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Computer Buying Guide

The WVU Reed College of Media requires its entering freshmen and transfer students (journalism or advertising/public relations majors) to have their own laptops for use in journalism and strategic communications classes and projects.

Students will also be expected to have access to a smartphone with a photo resolution of at least 5 megapixels for work they will create in class. It must be able to capture both still photographs and video. This decision was made to help address the growing need for digital skills in the media professions and for our students’ need for continuous access to software for individual and collaborative work.

The College is a Mac-based environment, but students may also use PC (Windows) laptops, as long as they have the minimum specifications, which are noted below for both operating systems.

Mac Operating System Requirements

16” Macbook Pro | $2,538

  • 2.6GHz 6-core Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo boost up to 4.5 GHz
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory
  • 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory
  • 512GB SSD storage
  • 16-inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard - US English
  • Accessory Kit

13” Macbook Pro | $1,828

  • Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU, 8‑core GPU, and 16‑core Neural Engine
  • 16GB unified memory
  • 512GB SSD storage
  • 13-inch Retina display with True Tone
  • 13-inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard - US English
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports
  • Accessory Kit

* Prices current as of Spring 2021 from the online Apple Education Store.


Minimum Windows Operating System Requirements**

  • Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU or AMD equivalent
  • 8-16GB RAM (or more highly recommended)
  • 500GB ATA 100/7,200 RPM hard drive is preferred
  • A graphics card supporting higher resolution than 1920x1080. (2 GB dedicated, non-shared, memory for card is recommended)
  • Windows 10 Professional

Dell computer purchases can be made at a discounted price for students at dell.com/wvu


Dell XPS 13” with Touch screen
Approximate cost w/ Dell support and tax $1,896.29

  • Base: XPS 13 9310
  • Processor: 11th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-1185G7 Processor (12MB Cache, up to 4.8 GHz)
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home, 64-bit, English
  • Video Card: Intel® Iris Xe Graphics
  • Memory: 16GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x Memory Onboard
  • Hard Drive: 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
  • Color Choice: Platinum silver exterior, black interior
  • LCD: 13.4" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display
  • Wireless: Killer™ Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2 x 2) and Bluetooth 5.1
  • Primary Battery: 4-Cell Battery, 52 Whr (Integrated)
  • Keyboard: Black Backlit English Keyboard with Fingerprint Reader
  • FGA Module: No FGA
  • Power Adapter: 45W USB-C AC Adapter Black

Dell XPS 13” with Touch screen
Approximate cost w/ Dell Premier support and tax $2,341

  • 10th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-10750H (12MB Cache, up to 5.0 GHz, 6 cores)
  • Windows 10 Home, 64-bit, English
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1650 Ti 4GB GDDR6
  • 16GB DDR4-2933MHz, 2x8G
  • 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
  • Hard Drive: 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
  • Color Choice: Platinum silver exterior, black interior
  • LCD: 13.4" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display
  • Wireless: Killer™ Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2 x 2) and Bluetooth 5.1
  • Primary Battery: 4-Cell Battery, 52 Whr (Integrated)
  • Keyboard: Black Backlit English Keyboard with Fingerprint Reader
  • FGA Module: No FGA
  • Power Adapter: 45W USB-C AC Adapter Black
  • Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU or AMD equivalent
  • > 256 Gb SSD 16GB RAM i7 or equivalent processor
  • 500GB ATA 100/7,200 RPM hard drive
  • A graphics card supporting higher resolution than 1920x1080(2 GB dedicated, non-shared memory is recommended)
  • Windows 10 Professional

Software Requirements

Microsoft Office and Sophos anti virus software are free for WVU students. Visit it.wvu.edu/it-services/students for download and installation instructions.

Many College of Media courses also use Adobe Creative Cloud. This software is available in computer labs in Martin Hall and the WVU downtown library. Adobe offers a discounted rate of $19.99/month or $239.88/year for students at adobe.com/creativecloud/plans.html.

Students receive unlimited Google Drive cloud storage with their MIX email address.

Anti-virus software is available at no cost at freeav.wvu.edu and Microsoft Office and other software is available through WVU Information Technology.

Students are encouraged to purchase a 2TB external hard drive for backup and storage.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Will financial aid be available to help pay for the laptop or other equipment?
If you qualify for financial aid through the federal FAFSA process, it is possible that some of the cost of the computer - because it is required - could be included in your expected expenses. It is suggested you visit or contact the Mountaineer Hub to discuss whether this is an option for you. The Mountaineer Hub is located on the 2nd floor of the Evansdale Crossing and can be reached via email at wvuhub@mail.wvu.edu or by phone, 304-293-1988, Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. - 4:45 p.m. Eastern Time.

Q. What happens if I have problems with my laptop?
We strongly suggest students purchase insurance and warranties for their computers. (Students may want to check with their family insurance agents about renter’s insurance and/or with a vendor such as Safeware: http://www.safeware.com/.) WV doesn’t provide computer repair services. Contact a local private shop for your repair needs. The College continues to maintain desktop computers that are available to students during open lab hours as well.

Q: Can I print wirelessly from my laptop?
Yes. Printing wirelessly to College printers is possible once you have downloaded the correct printer drivers (Pharos version) for the College of Media. College of Media staff will be available to assist students with this process during the first week of class. If problems arise during the school year, students should contact the College of Media support staff at Brett.Collins@mail.wvu.edu. Students can also access myprinting.wvu.edu and email print jobs to the printers in Martin Hall as well as most dorms and libraries.

Q: What if I am not yet a major in the College?
If students are interested in pursuing a journalism or strategic communications major, it is recommended they go ahead and purchase a laptop that conforms to the minimal specifications noted above, so they may use them in these courses. Even if they do not ultimately enter one of these majors, it is likely they will still make good use of the computer.


For more information regarding the College’s laptop requirement, contact the College of Media’s technical support staff at Brett.Collins@mail.wvu.edu.