New Computer Purchases: Recommendations
Note: This list has been updated for the 2015 – 2016 academic year. Download the PDF
Note 2: These are only the miminum recommended specifications for new computer purchases. Already have a computer? Click here.
Last Updated 6/16/2015
Laptops Desktops Netbooks/Macbook Airs*
Operating System Windows 8.1
Mac OS X Mavericks
Windows 8.1
Mac OS X Mavericks
Windows 8.1
Mac OS X Mavericks
Hard Drive 500 GB HDD or 128 GB SSD 500 GB HDD or 128 GB SSD 250 GB HDD or 64 GB SSD
Processor Dual Core CPU Dual Core CPU 1.4GHz CPU or Dual Core CPU
Ethernet Card 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) [may require USB Ethernet adapter] 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) [may require USB Ethernet adapter]
Wireless Card Wireless 802.11 b/g/n/ac card Wireless 802.11 b/g/n/ac card [optional] Wireless 802.11 b/g/n/ac card
Optical Media Drive DVD-RW/CD-RW Drive [optional] DVD-RW/CD-RW Drive None
External Hard Drive 1TB HDD 1TB HDD 1TB HDD

NOTE: Many new computers no longer have an Ethernet port, so an USB-to-Ethernet Adapter (aka “dongle”) will be needed to access wired networks, including our high-speed residential network ResNet.

In addition, all computers connecting to ResNet (both Mac- and Windows-based) should have antivirus software installed. Symantec Endpoint Protection is provided free for all Northeastern students. At the start of the academic term, copies will be available for download. Log onto myNEU, select the Self-Service tab, and click the “Software Downloads” link.

Protecting your computer

ITS strongly recommends that you purchase an AppleCare or Dell Complete Care warranty to protect your computer. You may also want to consider purchasing personal property protection to insure your computer(s), mobile device and other belongings, as it covers against loss due to accidental damage (liquid spills, cracked screens) and theft, which are not covered under a manufacturer warranty. Details are available on the Housing & Residential Life website.

Cautionary note about netbooks: In some instances, netbooks can be a viable option for budget-minded students looking for a functional, portable computer. They are useful tools for taking notes, writing papers, and browsing the Internet. However, their weaker hardware profiles may prevent them from running more advanced programs, (e.g. AutoCAD, Adobe Photoshop). If your major may require running software such as this, we strongly recommend purchasing a system that meets the minimum recommended specifications. Please check with your college to determine if there are any additional computer requirements for your academic program. Students that purchase netbooks should also remember that recommendations like antivirus software and external hard drives apply to netbooks as well as laptops and desktops.

Already have a computer?

Most computers manufactured in the past 10 years will be able to connect to ResNet, provided they have at least a 10Mb Ethernet card installed. You do not need to buy a brand-new, top of the line computer in order to connect to the network, write papers, or browse the Internet. However, depending on your computer, your on-campus support options may be limited. For the 2015-2016 academic year the ResNet Resource Center will offer full support for Windows 7/8/10, and Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), 10.8 (Mountain Lion), 10.9 (Mavericks) and 10.10 (Yosemite). The ResNet Resource Center offers limited support on a case-by-case basis for many older operating systems (e.g. Windows XP or Mac OS X 10.4, 10.5 and 10.6) as well as mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android.

NOTE: Each college at Northeastern University may have its own minimum system and software requirements for students involved in certain majors. Bringing an older machine that can only handle word processing and Internet usage may suffice for some students, but likely will not be sufficient for others. DO NOT assume that your computer meets the needs for your college simply because it can connect to ResNet. Please check with your college to determine the computer requirements for your academic program.

If you have any computing questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email us at, or call the ITS Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP).


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