University professors assembled some formidable custom PC builds in 2016 judging by NeweggBusiness data for higher education customers. This group consists primarily of science, mathematics, technology, and engineering schools at large public universities in the U.S.
I took a two-pronged approach to the data. Compiling items that appear most frequently* on university orders, and filling in the blanks with top selling components by sales volume, I imagine what the “average” university custom PC looks like.
*denotes a Top-20 most frequent item on invoices.
You will notice this PC build is far from average, however:
CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K*
Video Card: EVGA GTX 1080
Motherboard: ASUS Z170-A
Cooling: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO*
Memory: G.SKILL F4-2400C15S-8GNT
SSD: Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB* (SATA III)
HDD: 1 TB WD Blue 7200 RPM*
PSU: SilverStone ST45SF-G
CD/DVD Drive: ASUS 24X DVD Burner*
The Intel Core i7-6700K processor is #6 of all items invoiced to higher ED. Naturally thermal paste and a cooling unit are also in the top 10.
The #1 item for invoice frequency is a 500 GB Samsung 850 EVO, which appeared in approximately 10 percent of all purchase orders. The 250 GB version of the SSD held the number #2 spot, with the 1 TB model at #7. A 2.5 to 3.5-inch drive bay converter is #15, so we should assume some were laptop upgrades.
Solid state storage was popular for university procurement this year, but hard disk drives remain relevant as well. The WD Blue 1 TB HDD came in at #8 most frequently ordered. You cannot argue against $50 for a terabyte of storage in 2016. Optical media remains viable, with the ASUS 24X DVD burner at the #3 item overall.
No surprise for the motherboard with the ASUS Z170-A. ASUS historically focuses on high-end motherboards in the $210-$230 range, but made an appeal to mainstream system builders pricing the Z170-A around $155-$165. That is the sweet spot for VARs, and this ASUS moved well in that range.
If counting total units sold instead of most invoiced, an LGA 2011-3 socket MSI X99A SLI PLUS is tops for the category in higher education. This motherboard is ideal for dual GPU setups in rigs for mathematical data mining and development. The mighty EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 (8 GB) leads the way for graphics cards in units sold and frequent invoice mentions. Maybe faculty likes 4K gaming at 60 MHz fps as well.
Peripheral items in the Top 20 most frequently invoiced to universities is a sub-$15 keyboard and mouse combo, HDMI cables, and a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI converter.