UC Davis expects each student to own a computer that meets certain minimum performance standards, as shown here.

Laptops, because they are portable, are significantly better than desktop models.

Tablets and other similar mobile computing devices (e.g. Chromebooks) are currently too limited to comfortably perform all the functions you are likely to need or want when accessing computing resources at UC Davis.

Consult your department about specific software or hardware requirements that might differ from these recommended configurations.

ON-CAMPUS HOUSING: Pre-arrival advice for new students who will live in the residence halls.

Computer configurations for 2015-2016


Windows PC



Intel Core i5, i7

Intel Core i5, i7


8GB is acceptable. For laptops with welded memory chips, 16Gb is highly recommended.

Hard drive

128 GB if solid state drive (you might want an additional traditional hard drive for data, if you store a lot of data locally); 500 GB if traditional drive


Backing up your system is strongly recommended. See note #1 for information on options.


See note #2 below for laptop screen size


Wireless: 802.11g/n

Wired: Ethernet port

See note #3 for for more about Ethernet ports. Students in dorms without a wireless network (check with Student Housing), or who want to connect additional network devices to the data network, will need an Ethernet cable. In most cases, a cable of 12 to 15 feet should suffice.


See note #4 below


See note #5 below

Windows 7, 8.1 or 10

Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite)


See note #6 below for information about buying software products and downloading free anti-virus software. Anti-virus software is required when using the campus network.


3-year parts and labor is highly recommended (so is an on-site repair warranty, if funds permit)

Apple Care (a 3-year warranty may be bought for a new computer within one year of the purchase date)

print version

Additional computing notes

The recommendations for Windows PC computers meet the hardware requirements of Microsoft’s Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 operating systems.

1. Backing up files:

At a minimum, you should back up your important files to an external location, such as a USB device, external hard drive, server or online service. If you regularly back up large amounts of data, such as multimedia and music files, consider a backup resource with up to one-third more storage than your drive (e.g., roughly 720 GB for a 500 GB drive). A few GB might suffice for smaller files. Read more about backups.

Once new students have a valid UC Davis email address, they can take advantage of 50GB of free cloud storage hosted by Box. You can access your Box account from cloud.ucdavis.edu.

2. Display:

Laptop – Laptop displays should have a minimum resolution of 1366x768. The display should be comfortable for you to read and view. The screen should be at least 13 inches diagonally.

Desktop – Desktop displays should have a resolution of at least 1280x1024 or 1440x900 (widescreen). We recommend at least a 19-inch monitor.

3. Ethernet port:

All computers must be ready to use the network, in wired and wireless formats. For a wired connection, a computer requires either an Ethernet (RJ-45) port or a USB-to-Ethernet adapter (Apple’s version is Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet). Wireless network adapters are built into almost all laptops, but desktop computers do not usually have them.

4. Printer:

If you live in the residence halls, think twice before bringing a printer. A wireless printer might not work with the wireless residential network available at your location. Also, the halls’ computer centers offer up to 250 pages of free printing to residents per quarter. The cost is folded into the regular housing fee.

Regardless of where you live, you can use the printers in IET’s computer rooms on campus. Printing there incurs a small cost, but saves you the expense of buying a printer, ink and paper. A wireless printing service lets you print to one of several computer rooms from your laptop while using the UC Davis wireless network.

5. Operating system (OS):

Microsoft Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 – The recommendations for Windows PC computers on this site meet the hardware requirements for Windows 7, 8.1 or 10.

Macintosh OS X 10.10, also known as Yosemite – The recommendations for Apple computers on this site meet the hardware requirements of OS X 10.10 (Yosemite).

6. Software:

UC Davis offers various software for download off the Software License Coordination (SLC) website. Students will need anti-virus software, and can find links to two free products on the SLC site: Sophos Home Edition for Macs, and Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). Please note that commercial anti-virus software pre-installed in new computers may be only time-limited trial versions and may not be long-term solutions.

The TechHub offers productivity, creativity, and other software packages to students, staff and faculty at special academic prices that might be substantially less than commercial vendors charge.

7. Graphics:

If you plan to take a class that requires intensive work with graphics, contact the department teaching the class and ask for recommendations.

8. Tech support

The IT Express Computing Services Help Desk can help you in many areas, including campus software, campus Internet access, and activating and accessing your UC Davis email and computing accounts. IT Express is open weekdays, except holidays, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call 530-754-HELP (4357) or email ithelp@ucdavis.edu.

A more extensive warranty beyond the very limited one-year manufacturer provided may be useful depending on your planned usage. An “Accidental Damage Coverage” (ADC) plan can prevent repair costs from exceeding the value of the computer in case of damage.

TechHub, part of the UC Davis Stores, offers Apple-authorized repairs, repairs to out-of-warranty PCs, and additional services. See its computer repair page, or call 530-752-1302.