Multiple users on same PC

I have been given the task of buying four entry-level PCs by my uncle, who runs a school, and these systems will be used in the computer laboratory for kids.

I was wondering if there was a way if I could buy just one PC and connect 4 Monitors, 4 Keyboards and 4 Mouse to it and get four independent interfaces for the four users out of it, and thus manage to cut back on cost, desk space and power consumption. These PCs will be used for for only less demanding tasks like browsing and MS-Office tasks, so I think a core i3 processor and 4 GBs of RAM should be enough for that.

I have seen a similar setup for Linux, but is it possible to do it on Windows?
18 answers Last reply
More about multiple users
  1. Not possible.
  2. Even with 4 separate windows licenses?
  3. Not possible with the "traditional" PCs reliability and cost.

    Just to clear things up, I'm doing 2 right now, 1 linux+1 Windows for games. To scale things up here are the requirements:
    - 400$ - a motherboard with integrated video+3-4 PCIe x16 slots is required.
    - 400$ an 8-core CPU (i7, but not oveclockable K model), as 1core/machine is too slow today
    - 4x50$ basic VGAs for every machine.
    - 100+$ RAM, which let's say 8GB would be enough (1.5-2GB/machine), but expandability will be limited, as my system with 16GB is maxed-out (4x4GB module...no 8GB modules....yet)
    So that's aprox 1100$.
    BUT....to get everything to work is another problem. Which I would say too much headache (to do for someone else...). Also, there are limited people able to help in case of problems.

    And the most important part: if the PSU/CPU/MB breaks, all 4 will be unusable.

    PS: prices are estimates. I did not examine any real prices. But there are small chances to be lower.

    Update: I forgot to mention HDDs, in that just 1 HDD is going to bottleneck very much the setup. Just think about what 1 windows is doing to the HDD. Now think about the same thing done 4 time. Because of the nature of HDDs, the time to complete the action will be higher than x4. As for SSDs, well you are better off with 4/5 HDDs.

    So I have presented a choice, but I strongly reccommend against it.
  4. You are talking think clients at that point, and the infrastructure becomes complex.

    Why i3, the llano platform A4/6/8 (probably 6) would be a good match, reasonable onbard graphics (there's bound to be something educational that requires gpu effort). Or the sandybridge based pentiums, but I'd think Llano. The mobo's are not pricey either. How about 4 cheap laptops, docked to a monitor and keyboard. this also means they can be locked away overnight a lot more easily, again LLano.

    I'd also think small form factor if you are stuck on desktop.
  5. if its just for young kids.


    then grab a couple amd builds. there a lot cheaper and you dont need the performence of a core i3
  6. How much will a cheap AMD build cost?
  7. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130567

    How about a dual core Athlon ii cpu with built in HD6310 gpu. You could easily build 4 rigs very cheaply that'll be good for light usage and have decent integrated graphics with very low power consumption. Stay away from any of the Intel Atom crap if you go with an integrated board.


    If you don't already own the windows licenses, you could go with Ubuntu for the OS to save some $$. I've used Ubuntu+Google Chrome+Open Office to do my school work for years before I built my new rig. Ubuntu would run decently on the E-350 with 2gb of ram and a small HDD.
  8. itisravi said:
    How much will a cheap AMD build cost?


    Cheapest A4 with HD6410D = £49
    cheapest ATX mobo for the A4 with vga out = £61

    Cheapest i3 = £92
    Cheapest ATX mobo for the i3 with vga out= £74

    so should be £110 vs £166 for chip + mobo, all else is equal.

    so it could be a lot cheaper, and the A4 will be slower than the i3-2100 but more than capable, the better igpu on the A4 is a better balance too.

    dropping down to the athlon II quad on the same socket (as per shuffman) will take the cpu to £58 so still cheaper.

