Information on Computers for Incoming First-Year Students arriving August 2022*

UVA Engineering prepares students to be leaders in technological innovation. Therefore, it's no surprise that our students depend upon laptop computers for many tasks, including course work, special projects, capstone design and theses. Some instructors ask students to bring computers to class.

*If you are a transfer student, please check with your advisor for major-specific expectations before purchasing a computer.

Questions?  Contact:

         Engineering Undergraduate Programs <>


UVA Engineering requires students to have their own laptop.



Computer models with a combination of readable screen size, light weight, strong battery life, reasonable CPU power and quality graphics are advised.  Beginning your studies at UVA Engineering with a laptop that you currently own is a viable option.  See FAQ#1 below for more info. UVA Engineering also advises students to acquire computers with excellent hardware repair plans that include rapid repair turnaround times. Also, regularly backing up data is critical, and keeping systems secure is an on-going and essential task.

Since students carry their personal computers with them constantly, UVA Engineering recommends coverage for accidental damage and loss. At a minimum, students are advised to develop plans for sudden needs to replace a computer due to damage or loss.

Operating Systems

Windows 10 or Windows 11 are the recommended operating systems for UVA Engineering students since most software used in the Engineering School curriculum is generally available in editions that run on Microsoft Windows. A 64-bit edition is required. UVA provides a free upgrade to the Windows Education edition.

macOS and Linux operating systems do not have the same general compatibility.

The UVA Engineering curriculum includes the use of modeling and simulation software, interactive applications, and animations. When purchasing a new laptop, the hardware recommendations are:


  • The latest generations (minimum 10th, preferably 11th or 12th) of the Intel i7 or higher processors are recommended.
  • Minimum 16 GB or larger RAM.
  • Minimum 500 GB or larger Solid State Drive (SSD).


  • A discrete/dedicated graphic card such as NVIDIA (or AMD).
  • Screens should be at least 13 inches.

Other Devices

  • Devices such as tablets (running Android or iOS) or other systems like Chromebook are not required for the curriculum.


A copy of Microsoft Office 365 is provided through the MICROSOFT OFFICE AND WINDOWS FOR UVA STUDENTS PROGRAM.  Please also see: Engineering School Software Installation Recommendations for additional information.

Laptop Program

For those who qualify, Student Financial Services provides a laptop program and will directly communicate with you.  If you hear from them and have questions, please contact them directly at LAPTOP@VIRGINIA.EDU.  If you did not hear from them and would like to apply based on financial need, please contact them quickly as the deadline is June 3, 2022.  Our school also has a HARDSHIP APPLICATION to support students with unexpected financial hardships.


Frequently Asked Questions for 2022-2023

  • Can I Use My Current Laptop?

    Students who already own a relatively new laptop that meets UVA’s minimum recommendations do not need to buy a new one for the first year of studies.  Please review UVA’s supported minimums at: New To UVA IT Checklist #6 Tech Support – Laptop minimums and ITS Supported Computing Technologies.

    Delaying the purchase of a new laptop is a viable strategy – that is, declaring your major for 2nd year and evaluating appropriate laptop models to buy at that point.  Different engineering majors have their own culture of expectations when it comes to computers (for example, level of CPU/graphics power, and Windows versus macOS), and you will not join your major until next year.

    Students are also strongly encouraged to evaluate their laptop’s performance and warranty coverage every semester.

  • Can I use a MAC?

    Q: I hear that Windows runs on the Apple Mac computers. Will a Mac laptop work for me if I'm an incoming engineering student?

    Apple’s macOS, in general, does not have the same level of engineering software availability as with Windows.  Apple laptops are therefore not the typical choice by engineering students.

    The newly released Mac laptops with ARM-based M1 processors (also called Apple silicon) have very limited engineering software that runs natively.  Intel-based Mac laptop models with Bootcamp capability are no longer manufactured by Apple.  Although the emulation of x64 and x86 software has improved under Windows for ARM and can be run on M1’s using Parallels, Microsoft hasn’t provided needed licensing.

    Mac M1-based models are therefore not advised at this time.




  • Is there a specific computer recommended by the Engineering School

    Q: I have read all the materials posted on the UVA website but I am curious if you had a recommendation on a specific computer listed at Cavalier Computers. Your advice is greatly appreciated.

    Please note: there is no obligation that our students purchase their laptop from Cavalier Computers (CavComp).

    CavComp offers some strengths as a retail outlet:

     -Has a good track record. 
    -Understands the market and academic calendar. 
    -Offers quality models. 
    -Provides a comprehensive set of services and coverage.

    CavComp sells a variety of laptop brands and models of PCs and MACs.  They are an authorized repair shop for many of them.  CavComp can also provide an array of coverage plans.

    There is also a special program known as the CAV Program, and formerly as Back-to-School (BTS)

    These are specifically chosen laptops with a bundled package of software, support, and warranty coverage.  The purchase price for the package can look expensive compared with other outlets where you can also buy a laptop that meets the UVA Engineering recommendations-- but there’s a lot included in the CavComp package to account for the price.

    Key attributes of CavComp’s CAV Program include: (1) a multi-year warranty with accidental damage coverage; (2) on-site, service department, and (3) loaner laptops are provided when servicing requires that a student’s unit be left for repair.

    Approximately 25% of the students who purchase computers at CavComp make a claim under the accidental damage coverage.  In case a laptop slides off a table or it is dropped, the repair is covered at no additional cost.  A repair for an incident such as a cracked screen is covered with no out-of-pocket expense under their CAV Program plans.

    Comments on the Specific Models

    A distillation of the CavProgram’s set of offerings appropriate to engineering students is listed on their site.  Four laptop models are shown.  Units with longer estimated shipping times were not included.

    You can use these specifications as guidance when comparing models from other outlets, be it a retail store or online.

    Current supply chain shortages have lengthened order fulfillment times, so it is recommended to place laptop orders as early as possible.



  • Who do I contact about the CAV program?

    For the CAV Program (Back-to-School bundles) at the UVA Bookstore, please contact:

    CAV Computing (in the UVA Bookstore)

    Yes, having a smartphone is recommended.

    A particular brand, model or size is not specified, but a recent enough model that runs a still supported version of either Apple iOS or Google Android.

    Those operating systems can obtain the certificate to connect to UVA Wi-Fi, and also run the 2-factor login authentication app that UVA uses.

    Also, UVA recommends that the smartphone carrier be either Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile.

    These three firms are the only ones to participate in a program (DAS) which brings cellular signal coverage indoors to the dorms, the athletic facilities and stadiums, the dining halls, one of the larger engineering school buildings, and dozens of other buildings on UVA’s Grounds.

  • Who do I contact about Dormitory Computing Issues?

    For General Questions including Dormitory Computing Issues, please contact:

    U.Va. ITS Help Desk
    Telephone: (434) 924-4357

    Live Help Desk Chat & Online Reporting Form also available at this link.


    UVA ITS Help Desk