link to content
Essentials at NC State Home
Help | ResNet | Computing@NC State | For OIT Staff | Publications | Search NC State | Feedback
your unity account
antivirus & security
email & messaging
connections & labs
your computer
software@nc state
web pages
education & training
other resources
ITD Sections

Your own computer at NC State

Even though students attending NC State have the use of a state-of-the-art campus data network and state-of-the-art computer labs, the majority find it very helpful to have their own computer on campus. Choose links from the list below and others on this page to learn more about the considerations for bringing your own computer to NC State.


Do I really need my own personal computer at NC State?

While there is no general university requirement or expection, there are two exceptions. For Fall 2006, the College of Engineering has an expectation that all incoming undergraduates will have a laptop that meets college specifications. Students in the College of Design also have a requirement beginning in their second year. Be sure to check the college-specific computer recommendations as they may vary. This information will also be available at New Student Orientation in July. Be sure to check your college recommendations and those of the Office of Information Technology before you buy.

Laptop or desktop - what should I consider?

Wireless access to NC State's campus network is growing. A laptop with a wireless card offers you opportunities to connect at an increasing number of locations. See
for existing locations and check frequently for the new ones that will be added throughout the year.

Frequency of use
You will be spending many hours on your computer, and most of the time a desktop's larger, separate monitor and keyboard may be more comfortable to use than those of a laptop. Or, if you choose a laptop, you may also want to get an external monitor and keyboard for it.

Theft and damage
A laptop's portability makes it more likely to be stolen than a desktop, and it is more prone to being dropped and possibly damaged.

A laptop may cost more to buy, maintain and repair than a desktop.

Traditional laptop or tablet PC?
A tablet PC is a laptop with a touch sensitive screen that rotates 180 degrees right and left as well as forward and backward.  Today's tablet PCs are versatile, allowing you to use a standard keyboard and mouse along with a digital pen or stylus.  Handwriting recognition software lets you create documents or input data with the stylus. Most tablet PCs run on Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005. Others are Linux-based, but Apple does not offer one. 

Some advantages of a tablet PC:

  • Lies flat; doesn't interrupt line of sight
  • Can be held in one arm while standing or giving a presentation
  • Can be used more flexibly, e.g. reading Web sites or email while lounging around
  • Recognizes handwriting (easier than typing for some users)

Some disadvantages:

  • Costs more than a traditional laptop
  • Generally has less power
  • Typically has a smaller screen, 14" or less
  • May not have an internal optical drive
You can try out a tablet PC at the NCSU Bookstore's Computer Connections.

What features should my computer have?

Be sure to read the recommendations of NC State's Office of Information Technology for:

In addition, these pages have links to details about hardware considerations to help you decide what features you'll need. Also take a look at the requirements of particular colleges and departments.

What are some of my purchasing options?

  • If you have applied for financial aid and anticipate buying a computer, the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid can include its cost when they consider you for financial aid only if you purchase it during the summer preceding your fall enrollment or after the fall semester begins. For information about financial aid, see
  • The Computer Connections department at the main NCSU Bookstore (919-515-3400) sells computer hardware and a wide variety of software at educational discounts. Before you buy, you may want to compare prices there.
  • A list of vendors who offer special pricing for NC State students is available online.

What should I bring with my computer?

If you bring your own computer, be sure to include its associated documentation, warranty information, and backup installation disks. Keep these in a safe place in case you need to reinstall or reconfigure any hardware or software.

Will I need a personal printer?

If you bring your computer to campus, consider bringing a printer as well. You may be able to print a document in a computer lab for a fee, depending on the software used to create it. However, you'll probably find it much more convenient to print in your room. You might also prefer to bring other peripherals, depending on your particular course of study.

What software will I need?

You aren't required to have a particular suite of software, but you'll find a word processor, spreadsheet and Web browser to be essential. Also, you may want to purchase your own copy of some of the applications used in various classes, including educationally-discounted versions at the NCSU Bookstores.

To access university resources on the Web, we recommend that you use a Web browser that supports HTML 3.0 or later and Netscape plug-ins. Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer (6.0 or higher) exceed these specifications and are free online from Mozilla ( and Microsoft (, respectively.

NC State has entered into licensing agreements with software manufacturers and suppliers. Foe a complete listing of available software see the Software@NCState web site.

What about maintenance and repair?

We highly recommend purchasing a full 3-year on-site maintenance and repair agreement offered by your computer's manufacturer. Also see the page on computer repairs.

How about theft deterrence

To discourage theft, it is a good idea to engrave your driver's license or ID number (NOT your Social Security number) on all computer equipment you bring to campus. NC State Campus Police offers engravers for this purpose. If you have a laptop, keep a separate record of its serial number and the Ethernet address of any Ethernet card you have. Also see Safe Computing and C.L.E.A.R. security at NC State.

How do I connect my computer to the campus network?

There are several options for connecting your computer to the campus network, depending on where you live. See "Getting Connected to Campus Computing" for details.


Last modified March 4, 2009 by cawalker



















jump to content
jump to content Go to page top Page Top | OIT | PolicyDisclaimer