Choosing a Laptop

There is no one perfect laptop. ITG provides support for both Windows and Mac OS computers. The choice of which laptop is the right one for you is a highly personal one:

  • Do you want a lightweight model with the longest possible battery life?
  • Would you trade-off slightly heavier weight for more functionality?
  • Is it important for you to have a larger keyboard and display?

We suggest that you purchase a computer with abilities beyond your need, keeping in mind that your needs will change over time. Generally, we recommend laptops targeted towards business professionals that tend to emphasize performance and durability:

  • Apple's MacBook Pro
  • Dell's Latitude
  • HP's ProBook or EliteBook
  • Lenovo's ThinkPad

Frequently Asked Questions

No. Microsoft Office is provided to you free of charge.

Yes. Please see the Useful Downloads link on your left.

Incoming students, please see your Admitted Student site To Do list for the item named ITG New Student Configuration. Continuing students can stop in to ITG anytime -- there is no specific time to drop off the computer and no appointments are necessary.

Support Eligibility

During your time at the Business School, the Information Technology Group (ITG) will provide a valuable service by supporting you with the School’s core technology, your accounts, and laptop computer. However, this support is not the School's core business, and the support we provide has to scale over 2,700 MS, MBA & EMBA students. Some of Columbia's peers address this challenge by limiting their school's IT support to a single model of laptop, with a specific software image applied to it. When something goes wrong with your computer that is not solvable within 15 minutes, your computer's hard drive is reformatted, and the software image reapplied. ITG does not subscribe to this model and prefers to allow you an extremely wide latitude in your choice of laptops. However, in order to receive optimal laptop support from ITG, your laptop has to meet a few minimum requirements that relate to both software and hardware. Please see the "Hardware and Software Requirements" link on the left for supported configurations.

If your laptop does not meet the laptop minimum requirements, but comes close to them, you might still be able to do most tasks at the Business School. The School has a standard infrastructure, and the School's applications are all accessible via a web browser. However, you will not have access to ITG Support Specialists, who are key to getting your computer configured for the School's network and keeping it correctly configured when you encounter problems. In addition, if your laptop is stolen or has to be returned for hardware repairs, you will not be eligible to participate in our loaner program unless the laptop you own meets all of the minimum requirements. Most importantly, your laptop runs the risk of not supporting software that is required for your courses.

Attention MacBook Owners!

Certain programs that are necessary to complete courses at the Business School will not run on the Macintosh operating system. Those programs require a Windows environment. The School requires you to set up Windows on your Mac using the VirtualBox utility. To have a fully supported Mac at CBS, among other minimum requirements you have to own at least Mac OS Yosemite (OS X 10.10). You will also have to have a minimum of 50 GB of free space in your hard drive, as the Windows installation requires an allocation of 35 GB.

The Business School's Microsoft Campus Agreement will cover the actual installation of Windows free of charge for you, once you have allocated space in your Mac's hard drive.

Hardware Failures

ITG can help you diagnose whether an issue is caused by your laptop’s hardware, and provide you with technical information that you may pass on to your warranty support; however, ITG is unable to fix hardware issues. For hardware malfunctions, students typically depend on the type of manufacturer/service warranty accompanying their laptop. ITG recommends an on-site hardware repair warranty from your vendor for the length of your stay at Columbia Business School. Be sure to place strong weight on this fact when you are deciding which laptop to purchase and where to purchase it. If your laptop has a hardware failure right before exams, a vendor that provides on-site, next business day support is clearly preferable to one who only provides mail-in support with a three-week turnaround period.