Buying the Right Computer

While completing the junior and senior years of your engineering degree, you will need to run multiple engineering programs that require a fair amount of computing power. With that in mind, Engineering Computing Services (ECS) recommends the following specifications for your laptop:

Windows-Based Systems

Lightweight Laptop

This laptop would be good for note-taking, Office programs, and web browsing, but may be slow or unable to run engineering software. You can often use this computer for the first two years, but it will lack power as you progress.

  • 64-bit Windows 7 or 10, Professional preferred (Upgrades available to our students)
  • Intel Core i5 processor or AMD A6 processor (2 GHz or higher)
  • 4-8GB memory
  • 250-500 GB hard drive or 128-25 6GB Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • 512 MB dedicated memory graphics card or better
  • CD/DVD drive recommended
  • 13" Widescreen or larger

Power User Laptop

This laptop will run engineering software, including simulations, which you will encounter in the later parts of your degree. Remember that the cost goes up as you increase power (CPU speed, RAM size, hard drive speed), reduce weight, and compress or expand screen size:

  • Windows 7 or 10, 64-bit, Professional or better (Windows upgrades are available to our students)
  • Intel Core i7 processor or AMD A8 processor (3 GHz or higher)
  • 8 GB or more RAM
  • 500GB or larger hard drive at 7200rpm or 256GB or larger SSD hard drive
  • 1GB dedicated memory graphics card or better
  • DVD or Blu-Ray drive recommended (Some software is delivered on disk)
  • 15" Widescreen or larger


Macintosh Laptop – All Users

While we do have a fair number of Mac users within Engineering, please be aware that a large majority of our programs are not available for Mac OS. Whitacre College of Engineering Remote Lab gives students access to many of our Windows engineering software, but some classes may require you to run Windows freeware or student versions of software not found on our Remote Lab. In that case, Mac users will need to install and configure Windows with either Bootcamp or VMware Fusion.

  • MacBook Pro or higher
  • Mac OS X El Capitan
  • Intel Core i7 recommended
  • 8-16 GB of memory
  • 256GB SSD or larger
  • 2GB graphics memory card recommended
  • Bootcamp or VMware Fusion to run Windows programs