The following specifications and recommendations assume that a laptop should serve the student's computing needs for four years of engineering coursework. It may be possible to get by with a less capable machine initially, but performance will degrade more rapidly as the software demands change over time. We strongly suggest that a student have a laptop that meets the recommended specifications. If you are going to be studying Mechanical, Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering, Civil and Construction Engineering or Energy Systems Engineering and Engineering Science a macOS computer may not be the right choice and we strongly suggest you read the info in the Windows vs macOS FAQ entry below.

  Minimum Specifications Recommended Specifications

8th Gen Intel i5 
AMD 2000 Series Ryzen 5

10th Gen Intel i7 or newer 
AMD 4000 Series Ryzen 7 or newer



16GB RAM or greater
(see FAQ below)



1TB SSD or larger

Graphics AMD or Intel integrated GPU Discrete NVIDIA or AMD GPU
(see Windows vs Mac FAQ below)
Communications 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5
webcam, microphone
802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 or 6E
webcam, microphone
Operating System Windows 10/11, macOS BigSur Windows 11, macOS Monterey or later
Updated for the 2023-2024 academic year. If you have any questions, contact

Frequently Asked Questions

No, if you have a desktop computer that meets the minimum or recommended specifications that is fine. Students taking Ecampus only courses do not need to have a laptop. Students should make sure that they have a webcam/microphone.

You may purchase a laptop from any vendor you choose, as long as it meets our recommended or minimum specifications, however the following options may provide a better value:

Many courses will require you to run software that is Microsoft Windows only! 

Students in Civil and Construction Engineering and Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering programs will need to run Windows-only software with heavier 3D graphics needs. We highly recommend that students purchase a native Windows laptop if entering these programs.

If you choose to purchase an Apple laptop, you will  need to run Windows software via virtualization software, or else, rely entirely on the College of Engineering's Citrix Virtual App or Virtual Desktop (home internet speeds can affect Citrix performance).

The college computer labs are another option, but are limited in their capacity. 

A laptop with dedicated NVIDIA/Radeon/Vega graphics for these majors may aid in modeling software.

CBEE:  Windows or Mac
CCE:  Windows only, dedicated/discrete GPU
EECS:  Windows or Mac (see FAQ about Apple M1/M2 CPUs, CPU capable of hardware virtualization HIGHLY recommended)
MIME:  Windows only, dedicated/discrete GPU
NSE:  Windows or Mac 

Apple has recently shifted its laptop lineup from Intel processors to its own custom-designed ARM-based processors. These new processors are referred to as Apple Silicon and labeled as M1 or M2 CPUs. These processors offer several benefits, such as improved performance, better battery life, and enhanced security features.

However, there are still instances of software incompatibility on ARM based processor devices that students should consider before choosing a Mac. Some software required for your classes might not be available for ARM/Apple Silicon processors, which can make it challenging or even impossible to use them on an Apple Silicon laptop. This could be an issue if you need to run specialized software such as virtual machines, CAD, statistical analysis tools, or programming environments that have not yet been updated for Apple Silicon.

For most students 16GB is plenty of RAM/memory for general use. However, if you anticipate that you may need to run virtual machines or large models/simulations you may want to consider upgrading to 32GB of RAM/memory. Virtual machines are used in some EECS computer science courses.

500GB of storage space is sufficient for general use. However, if you anticipate that you may be running multiple virtual machines, you play modern computer games or have other needs that use a lot of storage space, then 1TB or larger is likely best. NOTE:  Have a backup plan for your important data! Storage drives can fail and you should always have 2 or more copies of your important data whether that is on an external drive, your personal university storage, or a cloud storage service.
We highly recommend SSD storage over conventional spinning hard drives.

When selecting a laptop to purchase, be aware whether memory and storage is upgradable or not. Some laptops, including Macbooks, memory and storage is soldered to the main-board and cannot be upgraded later on.

All OSU students have FREE access to Microsoft Office 365 to install on their personally owned computers (Mac and/or PC).

Virtually all the software you will need for your classes will be available to you either free or at a substantial discounts through campus channels. 

  • Consider getting a 13-15" screen laptop for mobility and get a larger external monitor for home/your dorm.
  • Consider extended/accidental warranties. Accidents happen, protect your investment.
  • The longer the warranty that comes with the device is the more robust it is likely to be. Laptops that come with 3 year warranties generally last longer than ones that come with 1 year warranties.
  • Look at consumer reviews before you buy to make sure that it's a well-built product.
  • Protect your laptop, get a good sleeve/case or a padded bag/backpack.

We only recommend running Linux as a laptop's operating system if you are familiar with and experienced with Linux. Many engineering or free programs/services either do not work well with or may be more challenging to get to work on your laptop if you chose to run Linux. You will also still run into instances where software required for coursework may only run on Windows.