The University of Kentucky strongly recommends that each student purchase a personal laptop computer or equivalent tablet device. A student's program requirements, budget, and preference should be the primary factors in choosing a laptop/tablet. Most laptops on the market will meet basic needs; however, UK offers a few guidelines. A student should also consider the major he or she will be pursuing, as some areas of study may have more stringent requirements than the recommendations listed below. We have also included some Frequently Asked Questions to help guide you in your decision.
Minimum suggested laptop computer hardware:
- Processor: dual Core 1.3 Ghz or higher
- RAM: 4 GB or more preferred (minimum 2 GB)
- Hard Drive: 250 GB or larger preferred (minimum 100 GB or larger)
- Wireless card: 802.11n preferred (minimum 802.11 b/g compatible)
- Operating system: Most recent version for your hardware (for example, Mac 0S 10.8 or Windows 7)
- Up to date virus software, preferably installed before coming to campus
- Mouse (or equivalent)
- Webcam (some laptops come with an integrated webcam and will not require an external device)
- Headphones or headset with microphone
- Other helpful options: DVD/CD drive/burner, external hard drive (for data backup/extra storage), and laptop security cable
Minimum suggested tablet computer hardware:
- Processor: dual Core 1.3 Ghz or higher
- Storage capacity: 32 GB or larger
- Wireless card: 802.11n preferred (minimum 802.11 b/g compatible)
- Operating system: Most recent version for your hardware (for example, Windows 8, Windows RT)
- Trackpad (or equivalent mouse)
- Other helpful options: Because tablets have less storage than laptops, tablet users with high-speed Internet connectivity can use UK's virtual desktop and application solution (www.uky.edu/VirtualDEN) to expand the number of applications available to them. See further below in this document about the software this service provides. Also, many tablets have HDMI or USB ports for connecting external monitors, keyboards, mouse, headset, and other devices.
Some colleges have specific requirements in addition to these. Please visit the student information section of the UK Purchasing eBuy portal for college contacts and links (www.uky.edu/Puchasing/ebuy/student.php). The site also provides students with information that allows them to purchase equipment and software at a discounted price.
Other considerations when purchasing include warranty, accidental damage plans, display size and resolution, weight of the hardware, battery life, and charging options. A warranty may help if the laptop/tablet experiences problems in the first years of ownership. The student should consider the most appropriate warranty for his or her needs, and should consider whether an accidental damage plan would be beneficial. Each student should also consider where and how he or she will carry and use the laptop/tablet and how to keep it charged.
Visit https://download.uky.edu/ to learn about software available free of charge or at a reduced rate.
In addition to downloadable software, students with high-speed Internet connectivity can access myVirtualDEN (Virtual Desktop Environment), which provides access to general student lab software on any UK student's personal device (desktop, laptop, tablet). This allows anywhere, anytime access to a number of Windows applications, including Microsoft Office and Adobe products. See www.uky.edu/VirtualDEN for more information. Mac users can access myVirtualDEN software just as easily as PC users.
Note: Through the use of additional software, Apple laptops with Intel based architecture (all new Mac laptops) can run the Windows operating system either natively or as an emulated device; however, there is no supported way to run Mac OS X software on non-Apple hardware.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I required to own a laptop computer/tablet while enrolled at the University of Kentucky?
Although a laptop/tablet is not required, the University strongly recommends that each student purchase his or her own laptop computer or equivalent tablet device. As more course activities require computer access and as campus lab space gives way to an anytime, anywhere virtual lab environment, a personal laptop/tablet becomes an essential resource.
Can I get financial aid for purchasing my laptop/tablet? How can I request financial aid for purchasing my laptop/tablet?
Students who have applied for financial aid (submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – FAFSA) may appeal the cost of a computer (a laptop or equivalent tablet device) one time. The student must provide receipts for the actual costs and the maximum allowance is $1500. The purchase must be made during the school year or just prior to the beginning of a semester to prepare for school to open. This is a one-time allowable expense. Leasing a computer is allowable, if the student provides a copy of the lease contract. Leasing a computer is not limited to a one-time allowance. A student leasing a computer could appeal each year, based on the lease contract. Even though an appeal may be approved, money to fund the appeal may not be available. Students must contact their assigned financial aid counselor to determine if funds are available. Financial aid counselor contact information may be found at http://www.uky.edu/financialaid/financial-aid-contact-us.
Can I use a Windows 8 Tablet or an Apple iPad?
Windows 8 tablets with the associated keyboard and trackpad (mouse) interface, depending upon program or college recommendations, may be an acceptable equivalent to a laptop. (Check your major/program for any specific recommendations or requirements to be certain.) Some courses and assignments may require better mouse capabilities than the Apple iPad's current offering.
Where should I purchase my device?
