A computer is considered essential for study at VCU and personal ownership of a computer is required for enrolled students. However, iPads, netbooks, Chromebooks, Android-based tablets, eReaders, and other similar devices may not be able to run the software needed for some programs and/or specific courses. A personal laptop with Microsoft Windows or Apple macOS, is the most suitable option for a student’s primary computer. Additionally, a Microsoft Surface Pro or MacBook Air may not be sufficient. Students are advised to contact their school for program-specific computing requirements.

Whether you're bringing a laptop you already own, or buying a new one, it should meet these criteria.

For PC laptops that run Microsoft Windows (or Linux):

  • Have an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 series or greater/equivalent CPU
  • Have at least 16GB of RAM
  • Have a solid-state drive (SSD) with at least 250GB of storage
  • Have at least one USB (type A) port and WiFi
  • Have a webcam and microphone
  • Capable of using a current, supported version of Microsoft Windows 10

For Apple laptops that run macOS:

  • Before deciding on an Apple laptop, please be sure to consult your college, school, and/or department’s guidance on whether this will be an appropriate choice based on the apps and other software you may need to run on your laptop to complete your coursework and projects. Some majors require the use of software that can ONLY be run on the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system.

  • If buying an Intel-based Apple laptop, be sure it has an Intel Core i5 or greater/equivalent CPU
    • With this option, it is highly recommended to purchase an Intel-based with at least 16GB of RAM.
    • This is currently the only option that allows running a dual-boot configuration with the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system in addition to the Apple macOS operating system.

  • If buying an Apple-Silicon laptop, the M1 CPU is sufficient.
    • With this option having at least 8GB of RAM is recommended, but opting for 16GB of RAM is never a bad idea.

  • Consider purchasing more internal storage. Most Apple laptops now come with at least 250GB of internal storage, but this is usually not upgradeable. Depending on which software you end up using in your courses, purchasing a laptop with more internal storage may be strongly recommended by your school, college, or department.

  • All Apple laptops are equipped with WiFi, at least one USB port, and a webcam with a microphone. 

Also strongly encouraged:

Available to Currently Enrolled Students:

  • Current versions of Microsoft Office and Windows 10, as well as Adobe Creative Cloud available through VCU's OnTheHub webstore.
  • Other academic licensed software options such as SPSS, JMP, Mathematica, and more available through VCU Software Center.