Student Computer Specifications

Article updated: May 2024

If you are a student at Mississippi State University considering a computer purchase, we encourage you to read this page carefully.

Department-Specific Specifications

Some departments and colleges require or recommend specific hardware and/or software that may vary from the university baseline specifications. If you are a student in one of these academic units, you should follow these computer guidelines:

Minimum Student Laptop Computer Specifications

For students not in one of the colleges or departments above, the following specifications should be considered as recommended minimums for any new computer purchase. Following these requirements should ensure that your computer will last throughout the length of a typical, 4-year university term.

    Windows   Apple
Operating System Windows 11 macOS 14 - Sonoma
Processor Intel Core i5 or equivalent* Intel Core i5* or Apple M family
Memory (RAM) 8GB 8GB
Storage 250GB Solid state drive(SSD) 250GB Solid state drive(SSD)
Network Connectivity

Wireless (Dual-band, 802.11a/g/n/ac/ax)

Wired (Dedicated port or via adapter)

Wireless (Dual-band, 802.11a/g/n/ac/ax)

Wired via adapter

Webcam Integrated or external Integrated or external
Productivity Software

Microsoft Office 365 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) - Available at no additional cost to students

Antivirus Software

Virus protection software is required by MSU policy when using the University networks. Find out more information about antivirus options for personal computers.

Other Software

ITS offers additional software to students, such as SAS, SPSS, Responuds LockDown browser, etc., at no additional cost. Visit the ITS Software page for more information.

Adobe Creative Cloud is also offered to students at a reduced cost. Visit the MSU Adobe CC site for more information and to purchase.

*Note about Intel i5 or equivalent processors: The i5 descriptor on computer processors has been in effect for many years now. ITS recommends that your computer have a 10th generation i5 processor or higher as a minimum. The generation is usually indicated by the first couple of digits in the processor code (for example: i5 10500H would be a 10th generation processor while i5 6500T would be a 6th generation processor). For processors from other manufacturers, such as AMD, ITS suggests your computer have one comparable in power to a 10th gen i5, such as the AMD Ryzen 5, or better.

Operating System Requirements

Please be aware that not all software used in MSU courses is compatible with both Windows and macOS. Please check the ITS Software page to verify which software provided is compatible with your OS. If you do not see the specific software you'll need to run listed, please either verify the OS requirements with your instructor or visit the software manufacturer's website to view the system requirements.

For new computer purchases, you may also want to take into account which degree/program you are entering, as some have OS recommendations based on the software you will need to run throughout the program. You'll need to contact your department if you're unsure of their requirements.

If you have purchased an Apple/macOS computer and need to run Windows-only software, you can run Windows in a virtual environment from within macOS using a product like Parallels or VirtualBox (supported by Intel and Apple M family processors). Please note that this method will require you to have a valid license for Windows in order to activate the operating system (MSU students are eligible to receive one copy of Microsoft Windows 10 or 11 via Microsoft Azure for Education). Also, while ITS does not provide support with setting up operating systems on personal systems, there are many resources available online with instructions and information on doing so.

NOTE: ITS does NOT recommend using a Chromebook (Chrome OS) or a tablet running a mobile OS (iPadOS, Android, etc.) as your main computing device. These devices may not be able to properly access all MSU systems (including Canvas and Banner) and are not capable of running the software packages that may be required for certain classes. This includes the full installation of Microsoft Office, Respondus Lockdown Browser, SAS, SPSS, Autodesk products, and most other desktop software programs.


As with most other major purchases, it is good advice to choose a reputable brand from a reputable source. The Gartner Group, an independent provider of research and analysis on information technology, lists quality manufacturers of Windows compatible computers. The Gartner list contains brands such as Dell, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard (HP). Although not on the Gartner list, Howard Computers, based in Laurel, Mississippi, is also worthy of consideration. If you plan on purchasing an Apple computer, the Gartner list does not apply since there is only one manufacturer.

Tip: Look for special discounts available for students via the computer manufacturer's websites. While MSU does not offer any specific discount or computer purchase programs, many manufacturers have their own student/university discounts that can be activated with your email address.

Known student discount programs:

Dell - University Store

Lenovo - Student and Teacher Discount

Hewlett-Packard (HP) - Education Store

Apple - Education Pricing

Extended Warranty

Many computer manufacturers provide extended warranties that cover problems beyond the normal warranty period. ITS strongly recommends that you purchase a three-year, on site warranty along with your new computer. Details of these warranties will vary depending on the manufacturer.

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Article ID: 1195
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