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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Personal Computers: Laptop recommendation

ERE students preparing to purchase a laptop may want to consider the general guidance offered below:

  1. Microsoft Windows based (10-Pro 64bit OS).  The computers on campus are Windows based, therefore the ERE curriculum is taught using that operating system.  Some of the software used in the curriculum is not available for Mac's and others that have Mac versions can vary significantly such that textbooks or lab instructions may not translate across OS versions.
  2. Processor. A minimum of an Intel Core i7 (any generation).
  3. Memory. 16GB SDRAM.
  4. Storage. 512GB Solid-state hard drive (SSD).  SSDs are orders of magnitude faster than spinning hard drives, which is particularly apparent when the system is booting, apps are launched, data is processed, or Windows updates are performed.
  5. Video.  Most laptops have graphics processors that are more than sufficient. 
  6. Display. The bigger the better, but the trade-off is weight.  Smaller systems have less room to have multiple applications open simultaneously, while larger systems give the best visual space, but are more cumbersome.
  7. Extras.  Speakers, headphones, external monitor, keyboard, and mouse are not that expensive, but add a great deal of efficiency. 
  8. Network access. Wireless ethernet. WiFi is generally available on campus, but being hard-wired has great speed and connection quality advantages e.g. for uploading software or large files. However, many systems do not have an “RJ45” network port. If that’s the case, you should consider purchasing a USB-to-RJ45 adaptor for direct connection to a wired network.
  9. Software. Microsoft Office 365 is available to all students using their ESF credentials. Students can also get access to specialized software such as ArcGIS and AutoCAD.

ESF students have the option of purchasing computers through the Syracuse University Computer Center. The Dell system recommended for the SU College of Engineering and Computer Science matches our general guidance and has excellent warranty and support coverage.

Updated: September 2021