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Office of Information Technology

AU Computer Recommendations

New Student Summer 2016 Information Series: Message Three

Hello again from the Office of Information Technology!

As summer begins, many new students are busy planning to start their first semester at American University. One of the most common technology questions asked by new students is: "What type of computer should I bring to campus?"

While not required, most students find it convenient to own their own computer and printer. For recommendations on specific computer specifications, as well as information on special technology discounts for AU students, please visit our computer recommendations webpage at

Here are some general guidelines:

  • The campus is almost evenly split between computers using the Microsoft Windows operating systems and Apple Mac computers. The majority of faculty and staff use Microsoft Windows computers, while the majority of students use Apple Macs. If you are unsure whether a Windows or Mac computer will best meet your academic or administrative needs, consult your school, college, or department to find out its specific requirements.
  • Generally, any new computer bought during the last two years will probably have enough processing capacity and memory to provide a satisfactory computing experience, but the specifications outlined on the recommendations webpage should provide useful benchmarks for comparison to the computer you may already own, or one you may buy.
  • If funds permit, the single best enhancement that can be made for any system is an increase in the amount of random access memory (RAM) installed. We also recommend a Solid State (SSD) hard drive if possible.
  • We suggest that you obtain a three year on-site warranty repair plan covering parts and labor as part of your purchase. AU is not able to provide hardware repair assistance for students' computers.
  • We recommend laptop computers because they take up less space and offer mobility for use with AU's wireless network.
  • For wireless access, a wireless radio conforming to either the 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or 802.11ac standard is required.
  • You will need to bring your own 15-foot RJ-45 network cable. You may purchase the cable from the Campus Store or a computer retailer.
  • Buy all you can afford but not less than the recommended configuration. Please note: the configurations suggested on the website are representative of typical systems available today from many vendors.

If you do not wish to bring your own computer to campus, you can access the Internet and most common software applications from over 800 Mac and Windows computers dispersed throughout various computing facilities around campus, some of which are open 24 hours a day.

This is the third information message that will introduce you to important technology services at American University. Click on the SUMMER 2016 INFORMATION SERIES link.

IT Help Desk
Office of Information Technology
American University
IM: AskAmericanUHelp

Get Help at the 2016 Tech Fair

Bring your laptop to the 2016 Technology Fair located in the University Library, from August 20th - September 2nd, to have your computer configured to use AU's network or just get help.

View Fair Info