There is no requirement for purchasing your laptop/tablet from any specific vendor. You may visit the student information section of the UK Purchasing eBuy portal (www.uky.edu/Puchasing/ebuy/student.php) for information about purchasing equipment and software at a discounted price. Keep original receipts if you plan to request financial aid.
When should I purchase my device?
Purchase your laptop/tablet as soon as you have the finances to do so. In order to request financial aid, the purchase must be made during the school year or just prior to the beginning of a semester to prepare for the start of classes.
Can I bring the device I already own, or do I need to purchase a new device?
You may certainly bring a laptop or tablet equivalent that you already own, but check to ensure that it meets UK's minimum recommendations. If your laptop/tablet is more than three years old, you may wish to consider purchasing a newer model.
Will I be able to take my laptop/tablet into every classroom?
It is possible that you may be able to do so, but some instructors do not allow open laptops or tablets in the classroom. You will need to read each course syllabus carefully or ask your instructor on the first day of class if laptop/tablet use is allowed in the classroom.
Will my instructor require me to have a laptop/tablet to use in class?
Some instructors may engage in activities that require the use of a laptop/tablet in class. Read the syllabus and/or inquire with the instructor on your first day of class to determine if there is such a requirement for the course.
What do I do if I'm required to have a laptop/tablet in class and I have not purchased one?
You may be able to work with a classmate who has a laptop or tablet device while in the classroom for a brief time until you purchase one, but that will be at the discretion of your instructor. If you find that you will need to purchase a laptop/tablet, you may find information in this FAQ about purchasing and financial aid.
What free software is available to students?
- Adobe Acrobat Pro [search word: Acrobat Pro]
- Antivirus Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection for Windows [search word: antivirus]
- Endnote 5 [search word: Endnote]
- Echo Personal Capture [search word: Echo]
- Respondus Lockdown Browser [search word: Respondus]
Students can also click on the e-academy link for additional free or discounted software titles, including Microsoft Office for Windows or Mac (free), Microsoft Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate Upgrade (free), and a variety of other titles.
Will I have wireless access everywhere on campus?
Most common areas across campus have excellent wireless coverage but there are some spaces and rooms that may have limited coverage. Use this link to determine the latest coverage areas through this web page: http://www.uky.edu/ukit/wireless. The red areas on the map are buildings that have complete inside wireless coverage; the blue areas include partial inside coverage. The areas in green are outside areas that have wireless coverage.
Who is responsible for charging my laptop/tablet and keeping it operational?
You are responsible for charging your laptop/tablet and ensuring that it is in working order. That means you will need to set aside time for charging and be aware of where and when you can charge. Take care of your laptop/tablet and protect it from bumps and falls. Avoid activities that increase the likelihood of catching or spreading computer viruses.
How long should my battery last? How often should I charge it?
Battery life and the amount of time it stays charged will vary by both purchase and your usage. Be sure to shop and compare. The instructions that come with your laptop/tablet or charging device should explain how to charge the battery, including how often and how long to charge.
Where can I charge my laptop/tablet?
Charge your laptop/tablet at home, in the student center, or in student spaces where you find available, unused outlets. Some classrooms even have outlets at each seat; if so, test to see if the outlet at your seat is operational.
How can I avoid viruses and other intrusions?
Free Windows virus detection software is available from UK at https://download.uky.edu/. To download it, first login to that page and then search using the term antivirus. Download and install Antivirus Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection for Windows. (Uninstall any trial or expired antivirus software first.) Other tips: Always keep your link blue password secure and never share it. Don't allow others to download anything to your laptop/tablet. Don't share flash drives or open files that have not been checked for viruses. Never click a link online or in an email that looks suspicious to you. UK will not ask for your link blue password in email.
What are my options if my laptop/tablet is not functioning properly?
If you find that your laptop/tablet is not functioning properly, first check with your vendor to see if it is under warranty and get instructions for having it checked. If your vendor is unable to help you, you may wish to consult KyTrade Computer Services, which is located on campus in the W.T. Young Library. If you are having trouble downloading or installing software provided by UK, call the UKIT Service Desk at (859) 218-HELP (859-218-4357).
Should I purchase a Mac or a PC?
Our current student population has a mix of Mac and PC users, so either type of device can work depending on your program of study. First check the requirements your college may have regarding computing equipment. Please visit the student information section of the UK Purchasing eBuy portal for college contacts and links (www.uky.edu/Puchasing/ebuy/student.php). A student's program requirements as well as their budget and preference should be the primary factors in choosing which platform to purchase. A student should also consider the major he or she will be pursuing, not just the college they are in, as some areas of study may have specific requirements.
What web browser should I use?
UK does not require that you use a specific web browser when visiting websites. Use the browser that provides the features and functionality that you find most useful. No matter which browser you select, you should always strive to use the current version to avoid malicious software and viruses and to increase compatibility with new site features. Note: Certain websites may require a particular browser or plug-in to support specific site features or functions.
This page last reviewed and updated March 2013.