College of Engineering

Computer Recommendations for Incoming Students

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All incoming freshman and transfer students are required to own a personal computer.

If you already own a computer, we recommend that you wait to start classes and then you will have a much better assessment of your needs.

If bringing a computer you already own, which would meet needs for another couple of years:

  • It should be no more than two years old
  • Have a Quad Core processor and a minimum of 8GB of RAM
  • Have at least one USB port and Wi-Fi

If buying a new computer:

  • Have a minimum of 8GB of RAM
  • Have a Core i5 or greater/equivalent CPU
  • Have a minimum of 500GB of storage (an SSD is highly recommended)
  • Have Windows 10
  • Have an Ethernet port or adapter and Wi-Fi
  • A graphics adapter, preferably NVIDIA, is recommended

For Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering students: It is highly recommended to have a Windows-based laptop with a minimum 16GB of RAM in addition to the above recommendations.

Please note the following important requirements:

  1. Given the need for "remote learning", a reasonable Internet service is very important. Check the Internet for the recommended speed for your living environment based on the number of people and devices.
  2. A multifunction printer device is critical for both printing (black) and scanning (color) to address needs for remote quizzes and other remote delivery needs.
  3. Good quality speakers and microphone are critical.  If your laptop speakers are not providing good audio, purchase a headset with headphones and built-in microphone.
  4. A working camera on your laptop is important, to fully participate in online classes, small group discussions and meetings with your instructors or teaching assistants.
  5. If purchasing a new computer, a laptop is highly recommended over a desktop.
  6. A current version of Microsoft Office is required.  This is available free to all registered VCU students. Click here for more information.

Note on Macs: While many courses use software available for the Mac OS, there are some software applications used in the College that require a Windows environment. If you currently own a Mac system, do look at options to install Windows on your Mac.

If you take courses with 3D modeling or large simulations, you will benefit from a system with augmented specifications, to include an NVIDIA graphics adapter.

If purchasing Windows Home edition, VCU provides a free upgrade path to Windows 10 Education.

The Engineering IT team would be very happy to assist you if you have additional questions. Please email us for assistance.

Virginia Commonwealth University

College of Engineering
601 West Main Street
Box 843068
Richmond, Virginia 23284-3068
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