The most important step in choosing a computer is determining exactly what the computer
is going to be used for. It is critical to look at future uses as well as current needs.
Purchasing a computer without taking into account your future needs may make your computer
purchase obsolete quicker.
At Georgia Tech, computers will be used for e-mail, course work and research. The
software applications that are required include Microsoft Office, Matlab, Maple,
Kaleidagraph, PageMill, Netscape and Eudora (Mac users will also be using Telnet).
Initially, students need to purchase Microsoft Office, Netscape and Eudora. All of the
other applications can be purchased when needed for specific classes.
All students living in the dorms will be required to have a 10Base-T ethernet card to
interface with the Georgia Tech network so it is very important that computers purchased
from a source other than the bookstore are designed for ethernet usage. Some computers
designed for home use such as the Hewlett Packard Pavilion line do not support ethernet.
Students living off campus will need a modem that is no less than a 33.6 baud to interface
with the Georgia Tech network.
What factors should I focus on when purchasing a computer?
Macintosh vs. Windows
It doesn't matter which operating system you purchase. Both systems are
compatible with the required software and the Georgia Tech network. Each platform has its
own advantages. Some feel the Macintosh is an easier computer to use while others prefer
the Windows environment because it is more prevalent and more software is available. If
you are familiar with one operating system, there is no need to change.
Portable vs. Desktop
Portable computers provide the convenience of being able to take your computer to class or
other destination easily. However, portable computers are more expensive and they are a
security risk. Most students purchase desktop computers because they can get more for
Although the minimum requirements for the Student Computer Ownership program are a Pentium
based processor running at 133Mhz or a PowerPC processor running at 120Mhz, it is strongly
recommended that individual purchase the fastest computer they can afford. Since
technology changes so rapidly, purchasing the minimum configurations today may
require a new computer purchase or an upgrade within a few years.
RAM (Random Access Memory)
RAM is the space where programs reside when in use. The minimum recommendation is 32MB.
Memory can be added later as needs develop.
Hard drives are where programs and data is stored, regardless of whether the computer is
turned on or not. The minimum requirement is 1GB. However, very little storage space will
be left after all of the required software is loaded so a 2GB hard drive or larger is
This is the most critical of all the requirements. If you live on campus, your dorm room
will be equipped with ethernet allowing access to the Georgia Tech network. It is crucial
that you purchase a computer that is network certified and can support a 10Base-T ethernet
adapter. When choosing an ethernet card, it is important to understand that all ethernet
cards are not alike and that the Department of Housing (Resnet) will provide unlimited
support for those whose computer has a 3Com brand ethernet card. Resnet will provide only
30 minutes of technical support for all other brands and there will be a charge if more
support is required. 3Com is not the cheapest ethernet card but it is the only one
guaranteed to work at Georgia Tech and it is available from the Computer Store.
Modems are not necessary if you live in a dorm. If you live off campus, a 33.6k modem or
faster is required to network with the Georgia Tech environment.
All of the required software comes on CD so a CR-ROM reader is required.
Dorm rooms will accommodate 15" monitors comfortably. 17" monitors require a
modification to the shelves in selected dorm rooms. Regardless of what size monitor you
purchase, it should have a resolution of at least 800 x 600 and a dot pitch of .28mm or
Sound Card and Speakers
A 16-bit sound card and speakers are required and will be used in the development of