    Obviously all of these are UK prices but the illustration that at the low end amd are cheaper still stands.
  9. Wait a few months for the Raspberry Pi to be released for bulk buying.
    Buy 4 of them and use open office or similar.
    Your talking ~$35 per unit.
  10. +1/2 (I really want it to be a +1, I would love for that to work)

    +1 to the whole linux idea in general, its more developer friendly than windows, and from a job market point of view they would be very sellable skills. Think back to the old days the jobs's, gates's, and google founders all started on equipment that was developable, partly becase they had to develop it. It would be of a lot more value than teaching them how to use windows, they'd get that and some of them would get so much more.
  11. the first (and most important) link doesn't work properly :)
  12. 13thmonkey said:
    the first (and most important) link doesn't work properly :)

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130567
  13. itisravi said:
    I have been given the task of buying four entry-level PCs by my uncle, who runs a school, and these systems will be used in the computer laboratory for kids.

    I was wondering if there was a way if I could buy just one PC and connect 4 Monitors, 4 Keyboards and 4 Mouse to it and get four independent interfaces for the four users out of it, and thus manage to cut back on cost, desk space and power consumption. These PCs will be used for for only less demanding tasks like browsing and MS-Office tasks, so I think a core i3 processor and 4 GBs of RAM should be enough for that.

    I have seen a similar setup for Linux, but is it possible to do it on Windows?


    IMHO an Atom would be more than enough for your purpose, I am guessing the school is in India ?.... Atom is the only cheap option for you, unless you have a sufficient budget http://www.flipkart.com/gigabyte-ga-d425tud-combo-motherboard/p/itmd66fdufqxczrr?pid=CMBD66FDSZFXCZFH&_l=mzQmrlkCJv0IjldH8nGLKg--&_r=ljMgh5Q1SJmdhtz3y7qA1g--&ref=fd2d7eea-24e9-4595-bc3e-2e84f77c32fa

    http://www.flipkart.com/kingston-ssdnow-v-series-30-gb-ssd-internal-hard-drive-snv125-s2-30gb/p/itmd2ryne76ynfcd?pid=IHDD2RYNC2KZDHZM&_l=mzQmrlkCJv0IjldH8nGLKg--&_r=4EspDFob7cq_+q4fflWK+g--&ref=11dfa0e3-b09c-496f-9741-45f46b1f5d66

    you could throw in this SSD since it is only for low storage use and run Win XP .

    with this base you should be able to buy 4 computers under 45k INR including Monitors,keyboards,cases.
    look up a few other sites (theitwares.com/primeabgb.com) comes to mind they might give you good deals since you are buying in bulk.I did something similar for a friend of mine who wanted 12 computers., and got really good deals.

    All the best.
  14. I'd really argue against atom and windows, and the SSD in fact, the machines must be a joy to use and not painfully slow, else pupils will not learn well.
  15. You CAN do exactly what you want and for a decent price. I do it at home. Here is what you need.

    Quad core or better CPU
    8G or better ram
    7200rpm or better Hard drive preferably an SSD.
    Windows Multi point server 2011 with 4 server licenses and 4 client licenses. http://www.microsoft.com/windows/multipoint/
    options:
    expensive option:
    3 thin clients: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16859222025
    cheap option:
    grab a video card that supports 4 monitors natively
    4 cheap 4 port usb hubs "this is what I use"
    follow the directions here: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=18482

    if it is over your head or you cant get the licenses on your own then try: http://www.hp.com/sbso/busproducts_PC-multiseat.html?jumpid=ex_r295_go/multiseat/kimsmb/1Q10busproducts_pc-multiseat/110909

    Good luck, you will find this option better then buying multiple PCs for your intended uses.
  16. 13thmonkey said:
    I'd really argue against atom and windows, and the SSD in fact, the machines must be a joy to use and not painfully slow, else pupils will not learn well.


    Totally agree with the fact that machines must be a joy to use, but from the looks of things the school's on a budget, IMHO the Atom is sufficient for most tasks mentioned by Ravi , I suggested the SSD for its the cheapest storage available at the moment, could probably buy one large External HDD or a NAS device if required.
    Forgot to mention the E350 APU ...
  17. I don't know prices for India, but You can in the US get these built and out the door for under $200 sans monitor (with rebate). That includes mouse and keyboard, though you'll probably be replacing them every few months. (some debate weather it would be cheaper long term to buy a ruggedized mouse and keyboard or keep replacing every couple of months for $3.50 each)

    Build Link

    I know that coolermaster has lost some points on their power supplies but for a name brand including a mid tower case (smaller end of mid tower) I'm not going to kick $36.99.
    Toss in a linux build and you are off to the races with a decent little pc.
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