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Buying Guide (for Laptops)

Summary: This article provides recommendations for purchasing laptops optimized for the Wharton environment and your course requirements.

Notebook Recommendations

To get a laptop that will work well in Wharton's computing environment, we recommend purchasing one that meets the standards of the computers sold by the Computer Connection, the University of Pennsylvania's Computer Store.


Watch for the Computer Connection's Back-To-School Sale mailing or log into Campus Express after the beginning of June for the 2017 offerings.

The hardware components that most affect the performance of the machine are processor speed, memory, hard disk capacity, video card and its networking capabilities.

Wharton Computing works with The Computer Connection to ensure that several of the machines offered during the Back-To-School sale will meet the needs of Wharton students. Purchasing from the Computer Connection gives you access to staff who are familiar with the University environment; you'll also be able to leverage the Computer connection's relationship with the computer vendors in case of problems with the machine, and take advantage of a negotiated 3-year warranty not generally available from an outside vendor.

The Computer Connection or Wharton Student Computing? The Computer Connection is the University's computer store, serving faculty, staff and students, but is a separate organization from Wharton Student Computing. Wharton Student Computing provides guidance and first-tier troubleshooting services for a student's computing issues. However, if you have a problem with your computer's hardware you will need to work with your computer's manufacturer to get your problem resolved.

  • If your laptop should last 3 or more years, then consider models that are comparable to Computer Connection's Performance or Professional level systems.
  • If your laptop should last 2 years, then consider models that are comparable to Computer Connection's All Purpose or Mainstream level systems.
  • Considering a Chromebook?  There are a few limitations you should keep in mind:
    • Chromebooks can't print to the Wharton networked printers (but you can use a campus computer to print).
    • Chromebooks aren't able to use the Wharton virtual Lab software (but you can use a campus computer to access the software).

Software Recommendations

The basic software recommendations for students are designed to provide compatibility with the software in Wharton's computer labs and classrooms. When purchasing your system and software, be sure to request disks containing your original software. If your vendor doesn't provide an operating system or a recovery flash key, be sure to ask about recovery procedures should the system fail.



Mac OS

Operating System:

Windows 10 Pro macOS High Sierra 10.13


Office 365 University or Microsoft Office 2016 Professional Edition1 Office 365 University or Microsoft Office for Mac 20161

Internet Browser:

Microsoft Edge, Chrome and Mozilla FireFox Safari, Chrome and Mozilla FireFox


Microsoft Security Essentials (included in Windows 10) Symantec Endpoint Protection 12.x
(free for Penn students)

Virtualization for Windows:

N/A Wharton Computing Virtual Lab, Apple's Bootcamp (comes with MacOS), Parallels, VMFusion.2

1The University has partnered with Microsoft to provide Penn-licensed Office 365 options for students.  For download instructions, see our KB article.

2It is recommended that your Mac have at least 8GB of RAM if you plan to install Microsoft Windows in VMware Fusion or Parallels.

Software Purchases

All of the software that is listed in the table above is sold at the Penn Computer Connection store at the generally available Education discount rate. Some software needed for "Whartonizing" your computer is free, and is available via download using the directions in Whartonizing Your Device.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use my company computer?
  2. Can I use my current computer?
  3. Which Smartphone will work best at Wharton?
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