Computer System Recommendations for Students

As each semester begins at Northern Arizona University, new technologies are implemented on and off campus to enrich your learning experience. Students are strongly encouraged to ensure that the computers they bring on campus meet the requirements for support established by NAU Information Technology Services. Because buying a computer is an important academic purchase, students are strongly advised to carefully choose a computer that will meet their computing needs during their four years at NAU. Considering that a computer's performance degrades over time, it would be wise to purchase a computer with more than the minimum requirements. We also strongly recommend that you consult with your chosen major's faculty and/or staff to see which type of computer (PC or Mac) would be preferred during your academic career.

Computer Specifications

PC: Minimum System Requirements to Run Windows 8 (the latest Microsoft Operating System) 

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2 (more info)
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
  • Source  

Mac: Minimum System Requirements for Mac

  • Mac computer with an Intel processor
  • Mac OSX 10.6 or higher
  • 2 GB of memory
  • 8 GB of available disk space
  • DVD drive for installation
  • Source

We also recommend that you purchase a computer with a wireless network adapter built in. We strongly recommend you use a built-in or external (i.e. USB) 5 GHz, dual-band wireless card. 

Operating Systems that are supported on ResNet  

  • Windows XP (with Service Pack 3) - Support for Windows XP will end in August of 2014, when Microsoft will also end support for it.
  • Windows Vista (any version, with Service Pack 2)
  • Windows 7 (any version, with Service Pack 1)
  • Windows 8 (any version)
  • Mac OS 10.6 or higher 

Students can purchase the Windows 8 upgrade through the NAU Bookstore.


In addition to a supported operating system, other steps to a secure computer include:

  • A full (not trial) version of an anti-virus program, with automatic updates. A fully updated anti-virus program is required to get internet access on campus. Click here to download Sophos antivirus for free.
  • An up-to-date anti-spyware program such as Malwarebytes, Spybot S&D, or Microsoft's Windows Defender to ensure the safety of your computer and personal information.
  • A strong password for each administrator account on each machine.
  • An HTML5 enable web browser (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, or Chrome)

For off-campus students, internet access speed is another consideration. Modems for dial-up access are no longer the best option. While Blackboard Learn can be accessed over a modem, there are a number of NAU courses and resources that will not function properly or successfully. A Broadband (high-speed) connection is recommended in order to achieve the best experience possible.


Other resources available to optimize your computing experience include:



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Related Services

Available to studentsAvailable to facultyAvailable to staff

ResNet, or Residential Network, provides a high-speed Ethernet and wireless connections to every student living in the residence halls of Northern Arizona University.
Available to studentsNot available to faculty Not available to staff

The Student Technology Center (STC) provides 24/7 technical phone support as well as in-person support. Call 928-523-9294 for assistance or statewide toll-free at 888-520-7215.

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Training & Documentation


How to connect to the ResNet network in your residence hall room.


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Related Information