CSI Student Computer Purchasing Recommendation

Purchase Recommendations

NOTE:  As computer technology continually changes, recommendations quickly becomes outdated.  Our recommended configurations are provided simply as a guide for making computer purchases.  The College of Southern Idaho makes no specific endorsement of any specific brands of hardware or software, nor assumes responsibility for purchases made by persons who follow some or all of the recommendations contained herein.  Please note, that Dell offers special discounts to students purchasing through the CSI Bookstore

Recommended Reading:  PC World's purchasing guide for desktops or laptops

Windows Platforms

Desktop & Laptop Recommendation

CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad, AMD Athlon 64 X2, or newer
Memory: 4GB minimum, 8GB recommended (64 bit OS is needed for memory > 4GB)
Hard drive size: 500GB or larger.  Graphic Arts & multimedia production students are encouraged to obtain minimum 1TB or larger drives.
Wireless802.11g or n (recommended for laptop & netbook users)
Operating System: Windows XP (32 Bit) or 7 (64 Bit).  Vista works but we like Windows 7 much better.


Netbooks are designed for their portability (small and lightweight) thus have less processing power and significantly smaller hard drives.  Thus they are intended for Internet browsing and basic email functionality. Because they are web based, students should be able to access Eaglemail and Google Docs with their netbooks.  Programs that require processing power, such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop, need a desktop or laptop.


Portable Apple computers have some specific advantages and disadvantages over Windows based PCs.  Those using Apple products also have access the CSI wireless network.  Eaglemail and Google Docs, online registration, and other online resources are all available to students regardless of the platform they choose.


  • CSI provides each student with an Eaglemail account which includes access to Google Docs.  Google Docs provide an excellent productivity suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentations and database.  Eaglemail is available wherever there is an Internet connection.

  • Optional software includes Microsoft Office Home & Student 2007 (available through the CSI Bookstore), or OpenOffice (free opensource software).

  • Virus & Malware protection such as McAfee, Symantec or Microsoft Security Essentials.  Microsoft Security Essentials is free to home users.

Recommended Accessories

USB flash/thumb Drive - minimum 4GB

Is a New Computer Necessary for Students to Succeed?

The College of Southern Idaho offers many campus computers for students to use.  Thus, it often is not necessary for students to obtain their own computers to succeed in their studies.  Besides cost savings of using campus computers, many advantages exist in using CSI computers.  Most needed software is installed and ready for use.  Printing to a campus printer is only available through a campus computer.  Maintenance and service are provided by trained technical staff.  Nonetheless, if a student feels a new computer would be helpful to them, we offer these guidelines & recommendations.