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 8 GB RAM
  • Processor Speed: minimum of Intel Core i5 or equivalent
  • Hard Drive: 320 GB or larger
  • Wireless: Any card that supports 802.11 n/ac protocols and WPA2 Enterprise
  • Screen Size: 13" (screen size can impact cost and weight)

Optional/Recommended Peripherals 

  •  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

  • Your 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. 
  • Apple or Windows - For most programs at the University of Iowa you can use either an Apple or Windows computer. However, there are a few colleges that recommend one operating system over the other, based on the types of software you will be using in those areas of study.

In addition, Information Technology Services requires all those using the University's network to have the most recent critical updates for your computer's operating system. The best way to ensure the latest updates are installed on a computer you bring to campus is to turn on automatic software updates. See our article on updating your computer's operating system for more information.

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Last updated: 
January 6, 2017