What are the essentials for remote computing?
August 25, 2012 3:39 PM   Subscribe

What tech specs are most essential for working remotely via Citrix? Longtime Mac user here, have never bought a Windows machine. I need to buy a laptop to work remotely for my job (paralegal at a mid-size law firm). I will be logged into my Firm's network, and running a variety of software programs off Citrix (iManage Desksite, Filesurf, Word, Hotdocs template manager, Adobe Professional, etc). What key features should I be looking for? Is 8GB of RAM enough? Recommendations for specific brand names are also welcome.
posted by invisible ink to Shopping (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Citrix is not very spec-intensive at all. In fact, my work computer is such a POS that I connect to work from Citrix while sitting at my desk in my office and it is a wonderful work experience.

By the way, you can use your Mac to connect to Citrix. I am typing this from an entry-level 2009 Macbook Pro now and I have a Citrix connection running in another window just fine.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:43 PM on August 25, 2012

8 gig on a modern machine will be more than fine
posted by mattoxic at 3:44 PM on August 25, 2012

For a while I was remoting into my work Citrix account from a Pentium 4 desktop with less than a gig of RAM (RDRAM!!) from 2002. You'll be fine with pretty much anything you can buy new.
posted by Benjy at 4:00 PM on August 25, 2012

Not to dissuade you from buying a laptop, but there is a Citrix client for Mac.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:07 PM on August 25, 2012

You might be able to run those programs in a Windows session in virtualization (VMWare, Parallels) and if you already have a Mac laptop then it is possible - not certain, but possible - that you'd only have to get the Windows and applications licenses instead of a whole new machine. I have a couple fussy programs, Solidworks and Pro/E, that run fine in Windows 7 virtualization on a MBP 8,2.
posted by jet_silver at 4:14 PM on August 25, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you everyone, for the helpful responses. Regarding the Citrix client for Mac - I tried it on my 2009 MacBook Pro, but found it to be very slow.

I will admit, I'm looking for an excuse to buy a new laptop:)
posted by invisible ink at 4:23 PM on August 25, 2012

Forgive me if this is a bit obvious, but is your internet connection sufficient for the Citrix Client? I find that I need 1-2 Mb/s (upload and download) reliable to have any remote connection solution work.

If you have a relatively modern computer (and by that, I mean one that is less than 10 years old), there should be absolutely no problem running Citrix.
posted by saeculorum at 4:30 PM on August 25, 2012

Response by poster: Saeculorum- thank you for bringing that up (nothing is too obvious - until now, I've never purchased a laptop for anything other than web surfing:) My speedtest.net results show up as 52.59 Mbps download/10.78 Mbps upload - perhaps I'm becoming more impatient, but certain tasks were quite slow with the Citrix client on my Mac (switching between apps, accessing folders on the network drive, etc.)
posted by invisible ink at 4:52 PM on August 25, 2012

"52.59 Mbps download /10.78 Mbps upload" should be more than sufficient, but keep in mind that there may be a bottleneck further downstream that you can't do anything about...e.g. your firm's internet pipe.
posted by wutangclan at 5:03 PM on August 25, 2012

Best answer: Citrix is very lightweight. It's just a viewer that lets you use another computer. I doubt you'll see much more performance from a new computer unless the Windows client is markedly better. A person I know has used both versions, and I haven't seen much difference.
posted by zsazsa at 7:32 PM on August 25, 2012

I run citrix on a 2011 Macbook Pro at home with absolutely no problems, but it has been known to run slower on hotel internet when I'm travelling
posted by scrute at 8:06 PM on August 25, 2012

certain tasks were quite slow with the Citrix client on my Mac (switching between apps, accessing folders on the network drive, etc.)

those things are slow because of the network connection between you and the Citrix server, not because of some Mac/PC thing. I use Citrix on both Mac and PC for remote access to work, and see no significant difference between the platforms.
posted by russm at 8:35 PM on August 25, 2012

2nding zsazsa and russm above- Citrix really only communicates screen and keyboard/mouse info. The applications you're running are all on the host system; your computer, whatever it might be, is simply acting as a dumb terminal. The perceived performance is a combination of the load on the host system and the speed of the 'pipe' between you and it!
posted by drhydro at 10:11 PM on August 25, 2012

Errr I run Citrix on an Ipad 1 for certain work applications, and it runs fine, as long as there is enough bandwidth. You don't need any fancy hardware at all for citrix.
posted by defcom1 at 9:15 AM on August 26, 2012

Most of the complaints I hear about Citrix seem to stem from connectivity issues - having a good internet connection and wireless router is important.
FYI, Citrix Receiver 11.6 was just released on July 31st (it works on Mountain Lion) - you might try downloading that.
posted by itheearl at 4:20 PM on August 26, 2012

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