Computers & Software

Baseline Technology Recommendations

  • Device: Laptop strongly recommended. Desktop computers, Chromebooks, and tablets are fine to bring, but may not meet your academic needs.
  • Processor: Dual-core Intel i5/Ryzen 5 or higher (quad-core or higher recommended)
  • System memory: 8GB required minimum; 16GB or more recommended. If you anticipate a computationally intensive course of study maximizing your memory will be incredibly helpful.
  • Computer operating systems: macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 or newer; Windows 10 version 1909 or newer. ITS recommends enabling automatic updates to keep your operating system version current.
  • Storage: 128GB minimum, 256GB or more recommended. Strongly recommend a solid-state hard drive (SSD).
  • Battery: ITS recommends making sure that your laptop’s battery can hold a charge for several hours and/or investing in a backup battery/battery pack, as classrooms may not be equipped with adequate power outlets for charging during class.
  • Webcam, Speakers and Microphone: Any of the following configurations (or any combination of microphone/speakers/webcam) will allow you to participate fully in computer-based activities:
    • Built-in webcam, speakers, and microphone
    • External webcam with a microphone and headphones/earbuds
    • External webcam without a microphone and headset/earbuds with built-in microphone.
  • Headset or Bluetooth earbuds
  • Reliable high-speed internet access: When not on campus to use Macalester’s WiFi, you’ll need  broadband internet access with good WiFi.

Purchasing a laptop?

We strongly recommend you bring your own laptop to campus.  Review this information and recommendations before purchasing a new computer.

  • Education discount program through Apple at
  • Apple Certified Refurbished computers at
  • Education discount program though Dell at Macalester College Dell Member ID: US30732314.
  • International students with a U.S. credit card billing address can order from Apple and Dell web stores.
  • Macalester College does not provide repair services for personally owned equipment.