All incoming freshmen and transfer students in the Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) are required to have a personal laptop computer to run software needed for course work.  BCOE undergraduates use laptop computers to enhance their learning environment and give themselves the flexibility of running course software from any on- or off-campus location.

The College of Engineering does not require or recommend a particular brand or type of laptop. However, depending on your major, different software packages will be required, which you should consider when choosing your laptop computer. Below are guidelines for minimum hardware configurations for laptops.  If you have any questions regarding laptop specifications, BCOE has established a Student Help Desk in Winston Chung Hall 107.  This Help Desk is available from 8am to 5pm (Monday – Friday).  No appointment is needed. Alternatively, you can contact the if you have any questions about this laptop requirement or software.

Minimum Hardware Specifications Recommendations


  • Intel Core i5 processor or equivalent
  • At least 8 GB RAM
  • At least 500 GB Hard drive
  • Enhanced graphics card
    • An Integrated Graphics Card doesn't use its own RAM; it utilizes the system's memory instead.
      • Ex: if you have a computer with 4 GB of RAM, the video card can use anywhere between one and five percent of the available memory for graphics processing. This percentage varies depending on the size of task.
      • Note - for the majors using designing software such as Comsol, Solidworks, etc.; you will experience slowdowns.
    • A Dedicated/Enhanced Graphics Card has its own independent source of video memory, leaving the RAM your system uses untouched.
      • Ex: If you have a GeForce video card with 2 GB of video memory, that 2 GB memory is completely separate from your computer's 8 GB of system memory.


  • Mac Book Pro
    • Windows-only versions of course software can be run on Macs using software such as Parallels, VMWare, or Boot Camp. However, BCOE cannot supply such software.
    • The Apple M chips (M1, M2, etc…) are ARM-based system on a chips which are not natively supported by many of the x86 programs required for BCoE ENGR students. Any device using these chips is not recommended for BCoE coursework.

Hardware requirements are determined by the software you will need to use. (See below for required software for each major. All software required for course work will be provided by BCOE at no additional cost to students.) We recommend that you visit software manufacturer websites for the latest information about versions and hardware requirements. Please note that technology changes and newer versions of software will continue to increase the demands on computer hardware.

Questions regarding these minimum hardware recommendations can be directed to:

Special laptop pricing for BCOE students is available from:

Financial Aid

Financial aid recipients may be eligible to request additional financial aid funds to assist with the cost of purchasing a laptop computer. You must submit a FAFSA and any other requested documents before you can be considered for funds to purchase your computer. Please complete the Budget Increase Request Form available on the UCR Financial Aid website at:

Budget Add On Request

Please print the form, sign it, and submit it to the Financial Aid Office at: UCR Financial Aid Office, Riverside, CA  92521-0209.


  • Provided by BCOE for Coursework
    • BCOE currently provides software used in many engineering courses, such as Matlab, Comsol, the Microsoft Office Suite, and many others at no additional cost to students. Please click here for a complete list.
  • Not provided by BCOE
    • Operating systems and Antivirus software

Student Backups

BCOE Students are strongly encouraged to invest in some form of a backup solution. BCOE will provide some storage space for students to save course work files. However, students are responsible for ensuring that they have their own backups on an external hard drive, cloud storage, or archiving solution. Backups should be performed on a regular basis. Loss of data or files will not be accepted as an excuse for not turning in work, or for turning it in late.

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