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Buying IT 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 question


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


DTS is currently working with our hardware supplier, XMA, on a consolidated order for Microsoft Surface devices on behalf of schools and functionsDevices will be delivered from April 2021 onwards. Apple Mac computers are not part of this order.


There will be a new service for staff devices starting in Aug 2021 and further details will be published nearer the time.  In the meantime, if you have an urgent requirement for a new Surface device or computer for a member of staff that cannot be fulfilled via the consolidated order then it should be ordered directly from our contracted supplier, XMA. Apple Mac computers, monitors and other peripherals should also be ordered direct from XMA.


Functions and schools are responsible for securely disposing of University owned computer hardware via the Disposal Request Form.  This includes equipment bought on research grants and PDAs.


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.


Following a review of the market, the University has standardised on Microsoft Surface devices. This enables flexible and mobile working. It is recognised that in some circumstances a Surface will not beappropriate, and in these situations an IT Hardware Exception Form should be completed. In this form you will be asked to provide the hardware requirements or functionality which cannot be met by a Microsoft Surface. Cost alone will not be considered as a valid justification for an exception request as it will not take into account the cost of supporting a non-standard device.


The University's sole supplier for Windows computers, Apple computers, tablets 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 University has standardised on the following Microsoft Surface devices.  The Surface Laptop is not currently available and further stock is not expected until the Autumn.  This is an issue for the whole education sector, not unique to our supplier XMA.


Surface Pro 7+

(with Type Cover keyboard and Surface e-pen)

Surface Laptop 3
Surface Laptop Go
Processor Intel Core i5
Intel Core i5
Intel Core i5
Memeory (RAM)
8 GB
Solid State Drive (SSD)
256 GB
256 GB
256 GB
Screen size
12.3" touchscreen
13.5" touchscreen
13.5" touchscreen

775 g + 310 g (Type Cover) 

Total 1.085 kg 
 1.288 kg
 1.110 kg
Best for:
 Teaching and more mobile staff.
The e-pen provides effective “digital inking” for whiteboards/OneNote etc.
Powerful and light.
 Those wanting a better keyboard as part of the device.  Though most staff will be use an external keyboard when working for extended periods.
 Those wanting a lighter laptop
 1 year
 1 year
 1 year
Further information


The devices have a one year warranty as faults will be dealt with by DTS for the usable lifetime of the device.


  • For long-term working on campus or at home, we recommend an external monitor and external keyboard & mouse.


A Surface docking station is recommended for use on campus to allow for easy connection to the network ,external monitor(s), and external keyboard and mouse.


For working from home, we recommend:

  • a USB hub to allow connection of several USB devices (e.g. keyboard, mouse)
  • a USB-C video cable to allow for the connection of one external monitor

  • a laptop riser for the Surface Laptop and Surface Laptop Go

If multiple external monitors are required at home, we recommend a Surface Dock.


How to order a Microsoft Surface


If you have a requirement that is not already met by your School or Function’s response to the current consolidated order (e.g. you have a new starter) then follow the process below:


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 need 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


Two standard Mac Books are available:


MacBook Air:

  • Apple M1 processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 512GB Solid State Drive (SSD)

MacBook Pro:

  • Apple M1 processor
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512GB Solid State Drive (SSD)


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.


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 web site, the requester should complete the TOPdesk IT Hardware Exception Form. This will enable DTS 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:

Non-standard equipment can only be ordered following the approval of an exception request.


Submit your Specialist Hardware Equipment request on the link below:


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 approved Procurement procedures. 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 SDAs 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