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) only* 

*Some software used in these programs are not compatible with MacOS (especially with the M1 processors). Some Mac users get by with running virtual machines, but often run into problems, hence why Mac machines are discouraged. 

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

Coronavirus Update and Resources