Information Technology Division
Computing & Communications Center

Student Computers

WPI ResNet

The WPI network fully extends into all residence halls, including both high speed wireless networking and a 10/100/1000 Ethernet drop for each bed. For best performance, you should make sure that your computer meets the minimum configuration detailed below. After your arrival, the WPI Helpdesk can assist you in properly configuring your network via the Residential Network Signup Form. For more information about networking at WPI, check out the Internet & Network page.

Computer Recommendations

Students are not required to buy their own computer at WPI as the campus is equipped with many computer labs containing computers of various platforms with a wide range of accessories and software available for student use. If you plan to purchase a new computer before coming to campus, the following configuration should meet your needs throughout the next four years at WPI.

Newly Purchased Desktop Systems Newly Purchased Notebook/Tablet Systems
  • Intel Core i5/i7 or AMD Phenom or higher
  • 4GB of RAM minimum*
  • 320GB hard drive
  • Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
  • Optical Drive Recommended but not required
  • Windows 7 / Windows 8
  • Intel Core i5/i7 or AMD Turion X2 or higher
  • 4GB RAM minimum*
  • 250GB hard drive
  • Integrated Wired and Wireless Ethernet Adapters (802.11a/g/n)
  • Optical Drive Recommended but not required
  • Windows 7 / Windows 8
Newly Purchased iMac Newly Purchased MacBook Pro
  • Intel Core i5/i7 3.06GHz or Higher
  • 4GB of RAM*
  • 500GB hard drive
  • DVD+/-RW drive
  • Intel Core i5/i7 2.4GHz or Higher
  • 4GB of RAM*
  • 250GB hard drive
  • DVD+/-RW

Note: Students who are enrolled in the IMGD program should purchase a system with a dedicated graphics card (e.g. Nvidia or ATI) as opposed to an Integrated Graphics Chip (e.g. Intel)

* 32-Bit versions of Windows cannot address more than 3 GB of RAM. In order to use 4GB of RAM or more you must have a 64-bit operating system.

Macintosh

Macintoshes work on our campus network but much of the academic software that is used here is only available on the Windows or UNIX platforms. However, we offer a terminal server that is available to Mac users for remote application use. Our Microsoft Campus License Agreement does allow you to install Microsoft Windows via Boot Camp on Intel based Mac OS X 10.5 or higher. However due to inconsistent driver support, many applications may not function properly. Video intensive applications will not function within Parallels or VMWare Fusion. These configurations may not receive full support for all applications.

If you plan to bring an older computer, we suggest it have at least the specifications listed below. Please note that, depending on your usage, a computer meeting these specifications may not serve you adequately past your first year or two at WPI. For students enrolled in graphic design or modeling classes, a system meeting the conditions below may not meet requirements to use required software. However, please note that public labs are available for student use that support required classroom software.

Minimum-Requirements - Desktop Systems Minimum-Requirements - Notebook/Tablet Systems
  • Intel Core Duo
  • 4GB RAM
  • 120GB hard drive
  • 10/100 Ethernet adapter
  • Optical Drive Recommended but not required
  • Windows 7 (64-bit)
  • Intel Core Duo
  • 4GB RAM
  • 80GB hard drive
  • Integrated Wired and Wireless Ethernet Adapter (b or g must support WPA2 encryption)
  • Optical Drive Recommended but not required
  • Windows 7 (64-bit)
Minimum-Requirements - Macintosh Systems
  • Intel Core Duo
  • 4GB RAM
  • 120GB hard drive
  • 10/100 Ethernet adapter
  • Mac OS X 10.5

Please note: The WPI Microsoft Campus Agreement entitles all students to one copy of Windows 7 Ultimate Edition Upgrade Media avaliable at a discount so you can save money by purchasing a computer with Windows 7 Home Premium or WIndows 8 Professional and then upgrade once you arrive on campus. Get more information at www.wpi.edu/+CLA.

Purchasing a Computer

Currently, special pricing deals for computers meeting these specifications have been arranged with several computer vendors.

Dell Computer - Be sure to check out Dell's Promotion Page (PDF) for special offers.
Lenovo Computers
HP Computers
Apple Computers

If you have questions or need help verifying a computer meets the recommended specifications, feel free to email helpdesk@wpi.edu or call 508-831-5888.

Things to Consider

A note on storage media

All of the PCs in the campus computer labs are equipped with DVD-Rewriteable drives. These storage media come in handy if you wish to work on your files in public clusters. However, you can also use secure file transfer and network file shares to store your data on remote servers; this lets you access your files from any computer connected to the Internet. Each student at WPI gets 10 GB of network storage space. Due to security and potential loss of data, we highly recommend you use this resource to store any critical data you may have.

