Laptop Recommendations

The following recommendations provide CALS students with minimum, recommended, and high performance specifications when evaluating a current laptop or when looking to purchase one for use at ISU.  We make no recommendations on brand of laptop to purchase.

Some classes may require more than the minimum requirements. If you have classes that you are concerned will need higher requirements, it is best to confirm with the professor before your purchase. 

The ISU Book Store (https://www.techcyte.isubookstore.com/home) is ready to help you identify a laptop to meet your general or specific needs.

Iowa State has developed a Laptop Loaner Program to support students who may not have access to required laptop technology. Loaner laptops will be provided to current ISU students through the University Library while the inventory lasts. Students with the greatest financial need and those who have exhausted other options for financial aid will receive priority. Requests for participation in the Laptop Loaner Program will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. CST on Friday, July 31.

Applicants need the following information to complete the Laptop Loaner Program request form:

  • University ID (9-digit identification number provided to you upon acceptance to Iowa State University)
  • College (for example, Design, Ag & Life Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, etc.)
  • System preference (Mac or PC)

Students who are unable to locate their University ID should contact the IT Solution Center at 515-294-4000. Visit the university's website for more information and frequently asked questions about the fall 2020 requirement to own or obtain a laptop.

We will update this page as more information becomes available.

  ECONOMICAL RECOMMENDED HIGH PERFORMANCE 
Typical Use Web browsing, Microsoft Office-type applications, connecting to a remote computer Programming applications and IDE's. Light video editing. Ability to install software that may have higher level requirements, such as some Adobe products. Running engineering applications for 3D modeling and Virtual Reality.
Processor Intel Core i5 Intel Core i7 Intel Core i9
Cores 2 4 8
Memory 8 GB 16 GB 32 GB
Storage 256 GB 512 GB 1 TB
Type SSD SSD SSD
Video Card Integrated 1-2 GB nVidia GeForce or AMD Radeon 2+ GB nVidia GeForce/Quadro or AMD Radeon/FirePro
Resolution 1366×768 1920×1080 (Full HD) 3840×2160 (4K)


Requirements for specific classes, labs and programs
 

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering students

 

ABE 271, 272, 273 (Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering 271, 272, 273) and TSM 216 (Technology Systems Management 216)

  • Recommended specifications on this page meets minimums

 

ABE 413 (Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering 413) / ME 413 (Mechanical Engineering 413), Fluid Power Engineering

  • Recommended Windows machine meets minimum requirements for JMP\
  • Students need to use Automation Studio to generate fluid power schematics required for the class. The software is not accessible through VDI and the students must install the software on their computers to complete these required tasks. 

 

AGRON / ENSCI / MTEOR 405/505 (Agronomy/Environmental Science/Meteorology 405/505)

 

DS 202 (Data Science 202), Data 

  • Windows 8 or 10, or MacOS 10.13+, or an up-to-date Linux OS

 

ECON 101L (Economics 101L) (Lab in microeconomics)

  • Laptop needs to be able to handle Excel
  • Economical specifications on this page will suffice

 

ECON 301 (Economics 301), sections 3 and 4

  • Access to a webcam

 

ENT 201 and ENT 211 (Entomology 201 and Entomology 211)

  • Recommended specifications on this page encouraged

 

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) classes

NREM 446/546, NREM 489L/589L, NREM 345 (Natural Resource Ecology and Management 446/546, Natural Resource Ecology and Management 489L/589L, Natural Resource Ecology and Management 345) 
Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise (64 bit [EM64T])
Windows 8.1 Basic, Pro, and Enterprise (32 bit and 64 bit [EM64T])
Windows 7 Ultimate, Professional, and Enterprise (32 bit and 64 bit [EM64T])

  • Minimum hardware requirement for Windows laptops are as follows: https://desktop.arcgis.com/en/system-requirements/10.5/arcgis-engine-sys...
  • CPU Speed:  2.2 GHz minimum; Hyper-threading (HHT) or Multi-core recommended
  • Platform: x86 or x64 with SSE2 extensions 
  • Memory/RAM:  2 GB minimum
  • Display properties: 24-bit color depth 
  • Video/Graphics adapter: 64 MB RAM minimum; 256 MB RAM or higher recommended. NVIDIA, ATI, and Intel chipsets supported.
  • 24-bit capable graphics accelerator
  • OpenGL version 2.0 runtime minimum is required, and Shader Model 3.0 or higher is recommended.
  • Be sure to use the latest available drivers
  • Screen resolution: 1024x768 recommended minimum at normal size (96 dpi)
  • Disk space:  16 GB"
  • Windows is required. ArcGIS software will not run on IOS or MacOS.

 

HORT 281 (Horticulture 281): Landscape Graphics

  • Recommended specifications on this page meets minimums

 

HORT 481 (Horticulture 481): Advanced Garden Composition

  • Recommended specifications on this page meets minimums

 

STAT 104 and STAT 301 (Statistics 104 and Statistics 301)

  • Economical Windows machine meets minimum requirements for JMP

 

TSM 216 (Technology Systems Management 216) and ABE 271, 272, 273 (Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering 271, 272, 273)

  • Recommended specifications on this page meets minimums

     

    TSM 337 (Technology Systems Management 337), Fluid Power Systems Technology

    • Recommended Windows machine meets minimum requirements for JMP
    • Students need to use Automation Studio to generate fluid power schematics required for the class. The software is not accessible through VDI and the students must install the software on their computers to complete these required tasks. 

     

    TSM 465 (Technology Systems Management 465) – Automation Systems

    • Either the economical or the recommended Windows computer will work
    • LogixPro PLC only runs under Windows OS. Mac laptop users, a virtual machine like Parallels Desktop or a Bootcamp running Windows 10 is required

     

    ISU has partnered with Dell and Apple to help students purchase and support their personal computers. Students can buy the computer directly from the company or through TechCyte at the ISU Bookstore. ISU Computer Repair, located in 74 Durham, is a warranty repair center for both Dell and Apple.
    However, any manufacturer of laptops with the above specification will work at ISU as long as they have Windows or macOS installed.