Information for Buying a Computer (Students)

Microsoft Office Suite

Each NCU student is eligible for one download of Microsoft Office. Once accepted to NCU, you can go to Unet to download your software. Also, when you graduate, you can get your own copy of the latest version of Microsoft Office on a CD for FREE! You must request within 90 days after graduation by going to Unet, and selecting the "Office Shipment for Graduating Seniors" link.

Should I buy a Windows or Macintosh computer?

The decision is up to you. In the end, you are the one that is going to have to use the computer probably for years to come. It is important to find a computer that fits your needs and desires. It is very important to buy a computer that you will be able to use practically, on almost a daily basis. Purchasing a computer just for the 'coolness factor' is strongly discouraged. Although many people may have the same computer, it does not necessarly mean that that computer is superior to others. Also, it is important to know that all computers are susceptable to virus's, malware, spyware, etc. Having a good antivirus, such as the free one provided by North Central University, can mitigate the risk greatly. Below are some questions you could ask yourself when purchasing a computer:

  • What will I use it for? Word processing? Making music? Video editing? Internet?
  • How often will I use it? Everyday? Every couple of days? Rarely?
  • Do I prefer a smaller or larger screen?
  • Laptops - Battery life? Will I need to use the computer for long periods of time without being able to charge it?
  • Speed? If I am primarly using it for word processing, it is not necessary to spend to money on a faster computer. However, if I am doing a lot of video editing, it may be worth it to purchase a faster computer.
  • What kind of computer am I already accustomed to? If I have been using a certain make, model, or operating systems for several years, do I want to take the time to learn a new one?
  • Is portability important to me? If I will only use it in my room, perhaps and desktop will work for me. However, if I intend to take it to different places, a laptop may be more sufficient.

Netbook or Notebook (Laptop)?

What is the difference?

Netbooks are becoming more common each day because they have many attractive features about them. Typically, they have longer battery life, smaller and more compact for travelers, inexpesive, and are simple to use. However, they do have features about them that are not so attractive. Netbooks typically have smaller screens which can make reading difficult at times, they do not come with an internal CD/DVD drive (although you can purchase an external USB one), they are slower especially if you are trying to do more than basic word processing and internet browsing, and the are easy targets for theifs because of their smaller size.

Notebooks or laptops have been available to consumers for many years. Notebooks are typically larger then Netbooks, have many features like desktops do, and have a wide selection of options for them. Notebooks can be used for many different things such as word processing, internet browsing, gaming, video editing, etc. Also, they have been coming down in pricing each year.

Should I buy a printer?

You do not need to have your own printer at  North Central. The Student Computer Lab in Miller 211 has printers available for student use. Black and white and colored printers are available along with several different selections of paper. If you would like a printer in your room, it is recommended to talk with your other roomates to see if it is possible to all share one printer. Having multiple printers in your room can take up valuable space for other more necessary things.

Minimum System Recommendations

Most new computers have specifications that are above and beyond our minimum system requirements. However, the following requirements can still be used as a guide for bringing a used computer on-campus or if you prefer to build your own computer.

Processor - Dual Core 2 Ghz or higher.

What is a processor? Essentially it is the brains of the computer. It tells different hardware and software to do what, when and how. If you have a computer that has a slower processor, you will notice that the computer will run slow and may not even run some newer programs.

RAM - 2GB or more

What is RAM (Random Access Memory)? It is otherwise known as the 'computer's memory'. Anytime you are working on something on your computer, it is being pulled from your hard drive by the memory for you to work on. If you are doing several things on your computer at one time, you may notice that each application may run slightly slower which is due to the large amount of memory being used by your computer.

Hard Drive Size - 160GB or more

What is a hard drive? This is the place where your computer stores all of your data such as music, documents, videos, etc. If you have a lot of data, you may want to get a hard drive that has a large amount of space. It is recommended to purchase a hard drive size that is above and beyond what you expect to use as it will come in handy in the future.

CD/DVD Drive

Most desktops and notebooks have CD/DVD drives, however, if you are going to purchase a netbook, you will also need to purchase an external USB CD/DVD drive. Also, it is important to pay attention to what the capabilities of the CD/DVD drive are as some may only burn CD's and not DVD's. If you anticipate burning CD's and DVD's, be sure that the drive you are purchasing has those capabilities.

10/100Mb Ethernet Adaptor and Ethernet Cable (Cat5 Cable)

What is an ethernet adaptor? It is a jack on a computer that is slightly larger than a standard phone jack. This is where you will need to plug an ethernet cable into your computer to be able to use the internet in your room. Older computers may not have an ethernet jack. In this case, you will need to purchase one to install in your computer.

Ethernet cables (Cat5 Cable) come many different lenghts and colors. Be sure to to buy one that is long enough to possibly reach around your room as you may want to setup you desks on the opposite side of the room from the internet jack on your wall. These are available at our campus bookstore or at any retail or technology store.

Vendor Recommendations for Computer Purchasing

  • Best Buy have stores in Roseville, MN.
  • Microcenter has a store in St. Louis Park, MN.
  • General Nano Systems is a local computer shop that offers repair services. They are located near the University of Minnesota campus at 3014 University Avenue SE, call 612-331-3690.
  • Directly through manufacturer's such as HP, Dell, or Apple.