Computer Recommendations for Students

Student Computer Recommendations

Fitchburg State recommends that all students have a mobile device, either a laptop or an iPad. There are open labs available on campus but a mobile device enables you to do work where and when you need to, making your academic life easier.

iPad or Laptop?

The iPad works great as a reader for eBooks. It is light, easy to transport and has a long battery life capable of lasting through an entire day’s worth of classes. But the iPad runs its own operating system and isn’t compatible with Windows or Mac applications.

As the iPad matures, we expect it will replace the need for a laptop for many of our students, but the ecosystem isn’t there yet for all our majors.

Windows or Mac Laptop?

Windows laptops tend to be less expensive than Apple MacBooks, but Macs can run both the Mac OS and Windows OS*. We can set this up for you at the Help Desk but you must provide a copy of Windows. Visit our software discounts page for more information.. This dual-OS capability makes the Mac ideal if you're undecided on your major—if you later transfer to a Communications Media major, you will already have the necessary computer.

*Apple has announced that later this year they will be making their own chipset. Computers with Apple's chipset will not support dual booting Windows.

What About a Chromebook?

A Chromebook is an affordable choice and the battery life is excellent. While you can't install Windows/Mac software on a Chromebook, you can export documents from Google applications into formats that are compatible with Microsoft Word and Excel.

General Computer Requirements

As a general guideline, any laptop manufactured within the last two years running the latest Mac OS or Windows 10 should be fine for most student use.

Some majors and courses have specific requirements:

Requirements for Communications Media Majors

There is no specific requirement. A laptop or iPad is sufficient at the onset of the program.

Game Design Student Computer Recommendations

You will have access to our Game labs during the semester from 8 am - 10 pm, but you will be more productive and build more proficiency with game development tools if you have your own computer, either a desktop or a laptop.

Game development requires more powerful processors, graphics cards, and RAM than the typical user.

Recommended Configuration: 

  • Processor: Intel i7 4-core or better
  • RAM: 16GB+ or better
  • Graphics Card: NVidia GTX 1060 or better (no “Intel Integrated Graphics” on a laptop)
  • Storage: 500GB SSD drive or better

Peripherals: 

  • Webcam suitable for Zoom/Google Meet
  • Wacom drawing tablet ($79 Intuos is fine)
  • Optional, but recommended: a dual-monitor setup, such as a laptop with a 2nd HD or 4K monitor, or PC with 2 monitors

Depending on your budget, you should be able to purchase a very adequate desktop or laptop between $500-1200. Most computers advertised as “Gaming PCs” or “VR Ready” will be suitable.

If you’re looking for a specific brand recommendation, our labs are configured with HP workstations, and HP Omen (i7) laptops.

If you are a Mac user, a MacBook Pro (or iMac) with a dedicated graphics card is a fine option used by several Game Design students and faculty; we recommend installing Windows using BootCamp, giving you the advantage of a dual-boot system & the ability to create mobile games.

Chromebooks and other tablets are NOT suitable for game development, though they are useful for testing games, taking notes, writing papers, and other academic work.

MacBook Pro (15” with at least 8GB ram memory, 350GB internal hard drive preferred).

MacBook Pro (15” with at least 8GB ram memory, 16GB preferred).

There is no specific requirement. A laptop or iPad is sufficient at the onset of the program.

There is no specific requirement. A laptop or an iPad is sufficient at the onset of the program.

Requirements for Math 0300, Math 0400 and Math 0500 Classes

If you are taking Math 0300, Math 0400 or Math 0500 you will need a laptop or comparable device – iPads are not recommended

Should I Buy a Warranty?

This is a personal preference decision. Most warranties only cover manufacturer defects. Some brands offer an enhanced four year accidental damage protection warranty which covers parts, labor, and replacement costs for any malfunction.

Fitchburg State offers the option to purchase protection through NSSI insurance, which covers the replacement costs for your personal property. More information is available on the NSSI website or visit the Help Desk for a brochure.

Software Requirements

An office productivity suite and antivirus/antispyware software should be installed on your laptop. Some courses have specific software requirements, you'll receive this information from your instructor.

As a Fitchburg State student, you are eligible for significant discounts on Microsoft, Adobe and other software titles. Visit the Software Discounts page for details.

Still Have Questions?

For more information, please contact the Help Desk.