/ Computer Science Department

Computer Recommendations

We’re often asked about what type of computer students should purchase when coming to study computer science at Hope. Here’s what you need to know!

The majority of computers on campus and in the computer science department are Windows PCs. However, we strive to ensure that students can use either a PC or a Mac when completing their classwork. All the development environments and tools we use are available for free for both PC and Mac.

For most 100 and 200 level courses, students can use either their personal laptop or one of the computers in the Computer Science laboratory in VWF 115. Many upper-level classes provide students with a pre-configured Windows laptop to ensure students spend time learning rather than installing and configuring software.

Purchasing a laptop

If you decide to buy your own laptop, it's important to ensure you have a powerful enough computer to do heavy-duty computing. While processor speed is important, the amount of memory (RAM) installed in the computer is crucial for ensuring good performance. We recommend that you have a computer with at least 8, and preferrably 16, GB of RAM.

Note that many laptop manufactures now advertise the amount of “storage” in their computers — this generally refers to the amount of hard drive space, not RAM. If you see numbers like 64GB, 128GB or 256GB you are almost certainly seeing hard drive capacity, not RAM.

For storage, you will want to make sure that you have at least 128GB of hard drive space available; 256GB is even better, particularly on a Mac, where you might want to install a Windows virtual machine to allow you to run Windows-specific software like Microsoft Visual Studio. Solid State (SSD) drives are much faster than more traditional hard drives, and are your best bet.

Don’t buy Microsoft Office (or any other software for that matter)! Hope College has a campus-wide license for Microsoft Office available for all students. You can find information about acquiring Office at CIT’s web site under the heading Free Microsoft Office.