Bringing your own computer equipment
You have access to more than 4,000 PCs and Macs on campus, all with standard software. Some have specialised software to match to the needs of your course.
If you want to buy your own computer so you can work more flexibly, there are a few things you should consider.
Types of computer
- A laptop is mobile, giving you flexibility with regards to where you can work. Plus you can access free Wi-Fi if you're working on campus.
- Desktops are restricted to being used in one place. However they can be more powerful with bigger and better screens. Plus they usually offer better connectivity with other devices such as scanners, printers, cameras and phones.
- A PC is suitable for the majority of courses, especially if you are mostly using it for word processing, browsing the internet and emailing.
- Some courses use software and techniques that are better suited to Macs. Contact your course leader to find out whether a Mac is more suitable.
Factors to consider
- Budget – There will be something suitable even if it means a few compromises.
- Specification – Major considerations are processor speed, memory size and hard drive size and type. Also bear in mind screen size, whether it has a DVD or Blu-ray drive and what peripheral devices (camera, scanner etc) you may want to plug in. Think about what you will use the computer for to help you decide. It might be helpful to ask for advice in a computer store or research your options on the internet.
- Software – What do you get in addition to the hardware? Office 365, Google apps and various pieces of course-related software will be available to you through the University. Be cautious about signing up for or being automatically subscribed to certain software such as anti-virus packages. Anti-virus software is available for free.
- Post sales service – It's worth considering how long the warranty will last, what access you will have to support and the turnaround time for any service you might need. The best warranty is three years' cover with back to base parts and labour, but you may pay a premium on the price. Find out whether you can take your computer into the shop you bought it from for servicing, and be careful of anything that might invalidate the warranty, such as opening it up or taking it to a different shop.
Our suggestions for computer purchases
- For most courses, a computer with an i3 processor, 500GB hard drive, 8GB RAM and Windows 8 is more than adequate.
- It's worth getting an in-built camera or webcam as it's useful for collaborative study.
- An i5 processor will give you more processing power and is useful if you are running design software (Adobe CC for example) or video editing software (such as Final Cut Pro).
- If you're considering a laptop but want a bigger screen at home, you can buy a screen and a port replicator separately.
- If you have money left over, increasing the memory or buying a machine with a hybrid hard drive will increase speed, performance and storage.
Access to Wi-Fi
For the best wireless experience, choose a device that has dual-band Wi-Fi (one that can operate on two frequencies) and meets the 'N' and 'AC' Wi-Fi standards.