Computers & equipment for students: what do I need?

Last updated October 7, 2022

Hardware recommendations

blueprint of a laptop

Recommended computer specifications

  • Operating system:
    • PC: Windows 10 or 11
    • Macintosh: The latest macOS (version 12, as of this writing)
  • Processor:
    • PC: minimum of Intel Core i5/i7 or AMD Ryzen 5
    • Macintosh: Apple M1 Chip or Intel 15/i7
  • RAM: 8 GB RAM or greater
  • Storage: 256 GB SSD or greater
  • Screen resolution: 1280 x 768 or greater
  • Webcam: integrated or external
  • Accidental damage warranty coverage: 3 or 4 years

Recommended accessories

  • External monitor: at least 1080p resolution
  • Keyboard and mouse: whatever is comfortable for you
  • Headset: wired via USB cable or wireless via Bluetooth

Why these computer requirements & accessory recommendations?

Technology purchasing options

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Many computer manufacturers and retailers offer discounts to eligible students. Often, the offers are not easy to find in stores or online. You may need to request the details. Some retailers offer blanket percent discounts and others are special limited-time deals.  You should expect to be required to verify your student status, often by entering a valid college (.edu) e-mail address.

Get tech help

Computer repair

The DoIT Help Desk provides free tech support and troubleshooting help to UW–Madison students. The Help Desk can diagnose most application and hardware issues and provide repair options.

Get help via phone, email and chat 7 days a week:

Have a question about computer warranties?

Tech for specific majors

Tech for your major

Most majors’ tech recommendations are covered by the general info on this page. Some schools and colleges have more specific technology recommendations related to their courses. Please check the list below or contact your advisors to confirm any additional recommendations.

Computer labs & printers

Female student wearing a mask uses computer in computer lab

General access computer labs offer internet access, standard university software, accessibility features and equipment checkout options. Color and b/w laser printing is available for a small fee and can be handled through a student’s Wiscard.

Need to use a computer lab or a printer?

Find a location near you

Don’t have a computer?

Check out a laptop or other equipment