PC Laptop Recommendations

ECN's User and Desktop 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 funds. (Alternately, see our Mac laptop recommendations.)

In departments supported by ECN UDS, 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

Last updated April 7, 2015. 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 E6540" has a large screen (1920 x 1080 pixels 15.6-inch Ultra Sharp FHD widescreen) and commensurate starting weight (about 5.2 pounds). The 6540 has a built-in DVD drive and includes 8.0 GB memory, a 320 GB hard drive, an Intel Core i5-4310M 2.7 GHz processor, and a discrete AMD Radeon HD 8790M 2 GB graphics card, a backlit keyboard with numeric keypad (see the photo illustration on this page, below).  ECN upgrades include webcam, carrying case, and 4 year "CompleteCare" (accidental damage protection) warranty.  Total cost is approximately $1287.

Contact ECN for build-to-order pricing if you need to change these specifications.

14-inch, "not too heavy" 3.6-pound model: New for 2015, this may become our "most frequently purchased" laptop. The Dell "Latitude E7450" relies on solid state drives for storage, has no internal optical drive, and is lighter than previous-generation 14-inch models. It has our environment's most-requested mix of size (1366 x 768 pixels 14.0-inch widescreen, not too small) and starting weight (about 3.6 pounds, not too heavy). Base model includes a 128GB Mobility SS Drive, Internal English Dual Pointing Backlit keyboard,  webcam,  8GB memory and Intel i5-5300U Dual Core, 2.3GHz processor.  ECN's standard upgrades include a 256GB solid state drive, carrying case, and 4 year "CompleteCare" (accidental damage protection) warranty and keep your hard drive -4 years.   Total cost is approximately $1245.

Contact ECN for build-to-order pricing if you need to change these specifications. A higher-resolution display (1920 x 1080 pixels, adds about $90), a touch-enabled display, and higher-capacity storage are among the available options.

12.5-inch, 3-pound model: The Dell "Latitude E7250", NEW for 2015,  has a 12.5-inch widescreen (1366 x 768 pixels) and a starting weight of about 2.76 pounds. Base model includes 8.0 GB memory, a 128 GB solid state drive, and an Intel Core i5-300U Dual Core 2.3GHz processor, single point backlit keyboard and integrated HD webcam and microphone. ECN's standard upgrades include a 256GB Mobility solid state drive, carrying case, 4 year "CompleteCare" (accidental damage protection) warranty, and keep your hard drive - 4 years.  Total cost is approximately $1243.

Tablet model: Our current recommendation for a tablet is the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. We suggested the following four models:

Model 1) Core M3 processor, 4 GB RAM, and 128GB solid state drive for $878.89
Model 2) Core i5 processor, 8 GB RAM, and 256GB solid state drive for $1206.70
Model 3) Core i7 processor, 8 GB RAM, and 256GB solid state drive for $1426.50 
Model 4) Core i7 processor, 16 GB RAM, and 256GB solid state drive for $1591.51 
All models of the MS Surface Pro 4 come with the Black Type KeyPad. The docking station will be an additional $152.50, and Microsoft 3-Year Commercial Extended Service Plan With Accidental Damage & Handling will be about $221.07. 
Please keep in mind that the warranty does not cover theft and repair will require the unit to be shipped to the manufacturer. If you have more questions or are ready to place an order, please contact ECN.
Also, all sales are final with Surface Pro purchases - the vendor does not accept returns once the box is opened.


High-performance laptops: For faculty, staff, and graduate staff who need a level of performance above that offered by the recommended Dell Latitude models, ECN recommends various Dell Precision Mobile Workstation models. Ask us to create a custom "e-quote" which meets your specific needs; please expect the price to start at about $2000 and to climb significantly as options are added.

When you're ready to order, please contact ECN. We'll confirm the order details and ask you to provide the Purdue account number to be charged (working as needed with your business office). ECN will also handle placing the order.

You may consider the info above to be ECN's official quotation for a standard new PC laptop, but please note that pricing and specifications are subject to change. If the actual cost varies by more than a few dollars or if hardware specs have changed significantly, ECN will alert you and wait for your approval before proceeding with your order.


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 12.5-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: 2016/04/20 11:16:3.605886 GMT-4 by wen-hui.williams.1
Created: 2010/04/02 08:44:22.135000 GMT-4 by john.a.omalley.1.



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