PC Laptop Recommendations

ECN's User Services group is frequently asked to provide specifications and Purdue pricing for new Windows- and Linux-based laptop (notebook) computers which will be purchased with Purdue account numbers. Our Mac laptop recommendations are typically a MacBookPro, and sometimes a MacBookAir. If you are looking for personal laptops (not paid for with a Purdue account number), please see http://eng.purdue.edu/jump/a75fc5 instead. 

In departments supported by ECN, laptops are often used to provide remote access to ECN-Domain desktop PCs;  rather than as one's primary computer. (Please read about our laptop support scheme.)

Should you consider an Apple iPad as a substitute for (or in addition to) a traditional laptop? See our iPad recommendations.

To determine the approximate age of an existing Dell laptop, see our Dell model years page.


Recommended Laptops (Faculty and Staff)

PLEASE NOTE:  THE NEW LAPTOP MODELS RELEASED SPRING 2017 and 2018 HAVE THE NEW 7TH and 8th GEN INTEL PROCESSORS AND CAN ONLY RUN WINDOWS 10 OR LINUX.  Dell is offering some of the 2017 models with 6th Generation Processors, if needed, at no additional cost, but must be special requested to us.  These will run Windows 7 or 8.

 Also, older Dell E-Docks will not work with the newer models.

Please note that prices shown below are approximate and subject to frequent change. Faculty, staff, and graduate staff placing orders with Purdue funds should contact ECN for up-to-date pricing and to place all orders. Note that battery warranties only last 1 year, irrespective of how long the system warranty is.

15-inch, 5.2-pound model: The Dell "Latitude E5590" (NEW SPRING 2018-replaces the E5580) has a large screen (1366 x 768 pixels 15.6-inch Ultra Sharp HD widescreen) and commensurate starting weight (about 5.2 pounds). The 5580 includes 8.0 GB memory, a 256GB SSD hard drive, an Intel Core  i5-8250U 1.6GHz processor, and a keyboard with numeric keypad (see the photo illustration on this page, below).  ECN upgrades include a non-touch FHD 1920x1080 LCD/w HD Cam (WWLAN) display, carrying case, and 4 year "CompleteCare" (accidental damage protection) warranty and keep your hard drive.  Total cost is approximately $965.   Other recommended upgrades are i7-8650U processor, 16gb memory, 512GB SSD for a total of $1177. Touch Screen is also an option for this model at additional cost of about $36*.

*The Thunderbolt option is not available on the 5590

This model also offers discrete graphics options. Contact ECN for build-to-order pricing if you need to change these specifications. 

14-inch, "not too heavy" 3.6-pound model: This may become our "most frequently purchased" laptop. The Dell "Latitude E7490" (NEW SPRING 2018-replaces the E7480) relies on solid state drives for storage, has no internal optical drive.  It is lighter than previous-generation 14-inch models,  has a longer battery life, and thinner bezel. It has our environment's most-requested mix of size (13.3" FHD (1920x1080) Anti-Glare, FHD CAM/Mic non -touch. and starting weight (about 2.59 pounds, not too heavy). Base model includes a 256GB Mobility SS Drive, webcam,  8GB memory and Intel i5-8250U Quad Core, 1.6GHz processor.  ECN's standard upgrades include a 14.0-inch (1920 x 1080) widescreen, carrying case, and 4 year "CompleteCare" (accidental damage protection) warranty and keep your hard drive -4 years, is about $1055.  Other recommended upgrades are the i7-8650U Quad Core Processor and 16gb memory totals approximately $1200.

Contact ECN for build-to-order pricing if you need to change these specifications. A touch-enabled display, and higher-capacity storage are among the many available options.

