Computer Recommendations

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Duke Law School strongly recommends that each student own a new or recent laptop or notebook computer running Windows or macOS. Duke Law's JD student financial aid budget for entering students includes an amount towards the cost of purchasing a new laptop or notebook. Please contact the Law School Financial Aid Office for details.

Academic Technologies recommends purchasing new computers through the special student package deals and finance plans at the Duke Technology Center (919-684-8956). Their student packages usually offer 3 or 4 years of warranty and accidental-damage coverage, both of which can provide considerable peace of mind during your career at Duke Law.

Specifications for New Computers 2020 - 2021

Draft - August 1, 2020

Computers purchased now should meet the specifications in the table found at the bottom of this document. See also the "frequently asked questions" immediately below.

Recommended Specifications for New Notebook or Laptop Computers

Features Minimum Recommended Specifications Comments
Processor Intel i5 core Processor or equivalent We recommend i5 or i7 processor. Intel's M processors use less power, at the sacrifice of some speed, but are also generally acceptable.
TPM 1.2 or 2.0 Required for Windows computers Ask a sales associate or check the technical specifications for that exact model. It is also possible to check the computer's BIOS for this feature (which is sometimes turned off in the BIOS and otherwise invisible to the system). The Windows specification calls for TPM to be built into all new computers.
Memory (RAM) 8 GB Consider 16 GB, especially if the model does not allow you to upgrade RAM after purchase.
Video RAM -- Most video graphics solutions available today suffice for general computing and viewing media.
Hard Drive 250 GB We strongly recommend getting a Solid State Drive (SSD), which is much faster than a traditional hard drive. 512GB drives are becoming affordable and, if you store a lot of large media, may be desirable. Hybrid drives have some of the speed benefit of an SSD and the size of traditional hard drives, and may be a reasonable compromise if you need a lot of storage.
Display At least 1080p (full high definition, or FHD). Screen size is a personal choice. Display size is a matter of personal preference. Some will want a smaller and lighter laptop, while others will want a bigger screen with a higher native resolution. We advise looking at a number of laptops and screen resolutions before making up your mind. Since even small laptops are powerful, you may want to consider a smaller laptop and then get an external monitor and/or keyboard for use at home. Some displays, such as Apple's Retina Display or the Ultra High Definition (UHD) standard, have an extremely high resolution and pixel density, and you may find that combination advantageous, even for reading text.
Webcam/Microphone -- The built-in webcam and microphone of a standard laptop should be sufficient for running web-conferencing software like Zoom. Ideally it will have a resolution of 720p HD at minimum. Many choose to upgrade the microphone with a wearable headset, though this is not strictly necessary. A standalone webcam may also be necessary with a desktop computer where it is not already built-in.
Network Interface Wi-Fi 802.11ac, or Wi-Fi 802.11ax Wireless networking is available throughout the law school and across the Duke campus. Your laptop should support at least 802.11n. We also have some Ethernet wired ports in specific locations, which can provide a more consistent connection. Most laptops today can add Ethernet ports via a relatively inexpensive adapter.
Operating System Windows 10 Pro or Education, or Mac OS X 10.15. Please see Windows details above. We recommend Mac users become familiar with Windows using BootCamp or virtual machine software and Windows 10.
Optical Drive Optional: Blu-Ray/DVD+/-RW drive We consider these optional, given broadband Internet access, flash drives and cloud storage.
Carrying Case or Backpack Designed to carry a laptop It should have sufficient padding, keep the computer snug and offer room for the accessories you use every day.
Warranty 3-year warranty A 3-year warranty will provide coverage throughout your law school career. Computers available from the Duke Technology Center can be purchased with at least a 3-year warranty and may include accidental damage. We recommend coverage for accidental damage, but you may also wish to check the terms of your own insurance coverage. Duke Computer Repair services Dell, Lenovo and Macintosh computers.
Internet Access
You will need to arrange for an Internet Service Provider account for home access Typical options are: through your apartment building; through your cable TV provider; through a mobile network; or through your landline phone provider. Recent experience shows that you should not rely exclusively on using Duke's internal network.
Insurance Check the provisions of your homeowner's or renter's policy If you have no policy or the provisions are not adequate, consider a special policy from a vendor such as Safeware .
Back-up for your Data You should back up your user data at least weekly Hardware malfunctions and some viruses can cause a loss of data and in some cases corrupt your entire disk drive. Duke offers cloud storage solutions through Box and Microsoft's OneDrive. You may also want to consider an external hard drive with back-up software (or use the built-in backup software of your operating system) to minimize your problems should your computer fail, but don't rely solely on a local back-up system that can be damaged or stolen along with your computer. Online backup services such as Mozy are another possibility, though typically unnecessary. Flash drives can be used to keep instant back-ups of crucial data. Remember: Never have irreplaceable content in just one location!
Microsoft Office You can download for Microsoft Office software for either Mac or Windows, once you have a Duke NetID. Duke's Office of Information Technology and the Duke Technology Center offer other site-licensed and educationally priced software as well.

Please see OIT's website for more information:

Important: bring all your software discs, manuals and software license keys with you when you come to law school. We cannot help you reinstall your software again without the discs and/or license keys.