Computer Recommendations for Students

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.

Male student on laptop in classroom

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. The iPad runs its own operating system and isn’t compatible with Windows or macOS applications, however there are iPadOS versions of popular software like Microsoft Office. With Bluetooth keyboards and mice, the iPad can be used as your sole mobile device. Unless your major is listed below, you may find an iPad is perfect for you.

Windows or Mac Laptop?

Deciding on whether or not to purchase a Windows computer or a MacBook is entirely up to your budget (Windows tend to be cheaper than Macs), and in some cases your major. A breakdown of majors that have specific computer needs can be found on the bottom of this page. If your major is not listed, you are free to choose the device you are most comfortable with using.

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 10/11 should be fine for most student use. We recommend a minimum of 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD.

Some majors and courses have specific requirements. This information is listed below.

Requirements for Specific Majors and Courses

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 a.m. - 10 p.m., 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 -  (Note: Ryzen 9 is also an option)
  • RAM: 16GB+ or better
  • Graphics Card: NVidia GTX 1060 or better (Note: an NVidia 2000 series or better GPU supporting ray tracing would be best in terms of a longer term investment)  (Note: avoid  “Intel Integrated Graphics” on a desktop or laptop)
  • Storage: 500GB SSD drive or better –  (Note: 1TB SSD drive would be best in terms of a longer term investment)


  • 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 $600-1200. 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) is a fine option used by several Game Design students and faculty; this will, however, limit you to macOS, which may not be compatible for some applications in Game Design courses.

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 (Air or Pro) with minimum 8GB RAM memory, 250GB (16GB RAM preferred if your budget allows).

MacBook (Air or Pro) with minimum 8GB RAM memory, 250GB (16GB RAM preferred if your budget allows).

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.

A reasonably powerful Mac or Windows Laptop is recommended. A Chromebook or iPad is not sufficient in that available needed software will not run well on these.

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

Minimum 4GB RAM and 4GB disc space required for testing software installation.

Windows 10/11 (NOT including alternate versions such as Windows RT or S). We do NOT recommend using a Surface.

MacBook: Any Mac device running Catalina, Big Sur or Monterey OS.

**Examplify will not run on Chromebooks, Android, or Linux operating systems. Examplify does not support touchscreen input devices on Mac or Windows laptops. Surface laptops also do not always support this software.

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.

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.