What specs should I be looking for in a computer as someone about to start college to become a software engineer?

by on September 15, 2009

Q: I am going to college to become a Software Systems Engineer. What I would like to know is if you have any suggestions as to what kind of computer I should get or at least what some of the specs I might want to have. For example which processor and which sound and video cards and what type(s) of drives and CD burners etc. I would greatly appreciate an answer to this question because I have done lots of searching and have really found nothing of import.

2 Responses to “What specs should I be looking for in a computer as someone about to start college to become a software engineer?”
    Picked as best answer

    The reason you are not finding anything is because there really is no set spec for what software engineer students need in a computer. Your first year of college is going to be filled with general education classes from English, Math, Science, and other disciplines depending on exactly what you select for your schedule with maybe 1 or 2 software engineering classes throw in the mix.

    The objective of your first few courses will be helping you learn how to problem solve since that is 90% of what a software engineer does. You will most likely be given a basic understanding of C++ or some other programming language and as you get the basics they will ask you how to solve certain problems using those methods or functions. So there really wont be as much hard core computer use as one might think. The most hardware intensive stuff I ever used my computer for in college was playing video games.

    My biggest piece of advice is that you make sure you are going for a BS in Computer Science/Software Engineering and not a BA. The difference is usually a few extra math classes but seeing as how Computer Science/Software Engineers are supposed to be problem solvers it only makes sense to make sure to get the best degree you can seeing as how it wont take you any extra time.

    So now back to the computer. There will most likely be more than enough computers on campus that you can use but it is always nice to have your own computer especially when it comes time to write a paper for a class. There is something to be said about having a laptop but at the same time I went to school with a few people who had theirs stolen out of their dorm room so it is difficult to say that going that route is a good idea unless you know you can lock it up safely some where.

    So there are a couple things you can do. You can get the best computer you can afford and it will probably work out fine or you can wait until you start college and then try to get in touch with the professors that teach the computer courses and ask them if they have any advice. Most colleges that offer Computer Science degrees or Software Engineering degrees usually have a computer lab set aside just for those students so you can always talk to the people working in the lab. Normally the people working in the lab are also students as well so it is always nice to get to know them early in case you need special privileges on your account for some reason or another.

    The other thing to remember is that the computers you will be using at school will probably have Borland C++ or Microsoft Visual Studio on them and while there are free alternatives to these out there it might be difficult for you to bounce between them when you are learning. I bring this up because if you want to have the same software as the school it might cost you a pretty penny but you can save some money by looking for student versions of the software that usually cost considerably less.

    I have to apologize for not being able to give you a specific specification but hopefully this gives you some ideas of what to expect. I personally found that school got me into programming but I ended up spending a lot more time doing stuff I found fun like making websites well before school was teaching it. So just make sure to have fun and experiment on your own and with your new friends to make sure you get the most out of it and best of luck.


    Thank You and 1st of all I would just like to say that you have no idea how much I appreciate the fact that you answered so quickly and thoroughly. The actual reason that I was asking and part of the reason I am going to school is that I messed up my computer by deleting files and now things such as system restore do not work right or at all and I plan on getting a new computer so I wanted to get something that would be powerful enough and have enough memory to keep up with whatever I am doing in my class. I also want to do some web site design and wanted to have what I needed in a computer to do that.. I guess just getting something with the most up to date software and OS should suffice. I must say also that you were right on when you talked about how the classes would be setup. The web site design and software systems classes are not until the end of the 4th year.
    Anyhow thank you so much again for your input.