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Buying Your Own Computer

The following offer minimum, recommended, and premium-level specifications for buying a laptop to work best for CSI's courses and programs. Please use these computer specifications as a guideline for decision-making when bringing a laptop to campus. It is strongly encouraged that each student owns a recommended laptop computer to allow for mobility and collaboration outside of classroom and lab activities. Laptops in approved configurations are available for purchase through the CSI Bookstore

MINIMUM specifications are provided for those who choose not to buy a new laptop and want to bring an existing device to CSI.

RECOMMENDED specifications are provided to assist students looking for guidance when planning to purchase a new laptop for general class use, including the use of productivity tools like Microsoft Office, web browsers, and web conferencing.

PREMIUM specifications are provided as a guide to students in media-intensive programs, such as digital arts and drafting, where increased computer performance will be necessary to run the required software. If you question whether this pertains to you, please ask your advisor or course instructor of your declared major. Additional details about specific programs are below.

Chromebooks or Netbooks are not recommended due to limited compatibility with online textbooks used by some instructors and are incompatible with some library digital resources from national publishers. While these are low-price devices, they are quite limited in functionality and intended for basic web browsing or rudimentary word processing functions, which will likely be inadequate to complete most assignments for college courses at CSI.

Please consult with your academic advisor, course instructor, or our IT Department before purchasing a Mac laptop device. Some courses include software that runs only on Microsoft Windows.

  Windows PC Apple Macintosh
  Minimum Suggested Premium  Suggested
Intended Use (Tablet) Text documents, light web surfing, streaming video Moderate multi-tasking, all around general use Full multi-tasking, audio video editing, AutoCAD, gaming  
Operating System Windows 10
*Windows 10S is not recommended
Windows 10
*Windows 10S is not recommended
 Windows 11 Macintosh OS 12.7.4 or higher aka mac os Monterey
Processor Type Dual Core i3 or AMD APU

AMD Ryzen 5 or 7


Core i5 Processor


Core i7 Processor

 AMD Ryzen 7 or 9


M1 Processor


M2 Pro or M3 Pro Processor

Memory 4GB

8 to 12 GB


8GB Ram or higher

16 to 64 GB


8GB or higher

Hard Drive
(Solid state drive recommended)
64 to 128 GB

250 to 512 GB


250 GB


500 GB or higher

1 TB or higher


256 GB


500 GB or higher

Graphics Card Integrated



512 MB Video Memory or higher

AMD or Nvidia GPU


Base M1, M2, or M3


M2 Pro or M3 Pro

Screen Resolution and Size  720 @ 10 to 13 inches 1080 @ 13 to 16 inches 1080, 2k, or 4k @ 14 to 17 inches STANDARD
Brand/Model Example

HP Stream Dell Inspiron 11, Microsoft Surface Go      Chromebooks are not recommended as they are incompatible with the content from some textbook publishers

HP Pavilion, Dell 5000 & 7000 series, Microsoft Surface Go 2 HP Envy, Dell XPS, Microsoft Surface Pro


MacBook Air or iPad Pro with keyboard and pencil


Mac Pro, 13-inch


Mac Pro, 16-inch

Optional accessories

Personal Printer: For ease of printing from home. There are many public printers available on campus, but during periods of high traffic volume, you may have long wait times. Wireless printing to a personal printer is supported on Eagle WiFi, or personal printers can be used by connecting the printer and the computer via USB printer cable.

USB Memory Storage Devices: Recommended for ease of use and ability to encrypt contents in case of lost or stolen property.

Webcam: Most laptops today include an internal webcam with a microphone; if your device does not, an external webcam will be a significant tool to enable effective participation in hybrid or remote learning and collaboration opportunities.

Programs requiring premium-level laptop specifications

Software and Warranty

  Windows PC Apple Macintosh
Productivity Tools Microsoft Office 365 can be downloaded FREE for students Microsoft Office 365 can be downloaded FREE for students. However, Microsoft Access for MAC is NOT included.
Warranty 4-year parts and labor Accidental Damage Coverage is highly recommended and on-site repair is strongly recommended. 3-year parts and labor AppleCare (recommended)
Virus Protection Software Windows Defender is built into Windows 10.

Macintosh OS has built-in virus protection.