Your computer

What to look for when buying a computer and accessories for your studies.

What type of computer to buy

We recommend you have a laptop to support your studies as this option gives you the greatest flexibility to work in various locations. However, there may be legitimate reasons why a desktop may be better for you.

Before purchasing any computer we strongly advise you to check with your school if they have any guidance on which computer to get, in case your course has specialist software and/or hardware requirements.

For the majority of students we would recommend:

  • A Windows or macOS laptop capable of running the latest operating system
  • The computer ideally has 16GB of memory (RAM) and no less than 8GB

Please note that teaching is primarily focused around using the Windows operating system but some schools also use Linux and/or Apple macOS based computers.

From experience we have found that Chromebooks and mobile devices (tablets and phones) are not suitable as your main computer.

Software is also available to run via the Student Remote Desktop (UoB access only). This may allow you to run specialist software needed for your course, which cannot run on your personal device.


Please check with your school if they have any guidance on which computer to get, in case your course has specialist software and/or hardware requirements.

Consider if you need:

  • a lightweight model to carry with you during the day
  • a large screen
  • discrete graphics card for high-resolution imaging/graphics intensive software
  • capacity to run specialist software (check with your school)
  • extended battery life
  • specific ports to connect external devices (check with your school)
  • inbuilt camera and microphone (recommended)
  • software or hardware for accessibility requirements
  • a large hard drive (recommended minimum of 500GB)


You may need a desktop computer if you have specialist needs, such as:

  • High-powered tasks such as video editing, computer simulation or creating 3D graphics.
  • Connecting to specialist external equipment (for example, as part of a music recording studio).
  • Specialist accessibility requirements (for example, larger screens).

Check with your school before making a purchase.

Operating systems

When you choose an operating system consider:

  • what specialist software you will use for your studies
  • whether you will connect devices which require a specific operating system.

Webcams and headsets

Webcams and headsets can help improve the quality of online communications and meetings. Cameras built into laptops are normally fine but if not, you might consider buying a webcam.

A headset with a built-in microphone will often improve the quality of audio when you are talking to someone or attending online sessions. A headset is strongly recommended if you are attending online sessions from an on-campus study space.

Buying a second-hand computer

A second-hand computer may be cheaper than a new one, but be aware of potential problems:

  • A second-hand computer will not have a warranty and is more likely to break due to previous use.
  • The software installed by the previous owner might be unlicensed and not work correctly. If it is unlicensed you may not be able to install security updates, which will prevent you from joining the University's wireless network.
  • If it is very old and security updates are not available, it will be vulnerable to viruses and other malware. To access University online services you must use a computer that can run the latest supported Operating System.

Financial support for buying a computer, additional hardware or home broadband

Contact our student funding advisers to find out what funds and support may be available if you are struggling financially.

Discounts for personal purchase

We have discount schemes available to current students when buying a personal computer. You will need to be a registered student to access these schemes. Discounts include:

Edit this page