Do you want fries with that?

Buying a new computer can be difficult, especially when salespeople are quick to tell you what you "need." Several important computing hardware and software issues are outlined below and should help you if you decide to purchase a new computer for use at CMC. Please keep in mind that these recommendations are based on suggestions for your primary computer; if you want a tablet or something that does not meet our recommendations for a companion to your primary computer, which can work quite well.

Type of computer

Apple or PC. . . Windows or Macintosh. . . Which will it be? Well, both will work, and we support both. We do not recommend switching! Neither is actually more secure than the other (it's all marketing!) and both can connect to our network resources.

However, PCs are generally less expensive and can have longer warranties - we do recommend as long a warranty as you can get. Macs are considered the best built computers, although Lenovo's are considered a very close second. You can get more discounts on required software for a PC than you can on a Mac. (see the software section below.)

You get more choice with PCs while Macs give you pretty much the mainstream option that you would likely choose anyway.
Whichever your choice, we will assist and support you.

Processor

Intel and AMD both make excellent processors at any speed. However, Intel definitely has the edge right now, so we recommend Intel Core processors (Core i3, i5, i7) - we do NOT recommend getting a computer with an Intel Atom processor as your primary computer.

This means that we do not recommend a netbook or a tablet as your primary computer! They're too small and underpowered. They make great note-taking and casual computers . . . but not for your main computer.

RAM

We recommend 8GB at least for your primary computer.

Hard Disk

Most new computers will come with plenty of disk space. Honestly, this is not too much of a concern. If you want to spend extra money on a Solid State Drive, it will increase performance but it is not a requirement.

Video Card

We have no specific requirements or recommendations - the included video card is sufficient for most tasks.

Manufacturers

Although we do not endorse or recommend any vendor, these are some of the most popular makes among our student body. Please note that there are other good computer vendors.

Operating System

For Windows, we strongly recommend Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 8.1(for an explanation of what to expect with Windows 8, please see this page.) Both are extremely stable and well-designed operating systems.
For Macintosh, we suggest Mountain Lion (10.8) or Mavericks (10.9) – although you won't really have much choice as Apple only offers the latest version.

Software

Microsoft Office Suite is a must for academic purposes at CMC. The Windows version is available online for $99.99 (http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msstore/pd/productID.259180100) and includes the entire suite. Unfortunately, the Mac version does not have this discount.
You can also get software at www.JourneyEd.com/SELECT - they have some excellent discounts including Microsoft Office for Mac.
Neither Open Office nor iWork are considered acceptable. While they can produce good products, they are not 100% compatible with Word, Excel and Powerpoint, which are standard for faculty and staff and are installed on all our labs.
  • You will be required to have anti-virus programs on ALL computers - both Macs and PCs. See our anti-virus page for more information.