Computer Requirements And Recommendations For Students

The College of Engineering and Computing does not currently require its students to own a computer as all required software is installed on computers in the School computer labs. However, most of our students choose to own a computer since the CEC and University computer labs are not open around the clock and get very busy towards the end of the semester.


All recent Macs are using Apple Silicon CPUs (such as the M1 and M2) which make installing Windows cumbersome, therefore we recommend only expert users attempt this. Please keep this in mind if your classes require the use of Windows only software.

CS Students

The Computer Science Department has posted its recommendations at http://cs.gmu.edu/resources/computer-accounts/

CEC Students

Almost any i7 or better computer manufactured recently with at least 16GB of RAM (16GB or better recommended) with a current operating system (Windows 10 or 11) should meet most studentsí needs. If you are buying a new computer, please buy one with the specifications listed in the table below.

CPUi7 (multi-core)i9 (multi-core) or better
Memory16 GB (see Mac notes)32 GB
Hard disk512 GB (see Mac notes)1TB
GraphicsStandard with most systems should workUpgraded cards will provide increased performance
Display1280 x 1024The higher the better

Mac Notes: Please refer to the Update above and be aware of the following information: A Mac should meet most of your needs in our programs. However, some required software will run only under Windows.

  • Use of a virtual machine to run Windows will require additional disk storage and memory. We recommend increasing the RAM in the computer to 16 GB to avoid problems. A machine with 8 GB will run OK but may be slow if you are trying to run applications in both the native Mac OS and in Windows. The hard disk should be at least 500 GB.
  • The RAM and/or hard drives on some Mac computers cannot be upgraded after purchase so please calculate your needs when you buy it.
  • Some advanced Windows applications require more RAM than can be configured in a Mac

Warranty: We strongly recommend the purchase of a warranty that will cover your time at Mason. Years of experience with student computers shows that computers will fail and need repair.

IMPORTANT: The most common problem with student computers is a broken screen or liquid spills. Most manufacturer warranties do not cover either of those so ask your computer retailer about an alternate warranty that does cover that damage

Patriot Tech in Johnson Center (https://gmu.bncollege.com) stocks many computer models that meet our specifications, usually with substantial academic discounts and the desired warranty. Please check with them before buying any software as some software is available at no charge through Mason and other software is available at reduced academic pricing.