Michigan Ross iMpact

Leading in Thought & Action

Purchasing Your Laptop

Laptop Specifications

The specifications listed below do not necessarily reflect the current configurations available to be purchased from a retailer, nor should they be interpreted as the "best" configuration. For example, although Windows 7 is listed below, anything newer (such as Windows 8) will work fine. The specs listed below are the minimum specifications you should seek when purchasing a computer. Use the list as a guide to help you purchase a good laptop that will adequately serve your needs with as few problems as possible.

Features Windows (PC) Apple*
Operating System Windows 7 or newer Mac OS X 10.7 or newer
(computer speed)
Dual-core or higher, 2 GHz Dual-core or higher, 2 GHz
4 GB or more 4 GB or more
Hard Drive
(storage space)
Minimum of 160 GB
Display Port Built-in VGA output or adapter VGA adapter
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n that supports WPA security

CD/DVD-RW Combo Drive or external add-on equivalent for course material;

Webcam for conference capability

Virus Protection Microsoft Security Essentials
download free from U-M
download free from U-M
Warranty 3-yr labor & parts (complete care)
Printer While Ross does provide on-site printers for student use, a LaserJet or InkJet printer of your own is also recommended

*NOTE: We are primarily a Windows PC environment. While we recognize the preference for Apple products and will support Apple as best as we can, there are times in which specific academic software is only available for the Windows platform. In addition, the majority of business and internship contacts you interact with as part of your program will favor Windows. If you wish to purchase a Mac, we recommend installing a program like Boot Camp, Parallels, or VMWare Fusion so that you may run Windows if needed (separate purchase of Windows may be required). The decision is yours to make, however, please understand that you may be at a disadvantage using non-Windows computers.

Buy for 3 years of use

You may be tempted to buy the cheapest laptop you can find; however, be aware that over the life of the laptop, this seeming price advantage could easily be offset and exceeded by wasted time, money, and inconvenience spent on repairs.

Purchase adequate coverage 

Laptop repairs tend to be very expensive. We urge you to purchase a 3-year service contract to last you through your time at Ross, preferably complete care with screen replacement. Think about how long you can afford to be without your laptop during the semester or during exams. Also find out where you can get the laptop fixed and what the turn-around time is for warranty repairs.

Where to buy

Computer Showcase

Ross students, like any U-M student, staff, or faculty member, can take advantage of great deals on laptops, mobile devices and software through the U-M Computer Showcase.


Retailers and on-line vendors may provide computer packages at prices competitive to the Computer Showcase. If you choose to buy elsewhere, make sure your vendor provides the following services:

  • Configures all the standard and optional hardware components (including wireless and network cards)
  • Offers a 30-day money back guarantee
  • Provides a warranty period of at least 90 days (3 years is preferred)
  • Offers local support in Ann Arbor

Give preference to vendors who offer on-site or next-day support with the longest warranty. Stay with recognized brand names when selecting computer systems and components; sometimes components advertised as "compatible" may have conflicts with other components once installed, so staying with a reputable brand is recommended.

Other questions

"Do I need a laptop? What if I prefer, or already have, a desktop computer?"

A laptop will allow you to work on projects within our facilities; for instance, during your MAP team project, summer internship, studying in the Winter Garden and at home. A laptop will be very beneficial with the many team-oriented projects in which you will be involved. While the school does not officially require laptops, you will likely be at a disadvantage with your class and team work if you do not have a personal laptop for use when you are at Ross.

"What if I really prefer Macs?"

The Ross School of Business is Windows PC-oriented.  Our network infrastructure, virtual computer lab, and classroom computers are all PC based. That said, the decision is yours. Our wireless network and printers will work on a Mac, albeit with a few extra steps. You should also consider that there are a number of PC-only software applications that you may be required to use for a particular class. For that reason, if you decide on a Mac, we recommend also purchasing a copy of Windows so that you can install it as Boot Camp on your Mac, or run it virtually using software like Parallels or VMWare Fusion, both available at the Computer Showcase.

"Why can't I just use the public computing resources that the school provides?"

We do have a few public web/email checking computers available in the Ross building, but their numbers and uses are limited. We also have computers in each of our student study rooms that are available for you to use when you make a reservation. The University has many public labs spread across the University for your use. A complete location map of those locations is here: http://www.itcs.umich.edu/sites/labs/locations.php. The nearest campus computing lab is next door in the School of Education building. Having your own laptop will enable you to use our wireless network and printers without waiting for an available computer, and with your own laptop you won't be dependent upon a public terminal.

Similar thought should be given to printing. The Ross school does provide many locations around the facilities with high-speed multi-function devices (print, copy and scan to email) for your use while you are in the building. The university has additional printers that are located in the campus computing sites where you may use your campus print allocation. You may also want to purchase a personal printer for your home. There can be long lines at University printers during peak times of the year for courses, career services and other needs. There may be times when you will want to print materials for a particular course before you arrive at Ross for the days. University provided printing resources may not meet your entire printing needs.

"What other software should I buy?"

Other than the operating system (minimums are listed in the chart above), you may want to purchase a copy of Microsoft Office Professional. You can buy a copy from the UM Computer Showcase at a significantly reduced price. Please also install and regularly run an anti-virus program like the free Microsoft Security Essentials.  

Professors may also require you to install different pieces of software, but they will notify you of such requirements on their own. In addition, you can make use of our virtual computer lab to use certain pieces of software that may otherwise be cost prohibitive or only used once.