Selecting a Personal Computer

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

Beginning in Fall 2021, a laptop computer will be recommended for all incoming Michigan Engineering students. If a student already owns a laptop, it will likely work with U-M and Engineering online services.

Minimum Hardware Requirements

When selecting a new computer, students should choose a model that has enough memory and hard drive storage (see below), and is powerful enough to provide satisfactory performance over a three-to-four year lifespan.

Feature Recommendation
Hardware Laptops are recommended
Processor 64-bit processor
Intel Core i5 or i7
AMD Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7
Operating System Windows 10 Professional or Windows 10 Education *
macOS (current version)
Memory (RAM) 8 GB (minimum)
16 GB (recommended)
Storage 256 GB SSD (minimum)
500 GB SSD (recommended)
Wi-Fi 802.11ac (minimum)
Video Card 1920 x 1080 or better display resolution (recommended)
A discrete graphics card with a dedicated GPU (recommended)
Camera  720p (1280 x 720) at 30 fps (minimum)
Backups Backing-up to an external drive, or a subscription to a cloud-based solution (e.g. Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive) (highly recommended)
Warranty 4 years (recommended) **

* Some applications are not usable with Windows 10 Home. In this case, a free upgrade to Windows 10 Education is available from the U-M Tech Shop.
** Extended warranties are highly recommended. These warranties normally cover hardware problems as well as system troubleshooting via phone or email. Additional accidental damage coverage should also be considered.

Other Recommended Options

  • Adapter(s) for connecting to external displays or projection devices (USB-C and HDMI are the most common)
  • An anti-theft cable lock
  • A headset (w/microphone) may be necessary for online/remote learning

Windows 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, so there is no requirement for students to install applications.

No-Cost Software For Students

CAEN works with vendors to offer academic software that Engineering students can install on their personal computers at no cost. Most of these software applications run on the Windows operating system. In many cases, the software applications are only accessible to students who are enrolled in a for-credit course at the College of Engineering. These no-cost software applications can be downloaded and installed directly on a student’s personal computer.

CAEN also offers Remote Access to computer lab services, which provides access to most engineering software applications from off-campus. Using remote access does not diminish the recommended minimum hardware requirements.

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.