The School of Computer Science laptop hardware requirements are as follows.
PC or MAC laptops with the following minimum specifications:
- CPU: Intel i5/i7/i9/Xeon or AMD Ryzen line
- 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
The detailed laptop hardware specifications are as follows. This will be particularly useful for anyone looking to purchase a new laptop.
The School of Computer Science does not require you to have a specific operating system on your laptop. You have a choice of:
- 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 CPUs are ideal for Computer Science laptops.
Please note Macs with the M1 processor do not support virtualization and therefore are not recommended for the Computer Science program (more info)
There are other CPUs 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.
- 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
- CPUs 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
- M1 Mac Devices & Other Non-Virtualization Capable Devices Not Supported by SCS
Must have 8GB of RAM or more. If you have the budget we recommend 16 GB of RAM.
Note: There is no speed requirement for RAM
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
- RTX (Ray Tracing) GPU’s are recommended since they have dedicated CUDA, Tensor and Ray-Tracing (RT) cores. This will give you the option of using the GPU for not only gaming but also for AI programming.
- Gaming students tend to prefer larger sized screens 17″ (matter of preference)
Your laptop must be able to run video conferencing software like Big Blue Button and Microsoft Teams with sound and video. Your laptop must have:
An 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