Computer Recommendations

The Basics

The College of Engineering does not require its undergraduate students to own their own computers. We have computer lab space and computer classrooms to handle the demand. However, many students do own their own computer. If you choose to purchase a computer, here are the recommended minimum specifications:

Operating Systems:

  • Microsoft: Windows 7 Professional / Enterprise / Ultimate, Windows 8 (any version), Windows 8.1 (any version). Choose a 64-bit version of the operating system if your CPU supports it.
  • Mac OS X: Mountain Lion, Mavericks

Hardware (Laptop):

  • CPU: Dual Core 2 GHz+
  • RAM: 4 - 6 Gb (*)
  • Internal Hard Drive: 500 Gb HDD or 120 Gb SSD
  • Network: 802.11 b/g/n Wireless -- an additional wired Ethernet connection is recommended but not essential.

Hardware (Desktop):

  • CPU: Dual Core 2.5 GHz+
  • RAM: 4 - 8 Gb (*)
  • Internal Hard Drive: 1 Tb HDD or 240 Gb SSD
  • Network: 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) Ethernet

Other Media:

  • At least one of the following:
    • External Hard Drive (at least as large as the internal hard drive)
    • Internal or External CD/DVD drive
    • USB Thumb Drive (1 - 16 Gb)

(*) If a 32-bit Windows operating system is installed, there are no benefits to having more than 4 Gb of RAM. 64-bit operating systems, including all Mac OS X systems, do benefit from having more RAM.

Desktop or Laptop?

This is largely an issue of personal preference - and may be better answered after starting at Northeastern. Some of our students like to bring their computer with them to the library and to class - some prefer a desktop in their residence hall room. Consider holding off your computer purchase decision until you begin classes and have a better feel for your studying preferences. All residence hall rooms, the library, and most classrooms and lounges are wired for Internet access via an Ethernet card. Wireless access is available throughout campus.

Operating System

Windows 7? Windows 8? Vista? Apple OS X? Linux? Again, it is a matter of personal preference. The vast majority of the computers in our engineering computer classrooms and open laboratories run Windows 7. However, Apple owners can seamlessly transfer files between systems. A few engineering applications run natively only on Windows, but an Apple user could opt to use our Windows labs for those specific applications or a Windows emulator such as VMware fusion or Apple's Parallels (both of which are available free through the MyNEU portal).


The major software packages utilized during the first year are Microsoft Office, AutoCAD, Microsoft Visual C++, MATLAB, an e-mail client, virus protection, and a web-browser - all of which are available via the university network from a lab or classroom workstation. It is not required for students to own any of this software.


Northeastern University has partnered with Apple, Dell and HP to bring members of the University Community special pricing for some of their most popular computers, network printers and peripherals. Some software is available free or with a discount through the myneu portal (see Software Downloads and Tech Marketplace under the Services & Links tab). The NU Bookstore also offers educational discounts on some software.

Engineering students have access to free software through Microsoft Dreamspark Premium and other vendor programs. See for more information.


ResNet offers free on-campus Dell warranty service, as well as other free and fee-based services.


The Mathematics Department requires each engineering student to own a graphing calculator and recommends the TI-83 model or greater from Texas Instruments. Certain models can not be used so you should check with your instructor for further details.