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Department of Environmental Resources Engineering
Personal Computers: Laptop recommendation

The ESF Computing and Network Services provides guidance for ESF students who are considering purchasing a computer.. This website explains minimum specifications and suggests purchasing options. ERE students preparing to purchase a laptop may want to consider the additional guidance offered below:

  1. Microsoft Windows based.  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 Macs 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 i7.
  3. Memory. 8GB of memory is the minimum recommended, with little need for more than 16GB.
  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, when apps are launched or data is processed, and when Windows Updates are performed.
  5. Video.  Most laptops are coming with graphics processors that are more than sufficient. 
  6. Display. The bigger the better, but the trade-off is weight.  Thirteen inch and 14” monitors give little room to have multiple applications open simultaneously (see “Extra”).  Fifteen inch is a nice compromise.  A 17” system gives the best visual space, but is more cumbersome to carry.
  7. Extras.  Having an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse to use in your residence hall or apartment is a huge advantage.  These items are not that expensive, but add a great deal of efficiency.  Depending on the system you buy, it may or may not have an “RJ45” network port built in.  If that’s the case, you should consider purchasing a USB-to-RJ45 adapter so that you can connected to a wired network.  WIFI is generally available wherever you go on campus, but having the option to be hard-wired has great speed and connection quality advantages e.g. for uploading software or large files. 
  8. Software. MS Office is available to all students using their ESF credentials.