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Buying A Computer

As with any "large ticket" item, there are a lot of things to consider. Each vendor offers different options, complete with inscrutable "nuances" that make comparison difficult. However, there are a few basic characteristics on which you can focus to help you narrow the field. The table below provides recommended specifications for most users. Certain, higher-end applications may require an adjustment to these specs.


The speed with which innovation takes place and the amount of competition in this market make choosing a computer difficult at best. The following table details our thoughts on machine selection.

Components and factors Recommended
Operating System Windows 7, 8, or 10 ; for Mac users we recommend the latest version of OS X your hardware can support. 
Processor Intel Core i5 or better

4 gigabytes (GB) is common for some systems, but for those who want faster performance or use specialized software we recommend 8 gigabytes (GB).

  • Note: 32-bit operating systems only support 4GB
  • For newer versions of Mac OS X 8GB is ideal
Hard Drive 500 or more gigabytes (GB) for a standard hard disk. Many newer computers come with super fast non-moving drives called Solid State Drives, shortened to SSD. These drives often have smaller capacities, which is normal. You have to weigh the option between lots of storage space for things like music, movies, and files against the super speed performance you get from an SSD.  
CD-ROM DVD-RW or Bluray - The RW means you can read DVD disks, write them (burn), and "rewrite" them if the disk supports it (must be RW disk). Many newer computers come with Bluray devices that can play Bluray movies and read Bluray disks, but can do all of the other things a DVD-RW can do.
Connectivity for off-campus users Broadband via DSL or cable. 4G or LTE mobile broadband is also an acceptable alternative.

Ethernet Card - 10/100/1000 mbps recommended for on-campus, residence hall broadband wired access (each room has two wired ports). This comes standard in most computers.

Wireless Card - 802.11 g/n/ac for use in all academic and hall buildings - all residence halls have full wireless support.

LCD Screen Size We recommend 14" or higher LCD if purchasing a traditional laptop, We like 10" tablets, but it is a matter of opinion.

Save space, leave your printer at home, get 500 pages of free printing per semester in the computer lab

Wireless printers are not supported by our network - If you intend to bring a printer to campus, be sure to bring a USB cable to physically connect it to your computer.

Office Suite (Word Processing, Spreadsheet and Presentation) such as Microsoft Office or comparable free software like OpenOffice or LibreOffice.

Antivirus Software - Campus provides Sophos Antivirus free of charge to all students.

Extras USB Memory Key / Flash Drive and a good Carrying Case (Remember you get unlimited storage in Cardinal Cloud Drive!)

A Word About Macintoshes and Linux

While our campus is mainly a "Windows" environment, you will find Apple computers and Linux / Unix boxes throughout the campus. Our staff has experience with all three platforms and are certified to repair Macs. Regardless of machine manufacturer or operating system, they will do their best to help users.

Buying Through The Campus

Be sure to check out what our College Store has to offer.

Contact Information

For more information about technology at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact:

Computing Systems and Desktop Support — Helpdesk
Phone: (518) 564-4433
Toll-Free Phone: 1-800-787-8773
Email: [email protected]

Regular Semester Hours
8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Summer Hours
8 a.m.–4 p.m.