Being a college student is going to demand portability and choosing the right laptop for college can seem a little overwhelming. Too many brands, features, vendors, and components can confuse even the most tech-savvy and given the amount of options available, it is best to do some research to have a better understanding of which features can maximize your return on investment.
You will need to select a well-balanced array of components and it is important that you understand which component is in charge of what. This brief guide will give you a basic understanding of what to look for.
Windows runs on more laptop models and will provide you the highest compatibility with all the different software packages.
MacOS is the native OS for Apple devices, however some of the required software for courses are not fully compatible with MacOS devices. If you want to play it safe, we recommend a Windows laptop.
Is considered the “brains” of your laptop and there are three main things to look for when searching for the right processor:
1) Brand and Generation
3) Number of cores
RAM memory is measure in GBs, and the minimum recommended for most programs is at least 8GB. The more RAM you have, the more applications you will be able to run at the same time without significantly reducing the performance of your laptop.
Storage capacity is expressed in GBs and should have enough space to install the required programs as well as save project files. Our recommendation is to purchase a laptop with a Solid State Drive (SSD) hard drive.
Having the right display size will facilitate readability and increase comfort for your eyes but bear in mind that you will need to carry your laptop around campus. A 15 inch display will provide you with a good balance between size and comfort.
A graphics chip, is in charge of processing graphics for your laptop. There are two types of graphics chipsets, integrated and discrete; however a discrete graphics card is recommended as it has it's own dedicated amount of memory separate from the RAM memory.
We recommend a laptop that can provide you with at least 7 hours of battery life although 8 or more might be ideal.
While most laptops have one included, make sure the equipment options you are considering have this component or purchase an external webcam that is compatible with your laptop.
Minimum Hardware Requirements
Now that you have a better understanding of the main components, below is a list of the minimum requirements for your laptop:
|Hardware & OS||Minimum||Preferred|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-Bit or
macOS Catalina (v10.15.5)
|Windows 10 64-Bit|
|Processor||Intel Core i5 (2.0Ghz or faster) or
AMD Ryzen 5 (2.0Ghz or faster)
|Intel Core i7 or
AMD Ryzen 7
|Memory||8GB RAM||16GB RAM|
|Hard Drive||256GB SSD
(100GB free for courseware)
|Video||Integrated Video||Discrete Graphics|
|Warranty||Factory Warranty||Extended Warranty|
Remember, a laptop is a system, so it will be as fast as the slowest component in it, therefore, try to keep a balance and if your budget permits always go above the minimum requirement. If you invest a little bit more at an earlier stage, the right equipment might graduate with you.
Special Student Discount
As part of our commitment to help incoming students, the following section contains links to different vendors that provide special discounts to the College of Engineering students. The equipment listed on those virtual stores, are in line with the minimum and recommended specifications listed above, in order to help you improve your college journey.
Disclaimer: The above vendor listed laptops are options presented to incoming UTEP College of Engineering students and do not constitute a purchase obligation. These options are provided by vendors at a discounted price for incoming students, however, students can purchase any other brand based on their preference as long as it meets either the minimum or recommended set of specifications provided by the College.