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Computer Recommendations for Students

Student Computer RecommendationsFitchburg 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, which you can purchased for free from the OnTheHub webstore. 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.

Computer Requirements

As a general guideline, any laptop manufactured within the last two years running the latest Mac OS or Windows 7/8/10 should be fine for most student use.

Some majors and courses have specific requirements:

Communications Media Majors


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

Game Design

The bulk of your game production will be done on Windows PCs. The labs are Windows-based, with some additional Macintosh systems to allow you to test in cross-platform environments and to publish projects for iOS. When considering a laptop to purchase, you have two options:

1. Purchase a 15" MacBook Pro.

Using Boot Camp, you can install Windows (available for purchase from the OnTheHub webstore for free) along with macOS, giving you the advantage of a dual-boot system. Several of the Game Design faculty run this setup on their own laptops.

Minimum Configuration:

  • 15" MacBook Pro with a dedicated video card
  • 16GB RAM

2. Purchase a Windows PC laptop.

Minimum Configuration:

  • i7 quad core Processor
  • 16GB RAM preferable
  • Dedicated video card (AMD Discrete, NVIDIA GT 600+ or AMD 7000+) NO Intel Graphics!
  • 300GB hard drive (solid state a plus but not required)

With either option (MAC or PC), you will need a dedicated graphics card and as much RAM as you can afford, up to 16GB or even 32GB if possible.

Graphic Design

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).

Professional Communication

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.

Math 0100 and Math 0200 Classes

If you are taking Math 0100 or Math 0200 you will need a laptop. These courses are self-paced and use websites that don’t work with the iPad’s browser.

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.


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