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Laptop System Requirements for Undergraduates

All undergraduate students entering Electrical and Computer Engineering are required to have a laptop for use in course work. Laptops do not need to be brought to campus on a daily basis, but individual courses may require that a laptop be brought to class or lab sessions.

It is the student's responsibility to ensure their laptop meets or exceeds the following requirments.

Operating System Requirement

Undergraduate students will be required to install specific software packages on their laptops. Some of the software packages used in our program are only available on the Microsoft Windows Platform. Due to this need, all students are required to have a laptop witha Windows operating system. Required software for courses are not fully compatible with macOS devices.

PC Minimum Requirements

Some ECE courses utilize software that places significant demands upon the processor, memory and/or graphics systems of the computer. Consequently, students are advised that a new laptop may be required if their current system is more than three-years old, or fails to meet certain minimum specifications. The following table summarizes ECE recommended minimum specifications for students purchasing a new computer for the upcoming semester. If your current computer does not meet these minimum requirements, you may find that your system will need to be upgraded or replaced within three years and/or may not provide acceptable performance for some or all ECE courses. ECE does not recommend purchasing a new laptop with specifications less than those shown below.

Microsoft Windows 10 Operating System (or newer), 64-bit is the expected standard

Hardware & OS Minimum (and you may struggle with these specs) Preferred (and please exceed even these in order for performance to persist)
Operating System:  Windows 10 64-bit (required software for courses will NOT run under MacOS) Windows 10 64-bit (required software for courses will NOT run under MacOS)
Processor: Intel Core i5 (2.0GHz or faster) or corresponding AMD Intel Core i7 or corresponding AMD
Memory: 16GB RAM 32GB RAM
Hard Drive: 300GB 500GB SSD (Solid State Drive) or larger
GPU (Video): Integrated Video Discrete graphics card (Nvidia or AMD)*
Wireless: 802.11ac 802.11ac or Wi-Fi 6
Ports: Minimum 1 USB port; either a USB-A or USB-C with a USB-A to USB-C adapter Minimum 1 USB port; either a USB-A or USB-C with a USB-A to USB-C adapter
Camera/Conferencing: Front facing camera with mic and speakers Front facing HD camera with privacy shutter and headset with mic
Backup: Cloud file syncing service like Onedrive, or UT Box Cloud file syncing  service like Onedrive, or UT Box
Warranty: An extended warranty with accidental damage coverage is HIGHLY recommended An extended warranty with accidental damage coverage is HIGHLY recommended

* A "discrete graphics" card is recommended if you plan to run Computer-Aided Design software. Discrete graphics models feature a dedicated graphics processor and memory to provide superior 3D performance for graphics-intensive applications. Examples of discrete graphics cards are:

  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
  • AMD Radeon HD 7970M
  • NVIDIA Quadro K500M

*In 2020, 2021, and partially in 2022, please anticipate UT classes offered via Zoom along with online testing (i.e., using Proctorio/other tools).  

Home bandwidth

Sufficient for classes and online testing. At least 2 Mbps upstream/downstream is recommended.

Apple macOS Notes

  • Some required software for courses will not run under macOS
  • Newer macOS devices with M1 chipsets may not be compatible with virtualization software running Microsoft Windows
  • The use of Apple Bootcamp requires a Mac with an Intel processor.
  • A macOS device will require additional memory, drive capacity, and an investment in time/labor on the end-user to install a Windows virtual environment

Recommended Software

All computers must have an active antivirus software installed before being connected to the campus network. Systems running Windows 8 or higher have the built-in Windows Defender. UT recommended anti-virus solutions are listed on the ITS Anti-Virus page.

Package Availabilty
Microsoft Office Instructions for access (Free for Students)
MATLAB Site license download (Free)
UTPrint Drivers Download from UTPrint page
Anti-Virus Download from ITS Anti-Virus page

Additionally the Cockrell School of Engineering provides access to various Microsoft products through the Azure Development Tools for Teaching program and to National Instruments' LabVIEW.

Financial Aid

Students that receive aid or are loan eligible may contact The Office of Student Financial Services to have their aid adjusted to include the cost of their laptop. Students not eligible for aid can apply for alternative or short-term loans through The Office of Student Financial Services.