Students are not required to own a computer, as it is possible to complete all work in on-campus computer labs. However, most students find it convenient to have a laptop. The Department of Computer Sciences does not recommend any specific manufacturer or model, though we do suggest you consider the following when making your purchase:
Weight – A computer that is less that 3-4 pounds will be less burdensome to carry around.
Display – For programming, a larger screen makes it possible to see more of the code at once. A screen that is at least 12 inches diagonally is ideal.
Storage – Speed can be important, so consider a laptop with a solid-state drive (SSD). Laptops with only a hard drive, while they may store more files, can feel very slow. While 128GB is a common size, many students find it helpful to have more space. As an alternative to a larger drive, consider purchasing an external hard drive with a 1TB capacity or larger.
Memory – Consider at least 8GB. Some students find that a laptop with only 4GB of memory feels slow, and it can be very difficult to add memory later.
Processor – Consider a Core i3, i5, or i7 processor from Intel or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, or 7. Some students find that Intel Pentium and Celeron processors feel slow.
WiFi – Make sure your laptop has a built-in wireless network so you can be mobile and access WiFi from anywhere on campus.
Operating System – Windows, Mac OS, and Linux will offer the most flexibility. Some students find that they are unable to run specialized software for their courses on ChromeBooks/ChromeOS.
Longevity – Some laptops at the lower end of these recommendations may start to feel slow after a few years. Computers that exceed these recommendations are likely to be usable for longer.
Optional Features – Depending on how you plan to use your computer, you may find a touch screen, enhanced graphics (for gaming), or support for a pen input (for note taking) particularly useful.
Cost – Most computers that meet these recommendations will cost between $600 and $1500. We suggest that all students consider what is important to them, shop around for a good price, and find a balance between cost and features that you are comfortable with.