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General Purchasing Info for Personal Computers

Purchasing a new computer? Here's a few suggestions to get you started.

Researching your needs

  • Research the coursework for your field of study and determine what types of software you will need to run.
  • If these tasks comprise the entirety of your computing needs, see the recommended minimum spec sheet below. It has been crafted for your tasks. Expect to pay ~$600 for a new PC with these specs; and ~$1200 for a new Mac with the same.
    • A basic software stack for students includes a web browser with around a dozen tabs open + several documents in Microsoft Office. Distance students will likely use the Zoom desktop app for Webmeetings.
  • Using a search engine, enter: “Recommended laptop specifications for <your task> <current year>”.
  • Before purchasing software to along with your new computer, check to see if there are free or discounted student versions available.
    • The university provides free Office 365 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc) to all active students!

Recommended tech specs

A set of baseline specifications which should suffice for the tasks mentioned above:

Operating System (OS)Windows 11 or macOS (latest feature update available). Please note that Chromebooks and iPads do not support the software required for many UAS classes.
ProcessorIntel Core i5 8th generation, AMD Ryzen 3, or equivalent.
Memory (RAM)Minimum 8GB. More RAM = more browser tabs, office documents, or other apps running simultaneously.
StorageSSD (solid-state) drive of at least 256GB.
Battery8 hours as advertised; actual battery life is usually about ⅔ of this.
ScreenResolution of 1920x1080 or higher.


3 years+

Computer Hardware and You

Processor/CPUThe CPU is like the brains of the computer. It handles number crunching and tells everything what to do. Without it, your computer would be a potato.
Hard DriveIn the same way a file cabinet stores things safely for later use, hard drives are for storing applications and saved documents permanently.
Random Access Memory (RAM)RAM is like sticky notes for the computer. It temporarily stores information for quicker access. RAM doesn't last forever and gets wiped clean each time the computer turns off.
Graphics CardThe graphics card is like the eyes of the computer. Similar to how our eyes affect the quality of stuff we see, a better graphics card will allow for high image quality.
MotherboardThe motherboard is like the nervous system of the computer It's connected to everything and sends messages between components.