Tech Guide

Heading into the next few years, here’s a couple of things to know: A lanyard is a great way to keep track of your keys and ID cards, the computer you buy for college will be one of the most important things for your entire 4 years, and don’t spend all of your money on starbucks... This guide will not help you with two of those but it will help you make the right choice for your laptop!
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General Hardware

The majority of schools recommend students own a computer that at least meets the minimum standards listed below:
The minimum processor should be an Intel® Core™ i5, but it is recommended to have an Intel® Core™ i7 or higher. Alternatively, an Apple M2 or higher is also acceptable. A faster processor will allow for faster performance, which is especially important when using intensive applications for some coursework.
It is recommended to have at least 256 GB SSD or 1 TB HDD of storage space. Solid State Drives (SSD) are faster than traditional hard drives and are preferred unless you require more storage space for larger files such as high quality video or CAD files.
Operating System
Windows is the most commonly used operating system in most college settings, but it is not required. Mac users should make sure that all required software is compatible with the Apple operating system.
GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)
A dedicated GPU is not required, but it is recommended for students who will be using their laptop for tasks such as video editing or graphic design.
It is not recommended to purchase a device with ChromeOS, as they are not compatible with coursework software used in most universities.
Tablets are not acceptable substitutes for laptops, as they lack the necessary processing power, storage space, and software compatibility required.
Please Note: Each department will have their own unique requirements that may differ from those mentioned in this section. When in doubt students should check with their academic advisors or IT departments before making a final decision on their laptop purchase.
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General Software

The following are software applications you will be expected to use throughout your enrollment, regardless of area of study.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Some programs in the Creative Cloud suite will be used such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere and will benefit from a dedicated GPU.
Microsoft Office
Will be required for most courses during your time here. Microsoft Office is optimized for the Windows operating system and although Microsoft Office is compatible with macOS there have been many reported limitations to Microsoft Excel and other programs on Apple’s M1 and M2 devices.
Teleconferencing software that will be necessary for remote classwork.
Warning for Apple Devices: Some applications required for your coursework will not be compatible with MacBooks equipped with M1 or M2 chips and virtualization will not circumvent these issues due to the software being designed for Intel processors.
App Disclaimers
Geographic information system; 2D and 3D capabilities for cartography and visualization.
Warning: Not available natively on MacOS
Modeling tool for engineering and architecture of structures. 2D, 3D, and 4D capabilities.
Warning: Not available natively on MacOS
V-Ray for Rhino
3D Graphics and CAD modeling. 3D printing, architecture, and graphic design.
Warning: Not available natively on MacOS
3D Studio Max 3D
3D computer graphics for animations, arts, gaming, and images.
Warning: Not available natively on MacOS
Font editing and design software.
Warning: Only on MacOS
Scientific Workplace
Scientific word processing application.
Warning: Only supported on Windows and versions of macOS prior to Mojave
Statistical software suite developed by IBM for data management, advanced analytics, multivariate analysis, business intelligence, and criminal investigation.
Warning: Not compatible on M1 Apple devices
3D CAD modeling and computer-aided engineering.
Warning: Not available natively on MacOS
Software from SAS Institute that specializes in business intelligence and analytics.
Warning: Not available natively on MacOS
Microsoft Office
Productivity software suite that features applications for word processing, data analysis, presentations, and more.
Warning: Some features are limited to Windows
Visual Studio
Computer programming development environment.
Warning: Not available natively on MacOS