Computer specifications and accessories for virtual learning
This document lists required computer specifications and recommended accessories and explains why they're important for your virtual learning experience.
Required computer specifications
- Operating System: Windows 10/11 or the latest macOS (version 12, as of this writing)
- Why: Most software that you will be using will require one of these operating systems. Some majors will have more specific recommendations of one operating system or another but most general software you will be using runs on one of these operating systems.
- PC: Minimum of Intel Core i5/17, AMD Ryzen 5 or Apple M1 Chip
- Macintosh: Minimum of Intel Core i5/17 or Apple M1 Chip
- Why: Some of the commonly used applications you may utilize will either not be able to run or will run very slowly on older processors. Please note that there are multiple generations of the i5/17 processors, with the earliest having been released in 2009. Older processors may not be as fast or as secure as the current ones.
- RAM: 8 GB RAM or greater
- Why: Several applications you will likely use on a regular basis require a minimum of 4 GB of RAM. If you want to run any other programs at the same time (such as an email application, note-taking software, or a web browser) your computer may not be able handle it unless you upgrade to 8 GB.
- Storage: 256 GB SSD or greater
- Why: A solid state drive (SSD) is much faster than a mechanical hard drive and will give you the biggest performance increase for a low cost. We recommend a 256 GB minimum because between the operating system and Microsoft Office, it will take up a significant amount of a smaller hard drive. While cloud storage is an option, you may need to install other applications or wish to keep local backups of important files. External storage may also be used to store additional files and backups.
- Screen Resolution: 1280 x 768 or greater
- Why: A number of applications use this as a minimum and won’t display correctly on lower resolutions.
- Graphics: Integrated
- Why: Most applications don’t need powerful graphics cards to run. Some majors will have programs that need higher end graphics.
- Webcam: Integrated or external
- Why: Required for exam proctoring and most virtual meetings/discussions. While integrated webcams are perfectly acceptable, an external webcam might provide higher picture quality and more flexible picture angle.
- Accidental Damage Warranty Coverage: 3 or 4 years
- Why: Laptops are a significant investment and move around a lot so it’s possible for an accident to happen. We recommend that you cover your laptop with an accidental damage plan through the manufacturer to not only protect you financially but also to expedite repairs.
Below are some common accessories. While these aren't required, they may improve your experience.
- External Monitor: at least 1080p resolution
- Why: If your laptop has a small screen and you find yourself working at your home desk often, it might be easier to use a larger screen. You could also connect to a TV as another option.
- Keyboard and mouse: whatever is comfortable for you
- Why: It is uncomfortable for some people to type on a laptop keyboard for longer periods of time. A mouse and keyboard may improve your quality of life.
- Headset: Basic Logitech model
- Why: The microphone on a headset will provide much better sound quality for your voice versus the built-in microphone on your laptop. The headset will also prevent echoes and clipping when you speak.