Computer Recommendations for Students

TCNJ Information Technology has researched the latest “out-of-the-box” laptops being sold by retailers and created a document (attached to this article) that provides recommendations that you can use when shopping for a laptop.  These configurations were selected to ensure that students have the necessary computing power to use the applications that may be required of the general curriculum and various graduate program courses

We’ve created a MINIMUM and a RECOMMENDED requirements section in this document:

  • MINIMUM : Created to help those that were looking to bring the laptop they already own know if it would meet the needs of their classes.
  • RECOMMENDED: Created for those looking to purchase a new laptop 

A general recommendation, regardless of major, is that having a Chromebook as your primary computer is not advised for students, as they do not have the necessary processing power to run certain programs that may be required in college courses.

There are a few Schools/majors that have specific computing requirements, for example the School of the Arts and Communications and School of Engineering, whose recommended specs are discussed later in this article. 

Computer Discounts

Whether shopping online or in-store, many retailers offer student discounts on computer purchases. The following manufacturers’ websites offer discounts on computers when a .edu email address is used to make an account with them:

When shopping at retailers like Best Buy and Staples, always make sure to ask about any student discounts as those may be seasonal (usually in the summer months, if so). These discounts will also likely require you to present your student ID card.

The College of New Jersey has provided links to these Personal Purchase Web sites as a service to our campus community and is not responsible for the content of any of the linked sites. Prices are indicative of ongoing discounts, but may not represent the lowest available and may vary based on rotating sales. Purchase inquiries, technical support and customer satisfaction issues should be addressed directly with the providing company. Listing of these websites does not represent TCNJ’s endorsement of the products and services. TCNJ does not guarantee the quality of any product or services available on these Web sites.

Software Availability

A TCNJ student will also have access to certain software for home use provided by the college. This means that students can download the following software directly to their computers without having to purchase them:

  • Microsoft 365
  • SPSS
  • Wolfram Mathematica

A large range of software that may not be available for direct download can be found on our Virtual Apps platform that is available to all students. To learn more about what Virtual Apps is and what software is available on it, check out this Knowledge Base article. Virtual Apps is a great resource for students limited to devices such as Chromebooks; while such devices do not meet our minimum recommendations, Virtual Apps helps expand the accessibility of necessary programs that many college students will need to utilize.

Academic Major Specific Requirements

As mentioned above, the School of the Arts and Communications and the School of Engineering has provided us with their enhanced laptop requirements to run the processor and graphic-heavy programs required for their courses.

If you are encountering difficulties paying for your hardware or software we suggest you reach out to the Office of Financial Aid to discuss possible aid options.

The School of the Arts and Communications 

The School of Arts & Communications recommends an Apple MacBook Pro with the specifications listed below. However, if a student would prefer a Windows computer, the specifications identified below for a School of Engineering computer would be acceptable.

  • Operating System – Any computer purchased will have an acceptable MacOS
  • Screen Size – 14 or 16-inches (16-inch displays may be more useful for some creative work if a student is not connected to an external monitor, but 14-inches is still viable)
  • Processor – Apple M1 Pro or higher (Some MacBook Pros, even if they meet all other recommendations, may have an Intel i7 or i9 processor if purchased before 2020. While this is still acceptable, some software developers may phase out support for this hardware in Macs within the coming years)
  • Video Card – Apple M1 Pro 14-core or higher
  • RAM – 16GB or higher
  • Hard Drive – 512GB or higher Solid State Drive (SSD) (Sometimes finding a computer with larger storage can restrict what models are available to purchase, so this can be offset by students bringing a form of portable storage (such as a 1TB external hard drive)

The School of Engineering (does not include Civil Engineering and iSTEM majors)

Note: The Engineering department has on-campus computer labs available equipped with high processing machines that also have all required software installed on them. The use of these labs is highly encouraged to offset the cost of software necessary to the program.

An Engineering specific Virtual Lab is also available to students that will be discussed with them upon entering the program. To best utilize the resources necessary for the program, these majors recommend that students should have full-time access to a computer that meets or exceeds the following specifications (for reference, many of the specs listed below are comparable to those of a gaming laptop):

  • Laptop computers are recommended, although desktops are acceptable
  • Operating System – Windows 10 or later (Students are strongly discouraged from buying a non-Windows device. They are responsible for handling ALL compatibility problems associated with the use of AppleOS or LinuxOS computers. Students should NOT rely on machines like tablets, iPads, or Chromebooks as their main computing device)
  • Screen Size – Greater than 13.3 inches
  • Processor – Intel Core i7 or higher. AMD Ryzen 7 or higher
  • Video Card – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1600 or better. Alternative brands with similar performance may be acceptable
  • RAM – 16GB or higher
  • Hard Drive – 512GB or higher Solid State Drive (SSD) (Sometimes finding a computer with larger storage can restrict what models are available to purchase, so this can be offset by students bringing a form of portable storage (such as a 1TB external hard drive)
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Article ID: 131344
Wed 4/7/21 3:40 PM
Thu 3/14/24 9:09 AM