There’s lots to think about when choosing a laptop for university. To help you prepare for your studies, we’ve put together this laptop buying advice.

Windows, Apple, or Google?

  • Microsoft Windows: we recommend a Windows laptop for the best experience at Essex, as it’s compatible with our software and tools.
  • Mac OS: if you choose a Mac, some University services or software may not fully work.
  • Google (Chrome OS): Chromebooks may encounter compatibility issues with software and our networks.

What else should I consider?


We recommend a solid-state drive (SSD) of 256GB or greater. 1TB would be better if you like to download movies and music or edit images.

You will have 1TB of cloud storage on Microsoft OneDrive provided for free with your Essex IT account.

Battery life

At least eight hours of battery life is recommended.

Weight and screen size

If you will be carrying your laptop to campus, consider a lightweight model. A bigger screen size will mean a heavier laptop. If you don’t plan on taking your laptop out of your accommodation, you can opt for a bigger screen.


You will need your laptop to last the duration of your studies. Getting a warranty that covers the length of your course will help ensure any faults that develop will be fixed by the retailer.


We recommend free antivirus software Windows Defender for Windows 10 and above, or Sophos Home for Mac and other devices. Make sure antivirus software is installed and activated when you set up your device. For security, you must install updates when you get notifications from the antivirus software — do not turn them off or ignore them.

Do I need Microsoft Office?

You don’t need to purchase Microsoft Office — we give it to you for free! As a student at Essex, you get a free subscription to Microsoft Office 365, which you can download on up to five devices, for the duration of your studies. Sign in to Office 365 with your Essex account to get your free copy.

Do I need anything else?

These aren’t essential but you might find them useful:

  • a headset with microphone for online lectures or meetings
  • a webcam (if not already built into your device) to participate in online sessions
  • a keyboard and mouse to ensure you are comfortable while working with your device

Can I get an educational discount?

Visit the retailers below to view their educational discounts: