Computers & equipment for students: What do I need?

Last updated August 31, 2023

Hardware recommendations

blueprint of a laptop

Recommended computer specifications

  • Operating system:
    • PC: Windows 11
    • Macintosh: The latest macOS (macOS Sonoma, as of this writing)
  • Processor:
    • PC: minimum of 12th or 13th gen Intel Core i5/i7 or AMD Ryzen 5000 or 6000 series
    • Macintosh: Apple M1 or M2 Chip
  • RAM: 16 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

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 your college/school’s webpage or contact your advisor to confirm additional recommendations.

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?

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