13.3-inch, 2.5-pound model:  The Dell "Latitude E7390" (NEW SPRING 2018-replaces the E7380) has a 13.3-inch widescreen (1920 x 1080 pixels) and a starting weight of about 2.59 pounds. Base model includes 8.0 GB memory, a 256GB solid state drive, and an Intel Core i5-8250U Quad Core 1.6GHz processor, integrated HD webcam and microphone. A briefcase or  SLEEVE case options are available (ECN Standard is a case unless requested otherwise), 4 year "CompleteCare" (accidental damage protection) warranty, and keep your hard drive - 4 years.  Total cost is approximately $1165.  ECN recommended standard upgrades are i7-8650U Processor, 16gb memory and a 512gb SSD for a total of about $1280.  Touch Screen option is available for this laptop for an additional cost of about $50*.

 The 7390 is also available as a 2 in 1 model, (NEW SPRING 2018 - 7390 2 in 1) with similar configuration as above, but includes a Touch Screen* and standard cost of around $1395.

12-inch, 2.5-pound model:  Same chassis (size and weight) as the "Dell Latitude E7290" but with a smaller LCD panel but with a larger bezel. We recommend the E7390 over the 12" model.

*: Not everyone likes the touchscreen.

Tablet model: We are recommending the Dell Latitude 5290 (resembles the Surface Pro - contact us for details) (Note that Microsoft Surface Pro's have some drawbacks: 1) only available with 1 or 3 year warranty vs 4 and 5 years on the Dell version; 2) only provides mail to depot hardware service vs on site for the Dell version; 3) requires a $50 deductible for accidental damage repairs vs no deductible for the Dell version.)


Consumer models, netbooks, and/or other brands

Consumer models: Faculty and staff occasionally ask us about cheaper mass-marketed laptop models. Attractive advertised prices on Dell Inspiron, XPS, and Alienware model lines are achieved via short warranties, the possibility of long waits in a telephone queue when you need to obtain service, and mail-in hardware repair service only (no on-site service). Because these model lines are targeted toward home use, ECN does not recommend or purchase them.

Other brands: ECN's preference for Dell over other laptop brands (e.g. HP, Sony, Acer, Lenovo) is based on Purdue's geographic location. Dell's service technicians for business customers in this region are based in Frankfort, Indiana, and they visit West Lafayette to provide on-site service on a daily basis. Most other brands have service centers at least 60 miles away. As with Dell's consumer models (described above), the other brands offer mail-in service only, scheduled via long waits in a telephone queue. Although we understand you might prefer more brand choices, ECN believes convenient, timely serviceability should be of paramount importance when purchasing a laptop. 

These are some of the reasons ECN recommends specific Dell Latitude and Dell Precision Mobile Workstation models and recommends against netbooks, other model lines such as the Dell Vostro, consumer models, and other brands. Faculty and staff who opt to purchase these models should note that such laptops will be entirely self-supported; ECN won't provide ordering, software installation, or troubleshooting services for them.

The Dell Latitude line of laptops, on the other hand, are designed for business. ECN recommends the specific Dell Latitude models listed on this page; we also recommend various Dell Precision Mobile Workstation models. For a Dell Latitude or Precision Mobile Workstation, we have direct on-line access to Dell Support, and on-site service is provided when necessary.

For the lightest-weight PC laptop, we suggest the Dell Latitude 13.3-inch model described above.

Justification: Campus-wide processes are now in place designed to keep Purdue's acquisition and ownership costs in check. If you opt to purchase an alternate brand or model, please note that the procurement process might require that you provide justification for your selections.

Please contact ECN to discuss your specific needs.



The 15-inch Dell Latitude model described above is the only recommended model large enough to include a keyboard with a numeric keypad. The other recommended models have standard keyboards without numeric keypads.


Keyboards with & without numeric keypad

Top: 15-inch Dell Latitude model with its included numeric keypad.
Bottom: Typical keyboard on the smaller recommended Dell Latitude models.


Future Models

To determine the age of legacy models, see our Dell model years page.


See also:



Last modified: 2018/09/24 17:09:1.303588 GMT-4 by kevin.s.newell.1
Created: 2010/04/02 08:44:22.135000 GMT-4 by john.a.omalley.1.



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