Computer Requirements and Recommendations

All College of Engineering students are required to have a laptop computer. Both undergraduate and graduate students will need laptops for personal access to software packages.

The College of Engineering provides access to Engineering software through the COE Virtual Lab (VLAB). A laptop that meets the minimum specifications listed below is sufficient for VLAB access. Processing power, memory, and graphics rendering are handled on our servers for VLAB sessions, so your laptop is used only as a terminal. The client software provided for students to access VLAB is compatible with most operating systems, including Windows 10 / 11, Mac OS, and many distributions of Linux.

Minimum Laptop Requirements (to access VLAB)

  • Keyboard
  • Mouse (for SolidWorks)
  • Wireless network card which supports 802.11ac or better
  • 13″ screen or larger recommended

The very minimal requirements mentioned above will decrease the cost of a laptop for students; however, most Engineering students will prefer a laptop with significant processing and graphics power. Many Engineering students prefer to run Engineering software locally on their computer if licensing permits and if their computer can handle it. Many Engineering packages only run on Windows platforms and/or have enhanced hardware requirements, so please keep that in mind when choosing your laptop.

Recommended laptop specifications

To run the software locally on your computer (without reliance on internet access), meeting or exceeding the RECOMMENDED specification in each component category is highly encouraged to improve software performance. The MINIMUM specification provided will allow the software to run, but performance may be significantly reduced.

Processor Series11th or 12th Generation i7 / AMD equivalent13th Generation i7 / AMD equivalent or higher
Processor Specs8 cores, 3 GHZ or higher12 cores, 4 GHZ or higher
VideoIntegrated graphics with high-end CPUNVIDIA RTX 2/3xxx series, Quadro series, or Ampere series (at least 4 GB GDDR5), or equivalent AMD discrete graphics card
Storage Drive512 GB Solid State1 TB or greater Solid State
Technical Support / Warranty1-year Warranty + Accidental Damage4 years ProSupport+ Warranty (includes Accidental Damage Coverage; default for models bought through University Dell Webstore)
Operating SystemWindows 10/11, Mac OS 12/13, current Linux distributionsWindows 10/11

Purchasing — UPDATED for Academic Year 2023/2024

As a Northeastern student, you have access to exclusive educational discounts for new Apple and Dell computers. Visit the customized Dell website for these three models specifically selected for the College of Engineering.

  1. Inspiron 14 PLUS — for students who are possibly interested in Engineering, but are currently focused in other areas, may not require a heavy-duty laptop, or are on a budget
  2. Inspiron 16 PLUS — for students with more interest in Engineering, but want a more well-rounded heavy-duty laptop with improved graphics performance
  3. Mobile Precision — for students committed to Engineering who want a laptop with maximum graphics performance dedicated to Engineering Software

Service for computers purchased through the above website is available on campus via Connect to Tech.

For access to educational discounts on Apple products, see the University’s webstore.

Operating System

Most Engineering classes use Windows 10 / 11. However, Mac owners can seamlessly transfer files between systems. Many engineering applications run natively only on Windows; Mac users can use our VLAB for those programs. Linux is available in the VLAB and by remote login for classes that require it.


The major software packages used during the first year in COE are Microsoft Office, AutoCAD, MATLAB, and SolidWorks. All of these are available in the COE VLAB and other lab areas. See Engineering Software for more information.

Some software is available free or at a discount through the myNortheastern portal (see Software Downloads and Tech Marketplace under the Services & Links tab).

Engineering students have access to free software through Microsoft Azure Dev Tools for Teaching and other vendor programs. See Engineering Software for more information.


The Mathematics Department recommends that students have a graphing calculator as an example models TI-83 – TI-86 from Texas Instruments. Certain calculators may not be used in some cases, so it is always best to check with a course instructor.