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Computer Purchase Recommendations (Student)

Buying a New Computer?

We have compiled a list of recommended specifications to assist you in choosing a new computer.

At UC Merced, professors integrate technology into students’ coursework through the use of an online portal system. Remember to anticipate future needs when considering a computer purchase. We expect these computer specifications to have a life of two to four years with appropriate upgrades along the way. We recommend buying a 3-year warranty, if possible, with any new computer purchase, since we do not have on-site hardware repair services available.

Laptop – Recommended Minimum

  PCs Macs
Processor Intel(Core i5 or i7), AMD(Phenom II) Quad-Core or greater Intel (Core i5 or i7)
Hard Disk ≥ 250 GB ≥ 250 SSD/Flash
Ethernet USB Ethernet Adapter Apple USB Ethernet Adapter
Wireless Internet Adapter 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
Operating System Windows 10 Home Premium Mac OS X 10.12 “Sierra”

Laptop Security: You can register your device with the UC Merced Police Department.  Registering your device will not lower the chance of theft, but may increase your chance of recovery.

To avoid theft, we recommend never leaving your laptop unattended and utilizing a cable lock system even within campus dorm rooms.  Laptop locks can be purchased at the UC Merced Bookstore or online.


Desktop – Recommended Minimum

  PCs Macs
Processor Intel (Core i5 or i7), AMD (Athlon/Phenom II) Quad-Core or greater Intel (Core i5 or i7)
Hard Disk ≥ 500 GB HDD, ≥ 500 GB SSD ≥ 500 GB HDD,  ≥ 500 GB SSD/Flash
Display 21-24” Flat Panel LCD 21.5” Flat Panel LCD
Ethernet 10/100/1000Base-T (Gigabit) 10/100/1000Base-T (Gigabit)
Operating System Windows 10 Home Premium Mac OS X 10.12 “Sierra”


Bringing Your Current Computer?

If you plan to bring your current computer, be sure it meets our recommended minimum specifications. If your computer does not meet the minimum requirements, we recommend the purchase of a new computer.

Outdated or less powerful computers can hamper your ability to perform necessary tasks. Software manufacturers assume that modern computers (with more memory, faster processors, and larger hard drives) are in use, causing older, slower computers to become obsolete.

Equipment below the recommended minimum specifications may be able to operate within the university’s network environment, but UC Merced’s Help Desk may encounter difficulties in supporting them.

We recommend you use one of our officially supported operating systems: Apple’s Mac OS X or Windows 8.  For other operating systems, we will do our best to assist you, but we cannot guarantee the same level of support.  Most standard computer setups should work on our network.

Used Computer – Recommended Minimum

  PCs Macs
Processor Intel Core i3 or AMD Quad-Core Intel Core i3
RAM ≥ 8 GB ≥ 8 GB
Hard Disk ≥ 500 GB HDD ≥ 500 GB HDD
Display 13” 13”
Wireless Internet Adapter 802.11 b/g (Internal) 802.11 a/b/g (Internal)
Ethernet 10/100BaseT / USB Ethernet Adapter 10/100BaseT / Apple USB Ethernet Adapter
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium Mac OS X 10.6.8 “Snow Leopard” (Free upgrade to 10.12 with 10.6.8 or newer)

Please note:

Computer specifications are general; actual needs will vary depending use. Meeting your technology goals is our aim. Keep in mind that you will likely need to consider a computer upgrade or purchase during your career at UC Merced if your system is near these specifications.

What about Linux?

Machines that are automatically set to obtain an address via DHCP should work on our network. We do not officially support the Linux operating system. Support may be available from local Linux Users Groups (LUG). LUG is an organization that provides online support for inexperienced Linux users.


What about netbooks and tablets without a keyboard?

While size and price make netbooks and tablets an attractive option, users should consider the comfort of prolonged use on a small keyboard. Memory and processing limitations also make this option less than ideal.