Recommended Personal Computer Specifications for Engineering Students

2018-19 Academic Year


These recommendations should serve as guidelines for new PC purchases, but are not absolute. Purchase a desktop or laptop computer based on your needs and circumstances. Feel free to send any questions you have to the Director of Engineering Information Technology at


Laptop PC vs. Mac
Some of our students prefer Mac over PC, and that is completely fine! In the College of Engineering, our environment consists almost entirely of PCs, because the vast majority of engineering software is written for Windows. There are some software vendors that offer free student versions, but many of them can only be used in the computer labs because they require the full institutional license. If you want to run student versions on your own computer, a PC is recommended. For information about software available to students, please see the section of this webpage entitled Engineering Software.
Processor Processor
Intel i5 or i7 processors or their AMD equivalents are recommended.
8GB are suggested for robust performance; more and more computers now ship with 16GB of memory, so go with more if that fits your budget.
Hard Drive
We have seen significant performance improvements when upgrading to solid state drives (SSDs) in our lab environments. These drives are recommended, though there is a size trade-off, so purchase the type of drive that makes the most sense for your storage needs.
Graphics Card
This will be dependent on your PC’s intended use, but generally speaking at least a 1GB card for a laptop or a 2GB card for a desktop are suggested.
An office productivity suite is suggested. All Valpo students have access to the Microsoft Office suite free of charge.  See the Engineering Software page for details.


These specifications are specific to College of Engineering students. For non-program specific recommendations please visit the IT department’s Computer Specifications page.


Valparaiso University counts CDW-G as one of its vendors for sourcing computers and related equipment. Students are now eligible for the same academic pricing through CDW-G that the school receives! To purchase a computer from this vendor, follow this link:

Dell has created a page for prospective engineering students and their families with computers that meet our requirements to make it easier to shop for models. If you are certain that you want to buy a Dell, you can find that list of models at this portal:

Once this link redirects you to the Valpo Engineering page on Dell Premier, click on the green button labeled “Shop Your Standard Configuration”. Note that the College of Engineering does not endorse this or any other manufacturer over another! As other vendors make portals like this one available to schools, we will add links for them here.


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