Computer Recommendations for Undergraduate Students

To ensure a undergraduate's computer can adequately handle course work needs, it should meet the minimum requirements specified in this document.

To ensure the computer can adequately handle course work needs, it should meet the minimum requirements specified in this document. 

Access to a computer serves as an integral part of course instruction. You choose the specific type of computer to use, so base your decision on how comfortable you are working with a computer and its operating system. Whether you are buying a new computer or using an existing computer, you should ensure your computer is robust enough for course work by checking that it meets the general minimum requirements outlined below. Each major has different computing and software needs so be sure to check with your advisor as well.

Computers are available for students to use at various places across campus (e.g., Fondren library, residential colleges). OIT has a limited number of loaner laptops for short-term loans (intended to bridge a gap when an individual's primary computer needs to be repaired and a temporary productivity computer is needed).

Purchasing Hardware and Software

If you are purchasing a new computer, educational discounts are offered by Dell and Apple (see Vendor section below). Rice licenses several software products that you can use for free or at a discounted rate.

When buying a new computer, consider the following:

  • Make sure the computer meets the minimum requirements listed below. 
  • Consider what software applications you will be installing and if they have minimum hardware requirements as well. (These requirements may be higher than what is recommended here.)
  • Think about how long you plan to use this computer and your future needs.
  • Compare costs of computer systems with minimum standards with those that are more robust.
  • For information about these requirements, contact the OIT Help Desk.

Minimum Computer Requirements

To ensure students have a computer that can adequately handle course work needs, minimum standards have been established for undergraduate workstations. (Note: Computers purchased in the past couple of years should meet these standards.)

Requirements Table
Specification Minimum Recommended Value   Explanation
Processor i5 processor Any current-generation Intel-Core i5 processor 
RAM (also called Memory) 8 GB  More RAM will also allow you to run more applications concurrently without seeing a slowdown.
SSD (Solid State Drive)

HDD (Hard Disk Drive) 
256 GB SSD or 1 TB HDD Solid state drives (SSD) are much faster than traditional hard drives.

Unless you have large numbers of enormous files on your computer (i.e. movies, large pictures, high quality audio files, CAD files, etc.), then having an SSD will make your computer feel much faster than a traditional hard drive. You can also augment a relatively small SSD with an external hard drive, thereby allowing you to store large files on the external drive if you do not use them frequently, or read/write them often.

Hard disk drives (HDD) are slower but are larger and less expensive than Solid state drive (SSD). This large amount is useful because file sizes can grow to be very large and some particularly large file types can quickly fill your hard drive space.

 Operating system Microsoft Windows 10


Currently vendor support version of Microsoft Windows or MacOS

We only support Operating systems where the vendor is currently providing security patches and updates.
Screen size 
Screen resolution
Minimum 13-inch

1920x1080 resolution
The screen size and screen resolutions are minimum recommendations for laptops. 
 Graphics card Intel Integrated graphics

Dedicated graphics

Graphic cards come either integrated or distinctly attached to the system board. Integrated graphics cost less, and are sufficient for general computing.

Dedicated graphics cards are frequently included on workstation computers because they can improve the speed of rendering or modeling applications.  
 Networking Wireless

802.11 is a wireless protocol that allows your computer to connect to WiFi networks.

If your computer does not come with a wired network port, we recommend purchasing a wired network adapter. Wired network connections offer greater stability and faster speed than wireless. 
Additional features Headphones
Display adapters
There are a variety of display adapters used for projecting to external displays. Select appropriately by verifying the type of display you are connecting to. 
Warranty 4 year warranty Accidental damage coverage, which covers more than manufacturer defects. 


See Also:

Keywords:guidelines suggestions informational laptop decide criteria processor RAM HDD SSD upgrade minimum recommendations specs specification speed buy discount   Doc ID:69087
Owner:Dora L.Group:Rice University
Created:2016-11-29 15:16 CSTUpdated:2022-12-05 11:28 CST
Sites:Rice University
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