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; ~$1200 for a new Mac with the same.
- A basic software stack for students includes a web browser with around dozen tabs open + several documents in Microsoft Office. Distance students will likely use the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or Zoom desktop apps 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 10 or macOS (latest feature update available). Please note that Chromebooks and iPads do not support the software required for many UAS classes.|
|Processor||Intel 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.|
|Storage||SSD (solid-state) drive of at least 256GB.|
|Battery||8 hours as advertised; actual battery life is usually about ⅔ of this.|
|Screen||Resolution of 1920x1080 or higher.|
Computer Hardware and You
|Processor/CPU||The 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 Drive||In 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 Card||The graphics card is like 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.|
|Motherboard||The motherboard is like the nervous system of the computer It's connected to everything and sends messages between components.|