Computer PurchasingPersonal Purchase Guidelines

Purchasing Guidelines for Personally Owned Computers

The sections below provide valuable information regarding each element of your purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

What brand and model should I buy?
Lehigh recommends purchasing a supported model from one of our recommended brands; Apple, Dell, or Lenovo.  For Apple computers all models are fully supported for hardware repairs on campus.  For Dell and Lenovo only business model computer are supported for on-campus hardware repair.  Dell business model computers include the Latitude, Optiplex and Vostro lines.  Lenovo business model computers include Thinkpad and ThinkCentre lines.

Should I buy a Windows PC or a Mac?
Both platforms are fully supported at Lehigh for student use.  To help student decide which is the appropriate choice the WIRED Program has a PC vs Mac document that lists the pros and cons of each platform. 

How much of a discounted price do I get on computers purchased through this site?
The amount of discount varies from 2%-6% on the different vendor sites and depends on the model computer selected.  Computer vendors typically change pricing throughout the year so the percentage discount varies greatly.  It is best to compare the pricing on a computer from the regular vendor web page with one configured through the Lehigh pages to see the price difference. 

Do I need my own printer?
LTS provides access to printers in both libraries and many computer labs across campus.  However, many students find it convenient to get their own printer (inkjet or laser) to keep in their room.

Operating Systems

Windows 7 or 8
Both Windows 7 and 8 are fully supported for student use at Lehigh.  Windows 8, released in fall 2013 is available on almost all new computers.  With Lehigh's recommended computer brands it is still possible to get a new computer with Windows 7 as the installed operating system.  In subsequent years this option will most likely not be available and Windows 8 will be the only operating system choice.  The decision on whether to get Windows 7 or Windows 8 on a new computer is up to the individual user. 

Macintosh OS X
New Macs will come with latest version of Mac OS X, which is fully supported by LTS. 

Linux and Other Unix Flavors
In addition to Macs, there are also a growing number of Linux and other Unix-flavored machines in use on campus. Support for these systems is more limited, but those using them are largely self-supporting.

Hardware Configurations

Below are LTS recommendations for configuring a new computer. These are not meant to be minimum requirements for use on Lehigh's network, but rather they ensure that systems remain usable over a span of 3-4 years. Individuals should always consider their own specific needs and preferences when making the final decision on how their computer should be configured.

Purchasing Recommendations for New Computers - May 2013
Feature Target
Operating System See Operating Systems.
Processor 2+ GHz Multi-core (64-bit capable)
Memory 4-6 GB RAM (More for Media Work, additional OSs)
Hard Drive 250 GB (500+ for Desktops)
Wireless 802.11n internal wireless card (laptop only)
Printer Small inkjet or laser printer (for personal use)
Warranty 3-4 yr. extended, from the manufacturer,
with "accidental damage protection" for laptops, if available.


  • External USB hard drives for backup of data files.
  • DVD drive
  • Memory upgrade to 8GB
  • Personal printer (inkjet or laser)
  • Laptop users may benefit from several items including:
    • a carrying case that protects the machine while you travel to or around campus.
    • a higher capacity battery, for longer times away from a power outlet.
    • a Theft-Recovery program, such as LoJack for Laptops. Many students have benefitted from this type of service. The Lehigh Police also offer laptop registration for free.

Warranties & Repair

The primary reason for LTS's selection of recommended computer brands is that our Technology Installation and Maintenance Services team (TIMS) technicians have been trained and certified to provide computer repair and upgrade services for those brands. These services are available for faculty, staff and students for both institutional and personal computers.

Be aware though, that the TIMS technicians can only do in-warranty work on systems covered by manufacturer's warranties, and depending on the vendor, they may be limited to working on only the business-line machines (Dell and Lenovo). Please refer to the TIMS Policy for a complete description of the policy and procedures regarding computer repair and upgrades.

Selecting Warranties
Below are some are guidelines you should consider when deciding on a warranty for a new computer.

  1. Length of the warranty - Most vendors offer at least 3 or 4 year extended warranties.You should consider getting a warranty that will cover your computer during the period of time you'll be at Lehigh. 
  2. Accidental Damage Protection - This is an add-on option to a regular warranty that covers damage caused by accidents (spills, drops, etc) that a normal would not.  This option is appropriate for higher priced laptops to cover the repair cost in the event of catastrophic accident. Note, Apple does not offer accidental damage protection on their computers. 
  3. Repair Options - Some manufacturers offer on-site and/or depot repair warranties.  For Lehigh users on-site means that in most cases a hardware repair can be done on campus in our hardware repair department (TIMS).  With Depot repair warranties a computer must be sent back to the manufacturer for repair.  LTS recommends getting an on-site warranty whenever possible.