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Laptop Requirements

Student Laptop Requirements

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department
June 2, 2017

"EECS student studying with a laptop"

Students taking courses in Electrical Engineering (EE) or Computer Science (CSc) are expected to purchase and bring to SDSU their personal laptop. The EECS department does not administer a Laptop Program where you must purchase from SDSU, i.e., you are free to purchase your own or have a kind and loving relative or friend purchase one for you! Or bring the one you currently own. The following guide will help you select the right laptop computer for you.

Minimum requirements (*)

  • CPU: 2.0 GHz Dual Core Intel i5 – also AMD A series
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Disk: 256 GB SSD – also 512 GB 7200 RPM HDD (+)
  • Display: 1080p (1920 x 1080) integrated graphics
  • Ports: USB
  • Networking: Wireless (N)

(*) Please take into consideration when making your purchase that it may be necessary for you to upgrade after 2 or 3 years when using the minimum requirements as a purchasing guideline.
(+) 5400 RPM HDD yields very slow boot times and app load times – Not Recommended

Recommended requirements

  • CPU: 2.4 GHz Quad Core Intel i7 (or faster) – also AMD FX series
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Disk: 512 GB SSD (or larger)
  • Display: 2K (2560 x 1440) dedicated NVidia or AMD graphics – also 4K (3840 x 2160)
  • Ports: USB 3.0/3.1, HDMI and or Display Port
  • Networking: Wireless (AC)

Other hardware considerations

Display size

  • Larger displays will support higher resolutions – more content displayed
  • Touch (optional): Apple does not offer touch screens on MacBook and MacBook Pro
  • Optical (optional): Most manufacturers eliminated internal CD/DVD drives – USB external


  • Dependent on courses currently enrolled in
  • Some Electrical Engineering course-based software requires Windows
  • Most required software is available for free or through academic licensing programs
    • e.g., Microsoft Imagine (formerly DreamSpark) – Project, Visio, Visual Studio, Windows, …
    • e.g., MATLAB – SDSU site license
    • e.g., MS Office – student Office 365 Account “My Installs”


Select a manufacturer and operating system(s) that you are comfortable with

SystemWindowsLinuxmacOS (OS X)
AppleYes (1)YesYes
Dell, HP, Lenovo, …YesYes (2)No
Microsoft (Surface Pro)YesYes (2)No
  1. Requires either using Apple Boot Camp or using a Virtual Machine. Requires a separate Windows license.
  2. Requires either using dual boot or using a Virtual Machine.

  Manufacturer purchasing site examples
Most manufacturers offer educational pricing – For example:


  • You are not required to purchase a new laptop if you already own one that meets the requirements.
  • You are not restricted to purchasing from the list of manufacturers shown here.
  • You are not restricted to purchasing from the list of sites shown here.
  • You may purchase any manufacturer from any source you choose: in-store or online

If you have any questions, please send an email to, and in the subject line please enter the following: EECS Laptop Purchase Question. The front office staff will forward your request to the faculty member responsible for fielding related questions.