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IT Support

Laptop Purchasing Advice

Buying a new device for your studies.

The University provides over 2000 lab computers across campus which can be accessed in person or remotely, but most students find having their own computer invaluable to allow them to access online and remote teaching from their preferred location as well as working on assignments and coursework.

If you are considering purchasing a new device for University, there are two main considerations – performance and the type of software you are looking to use.

Tablet versus Laptop

Modern tablets are powerful devices which compare favourably with laptops in many regards, but the range of software available and can be accessed from tablets is limited. They can be used well for notetaking and accessing online resources. They also have scaled back versions of Microsoft Office which will allow you to carry out most tasks. They however will not allow you to install or access specialist software required for many courses.

Mac versus Windows

For most courses and purposes there is little difference between a Mac or a Windows device and it comes down to personal preference, but there are some key software applications which will not work on an Apple device – for example NX which is a drawing package heavily used in Engineering Schools. We recommend that if you are studying an engineering course that you have a Windows PC or have the ability to run Windows from your Apple Mac using software such as Parallels.

Regardless of whether you choose Mac or Windows you must have a current, supported, updated and licenced operating system. If your version or Mac OS or Windows is out of date you may have issues connecting to the WiFi or installing course specific software.


The minimum specification we recommend is:

  • An i3 or Ryzen 3 processor
  • 8GB Ram
  • 128GB hard drive (preferably a solid-state drive)
  • Webcam and Microphone (either built in or externally connected)

This will allow you to use Microsoft Office applications effectively and will allow you to access online and other teaching resources.

For courses which have more demanding software requirements for example Engineering, Computer Science or Design.

  • An i5 or Ryzen 5 processor
  • 16GB Ram


Headphones – you will require a set of headphones to participate effectively in online and on demand sessions.

You will get better network performance using a wired connection, so if possible make sure you have either a built in network connection or a USB network device.

Printers – Most personal printers do not work on our wireless network but you will not need a printer as printers are available around campus charged on a per page basis and can be printed to from your own Mac/Windows computer.