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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 11*
Processor (PC or Mac) Intel i5 or better (or AMD Ryzen)
Memory 16 GB RAM or better (We recommend 32 GB)
Video card any
Hard drive at least 512 GB SSD or better (We recommend 1 TB)
Optical drive not required (only if/when you discover a need - USB)
Networking Wireless, (and get a wired Ethernet Adapter if needed)
External ports at least one USB port

*Note: Industrial Engineering and TLI students: We definitely do NOT recommend MacOS for you.

Note 2: Please also see this document ( for examples of low-. mid- and high-end computers that you can consider, depending on your major. For example, several CGT, AAE and ME majors might want to look at mid- to high-end machines.

Note 3: We have recently downgraded MacOS to "not recommended for use" due to high levels of technical expertise needed to run Windows software. If you choose a MacOS laptop, be aware of the cost considerations, and you MUST be familiar with virtual machines or dual-booting. Especially if you will program boards that don't have excellent driver support. You must know your MacOS laptop as if you were running any flavor of Linux on it - that is, not as a standard user. “If you use MacOS, and know what a plist or kext are and are comfortable with working with them, you should be OK” - At the very least, purchase a license for Parallels - If you've already registered for classes, check here for a discounted version. If not, it costs $79, and is available at:

Other than the caveat above, basically any modern desktop or laptop computer costing over $400 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.

Whichever maker you prefer, spend a few minutes looking at their Refurb or Outlet stock. Especially if the warranty matches their New stock.

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 and the app Nebo. Nebo is available for 2-in-1s like the Dell XPSes, or Microsoft Surface devices (anything with an active stylus), or iPad with a Pencil.

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 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: Oct 18, 2023 11:17 am GMT-4
Created: Jul 17, 2013 9:11 am GMT-4 by admin