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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 coursework 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 coursework 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, and 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.
  • Note: Chromebooks are only suitable for basic internet usage and productivity software, such as word processing/spreadsheets. 
  • For information about these requirements, contact the OIT Help Desk.

Minimum Computer Requirements

To ensure students have a computer that can adequately handle coursework 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 (or AMD equivalent) Any current-generation Intel-Core i5 processor 
RAM (also called Memory) 16 GB  More RAM will also allow you to run more applications concurrently without seeing a slowdown.
Storage 512 GB If there is a need for a large amount of storage of larger files (i.e. movies, large pictures, high-quality audio files, CAD files, etc.) then an even larger amount of storage space is recommended.

 Operating system Microsoft Windows 11


Currently vendor support versions 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 (such as NVIDIA or AMD

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

Wired (for some computers this may require an adapter)
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
USB-A adapter for Flash drives
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. The most common types use on campus are HDMI, USB-C, and DisplayPort.
Warranty 4-year warranty Accidental damage coverage, which covers more than manufacturer defects. 


Keywordsguidelines suggestions informational laptop decide criteria processor RAM HDD SSD upgrade minimum recommendations specs specification speed buy discount   Doc ID69087
OwnerRyan M.GroupRice U
Created2016-11-29 16:16:05Updated2023-05-30 17:41:31
SitesRice University
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