When purchasing a laptop for college there are many things to consider: What kind of software will it need to be able to run? Do I want a big screen, or a smaller screen and does it need to be 4k? How much do I care about portability and battery life? Mac or Windows? The questions run on and on and on, but hopefully by the end of this article you will have a better idea of what kind of computer you should be looking for.


General Recommendations:

Generally speaking a laptop should last the 4-5 years of college, is easy enough to carry to class, has a decent battery life, and can run most if not all of the software you may need in your time here at WSU. What we typically recommend for non-STEM majors is a mid-range laptop.

Look for the following hardware:

  • Intel i5 processor or AMD equivalent (Ryzen mobile 5)
  • Around 6-8gbs of RAM (DDR3LP/DDR4)
  • 120gb SSD at a minimum, but a 256gb SSD is preferred
  • Windows or MacOS

OS considerations:

You may not think about it but the operating system (OS) that you run on your computer will impact what kind of software you can install. Windows 10 is the most common OS that is compatible with most software, but you can certainly utilize a Macintosh if you prefer. Keep in mind some software is not compatible with MacOS, however, there are options to get around that problem.



CS/Engineering/STEM Recommendation:

Due to the need to run hardware intensive programs such as Solidworks, Visual Studios, Revit, etc.; you will want a machine that can not only handle those programs, but also have a decent battery life. 

Look for the following hardware:

  • Intel i5/or i7 processor or AMD equivalent (Ryzen mobile 5 or Ryzen mobile 7)
  • 8-16gbs of RAM (DDR3LP/DDR4)
  • 256gb SSD – 500gb SSD
  • Windows or MacOS

OS considerations:

Windows 10 may be your best choice in this case as it can run most software that you may need at WSU. However, you may also run macOS. Keep in mind that not all the software is available for MacOS and that you may need to utilize a virtual machine (Virtual Box, Parallels) or bootcamp the computer.