Computer Recommendations for Incoming Students
All incoming freshman and transfer students are required to own a personal computer.
If you already own a computer, we recommend that you wait to start classes and then you will have a much better assessment of your needs.
If bringing a computer you already own, which would meet needs for another couple of years:
- It should be no more than two years old
- Have a Quad Core processor and a minimum of 8GB of RAM
- Have at least one USB port and Wi-Fi
If buying a new computer:
- Have a minimum of 16GB of RAM
- Have a Core i7 or greater/equivalent CPU
- Have a minimum of 500GB of storage (an SSD is highly recommended)
- Have Windows 10
- Have an Ethernet port or adapter and Wi-Fi
- A graphics adapter, preferably NVIDIA, is recommended
Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering students are required to have a Windows-based laptop. Computer Science, Chemical and Life Science Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering students may optionally use macOS.
Please note the following important requirements:
- Given the need for "remote learning", a reasonable Internet service is very important. Check the Internet for the recommended speed for your living environment based on the number of people and devices.
- A multifunction printer device is critical for both printing (black) and scanning (color) to address needs for remote quizzes and other remote delivery needs.
- Good quality speakers and microphone are critical. If your laptop speakers are not providing good audio, purchase a headset with headphones and built-in microphone.
- A working camera on your laptop is important, to fully participate in online classes, small group discussions and meetings with your instructors or teaching assistants.
- If purchasing a new computer, a laptop is highly recommended over a desktop.
- A current version of Microsoft Office is required. This is available free to all registered VCU students. Click here for more information.
Note on Macs: While many courses use software available for the Mac OS, there are some software applications used in the College that require a Windows environment. If you currently own a Mac system, do look at options to install Windows on your Mac.
If you take courses with 3D modeling or large simulations, you will benefit from a system with augmented specifications, to include an NVIDIA graphics adapter.
If purchasing Windows Home edition, VCU provides a free upgrade path to Windows 10 Education.
The Engineering IT team would be very happy to assist you if you have additional questions. Please email us for assistance.