Buying a New Computer - General Guidelines


Operating System (OS): Windows or Mac? This is a personal preference, and unless the software you need to use is OS specific, either is fine. Typically students choose based on what they’ve used/liked in the past.  

Hardware (on the outside): The hardware variety is endless: shiny/dull screen, spaced out/close keyboard, touchpad size, clicky/quiet keys, etc. Do you need/prefer a very lightweight computer? Check the screen size also - do you prefer a small screen or do you need a larger screen? Also, is touchscreen important? Some like the flexibility while others don’t like the smudges on their screen. You might consider going to a store to test out some models.

RAM and processor size: are you a gamer? Often have a million browser tabs open? Have a ton of programs open at the same time? Typically the size depends on your budget. If you typically don’t max out your computer (fan runs a lot when the computer is working hard), more money doesn’t necessary translate to a better deal, though it might continue to handle your tasks years from now.  

Hard drive size: how much space do you need? Do you store a lot of pictures, videos and music on your computer or do you store everything in the cloud? If you have a computer now, you can use that number as a good starting point.

Future needs: you should consider your computing needs now and what you may need for the future when configuring your new computer. If your budget allows, you might consider bumping up your specifications as a way to ensure your computer will be able to support your future computing needs. 

Warranty: check the length of the warranty. Consider an extended warranty if you need/want the added protection. Our IT Helpdesk does not repair personal laptops; we can provide advice, and tools if you want to fix it yourself. 


Basic Configuration

Recommended for: word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, minor publishing or graphics, and general Internet use including emails, Google apps, Moodle, etc. 

  • Windows 10 or newer. Or MacOS Big Sur or newer.
  • 256GB SSD
  • Intel i3 or i5, or AMD, or Apple M1 or newer
  • 8GB RAM


Advanced Configuration

Recommended for: more computer-intensive tasks such as data-crunching or video editing, basic graphics design and photo editing, along with word processing, spreadsheets, presentations. Heavy Internet browser use (i.e. you have a million browser tabs open, video conferencing/chat), and using multiple programs/applications at the same time.  

  • Windows 10 or newer. Or MacOS Monterey.
  • 256GB - 512GB SSD - depends how many files you plan to store on your computer
  • Intel i5 or i7, or AMD, or Apple M1 or M2
  • 16GB RAM 


Our personal hardware discount information can be found on our Personal Hardware Discounts page. 

Are you thinking about bringing an Internet of Things (IoT) device, such as video & audio streaming boxes and remote-controlled lights, to campus? Please be aware that some devices will not connect to our WiFi. Read more at Home Assistance, Smart Plugs, other IoT Devices

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Article ID: 144507
Tue 6/28/22 9:24 AM
Fri 11/11/22 2:12 PM