Notebooks

Portables are also vulnerable to theft. WPI Information Technology offers the following suggestions to protect your computer equipment:

Wireless networks

All buildings on campus, including academic buildings, Gordon Library, the Campus Center and residence halls are now equipped with high speed wireless networking. For a complete list of locations please see the Wireless Networking page. In the Library and Campus Center, you can borrow a notebook with a wireless card to use while you're in these buildings. If you are considering purchasing a wireless card to use on campus, be sure that it supports WPA-Enterprise or WPA2-Enterprise. Our wireless network supports 802.11n as well as the older protocols of 802.11g, 802.11a and 802.11b. If you are purchasing a new notebook, we recommend getting a wireless card that can take advantage of 802.11n. Our Network Operations department has wireless cards available for sale.

Please also note that while we do not prohibit devices other than computers from connecting to the wireless network, such as gaming consoles or smart phones, many of them do not support the certificate based WPA2-Enterprise authentication we require. More information can be found on the Wireless Networking page.

Extended Warranty

WPI cannot repair student owned computers, as in many cases this will void the manufacturers warranty.  For this reason, WPI recommends that students purchase an extended warranty (at least 3 years) and in many cases recommend on-site coverage with accidental damage.  This will ensure a higher probability of and faster repair to a students systems.   This may be called many things depending on the manufacturer, for instance Dell's accidental damage service is called CompleteCare™. while Apple's plan is referred to as AppleCare

Backup Storage

WPI offers student 10GB of personal, backed-up, network file storage.  This is intended for academic use, however does not allot for all personal data such as music libraries.  For students that wish to keep all their data backed up, WPI suggests USB external hard drives available from many vendors.  While WPI cannot suggest a specific make model, we recommend finding a name brand device that has a warranty comparable or better than that of your system.  Some vendor warranties may cover external devices if purchased at the same time as the computer, however please read the terms of your warranty carefully. 

Operating systems and desktop software

Windows 7

We support all 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows 7.

Windows 8

We support all 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows 8. Please be aware that software vendors are still updating software for Windows 8 support and may not work. In those circumstances, the software will be available in the labs or via remote access servers.

Macintosh OS X 10.5 and greater

Macintosh OS X 10.5 and greater are mostly supported by WPI Information Technology. Unfortunately, a majority of academic software packages are not available for the Mac OS X platform which limits the amount of support that can be provided. Mac OS X upgrades for personally owned computers are not available through IT.

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office 2010 is fully supported at WPI. This suite of software, along with other general use programs, is installed in all of the campus computer labs. If you have a previous version of Office, you will be able to upgrade to Office 2010 or Office 2013 once you arrive on campus through the Microsoft Campus License Agreement. Office 2010 will work with WPI systems.

Microsoft Office 2011 for Macintosh is fully supported at WPI. If you have Office 2008, you will be able to upgrade to Office 2011 once you arrive on campus through the Microsoft Campus License Agreement.

Microsoft Office 2013 is available through the Campus License Agreement and fully supported.

Campus License Agreement

Through our Microsoft Campus License Agreement, WPI students are allowed to purchase for a nominal fee and install many Microsoft products, including Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office and Visual Studio, on a personally owned system for academic use. Please refer to the WPI Microsoft Campus License Agreement Web site for a list of the available products as well as information on how to obtain the software. Many other software programs can be installed via WPI's network

Antivirus software

Another important piece of software that you will need is some type of antivirus software. We have licensed McAfee VirusScan to install on all computers on the WPI network. Most new computers come with a trial version of anti-virus software. You do not need to purchase the full version but you should install McAfee as soon as you arrive on campus. Please uninstall any current antivirus program before installing a new one.

Support

The WPI Helpdesk website is loaded with information about a wide variety of computer-related topics. Please check it to see if you can quickly find a solution to computer problems you may be having. If you have any questions about the computer systems at WPI and you don't see the answer on the webpage, please e-mail helpdesk@wpi.edu. The Helpdesk will also answer general computing questions and provide assistance for supported hardware and software. For help with personally-owned computer systems, it is generally best to check with the computer vendor for help, especially if the computer is still under warranty. Whatever your question, the Helpdesk will try to direct you to the best place to get the answers you need. Call them at 508-831-5888 or email them at helpdesk@wpi.edu for assistance.

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Last modified: Jul 03, 2013, 14:19 EDT
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