Computer Guidelines for FYE Students

Through both ITaP and ECN, students at Purdue have access to computer facilities and a wide range of software. However, some students like to bring their own personal computer to campus. For these students, FYE maintains recommendations for both hardware and software.


Basically any modern desktop or laptop computer costing over $400, Mac or PC, is appropriate. Tablet style computers 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.

Component Minimum Specifications Recommended
OS Windows 10 or Mac OS X 10.10 or newer
Processor (PC or Mac) Intel i3/Celeron, or AMD A6, or better
Memory at least 4 GB RAM
Video card any
Hard drive at least 250 GB or better
Optical drive not required (only if/when you discover a need)
Networking Gigabit Ethernet and Wireless 802.11 (g, n, and/or ac)
External ports at least one USB 2.0 port

These recommendationds follow those of ECN (the Engineering Computer Network) for typical computer needs for all four years of Engineering study, not just FYE. The recommendations were last updated by ECN on May 18, 2016. Contact ECN help ( if you have further questions.


Two software packages are heavily used in the ENGR courses taken in the first year: the Microsoft Office suite (especially Excel, Word, and Powerpoint), and MATLAB. All of these programs can be accessed by Purdue students in ITaP labs and on the computers in the ENGR classrooms, and MATLAB is also available through Software Remote.

Though purchase of these packages is not required, it is recommended if are planning to use your own computer, and many students find that it is much more convenient to have personal copies of the software. Student versions of these software packages can be purchased with discounted educational pricing at the links below. 

Product Notes and cost
Microsoft Office 365 Purdue students receive free access to Microsoft Office365.
MATLAB Student version
Select the most recent release. Our classrooms currently use version R2016a. Cost is $49 for MATLAB only, or $99 for a full MATLAB suite, including Simulink and several packages. Runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. We recommend delaying any decisions about purchasing MATLAB until you begin the course that it will be used in.