Computer Hardware and Software Requirements for Students

Students can purchase a computer from any vendor of choice, however there are minimum and recommended requirements. Below are specifications that will allow any student's computer to still function during the 4-5 years that they are attending SAU. If you have any questions please contact our Information Services department for further assistance. You can email any questions directly to:

  • Intel i5, i7, or i9 Processor or better for Windows (CPU)
  • Apple M1 or M2 processor, or i5 for MacOS
  • 8 GB Memory (RAM) is Required | 16 GB Memory (RAM) is Recommended
  • 256 GB (or higher) hard drive. SSD is preferred.
  • Wireless 802.11AC (built-in)
  • Extended Warranty (at least 3 years – longer if possible)


MacOS or Windows?

We generally recommend that students use whichever operating system they are comfortable with, but there are some caveats. Communication Majors are required to use MacOS, and more details on that are below. Business students are recommended to use Windows because of some specific plug ins for Excel that are needed in some classes. Computer science and cyber security students are recommended to get a MacOS device.

Can I use my iPad or Chromebook?

An iPad or a Chromebook is a great tool that can be portable, but we do not recommend that students use this as their only device.

How should I buy a device?

We recommend people to go to a store like Best Buy where they can actually look at different devices and price ranges, and get a feel for what will work best for them. If you take the list of requirements at the top of this article with you a salesperson may be able to help you narrow your selection down. Once you decide on a couple devices that may work best, you can write them down and check prices at other stores and online retailers to find the best option. We generally recommend against refurbished or used devices as you do not know how heavily they have been used. Laptops are generally designed to break down after about 4 years of use. You can often extend that life by taking good care of your device, avoid letting it overheat (especially in bags), and powering it down if you aren't using it for more than a day.

Recommended devices

Prices and versions of devices change frequently, and we recommend that you do your own research and make your own decision. This list was updated in Fall of 2022, and it is a short list of "top picks" from students and IT. Generally we recommend that a price range from $500 to $1,500 for Windows devices, and from $900 to $2,000 for Apple devices, but this can differ depending on your preferences and what you need.

Apple Suggestions

- MacBook Pro with the M1 or M2

- Macbook Air with the M1 processor

Windows Suggestions

- Dell XPS series

- Lenovo Yoga

- HP Spectre

Software Applications

Requirements for Department of Communication and Media majors


  • MacBook Pro or Air (Digital Media Communication Major with a concentration in Video/Film or Broadcasting need a Macbook Pro)
  • MacOS version 12 or higher
  • At least 16 GB of RAM
  • At least 256 GB of Hard Disk space


All Department of Communication and Media majors must subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud Software package.  Proficiency with all or some of these tools is expected in the communication field, specifically:  Photoshop, InDesign, Audition, Premiere Pro.  
As of this writing, the subscription length for this package of programs is one year.   Your instructor in your COM TECH (COM 110) course will help you enroll for the first year of your subscription and the cost of the first year will be covered by a COM TECH (COM 110) course fee.  You are responsible for the cost of continuing the subscription through subsequent years.

Have questions? Contact Dorie Shelby, Chair, Department of Communication and Media.


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Tue 5/30/17 9:09 AM
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