Recommended Hardware

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Neither Duke generally nor Pratt specifically require that Duke students purchase computers for personal use. All tasks for courses can be completed in the public computing labs, and all students have 24-hour access to most of these labs. Many students, however, will bring their own computers and so this page will discuss recommendations for what to bring.

OIT Recommendations

The Office of Information Technology has prepared a page on Recommended Computer Specifications. The page is tailored to Windows and Mac users - but the hardware recommendations are also useful for students using Linux or other operating systems.

Other Recommendations

The section below is a space for current faculty, staff, and students to make recommendations. Please be sure to include who you are (at least a screen name) and your reasoning behind any recommendations.

Michael Gustafson - DukeEgr93
The OIT recs are a good starting point. Certainly, the more memory you have the better - if you plan on using more than 4 Gb however make sure it is a 64-bit machine. Probably the biggest decision to make is whether to get a desktop or a laptop. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, of course. Desktops are larger - meaning the can accept extra cards (PCI, etc) - and generally less expensive for the same amount of memory and speed as an equivalent laptop. On the other hand, they are not nearly as mobile and cannot therefore be used in the classroom, while tenting, or anywhere else to which it would be a pain to move. Laptops have the mobility advantage, but are generally more expensive, have smaller screens and keyboards, and are more easily pilfered. Given that, I have recommendations for each kind of computer as well as an opinion on printers.
Desktop
For a desktop, get as high-quality a screen, keyboard, and mouse as you can. Editing papers is much more easily done on a larger screen, and typing code is best done on a full-sized keyboard. Getting a wireless keyboard and/or mouse is not required, but can make it easier to configure the desk in your room and also allows you to work from more locations in the room. I would highly recommend a mouse that has a charging station over one that requires batteries. In any event - get a security cable that you can use to secure both the computer and the monitor.
Laptop
For a laptop, get an excellent security cable! An unsecure laptop presents a sadly large temptation... Note also that the Duke University Police Department will engrave your laptop for free. You should also use the IT Security that [OIT provides].
If possible, I would recommend also purchasing an external mouse, keyboard, and monitor (in that order) for use at the "home base." Trying to do a great deal of editing on a small laptop screen with a trackpad and a miniaturized keyboard can be a miserable experience. If you are adding these and other peripherals, you may also want to look into a docking station to simplify "plugging in" to all the extra devices.
Tablet?
I now have a Microsoft Surface, and it is glorious for taking notes because the computer knows when the pen is close to the screen and turns off the touch sensing. In other words, you can lay your hand on the screen while writing with the pen and your hand will not "write" on the screen. With an external monitor and mouse and a good keyboard (either the one that comes with a case or an external one) a tablet such as this could do just about everything you would need. Definitely figure out a security solution with these - they are even more...mobile...than laptops.
Printer?
With respect to a printer, it is not necessary to have one (given ePrint and the good number of ePrint stations) but it can be very convenient to have in-room printing for some documents. A low-cost ink-jet style printer can be a nice - and fairly inexpensive - addition to most computer packages.

Questions

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External Links

References