Laptops may be any brand, running the latest Windows or Mac operating system (Chromebooks are not recommended). When purchasing a computer, consider how you will obtain support should anything go wrong. Having the ability to take your computer to a local retailer for repair is preferable to sending the computer via mail to a remote repair facility. A three-year warranty and support package is highly recommended.
Look for these hardware specifications when choosing a laptop:
- Intel i5 or i7 processor or Mac M1 chip
- 8-16 GB of RAM
- At least a 250gb NVMe or SSD hard drive
- Wireless networking adapter
- Webcam and microphone (required for online test proctoring)
When choosing a Mac computer, any new MacBook Air or Pro should be sufficient UNLESS you will be using graphic-intensive software. If you will be using software such as Photoshop, 3D modeling, etc., a MacBook Pro with 16gb of RAM is recommended.
We do not recommend solely relying on a tablet, mobile phone, or other non-laptop device, though these devices do have their uses. Many courses rely on video and other interactive components that may not be supported on mobile devices. Also, while our learning management system, D2L, is available via iOS and Android, some aspects may require additional technologies not available on all devices.
When choosing between a Windows PC or a Mac, keep in mind that some departments use Windows-only software in classes. Check with your department to determine what software is used/taught. If you do choose a Mac, you would have to purchase special software (e.g., Parallels) as well as Windows to be able to install and run Windows-only software. However, you will always be able to access the specialized software on campus, so this may not be an issue if you're often on campus.
Some classes offer tests with proctoring delivered online. A camera and microphone is required. This service does not support Chromebooks.
When purchasing any computer, look for reduced education pricing. Many manufacturers and retailers offer lower prices for students.
You will be able to download Microsoft Office for free through your Benedictine email account. Other software and services may be made available to you for free—you will receive information about this via email at the beginning of each semester.
When purchasing any software, look for education pricing. Once enrolled at Benedictine you can also purchase reduced-priced software at varsitybuys.com.
You will need to purchase an anti-virus program, especially if you have a Windows computer, and keep it up-to-date. Kaspersky or Bit Defender are recommended. Additionally, the operating system’s firewall software (e.g., Windows Defender, Mac Firewall) should be turned on. Keep your operating system up-to-date and install security patches as soon as they become available.
You should consider the physical security of your laptop, as well. Purchase a lock and keep the laptop locked up. Never leave the laptop unattended. You may want to consider adding the laptop to any homeowners or rental insurance policies.