Computer Recommendations for New Students

What type of computer should I get when I attend the University of Illinois? That’s the question nearly every prospective student and parent want to know as they visit the Technology Services table during the Illini Days events. According to the Illini Union Tech Zone many colleges and departments recommend students have a computer or laptop less than three years old and at least 8 GB of RAM (that’s a common amount for desktop computers). Students need to be able to check email, write papers, connect to the campus network and download required software for their courses.  For most colleges there’s no preference on Mac versus Windows or what model, that’s left up to the student to decide. Some colleges like Grainger College of Engineering and the College of ACES urge against the use of Chromebooks, saying it’s insufficient for their required coursework, according to the Tech Zone. 

There are 16 colleges at the University of Illinois providing more than 150 undergraduate programs and more than 100 graduate and professional fields of study. Many of those programs may have certain technology guidelines for students to follow, so before purchasing a computer or laptop it’s best practice to reach out to your department to find out if there’s a specific need.  

If you are Undecided or a General Studies student, the Tech Zone recommends a computer is: 

  • Less than three years old 
  • At least 8 GB of RAM 
  • WPA2-Capable (Wi-Fi connectivity)  
  • A/AC/G/N Wi-Fi Card 

Once you have your computer, Technology Services can help. Be sure to check out our Student Resource Guide for quick links to a variety of services including:   

  • NetID and Password 
  • Two-Factor Authentication 
  • University Email 
  • Campus Wi-Fi
  • Computer Labs and Printing 
  • Logging into Zoom 

If you run into issues send us an email at and we will connect you to the best resources to solve the problem. You can also visit our Help Desk in-person in the Digital Computer Lab (DCL). It’s open Monday-Friday 8:00 am to 9:00 pm and weekends from noon to 5:00 pm. Or students can submit a Tech Request through the Help Desk website.  

Students also have access to several Tech Services Computer Labs around campus, some are open 7 days a week. Don’t forget about printing! The university has printing options and locations on campus.