KB) and consult with before making any purchase of IT or computing equipment using your own money.

Ownership of Assets

Please be advised that, except in rare circumstances, ownership of any IT or computing equipment remains with the University and is not transferrable to staff or students. This includes equipment which has been bought using SDCs or grants and is irrespective of age of the equipment. Please contact procurement if you have any query relating to ownership, donation, or disposal of assets.

Your Procurement Contacts

Aarti Knight

Deputy Category Manager, Procurement

David Ashmore

Category Manager, Procurement