Recommended Personal Computer Specifications for Engineering Students
2019-20 Academic Year
These recommendations should serve as guidelines for new PC purchases, but are not absolute. Purchase a desktop or laptop computer based on your needs and circumstances. Feel free to send any questions you have to the Director of Engineering Information Technology at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PC vs. Mac
Some of our students prefer Mac over PC, and that is completely fine! In the College of Engineering, our environment consists almost entirely of PCs, because the vast majority of engineering software is written for Windows. There are some software vendors that offer free student versions, but many of them can only be used in the computer labs because they require the full institutional license. If you want to run student versions on your own computer, a PC is recommended. For information about software available to students, please see the section of this webpage entitled Engineering Software.
Intel i5 or i7 processors or their AMD equivalents are recommended. If you or your student are planning to run CAD applications like AutoCAD or SolidWorks, an i7 processor is the best choice. Otherwise an i5 processor is sufficient. Battery life is an important trade-off to consider when selecting a processor; a more powerful processor will reduce a laptop’s overall battery life.
8GB are suggested for robust performance; more and more computers now ship with 16GB of memory, so go with more if it fits your budget.
We have seen significant performance improvements when upgrading to solid state drives (SSDs) in our lab environments. We highly recommend purchasing a computer with an M.2 SSD. M.2 is a newer interface that reaches even faster data transfer speeds than older SATA SSDs.
This will be dependent on your PC’s intended use, but generally speaking at least a 1GB card for a laptop or a 2GB card for a desktop are suggested. If running CAD software is your intended usage you will realize significantly greater rendering speeds by further sizing up the graphics card.
An office productivity suite is suggested. All Valpo students have access to the Microsoft Office suite free of charge. See the Engineering Software page for details.
These specifications are specific to College of Engineering students. For non-program specific recommendations please visit the IT department’s Computer Specifications page.
Valparaiso University counts CDW-G as one of its vendors for sourcing computers and related equipment. Students are now eligible for the same academic pricing through CDW-G that the school receives! To purchase a computer from this vendor, follow this link: http://www.cdwg.com/valpo.