New Computer Purchases: Recommendations
Note: This list has been updated for the 2017 – 2018 academic year. Summary PDF with FAQ
Note 2: These are only the minimum recommended specifications for new computer purchases. Already have a computer? Click here.
Note 3: ResNet only guarantees software support for Windows 7, 8(or 8.1), and 10 as well as macOS 10.8 and newer operating systems. ResNet also provides warranty and non-warranty hardware support for all Dell and Apple computers. All other devices will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Last Updated 5/22/2017
Laptops Desktops Netbooks / MacBook Airs / MacBooks*
Operating System Windows 7/8/10 macOS 10.12 Sierra Windows 7/8/10 macOS 10.12 Sierra Windows 7/8/10 macOS 10.12 Sierra
Internal Hard Drive 250 GB SSD or 750 GB HDD 250 GB SSD or 1TB HDD 128 GB SSD
Processor Dual Core CPU Quad Core CPU 1.4GHz CPU or Dual Core CPU
Ethernet Card 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) [may require USB Ethernet adapter] 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) [may require USB Ethernet adapter]
Wireless Card Wireless 802.11 b/g/n/ac card Wireless 802.11 b/g/n/ac card [optional] Wireless 802.11 b/g/n/ac card
Optical Media Drive DVD-RW/CD-RW Drive [optional] DVD-RW/CD-RW Drive None
External Hard Drive 1TB HDD 1TB HDD 1TB HDD

Individual College Requirements
Each college at Northeastern University may have its own minimum system and software requirements for students involved in certain majors. Bringing an older machine that can only handle word processing and Internet usage may suffice for some students, but likely will not be sufficient for others. DO NOT assume that your computer meets the needs for your college simply because it can connect to ResNet. Please check with your college to determine the computer requirements for your academic program. Below are the various college requirements ResNet is aware of.

College of Arts and Design (CAMD)
College of Engineering (COE)

NOTE: Many new computers no longer have an Ethernet port, so you may need a USB-to-Ethernet Adapter (aka “dongle”) to access wired networks, including our high-speed residential network ResNet. In addition, all computers (both Macs and Windows computers) should have antivirus software installed. Symantec Endpoint Protection is provided free for all Northeastern students. At the start of the academic term, copies will be available for download. Log onto myNEU, select the Self-Service tab, and click the “Software Downloads” link. For detailed instructions for Windows, click here and for Mac, click here.

ITS strongly recommends that you purchase an AppleCare or Dell Complete Care warranty to protect your computer. AppleCare only covers manufacturing defects while Dell Complete Care covers accidental damage. Students with Apple computers should purchase property or renter’s insurance to cover accidental damage to their Apple laptops. You may also want to consider purchasing personal property protection to insure your computer(s), mobile device and other belongings, as it covers against loss due to accidental damage (liquid spills, cracked screens) and theft, which are not covered under a manufacturer warranty. Details are available on the Housing & Residential Life website.

Cautionary note about netbooks

In some instances, netbooks can be a viable option for budget-minded students looking for a functional, portable computer. They are useful tools for taking notes, writing papers, and browsing the Internet. However, their weaker hardware profiles may prevent them from running more advanced programs, (e.g. AutoCAD, Adobe Photoshop). If your major may require running software such as this, we strongly recommend purchasing a system that meets the minimum recommended specifications. Additionally, please note that MacBook Airs and MacBooks are classified as netbooks. These may not be able to run complex programs and may not have enough storage space to have an additional copy of Windows installed onto them, which may be required for some colleges. Please check with your college to determine if there are any additional computer requirements for your academic program. Students that purchase netbooks should also remember that recommendations like antivirus software and external hard drives apply to netbooks as well as laptops and desktops.

Already have a computer?

Most computers manufactured in the past 15 years will be able to connect to ResNet, provided they have at least a 10Mb Ethernet card installed. You do not need to buy a brand-new, top of the line computer in order to connect to the network, write papers, or browse the Internet. However, depending on your computer, your on-campus support options may be limited. For the 2017-2018 academic year the ResNet Resource Center will offer full support for Windows 7/8/10, and Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) and newer. The ResNet Resource Center offers limited support on a case-by-case basis for many older operating systems (e.g. Windows XP and Vista or Mac OS X 10.4 – 10.8) as well as mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android.


If you have any computing questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email ResNet at, or call us at 617-373-7967.

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