New students often ask us for recommendations on what computer to buy. While there's no right answer, we do have a couple of general suggestions.

A typical laptop lasts around five years or so. Always choose a computer that will run the latest operating system release available at the time that you purchase it. A laptop with a solid state drive (SSD) is ideal because SSDs have no moving parts. Laptops tend to get bumped around a lot. SSDs are also much faster than regular spinning hard drives. We also recommend purchasing a computer with at least 16 Gb of RAM (also called memory).

If your computer is an Apple or professional-grade HP and it has a serious hardware failure like a crashed hard drive, CIT can either repair your computer on site or facilitate the repair with the manufacturer. If you have another brand, you’ll need to contact the manufacturer directly for assistance.

Who uses what?

Neither Windows nor Macintosh operating systems are required for any discipline at Oberlin, but you’ll find that there are trends in some departments.

Students in the Conservatory generally use Apple computers as do those in the Art, Cinema Studies, and Chemistry programs.

Students in Biology, Geology, Neuroscience, Economics, and Psychology often favor Windows.

If you’re on the fence about which system to purchase, contact the CIT Help Desk or reach out to a faculty member in your discipline to see whether software that you’ll find in your area of study works well on your desired operating system.

What if I don't have a laptop?

There are several open-use computer labs on campus that students may use if they do not bring a computer to college or need access to Windows or Mac-specific software that their computer does not support.