Student PC minimum requirements

This article is intended for incoming students into the College of Engineering and Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Other Colleges, groups or units at Purdue may have different recommendations and suggestions.


Minimum Specifications Recommended

OS Windows 10 or Mac OS X 10.13 or newer
Processor (PC or Mac) Intel i3 or better (or AMD A6 or better)
Memory 8 GB RAM or better
Video card any
Hard drive at least 250 GB or better
Optical drive not required (only if/when you discover a need)
Networking Wireless, (and get a wired Ethernet Adapter if needed)
External ports at least one USB 2.0 port

Original article:


Basically any modern desktop or laptop computer costing over $400, Mac or PC, is appropriate. Tablets or Google Chromebooks (e.g., iPad/iOS, Galaxy/Android or ChromeOS) may be useful for some applications such as note-taking, but software for technical applications is largely not yet available. Minimum recommended specifications are listed below.

If in doubt, go with a machine running Windows.

The overarching well-intentioned advice we can give anyone is to make sure that the data is backed up CONSISTENTLY using Purdue's; any of the cheap third party zero knowledge service; or an external hard drive (or both).*

Frequently asked questions include whether we have strong recommendations on the Make/model, whether you can do what you need to with Apple laptops, whether we suggest desktops or laptops...

The most common answer you'll receive is "It depends".

For instance, almost any make or model that has the minimums listed above would work. If you spend a small amount of money (say <$400), it may not be worth it to get an extended warranty- rather, treat it as disposable. If you're spending a lot of money, you may want to consider an accidental damage warranty coverage. Another thing to consider is whether you wish mail-in service (that can take a week or two depending on the manufacturer); or whether you wish next-business day on-site service. Not all makers provide the latter, so it's well worth your time to figure this out.

If you are a note taker that writes (as opposed to types), your options need to include a stylus. the iPad with a Pencil and an app called Nebo have been recommended to us. Nebo is also available for 2-in-1s like the Dell XPSes, or Microsoft Surface devices.

Consider software that you might want to use for your classes -- sometimes, the software has student versions that you can use -- other times, even student copies of certain titles are prohibitively expensive, and we suggest you use the provided computer labs for those purposes. If you choose a MacOS laptop, be aware of the cost considerations, and you you may need to become familiar with virtual machines or dual-booting. Especially if you will program boards that don't have excellent driver support.

Some thoughts, in no particular order:

  • There seems to be a slight preference amongst students towards Windows OS, for ease of getting help, troubleshooting, and repairs.
  • Whichever maker you prefer, spend a few minutes looking at their Refurb or Outlet stock. Especially if the warranty matches their New stock.

If you have specific questions, feel free to drop us a note and ask:

*: For a thorough comparison of backup companies and software, please visit: Some examples of software companies that we've heard people have had decent experiences with include: Backblaze, mozy, spideroak, carbonite.

Last modified: 2020/05/26 10:40:23.296533 GMT-4 by sundeep.rao.1
Created: 2013/07/17 09:11:6.580420 GMT-4 by sundeep.rao.1.



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