Laptop Recommendations for Students

All students entering the College of Engineering (CENG) – either as a first-time first-year students or as a transfer student – are expected to have a laptop computer for class and homework use. Tablets, Chromebooks and other similar computing devices are currently too limited to comfortably perform all the functions you are likely to need as a CENG student. 

You can purchase any laptop of your choice, but we recommend it meets the requirements listed in the table below. 

Financial Assistance

Cal Poly is committed to every student’s success, so students who do not have financial resources available to purchase a laptop can contact the Financial Aid Office to determine if a laptop scholarship may be available. You should email your request to with the subject line: “CENG Computer Need.”

Laptop attribute Requirements
Intel i5 (or higher) or AMD Ryzen 5 (or higher)
16 GB (or more)
512GB (or more), Solid State Drive recommended
802.11ac integrated
Integrated in laptop
Screen Size
13” to 15”
Discrete Graphics Card

Mechanical Engineering and those
studying graphics, gaming or VR in
Computer Science and Engineering would
benefit from a discrete graphics card for
better performance See cards compatible
with Solidworks. If you do not want to get
a discrete graphics card, you can up your
other specs (i7 processor with at least
32GB of memory) to get better
performance with graphic software.

Operating System

For Computer Science and Software Engineering: MS Windows 10 (release 1909 or newer) or Apple Big Sur MacOS (or newer) 

For all other College of Engineering Programs: MS Windows 10 (release 1909 or newer) strongly recommended* 

*Some software used in these programs, such as SolidWorks and Vivado, are not compatible with MacOS (especially with the M1 processors). We strongly recommend a Windows-based machine for this reason. If using MacOS, we recommend using our department or university provided remote desktop of cloud streaming applications for coursework. A bootcamp Windows partition or a virtual machine can also be setup, but can be problematic.

Anti-Virus Application
Can be your own choice or you can use the one provided through Cal Poly’s software hub
Microsoft Office
O365 (can also obtain through Cal Poly’s software hub)

If you are not sure what to buy, you can select from one of the models for the College of Engineering offered through