As mentioned, all Engineering students are required to have a laptop for their academic studies. No specific vendor or model is required, but we recommend that your laptop meet or exceed the following minimum specifications.
NOTE concerning NEW Apple Computers: Except for Computer Science majors, we are not recommending newer M1 & M2-based (i.e., Apple silicon) MacBooks for engineering students. The new M1 & M2-based MacBooks are not compatible with software written to run on Windows computers with Intel-processors, which much of the software used in Engineering’s curriculum requires.
Intel Core i5 or comparable AMD Ryzen 5,
|Intel Core i7 or comparable AMD Ryzen 7,
(4) or more core preferred (1)
|Memory (RAM)||8 GB (2)||16 GB|
|Hard disk||250 GB||500 GB or larger|
|USB ports||(2x) type A 2.x or 3.x (3)||(2x) Type A 2.x or 3.x (3)|
|Operating System||Windows 10 or 11 (see operating system notes below)|
(1) Intel Core i9 processors are not required for your studies. There are no issues in using a system with one of these processors if you want to purchase one.
(2) See section on memory below.
(3) If your system only has USB-C ports, you will need to purchase an inexpensive USB hub with USB-A ports. Several vendors offer these including Amazon, BestBuy, Walmart, etc.
To make choosing a Windows laptop easier, we have worked with Dell to configure systems that will meet the about recommendations. These can be viewed on our Dell discount site.
for non-CS Majors
Apple MacBook Pro preferred
|Processor||M1 or M2||M1, M1 Pro, or M2|
|Memory (RAM)||16 GB||16 GB|
|Hard disk||250 GB||512 GB|
|USB ports||type A 2.x or 3.x||Type A 2.x or 3.x|
Visit the University of Kentucky's Apple Educational Store to view discounted Apple products.
Some newer laptops may only have USB-C or Thunderbolt III port ports. For these laptops, you will need to purchase an inexpensive USB-C to USB-A converter or hub. These are available from a number of suppliers (Amazon.com, Best Buy, Walmart, etc.).
Windows Laptop vs iPads Pro vs Chromebooks
Chromebooks and tablets cannot server as your primary device because they do not have the functionality you will need. Devices in this category would include iPads, Android tablets, Windows RT-based systems, and Microsoft Surface Pro X devices and laptops.
Laptops can be divided into those with onboard graphics and those with enhanced or discreet graphics. Laptops with only Intel Iris, UHD, or FHD graphics would fall under the first group. If you are a non-CS Engineering major, we would recommend a laptop from the second group that has enhanced or discreet graphics (e.g., nVidia Quadro or GeForce GTX or RTX, AMD Fire Pro, Radeon Pro, Vega, or Radeon RX, etc. graphics cards or chip sets). CS majors tend to have lower graphics requirements than other Engineering majors, and should be able to use systems from either group.
It is recommended that you choose a laptop that has or can be upgraded to 16GB RAM. If you intend to purchase a system with less than 16GB RAM to start with, check with the vendor or sales representative to see if it can be upgraded after purchase.
All University of Kentucky students receive a Microsoft 365 account which includes Microsoft Office 365 applications (Word, Excel, Power Point, etc.) and 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage. Students also have access to Google Workspace which includes a small amount of Google Drive storage. These services reduce your local storage needs by allowing you to off-load older files and makes it easier to share files between different devices.
You may want to consider purchasing a two or three-year warranty with your system, though you should balance the length of the warranty against replacement or repair cost of the computer as it gets older. You may also want to investigate accidental damage coverage. This type of warranty add-on usually covers damage to a laptop’s display, as well as damage from drops and spills.
Operating System Note:
Either Windows 10 or 11 is acceptable. While the preference is for Windows Professional (or Education) edition, since a small number of software packages in upper-level courses require it, most Engineering students will only need Windows Home. If needed, Windows Education is available as an upgrade through the College’s AzureDev subscription.
RUNNING WINDOWS ON OLDER INTEL-BASED MACS: To run Windows on Intel-based MacBook Pros, you will need to use Boot Camp or one of the virtual machine environments available for the Mac (Parallels, VirtualBox (free), or VMWare Fusion). Since Macs don’t come with Windows, you would need to purchase a copy for use on the Mac.