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Recommendations for Computer Purchases

Dean’s Note: Engineering software has evolved and was initially focused on solving specific types of problems in different fields such as numerical computation, computer-aided design, finite statement analysis, and computational fluid dynamics. Traditionally, they have been developed for WinTel (Windows/Intel) systems. New releases often build upon prior software versions that grew out of these roots over the past 40-50 years. While many engineering software packages are compatible with both Windows AND MacBook PCs, students may still encounter occasional software compatibility issues on macOS.

Engineering software is increasingly being made available through cloud-based, browser options in addition to natively installed applications on PCs. While these options are becoming popular due to their convenience and collaboration capabilities, they may be slower in practice due to network communication. Further, while these software programs can be run on tablet computers, tablets (Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Microsoft Surface, etc.) use mobile processors and may have insufficient memory to adequately run engineering software which often requires advanced computational power and high-resolution visualization and graphics. As such, tablet-style computer systems are not recommended for primary engineering use.

Below are some recommendations for minimum PC requirements for WinTel-based PC’s and laptops.  In general, it is recommended that students invest in the most powerful computer they can afford to ensure long-term usability.

Minimum Requirement Recommendation
OS: Windows 11 (MacOS1)
Processor: Intel i5 or i7, 11th Gen or newer; AMD Ryzen 7 (w/ min 4 core/8 thread processor) Intel i7 or i9, 12th Gen or newer; AMD Ryzen 9 or higher (min 4 core/8 thread processor)
Memory: 16-32 GB RAM 32-64 GB RAM (more is better)
Hard Drive: 256 GB or 512 GB SSD 512 GB or 1 TB SSD or higher
Warranty: 3 Year w/ accident protection 4 Year w/ accident protection
Graphics Card: Integrated video card w/ 2-4 GB video memory Discrete/dedicated w/ 4-8 GB video memory (NVIDIA or AMD)
Video Conferencing Tools: Built-in Mic, Speakers, & Camera Built-in Mic, Speakers, & Camera
Add a headset with mic
Battery Life 8-10 hrs per charge 10-12 hrs per charge
Screen Size 15.6”, 1920x1080 (FHD), 120 Hz 15.6”, 1920x1080 (FHD or higher), 120 Hz
Network 802.11 g/n 802.11 g/n

1Note for Apple users: Engineering students are increasingly adopting Apple PCs. Mac users may need to install Windows virtualization software to run engineering applications not available on macOS. For instance, some software (e.g., Microchip Studio, Quartus, etc.) still do not support installation on macOS. While most students do not experience issues, occasionally students will report compatibility issues accessing some engineering software products. Also, as a caution, most university IT departments have limited capabilities to support devices running on macOS.

General Information and Reviews:

Note: These links are NOT intended to recommend certain vendors or laptops, but rather to provide some common options and combinations for engineering laptops.

Other Benchmarks:


Want to Know More?

E. S. Witchger School of Engineering
(317) 955-6600

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