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COE Computer Requirements and Recommendations

All entering College of Engineering students are required to have a laptop computer. Undergraduate and graduate students will need laptops for remote access and for those courses that use College software in classrooms not equipped with desktop computers.

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.

As an Engineering student, you will appreciate having a robust computer. Many students prefer to run Engineering software locally on their own computer if licensing permits and if their computer can handle it. Many Engineering packages run on Windows 10 only and/or have enhanced hardware requirements, so please keep that in mind when choosing your laptop.

View information on the VLab and the Computer Center

Minimum Laptop Requirements (to access VLAB)

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

Recommended laptop specifications

To run the software locally on your own 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 impacted.

Component Minimum Recommended
Processor Series 9th Generation i7 or AMD equivalent 10th Generation i7 or AMD equivalent
Processor Specs 4 cores, 1.8 GHZ 6 cores, 2.2 GHZ
RAM 16 GB 32 GB
Video Integrated graphics with high-end CPU NVIDIA Quadro T1000 OR GTX 1650 — 4 GB GDDR5
Storage Drive 256 GB Solid State + External Storage 512 GB Solid State + External Storage
Technical Support / Warranty 1-year Warranty + Accidental Damage 4 years Warranty + ProSupport + Accidental Damage Coverage (default for models bought through University Dell Webstore)
Operating System Windows 10, OS X 10.13, current Linux distributions Windows 10


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 15 7000 2-in-1 – For users on a budget, who want to run some Engineering applications locally
  2. XPS 15 7590 – Best general-purpose graphics performance
  3. Mobile Precision 5540 – Best graphics specifically for Engineering applications

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

Operating System

Most Engineering classes use Windows 10. 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. If you wish to install these software packages on your own laptop, visit 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 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.

Engineering Computer Center

For the VLAB, IT Help and other information, visit

COE Computer Center