Laptop Recommendations

Many engineering courses expect students to have and use laptop computers, connected to the wireless network, in both the classroom and laboratories.

A laptop, coupled with the wireless network available in all engineering buildings, allows students to access web-based course materials anywhere. The technology is used to improve teaching and learning and provide anytime/anywhere communications between faculty and students.


Windows-based PCs are preferred. A few engineering applications only run in a Windows environment. If a Mac is purchased, then the student would need to boot into Windows using Boot Camp or run a virtual Windows machine via Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion or VirtualBox.

Note: Students should not buy any software before classes start.

  • Operating System
    • Windows – Windows 10 or higher
    • Mac – OS X, Sierra (10.12) or higher
  • Processor
    • Either Intel or AMD, recommend an Intel Core i5 or higher, or the AMD equivalent
  • Memory
    • Minimum – 8 GB of RAM for both Windows and Mac
    • Consider – 16 GB of RAM or more for both Windows and Mac
  • Hard Disk
    • Minimum – 256 GB of storage
    • Consider – solid state drive for better performance (256 GB of storage or higher)
    • UA provides a free cloud-based storage environment for all students, faculty and staff
  • Display
    • There are no fixed requirements as this is a personal preference. A larger screen implies a larger visible image and greater laptop size and weight
  • Networking
    • Minimum – provides wireless network support (802.11 b/g/n/ac)
    • Consider – wired Ethernet LAN port, either built-in or external USB connection
  • Warranty
    • Minimum – one-year parts and labor
    • Consider – multi-year warranty, “complete care” that covers accidental damage
  • Software

Laptop computers have a finite lifetime. Given this, students who already have a functional laptop might consider delaying the purchase of a new laptop since the existing laptop should be adequate in the first year or two at UA. Students should consider purchasing a new laptop, with the latest technology, when they begin upper-division courses in engineering or computer science.