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COE 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.
View information on the VLab and the Computer Center
Minimum Laptop Requirements (to access VLAB)
- 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 own 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 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 reduced.
|Processor Series||10th Generation i7 / AMD equivalent||11th or 12th Generation i7 / AMD equivalent or higher|
|Processor Specs||4 cores, 2 GHZ or higher||8 cores, 2.6 GHZ or higher|
|RAM||16 GB||32 GB|
|Video||Integrated graphics with high-end CPU||NVIDIA RTX 2/3xxx series, Quadro series, or Ampere series (at least 4 GB GDDR5), or equivalent AMD discrete graphics card|
|Storage Drive||512 GB Solid State + External Storage||512 GB Solid State + External Storage – OR – 1 TB Solid State|
|Technical Support / Warranty||1-year Warranty + Accidental Damage||4 years ProSupport+ Warranty (includes Accidental Damage Coverage; default for models bought through University Dell Webstore)|
|Operating System||Windows 10/11, Mac OS 11/12, current Linux distributions||Windows 10/11|
Purchasing — UPDATED for Academic Year 2022/2023
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.
- Inspiron — for students who are possibly interested in Engineering, but are currently focused in other areas, and may not require a heavy-duty laptop, or are on a budget
- XPS — for students with more interest in Engineering, but want a more well-rounded heavy-duty laptop with high graphics performance
- 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.
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. If you wish to install these software packages on your own laptop, visit help.coe.neu.edu 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 help.coe.neu.edu 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