Spring is a popular time for parents to start thinking about graduation gifts that will set their new college students on the right track. A new laptop is high on that list, especially for incoming engineering students.

First-year students at the University of Delaware will be able to use either an Apple or Windows laptop. The minimum recommended systems will have 11th, 12th or 13th Gen Intel Core i5, i7 or i9 Processor for Windows or Apple Silicon M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, M1 Ultra or M2 Processor (CPU). They should also be running the latest version of operating systems: Microsoft Windows 10 or Windows 11 Home, Pro, Enterprise or Education version or macOS 11.X “Big Sur” or macOS 12.X “Monterey.”

You should be aware that some engineering software is only available for Windows; if you do choose a Mac, there are several computer labs students can use to run any software not available for them to install.

Other specs to consider

  • Look to max out the RAM available for your system, with many available options now going up to 16 GB.
  •  An internal solid state drive with at least 250 GB of storage.
  • External storage options such as USB thumb drives are also useful for transferring files. You might also consider a backup drive or subscribing to a cloud based back-up service.
  • Students in all engineering programs will benefit from using a laptop computer versus a desktop, especially one with built-in webcam, microphone, and speakers/headphone support. This is  due to an emphasis on in-class and group technology-based projects as well as  the ability to support remote learning.

Students in the Biomedical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering programs will benefit from having a computer powerful enough to support the demanding video and computational requirements necessary for their coursework.

For these academic programs we recommend a computer with the following minimum specifications in addition to UD’s minimum recommendation:

  • CPU: 10thGen or later Intel Core i5, i7, or i9; 4000, 5000 series or later AMD Ryzen 5, 7 or 9; Apple M1 Processor. The CPU should have at least 4 cores.
  • OS: Windows 10 or 11 (64bit)
  • RAM: at least 16GB
  • GPU: Discrete graphics processor from AMD or NVidia.
  • Storage: a 512GB SSD or larger is recommended if you intend to run virtual machines or dual boot.

Be sure to look at models listed as “gaming laptops.” These generally have higher performance and boosted graphic cards that can support these requirements.


All UD students will be able to download the Office 365 for Education suite to their computers. This will give students access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and other Microsoft products, as needed. They will also have access to a university Google account and be able to use the full suite of online apps like Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

There are several dedicated engineering and computer science labs that offer specialty software and students can take advantage of a web portal that provides free access to College of Engineering software and remote desktops from any computer.

All the rest

A wireless mouse, surge suppressor, carrying case for notebook computers are all great additions. Consider purchasing a second power cord so one can stay in their backpack while the other stays in their dorm room.

A wireless printer can be helpful but printing is available across campus at computer labs and other locations across campus.

Mac users wishing to connect their notebook computers to classroom projectors for presentation purposes should purchase a USB-C hub that allows for multiple connections including HDMI..

Better Safe than Sorry

Purchase Apple Care or an extended service warranty. Things happen, drinks get spilled, backpacks get tossed to hard floors, having coverage for repairs or replacement will ensure your student doesn’t fall behind.

If a student’s laptop is out of service, loaner laptops are available from UD Information Technologies and from the UD Library.

Where to shop for discounts

The University of Delaware has an Apple Authorized Campus Store located on the second level of the Barnes & Noble UD Bookstore at 83 East Main Street, Newark DE 19717.

The Apple Store at the Christiana Mall will also give discounts on many of their products by showing your UDel ID as proof of your academic status. The Christiana Mall is not far from campus and a good option if help or repairs are needed.

Apple products can be purchased online with academic discount from the Apple Store for Education.

The University of Delaware has a purchasing agreement with Dell for special academic priced computer configurations and accessories. Visit the Dell Member Purchase Program website to see complete details. Other brands may offer educational discounts that you can sign up for with your udel.edu email address.