Selecting a Personal Computer

  • Michigan Engineering recommends students own a personal laptop computer.
  • Engineering students who are interested in purchasing a computer should consider available options carefully, and make a selection based on their budget, productivity needs, and hardware lifespan.
  • The U-M Tech Shop is a valuable resource for U-M students that offers both a walk-in and online store with educational pricing.

A laptop computer is recommended for all incoming Michigan Engineering students. If a student already owns a laptop that meets the minimum requirements listed below, it should work with U-M and Engineering online services. When purchasing a new computer, incoming students may want to choose a model with the recommended memory and hard drive storage, and is powerful enough to provide satisfactory performance over a 3- to 4-year program.

Recommended Hardware

Feature Recommendation
Hardware type Laptops are recommended for mobility, but not required
Processor PC:
– Intel Core i5 or i7
– AMD Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7
– M1 (minimum)
– M2 (recommended)
Operating System Windows:
– 10 Education or Professional *
– 11 Education or Professional *
– Most recent version (recommended)
Memory (RAM) 16 GB (minimum)
64 GB (recommended)
Storage 256 GB SSD (minimum)
1 TB SSD (recommended)
Wi-Fi 802.11ac (minimum)
Wi-Fi 6E (recommended)
Video Card 1920 x 1080 or better display resolution (minimum)
A discrete graphics card with a dedicated GPU (recommended)
Camera 720p, 1280×720 at 30 fps (minimum)
1080p, 1920×1080 at 60 fps (recommended)
Backups External hard drive, or subscription to a cloud-based solution, e.g. U-M Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive (highly recommended)
Warranty 4 years (recommended) **

* Some applications may not be usable with the Windows Home edition. In these cases, a free upgrade to the Windows Education edition is available to students from the U-M Tech Shop OnTheHub service.
** Extended warranties are highly recommended. These normally cover hardware, as well as system troubleshooting from the vendor. Accidental damage coverage may also be available.

Other Recommended Options to Consider

  • Any combination of headphone and microphone (e.g. headset) will assist with online/remote learning
  • Adapter(s) for connecting to external displays or projection devices (e.g. USB-C or HDMI)
  • An anti-theft lock device

PC or Mac?

The Windows and macOS operating systems are both commonly used by Engineering students and faculty. Linux is also used, but is less common.

All software required for Engineering coursework is available in on-campus CAEN computer labs. CAEN also offers remote connections to the computer lab environment, which provides access to most engineering software applications from off-campus. While these options do not diminish the recommended minimum hardware requirements above, they ensure there is no requirement for students to install course software directly on their laptops.

No-Cost Software For Students

CAEN works with vendors to offer no-cost, academic software that Engineering students may install on their personal computers at no cost. Most of these applications run on the Windows operating system, but there are options available for Mac users to emulate Windows and install them (e.g. VMware). In many cases, the software applications are only accessible to students who are enrolled in a for-credit course at Michigan Engineering.

U-M Tech Shop

The Tech Shop provides sales, service and support for computers, tablets, software, security essentials, and other peripherals to U-M students, faculty and staff. As an authorized Apple, Dell, and HP service provider, they also provide computer repair, including in- and out-of-warranty hardware repair, software installation, data backup, and more.

Last Updated August 14, 2023