Personal Computer Hardware and Software Purchasing Advice


Since purchasing a brand new computer can be intimidating and confusing at times, this webpage is designed to answer some commonly asked questions, offer some hints, and hopefully point you in the right direction towards your new computer.

Details / Instructions

Mac or PC? 

One of the most common questions asked to our technicians regarding this subject is, “should I buy a Mac or a PC?” The answer is not very simple, but the best choice is to buy a laptop that feels comfortable and responsive to use, will last you for three or four years, and will fit in with your budget. Macs are increasingly popular on our campus, and are generally very light, have great displays, and are easy to use. In addition, there is a lower threat of a virus or malware attack, and you have Apple support at the Help desk or any Apple store. PCs on the other hand are manufactured by dozens of companies with different hardware and specs. This provides more versatility to find a computer that works best for your expectations, and you will be able to run Windows and the majority of software designed for that platform, plus many PCs have options for a touchscreen for easier navigation. We also help service a variety of hardware and software issues at the Help Desk for PC users.

Hardware Specifications

Almost all computers you can purchase today come with enough memory and processor speed to allow you to browse the Internet for research and free time, write and create documents, and play media. However, we do publish a list of specifications aimed towards students to create a baseline of specs we recommend. In addition, you can review the hardware configuration of the computers deployed annually to UR faculty and staff.

Warranty or Insurance

We strongly recommend that you purchase an increased warranty and/or accidental damage insurance on your new computer. Most computers, Mac or PC, come with a default one year limited warranty. For an additional cost, you can increase the warranty coverage and/or level of warranty. We typically suggest acquiring a three year or longer warranty. That way, if a vital hardware component fails, you will be able to easily have it repaired. In addition, accidental damage warranty/insurance covers you in that chance that your computer is damaged by a drop or liquid spill.


One overlooked aspect of purchasing a new computer is accessories to go along with it. Worthwhile investments may include an external hard drive for back up, a case or cover for protection, and a printer for your dorm room. 


Your new computer typically comes with a set of pre-installed software. While some of it can be useful, you may be looking to install specific software like, Microsoft Office, for your use on campus. To see what is installed on every UR machine, please review our list of standard software for Macs and standard software for Windows

Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus is now available for all active faculty, staff, and students to download on up to 5 desktops/laptops, 5 tablets, and 5 smartphones. To install the software, login in to with your Richmond email address and network password. Under My Account > Install Status, click on Manage Installs. From there, you will see the link for "Install Desktop Applications" and you will be able to install the software on your computer. 

See Also

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Article ID: 93212
Fri 11/22/19 2:58 PM
Thu 9/21/23 12:47 PM

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