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The Library: Choosing your device for University

Introduction to buying a new computer

During the year the Library and Student IT Advice team talk to lots of students who have problems with the devices they own. We're not saying you have to buy a specific device whilst you study here at Leeds Beckett University, but we thought it would be helpful to give you an idea of what to think about before buying something.

What should I think about when buying a new computer?

If you're coming to university with a single device our recommendation would always be to purchase a Windows 11 laptop. These devices are the most flexible in terms of installing general software such as Microsoft365, alongside specialist software such as SPSS and the Adobe Creative Suite. 

Many students come to University with a MacBook. Although these are the preferred device for some courses, such as in the School of Arts, for others it's more of a personal preference. However, feedback from many of these students is that, given their time again, they wouldn't have bought one. Our recommendation to you is only buy a MacBook if you have used them in the past and/or your course delivers its content using Macs.

Whilst the specification of your device is a personal choice and may depend on what else you want to do with it (e.g. are you a PC gamer), there are some minimum requirements we would recommend looking for in the device you buy solely for University use:

Technical requirement Minimum specification Recommended specification
Processor Quad-core 3.4Ghz Quad-core 4.2Ghz
Storage 256GB 512GB

What about course specific requirements?

There are some courses, such as social sciences and arts, that use specialist software in teaching and assessment. We would always recommend checking with course teams if you think there may be software specific to your course that may have technical requirements in addition to those above. You may also need to think about the type of work you will be doing, if your course invovles a lot of video or music production you will probably want to consider more storage.

What about Chromebooks and Windows S devices?

Whilst Chromebooks and the newer Windows S laptops are often cheaper, we don't recommend buying one as your only device.

They are very restrictive in allowing software to be installed, with many of the apps you can install offering less functionality than standard desktop versions. You should also be cautious of buying a Chromebook, if your course includes online exams you won't be able to install the required software on it.

However, if you're looking for a second device that lets you take notes and browse the web whilst on campus, a Chromebook or the newer Windows S laptops which include app-based versions of Microsoft 365 are a good choice.

What else do I need?

As well as your new device there are some extra bits you need to get the best experience whilst studying with us.

  • Webcam - Most laptops and desktop monitors include webcams and they will be fine for attending online teaching and meetings.
  • Microphone and Speakers - Again most laptops and monitors now come with a built in microphone and speakers which are fine if you are living on your own.
  • Headset - If you live in shared accommodation or if you're going to be using your device in public places then we recommend buying a headset that incorporates microphone and speakers. And make sure it's comfortable to wear as you may spend quite a bit of your day wearing it.
  • Microsoft365- As a Leeds Beckett student you have free access to the full Microsft365 suite of apps, there is no need to buy them. You can check out all the information about Microsoft365 and how to access your free copies in our Microsoft365 web pages.
  • Anti-virus software - Being safe online is really important. Leeds Beckett University does expect your personal devices to be protected with anti-virus software. If you use Windows 11 then the included Windows Defender is a good option; just make sure it is turned on as if your new device came with a trial anti-virus software that will have turned off Windows Defender. Whilst Apples Macs are known for their resilience against malware, such as viruses, we are seeing more and more malware on Macs and do recommend anti-virus software for these devices too.

Need further support?

If you need any further help then please use the "Contact Us" buttons on the right to get in touch 24/7 with the Library and Student IT advice team.