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Recommendations from ECS for students wanting to purchase a Computer.

Trying to purchase a computer, laptop or tablet is an area that is constantly changing. Many times a specific retail configuration is out of date a month after you purchase it. The systems that we recommend are models from manufacturers that have proven track records and most have components that are typically not Beta or test items, rather they have components that are continually included in system configurations because they are established.

Within the College of Engineering and Computer Science we have a mix of public teaching labs, most with PCs, some with Macs. These labs contain all of the licensed engineering software our students require.  Most of the licensing for software we use does not permit students  to install it on their personal computers, although this changes from time to time with a limited number of software applications.  For a list of what software students can install on their personal computers click the Software link on the left menu.

We have 5 public computer labs with PC systems for a total of 156 seats and we have a 35 seat MAC lab.  All of these are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for use as teaching facilities and free use computer labs for you to do your research and/or assignments.  For a schedule of the computer labs click the Computer Labs and Classrooms link on the left menu.

Now that you have some idea of how our computer labs are set up, let us offer some recommendations outside of what your individual college department may suggest.  We are providing a recommendation for both workstations, (either a desktop or mid-tower, which would be kept and used in your room) and laptops which offer portability and will allow you to take the system to class and the library, etc.


  •  In a PC Laptop  configuration, consider the mobility of the unit and the care you will exhibit for that unit. We believe that the bookstore can acquire some terrific laptop deals with the most up to date components, so we will refer you to the SU Bookstore's recommendation website so you can review the DELL models available.  In considering your options, weight, size of screen, number of USB ports, touchpad or toggle buttons, are all part of the convenience factor. You may also want to investigate a touch screen that can be used for easier manipulation of applications.
  •  For MAC Laptops  at the lower performance end of the spectrum there is the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Air, 1.6GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz, Intel HD Graphics 6000, 8GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM, 256GB PCIe-based Flash Storage, Backlit Keyboard (English) & User's Guide.
  • On the upper end, we would suggest a MacBook Pro , 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, 2.7GHz Dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz, 8GB 1866MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM, 512GB PCIe-based Flash Storage, Intel Iris Graphics 6100, Force Touch trackpad, Backlit Keyboard (English) & User's Guide.
  • If you decide to acquire a MAC you may need to purchase and install VMWare or Parallels and a Windows OS to run some of the ECS software they may need.

Whatever PC Laptop you buy, please spend just a bit more and purchase a 3 or 4 year accidental warranty,  which protects the unit even if the damage is your fault. For Macs, a 4 year Safeware Accidental Damage Service Plan is available at the bookstore.


  • Workstation  PC system Recommendation:
    •  Core i7-6700 3.4 GHz processor, 8-16GB of RAM memory, 500GB at 7500RPM minimum of disk storage, (optional SSD- Solid State Drive, increases productivity by volumes). CD/DVD drive and some USB ports so a flash drive or stick can be used for backup and file transfer.
  • For a MAC workstation  we suggest the iMAC. 
  • 3.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz, 16GB 1867MHz LPDDR3, 1TB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm, Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200, Magic Mouse 2, Magic Keyboard (English) & User’s Guide, Accessory Kit
  • One of the nice things about the iMac is that they are an all-in-one computer.In practice, the iMac only takes up only a little more space than a monitor.This can be helpful since in most dorm rooms, where space is at a premium. 
  • If you decide to acquire a MAC you may need to purchase and install VMWare or Parallels and a Windows OS to run some of the ECS software they may need.

You also should plan on using one or more USB flash drives. These are great for quick backups and data transfers.You can find many brands and styles.We prefer the Kingston traveler.We have had the most reliability with them.You can find an 8GB flash drive for between $8.00 and $12.00 and a 16GB for under $25.00.

We are aware that this cannot possibly answer all your questions, but hopefully we have provided some guidance that may help.If you wish to discuss this further we are available by phone.Have a great summer and the best of luck to you!

Thank you,

ECS IT Group

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