CS Department Hardware Recommendations

It is possible to complete a degree in Computer Science without having a computer of your own. All necessary software and hardware is available in the labs on campus.

But… It is a lot easier if you have a computer you can use from home, dorm, park, etc.

There is no one specific setup that is best for everyone but some guidelines are:

  • Windows 11 Pro/Education/Enterprise based computers are the easiest to adapt to coursework for all classes. I would avoid Windows Home versions as they lack some potentially needed functionality. Other options, in order of usability, are as listed below, but may be problematic for courses that use Microsoft products, such as CSci 114 & 366:
    • Linux
    • Mac
    • Android/Chromebook can work but not recommend for software support reasons.
    • Tablets like iPad's can be used for notes but may not be suitable for assignments and projects.
  • You will need something with a bit of computing power as you will most likely need to run multiple applications at the same time.
  • Hardware Recommendations are:
    • Processor (CPU): A minimum of an i5 (At least 8th generation) or their equivalent with at least 4 cores. If buying new, look for a 10th generation or newer.
      • An i7 is recommended but will usually be more expensive than an i5.
      • A higher clock speed is generally better than lots of cores.
    • Memory: An absolute minimum of 8GB of memory but with Windows 11, 16GB will make a very noticeable difference on performance.
    • Storage: You can get by with 250GB of storage but if you use your computer for other things than school work, 480-512GB is better.
    • Screen: What ever size suits you, but programming/research often results in having numerous windows open. 
  • For Hyflex/virtual courses, a webcam & microphone is required. These are often. but not always, included with laptops.
    • Headphones for dorm residents.
  • CD/DVD/Blue Ray drives are not needed.
  • Microsoft's Office 356 is available, at no charge, to all enrolled students. More information about Office 365 is available on the ITS website.
    • Note: Office 365 does not come with Microsoft Access which is needed for CSci 114.
  • Printers are available for students to use in various labs, lounges, and study areas.
  • Wi-Fi is available accross campus and ethernet in the dorms.

Where/What to Buy

  • Most importantly, get something you like.
  • You typically can get better quality machines by ordering directly from the manufacture's websites although you can get things cheaper from bulk retailers.
    • We usually get our workstations, locally, from DakTech.
    • Laptops from Dell or Lenovo.
  • The NDSU bookstore can order many brands like Lenovo, Dell, Apple, & DakTech. Call 701-231-8013 and ask for technology department or send e-mail to brad.sonmor@ndsu.edu.
Top of page