Michigan Ross iMpact

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Purchasing Your Laptop

Laptop Specifications

This page lists both the minimum and recommended specifications you should seek when purchasing a new laptop. The main difference between the minimum and recommended specifications are mostly about comfort and speed. For example, while the computing tasks required for classes at Ross will work normally on a laptop with only 4GB of RAM (the minimum), you may notice increased speed and efficiency if your laptop has 8GB of RAM, particularly if you plan on multitasking.

Use the list as a guide to help you purchase a good laptop that will adequately serve your needs. For your convenience there are two lists (Windows and Mac) depending on which kind of laptop you intend to buy.

Windows Laptop

Features Minimum Recommended
Operating System Windows 7 Windows 8.1 or newer
Processor
(computer speed)
Dual-core, 2 GHz Dual-core or more, 2 GHz or faster
Memory
(RAM)
4 GB 8 GB
Hard Drive 250 GB 500 GB
Video Output VGA output or adapter Built-in VGA output
Software Microsoft Office 2010 Microsoft Office 2013
Wireless
(internal)
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n that supports WPA2 security
Extras

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

 

Mac Laptop

NOTE: Ross, like most businesses, is a Windows PC environment. While we recognize the preference for Apple products and will support Apple as best as we can, you will most likely have courses that require the use of certain Windows-only software. For that reason, if you wish to purchase a Mac you should be mindful of the added expense of purchasing the necessary software (Fusion or Parallels, Windows, and Microsoft Office) so that you can run Windows and any associated applications when the time comes.

Features Minimum Recommended
Operating System Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or newer
Processor
(computer speed)
Dual-core, 2 GHz Dual-core or more, 2 GHz or faster
Memory
(RAM)
4 GB 8 GB
Hard Drive 250 GB 500 GB
Software
  • Bootcamp (to boot into Windows)
  • Windows 7
  • Microsoft Office 2010 (for Windows)
  • VMware Fusion (to run Windows)
  • Windows 8.1
  • Microsoft Office 2013 (for Windows)
Video Output VGA adapter
Wireless
(internal)
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n that supports WPA2 security
Extras

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

Webcam for conference capability

Virus Protection Sophos
download free from U-M

 

Where to buy

Computer Showcase

Ross students can take advantage of great deals on laptops, mobile devices and software through the U-M Computer Showcase.

Retail

Retailers and online vendors may provide computer packages at prices competitive to the Computer Showcase. If you choose to buy elsewhere, it is a good idea to make sure your vendor provides:

  • Offers some kind of 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.

 

Mac or PC questions

"What PC-only software will be required for my classes?"

Other than Microsoft Office, certain courses may require you to use specialized software like Palisade Decision Tools (@RISK, Evolver, NeuralTools, PrecisionTree, RISKOptimizer, StatTools, TopRank), SPSS, and StratSim, which are Windows-only programs. There are also certain Excel plug-ins (Analysis ToolPak, Solver) that work best using Microsoft Office 2013, which is not available on the Mac. There may be more not listed here, too; these are just the most popular.

"But Microsoft sells Office 2011 for Mac. Isn't that good enough?"

For basic Office functionality, yes. But some classes will require PC only Excel plug-ins, or plug-ins that only work with the latest versions of Office. Additionally, your professors will most likely be using a version of Office for Windows, and so may not be able to provide the same level of advice or assistance for Office for Mac.

"What other disadvantages come from buying a Mac?" 

Our network infrastructure and classroom computers are all PC based. Our wireless network and printers will work on a Mac, but will generally take a few extra steps to configure.

"How do I set up Windows on a Mac so that I can use the PC-only software listed above?"

You can install Windows on your Mac (effectively giving you the best of both words), but there is a cost associated with doing so. First, you must purchase a full (non-upgrade) license of Windows (available at the U-M Computer Showcase). You will then need to decide how you want to install it on your Mac. Apple has a free option called BootCamp (instructions can be found here), which lets you choose whether you want to boot into the Windows environment or the Mac OS environment when you power on your laptop. Other companies offer their own software that allows you to install Windows, like VMWare Fusion or Parallels. The advantage of using Fusion or Parallels is that you don't need to power-down and re-boot into the Windows environment. With Fusion or Parallels, you can run Windows as if it were just another program in your dock. It's a pretty cool option, but one that is reflected in the price. (BootCamp is free). 

"It sounds like you guys are really anti-Mac!"

We like Apple products just as much as anyone else, and the Helpdesk will support them to the best of their ability. We just want to be absolutely sure you understand that the computing environment at Ross is strongly oriented toward PCs so choosing to get a Mac will require some extra work to use. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

 

Other questions

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

Put simply: yes, you need a laptop. 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, and many courses require the use of computer software. And as of yet, no tablet can truly replace what a laptop offers.

"Does Ross have a public computer lab?"

There are no public computer terminals available for personal use at Ross. While we do have e-mail checking kiosks and in-room PCs, none of these will replicate the functionality of a personally owned laptop. We do, however, host 80 "virtual" PCs in our virtual computer lab. To learn more about the virtual computer lab, click here.

"What does 'Video Output?' mean in the table above?"

A lot of your work at Ross will be collaborative in nature. You need an easy way to display your computer screen to a group of classmates, and all of our break-out study rooms are equipped with monitors that support what is known as the 'VGA' standard connection.