Here are some suggestions when purchasing a laptop used for the school purposes.


We recommend:

  • a CPU that supports virtualization (Check for Intel VT-x, AMD-V, or VIA VT support)
  • You can choose the CPU, Intel and AMD CPU’s are the most popular. The more CPU cores the better; 4 or more cores are recommended
  • your choice of operating system: Mac OS, Windows or Linux
  • most operating systems will run with a minimum of 4 GB of RAM; 8 GB or more are recommended
  • Solid State Drives (SSD’s) are faster than spinning drives and are recommended

Many CPU’s support virtualization but some like ‘atom’ processors (typically found in netbooks) do not. Please check with your vendor or the manufacturer that your CPU does support virtualization.


Your operating system can run software that will run virtual machines (VM’s). VM’s allow you to run multiple operating systems on your computer. In order to use this technology your CPU will need to support virtualization. You will need to contact the vendor or look at the manufacturer documentation to determine if your processor supports virtualization.

For virtualization your processor must support one of:

  • Intel VT-x,
  • AMD-V
  • VIA VT

Mobile Computing

All students in the Mobile Computing Stream will be able choose either a Mac or a PC laptop. Please note that iPhone and iPad development can only be accomplished using the Xcode software development kit (SDK) provided by Apple running on Mac OS X. Therefore, if this type of development is a goal of yours, a Mac laptop would be a better choice for you.

Gaming Stream

For the gaming stream you will be using DirectX that means you should be running Microsoft Windows. There are no other requirements but it is recommended that you use a video card that can run recent PC games.


Don’t spend any money on a Windows operating system, Microsoft Azure Dev Tools for Teaching allows Computer Science students to download Microsoft Software free of charge. This can save you a considerable amount of money! Check the Computer Science Software page for free software available to Computer Science students.