When coming to campus, we want you to have reliable access to all University services.
Suggested Specifications for Purchasing New Computers
- Operating System: Windows 10 or higher or Mac OS 10.12 Sierra
- Memory: minimum of 8GB RAM recommended.
- Processor Speed: minimum of Intel Core i5 or equivalent
- Hard Drive/SSD: 256 GB or larger
- Wireless: Any card that supports 802.11 n/ac protocols and WPA2 Enterprise
External USB Hard Drive
An external USB hard drive is useful for data backups and transferring files between computers. We recommend regularly backing up your data so your important personal files will remain intact in case of hard drive failure in the computer. The backup process is different for Apple and Windows systems.
USB Ethernet Adapter
Since wireless network access is now more widely available, some laptop manufacturers have stopped installing Ethernet cards for network cable access in certain models of laptops. If you purchase a laptop without an Ethernet card, we recommend having a USB Ethernet adapter as a backup method of accessing the Internet should wireless not be available.
External DVD/CD Drive
As downloads from the Internet, USB drives, and cloud storage instead of on DVD or other storage options have become popular, more software titles are available and the importance of an optical (CD/DVD, or disc, drive) has diminished. Some lightweight laptops no longer include disc drives at all. Because some software installation and media playback may require a disc, you may want to consider an external optical drive to have on hand if you purchase a laptop without a disc drive.
Things to Consider When Purchasing a New Computer
- Price range - Computer prices have dropped dramatically in the past several years, but prices still range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the specifications and capabilities of the computer. Deciding how much you want to spend will impact the type of computer you can purchase.
- Laptop or desktop system - Laptops are more popular, due to their compact size and portability, but can be more expensive than a desktop system with comparable specifications.
- Your major - Some programs/courses of study within the university will give you the option of downloading software onto your computer for classwork, and these programs may be resource intensive. Typically, the science programs (engineering, math, GIS, computer science, etc.) require more powerful computers. If you plan on pursuing one of these majors, it may be beneficial to have a computer with better specifications. We recommend contacting the department for special requirements or recommendations.
- Apple or Windows - Either an Apple or Windows computer is fine for most programs at the university. However, there are a few colleges that may recommend one operating system over the other based on software used in those areas of study. Contact the college or department for more information.
Information Technology Services requires all computers using the university's network to have recent critical updates installed for your operating system. The best way to do this is turn on automatic software updates. For more information see our articles on updating your Windows or Mac operating systems.