Recommended Machine (Prescribed Machine)

Each year the committee reviews the models available and selects a range of machines which best offer the combination of support, warranties and value for money, with versatility and robustness. The aim is to prescribe a range of machines from which to choose and to recommend which of these the parent committee feels would be the 'ideal' education machine in terms of features, value for money and support. Thereafter every boy and teacher is required to bring one of the prescribed laptops to school every day. Please note that purchasing an alternative make/model of laptop from an alternate supplier is not an option and we ask parents to respect this decision. Uniformity avoids any “status” issues around computers. Staff can help boys more easily when screen and keyboard layouts are identical and software runs in exactly the same way. It is not necessarily problematic if staff and boys have different machines but nevertheless, it makes sense to recommend a similar machine from a support and economy of scale perspective. Please engage with the committee on if you would like to discuss anything.

The recommended machines needs to be:

  • affordable from a parent and school perspective
  • well supported
  • and a popular choice with boys (Experience informs that if we do not choose something that boys will enjoy, parents are pressurised to purchase other brands that may not meet our high levels of support and standardisation. Therefore the parent committee selects a range of machines from which to choose.)

The minimum specifications are:

  • Processor: 11th Generation Intel Core i5
  • Memory: 8GB
  • Hard disk: 256GB SSD
  • Graphics: Intel Iris XE
  • Screen: 15.6" FHD 1920x1080 Non-Touch
  • Support: 5 Year ProSupport Plus and accidental damage cover and Extended Battery Service (for years 2 and 3)

The school prefers that the machines are warrantied for the full duration of each student's time at Bishops, as that is the only way that the school can ensure that every student has a working laptop in every class.

Generally Bishops chooses specifications that are above those of entry-level machines. This ensures that in the future, our machines are able to run new software, which almost always requires higher specifications. Note also, please, that the specs above refer specifically to laptops, not tablet technology.


Why do we have a recommended machine and a recommended supplier?

We are able to negotiate preferential pricing and support agreements. It is essential that every boy brings a device from one of the prescribed suppliers with fully functioning Windows technology to class every day. This puts a real premium on servicing faulty machines. With one type of machine from our selected supplier(s) we are able to offer fast repair turnaround time, offer prompt servicing and also make stand-by loan computers available at school. It is also important for teachers to know that every machine will cope adequately with any software demands that they are likely to make over the five years.

Bishops, as a school, is not positioned to deal with sales, and does not wish to enter into business-type arrangements with parents and boys. Bishops' role is an educational one but we do what we can to exert pressure on suppliers to get the best possible machine at the best possible price and thereafter, uphold the support and service guarantees.

For the past few years our brand comparisons have found Dell to have the most checkboxes ticked in terms of pricing, warranty period and support at the campus. At this stage only Dell is able to offer next business day turnaround and requisite warranties for new machines.

In past years we have been able to offer an Apple device option as part of the range. Apple devices are not included as an option in the list of recommended machines for 2022. Currently there is a requirement that all machines boot into Windows and run in the Windows environment only. Unfortunately, the new Apple MacBooks, which are shipped with an M1 chip, do not allow for Windows to operate under a dual booting setup. School onsite, outsourced, support is at present geared only to deliver and support non virtualized Windows devices. Kindly email the IT Director at if you would like to discuss this further.

Why shouldn't I purchase a machine that is cheaper than the recommended machine?

Policy is that all parents buy the recommended new machine. This is explained in the admissions process prior to acceptance to the school.

Parent committees of prior years recommended that the school make this policy for the following reasons: There may be cheaper machines available. However, many of these are at the end of their product cycle and so guaranteeing service levels for five years is problematic. In addition, the school environment is tough on machines as boys are opening and closing them every lesson when moving between classes. Cheaper machines may be less robust and/or not upgradeable. The parent committee would not be able to advise whether a cheaper model would suffice for the full five years.

Our experience has also shown that only a minority of parents take up the recommended machine offer when it is the most basic one available as the boys are not satisfied with the choice. The committee generally recommends a range of machines from which to choose.

Why might I find a cheaper price for the recommended machine on the Internet?

Check the full details of the machines on offer and ensure they are the same as those offered through the recommended supplier. Bishops requires prescribed machines to carry a five year international warranty so that parts are covered for the boy’s time at school. (This obviously applies to normal warranty conditions, not careless or malicious damages.) More often than not, warranty periods quoted only allow for one year. The committee ensures that the negotiated price is the best one possible and the new Dells include five year warranties, next business day support, accidental cover and extended battery warranty.

There is only one brand able to offer next business day support in South Africa for 5 years and that is Dell. All Dell's Latitudes are sold via preferred partners. The selected supplier(s) for new Dell machines is a Dell Preferred Partner that registers a special deal for Bishops procurement. They are completely transparent with regard to pricing and they are charging a reasonable flat admin fee to cover administration costs.

Within the Dell brand there are 4 ranges currently (Inspiron, Vostro, Latitude and XPS). The Latitude range is a robust business quality machine and is the only in the range with a 5 year warranty. These ranges have the same model numbers, so make sure you are comparing the price with a Latitude model machine and not a Vostro or Inspiron.

The 5 year NBD support extended warranty as well as the accidental damage for new Dell machines is the main differentiator that probably will not be included in other pricing as well as the extended battery warranty.

Please ensure that you have all these specifics covered when comparing prices.

We are confident, after extensive discussions with suppliers and understanding the detailed workings of the supply chain, that this solution is the most cost effective.

For new Dell machines, please contact the awarded supplier, iSquared, should you have any questions regarding price:

May I purchase the same brand but a different model to the recommended machine?

No. Policy is that all parents buy the recommended machine. This is explained in the admissions process prior to acceptance to the school.

Only certain ranges of the prescribed machines can be adequately supported in the school environment. Although we are able to support other prescribed machines in terms of having qualified people on site to manage the initial diagnostic and report process (in the same manner as the recommended machine), there is an administrative overhead that negatively impacts on service levels and that can disrupt the academic programme. The benefits of uniformity and optimal turnaround times led to the decision of prescribing machines.

May I purchase the same brand and model from an alternate supplier?

No. Policy is that all parents buy the recommended new machine or a reconditioned machine from the awarded supplier(s). This is explained in the admissions process prior to acceptance to the school.

May I upgrade the recommended machine offer?

Certain additional extras or options may be offered at the time of purchase. These would be advertised. Kindly contact iSquared at to discuss options.

May I buy a different make of machine?

No. Only prescribed machines will be accepted.