All incoming undergraduate students must have a laptop.
Although we recommend obtaining your laptop through Rensselaer, you do have the option of bringing your own laptop. If you do so, however, note that you will not be able to take advantage of some of the support provided to Mobile Computing Program participants. You may encounter software or other incompatibilities, and you may not be eligible for on-campus support and repair or a loaner machine. Be sure to check with your curriculum adviser for software requirements.
Minimum Hardware Specifications
If you will be an incoming freshman or transfer student and plan to bring your own laptop to campus, your machine's hardware specifications should at least be comparable to those of the current laptop models provided through Rensselaer's Mobile Computing Program. Please refer to our Laptop Specs page for the most recent laptop specifications.
The recommended operating system is Windows 10. Microsoft Office is free to Rensselaer students through Office 365.
Software can be purchased at educational discounts through the Rensselaer Collegiate Store.
An important note to Mac users and all students who choose to bring their own laptops to campus
We strongly recommend that students participate in our Mobile Computing Program (MCP). However, we do understand the firm desire of dedicated Mac users to work in a computing environment that they believe will provide them with the best opportunity for academic success. One goal of the Mobile Computing Program is to allow students to focus on their academic work while allowing the Mobile Computing team to focus on computing-related issues.
If you do bring your own laptop to campus with you, it is important that it meets the designated minimum specifications menioned above. Your current system should meet these minimum specifications. If it does not, you should replace it with one that does in order to ensure that you will have the required computing power to complete your coursework. Also keep in mind that your laptop should last you four years, unless you plan on purchasing replacement laptops during your undergraduate years.
For those who choose to not participate in our Mobile Computing Program, also remember that, while all students are free to utilize the consulting services of the VCC Help Desk, there is minimum support for Macintosh or other alternative platforms on campus. The Help Desk consulting staff has limited resources on supporting non-MCP systems, but will do the best they can to assist Mac or other non-MCP users. Students who opt to bring a Mac or other non-MCP laptop to campus will also miss out on some of the stronger features of the program, including: the laptop loaner program, the ability to reload the software image, Windows and Office updates, strong Help Desk user support, and full warranty and accidental damage repairs that are included as part of the Mobile Computing Program.
Mac users should also keep in mind that they may be required to run the Windows operating system in order to successfully launch and run various software needed for their classes. In such cases, Mac users can partition their Mac for a Windows environment either through Boot Camp or by purchasing Parallels or VM Ware Fusion. Students with Mac laptops who need to run Windows will also need a valid copy of the Windows 10 operating system, Office Professional 2016, and any other programs that their classes require; many of these and other computing items can be purchased in the Rensselaer Collegiate Store, which is located in the Rensselaer Union.
For more information, please refer to the list of software that all students can download through RPI.