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Beginning in Fall 2020, students taking CSCI courses numbered 300 or above are expected to have a laptop which meets the following minimum requirements.  These minimums are intended only for upper division computer science courses, and only for the most common requirements. For courses outside the program and certain specialty courses, you may need to use provided lab facilities for systems configured to support specific applications. 

Minimum Requirements 

  • CPU: Intel i5, i7, i9, or AMD Ryzen 5, 7, 9 with 2 cores with 2GHz turbo speed. 
  • Memory: 8GB of RAM. 
  • Storage: 120GB SSD disk. 
  • Screen: 13” or larger. 
  • Peripherals (perhaps via adapter): USB 3HDMIWifi  (54mbs capability or better). 
  • OS: Apple OSX Mavericks, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS desktop, or Windows 10 Home or Pro. 


Here are some reference systems: 

  • Refurbished Lenovo T440S with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS desktop. 
  • Refurbished 2012 Macbook Pro with OS X Mavericks. 

Note that laptops are most likely to fail in their first year, so consider getting a warranty that covers at least 18 months. 

Depending on the laptop, memory and disk upgrades may be relatively easy and cheap.  If the processor is adequate, you may simply upgrade the components of an older laptop. 

From reliability and broadest compatibility, consider getting MacBook Pro or Air.  These systems are historically more reliable and have higher resale value.  They will run Microsoft Office applications that may be required in other courses, support iOS development, and work with popular virtualization tools. 

Microsoft Windows is one of the most difficult operating systems to use for Computer Science.  Except for Microsoft specific development tools, CS tools are typically only supported secondarily in Microsoft Windows, and their virtualization has fundamental incompatibilities for common tools.  Consider getting a refurbished laptop running Ubuntu 18.04 or OS X Mavericks. 

Chromebooks and other devices which do not meet the minimum requirements may be sufficient, depending on the course, but the degree of support for these systems will be limited and may strictly not work.  Contact your professor and seek help from the CS club to assess your options.