The School of Computer Science laptop hardware requirements are as follows.

Summary Requirements

PC or MAC laptops with the following minimum specifications:

  • CPU: Intel i5/i7/i9/Xeon or AMD Ryzen line (1.)
  • 8 GB or more of RAM
  • 256 GB or larger hard drive (SSD drive recommended)
  • wireless networking (WiFi)
  • camera, mic and audio

Computers such as Netbooks, Chromebooks, Smartphones or atom processors are not suitable for the Computer Science program

(1.) any CPU that supports virtualization is adequate, please see CPU requirements for details

Detailed Recommendations

The detailed laptop hardware specifications are as follows. This will be particularly useful for anyone looking to purchase a new laptop.

Operating System
Disk Space
Audio & Video

Operating System

The School of Computer Science does not require you to have a specific operating system on your laptop. You have a choice of:

  • Linux,
  • MAC OS,
  • and Microsoft Windows

as the native operating system on your laptop.

For the details on laptop operating systems refer to:


The Intel i5/i7/i9 or Intel Xeon or AMD Ryzen line CPU’s are ideal for Computer Science laptops.

There are other CPU’s that can be used for the laptop. The defining criteria is that the CPU supports virtualization:

  • Intel (VT-x) processors such as: i5, i7, i9 or Xeon
  • AMD (AMD-V) processors such as the Ryzen line

Netbooks, Chromebooks, Smartphones or atom processors do not support virtualization and therefore do not qualify under these requirements.

CPU Notes:

  • The CPU must be 64-bit
  • There is no number of core requirement but recommended are 4 or more cores
  • There is no CPU frequency requirement although 2 GHz or better per core are recommended
  • CPU’s with hyper-threading support virtualization and are recommended (not a requirement)
  • (*) Some Intel i3 processors support virtualization and can be used
  • Intel CPU: Does my processor support virtualization


Must haveĀ  8GB of RAM or more. If you have the budget we recommend 16 GB of RAM.

Note: There is no speed requirement for RAM

Disk Space

Strongly suggest you invest in a Solid State Drive (SSD) hard drive because of the superior performance.

Hard drive: 256GB or larger SSD

Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or “spinning drives” are better value per GB of disk space but perform slower than SSD drives


  • laptop requires WiFi (AC or AX)
  • recommend is a 1G or faster ethernet port or adapter

There is a USB 3.0 to ethernet adapter that you can purchase so you do not need an ethernet port on your laptop. The big benefit of ethernet is that it is more secure than WiFi, has better latency, throughput and fewer dropped connections.


There are no video requirements (2.):

  • There is no resolution requirement
  • There is no screen size requirement
  • There is no touchscreen requirement

(2.) The video gaming stream requires you to have a video card that can run current games

External video ports are useful for group projects and presentations. When purchasing a laptop look for HDMI, display port or VGA ports.

For students in the Gaming development stream we recommend:

  • A laptop with at least HD resolution (1,366 x 768) or better
  • Gaming students may prefer full HD (1,920 x 1,080) or better display resolutions
  • A GPU with CUDA (NVIDIA) cores and high compute capability
  • A GPU that has Tensorflow cores is usefulĀ  (not a requirement)
  • Gaming students tend to prefer larger sized screens 17″ (matter of preference)

Audio & Video

Your laptop must be able to run videoconferencing software like Big Blue Button and Microsoft Teams with sound and video. Your laptop must have:

  • camera
  • microphone
  • speaker

Audio jack is useful so you can connect wired headphones.


Here are additional laptop features that you can look for:

  • your laptop should have USB 3 ports (USB C ports are useful as well)
  • you may prefer thin light laptops so it is easy to carry with you
  • recommended is a laptop with long battery life
  • recommended is that you invest in a padded carry case
  • built in SD card readers