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
  • 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

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
CPU
Memory
Disk Space
Networking
Videocard
Audio & Video
Miscellaneous

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:

CPU

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.

CPU Notes:

Memory

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

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

Networking

  • 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.

Videocard

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)

Audio & Video

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:

  • camera
  • microphone
  • speaker

An audio jack is useful so you can connect wired headphones.

Miscellaneous

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