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Student Laptop Requirements

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department
May 21, 2022

"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 A9 or Ryzen 5 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)

(*) When making your purchase, please consider that it may be necessary to upgrade after two or three 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 Ryzen 7 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

  • 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 faculty provide partial set of notes prior to class and then write over the top of the notes using OneNote (Windows) — students are able to set these notes up in their OneNote and using their touch screen, write over the top of these notes just as the instructor presents material.

  • Some Electrical Engineering course-based software requires Windows; therefore, it is highly recommended to use a PC laptop and not a Mac!
  • 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, LenovoYesYes (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.

  • Requires a separate Windows license.
  • Some EE students have had luck with this approach, but not recommended for EE's

2.  Requires either using dual boot or using a Virtual Machine.

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

Purchasing Notes

  • 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