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What Computer Should I Bring to Georgia Southern?

Getting ready to come to your first semester at Georgia Southern is very exciting – and very busy. You have lists of “to-do’s” and things to pack. You may also be wondering about what kind of computer you need to bring with you. There are dozens of options from which to choose so how do you know which one is best? And on top of that what software do you need?

Check out the tabs below for recommendations.


“Should I buy a Windows PC or a Mac?” At Georgia Southern there is no specific computer that you must buy.

The type of computer you buy is a matter of preference:

  • Which one do you like?
  • Which one will serve you best, in your opinion?
  • Which one is better built?
  • Which one can you afford?

Physical considerations to take into account when buying a laptop computer:

  • Opening and closing the computer lid puts stress on the frame and hinges.
  • Inexpensive laptops have lightly built frames
    • Frequent opening and closing may break the frame or hinges.
    • Repair may be difficult or impossible.
  • Laptops carried in backpacks are subjected bumps and shocks, which can cause severe damage.
  • Consider purchasing a business-class computer, which is more robust and can take bigger shocks.
  • Business-class computers may not have to be repaired as often as inexpensive machines.

Some other considerations:

  • Upper level course work require certain software, which, in turn, may require certain hardware on which to run.
  • It is impossible to predict what the requirements will be when you reach the upper level courses.
  • It’s probably best to purchase a computer that will serve your needs for the next four to six semesters.

Buying a Windows PC or a Mac? Look for these specifications:

  1. Processor: Intel Core i3 (a Core i5 offers more longevity – up to 4 years before becoming obsolete).
  2. Memory (RAM): 8GB – modern software needs as much memory as you can afford.
  3. Mass storage (Disk): 250GB (500GB if you plan to keep a lot of pictures, music, and videos)
    Consider purchasing a solid state hard drive (SSD) since it is nearly immune to damage as the result of bumps and shocks while the computer is running.
  4. Networking: Wireless: 802.11n capability (802.11ac offers more longevity as wireless standards continue to evolve).

What about tablets or iPads?

  • A laptop is the best purchase choice to if you can only afford one device.
  • Great way of doing many online tasks:
    • email
    • Social media
    • Listening to music
    • Watching videos
    • Other imaginative uses
  • Can be used for online classes on Folio (Georgia Southern’s Learning Management System) with some caveats.
  • Very difficult to use for properly writing papers and other assignments without a full-sized keyboard and appropriate software.
  • Android or iPad? Again, it’s a matter of preference.

General guidelines:

  • Microsoft Office is the “standard” for use in many classes:
    • most assignments turned in as files should be in one of the MS Office file formats (docx, xlsx, pptx).
    • MS Office files can easily be used in Google Drive.
    • MS Office is nearly the universal standard for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
    • MS Office formats are typically read and written by most MS Office alternatives.

  • Primary components of Microsoft Office:
    • Microsoft Word format for written assignments.
    • Microsoft Excel format for mathematical and sometimes written assignments.
    • Microsoft PowerPoint format for presentations.
    • Microsoft Publisher for creating print publications.
    • Microsoft OneNote for keeping track of notes, to-do lists, and other personal information.

  • Microsoft Office 365
    • Free for currently enrolled Georgia Southern students.
    • Offers full versions of Microsoft Office applications via download through the Office 365 service.
    • Click this link to learn more about Microsoft Office 365:

  • Google Drive
  • Other Alternatives to Microsoft Office
    • May offer the same or very similar functionality as Microsoft Office.
    • Will not look the same as Microsoft Office applications.
    • Most alternatives can read and write Microsoft formats.

Here is a list of websites you may visit to learn more about alternatives. Just remember that if a professor requires an assignment to be in a certain format, such as Word, the alternatives must be able to save documents, spreadsheets, and other files as required by the instructor.

Georgia Southern does not in any way endorse or recommend any site on the web. These are provided strictly as examples of what you may find in doing your own research. Georgia Southern cannot and does not recommend one package over another. You should do some comparison shopping before deciding what to purchase/download. Remember that these are alternatives to Microsoft Office and not the original.

Specialized Software

  • Some major and degree programs require degree/major-specific software.
  • Typically required in upper level courses in the junior and senior years.
  • Some software for specific courses will be provided by the University and will be installed by University technicians as requested by the instructor.

A few of the software titles that are currently available include:

  • Mathematica
  • ChemBio Ultra 3D
  • ArcGIS
  • JMP
  • Maple
  • MathCad

This is not an exhaustive list and it will be updated as information and new software become available.

The Computer Store and Eagle Computer Care are Georgia Southern’s on campus computer store and repair shop. Store and shop personnel are well versed in the latest hardware and software. You can browse their website here.

Last updated: 2/24/2016