Laptop Requirements & Recommendations

All MD and DMD students are required to own a laptop that meets the following minimum requirements:

  • Mac laptop: Mac OSX 10.9 - 10.12 with an Intel processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 256GB hard drive.
  • PC laptop: Windows (7, 8, 8.1, or 10) with a 2.0Ghz Intel i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 256GB hard drive.  

More information: 

Examplify Requirements for PC,  Mac, and iPad.  

NBME SHELF exam Frequently Asked Questions.

Laptop Recommendations

The Harvard Medical School IT department strongly recommends the following hardware and software requirements to get you through all four years of medical school in (somewhat) comfortable style.  

Feature Minimum Requirement Preferred Why?
Processor Intel i5 2.0 GHz Intel i7 2.0 GHz The newer operating systems and applications require the latest generation of processors to run efficiently. The i5 offers basic computing capability, but the extra speed of the i7 will ensure your computer can keep up with you for the next few years.
Memory 4 GB 8 GB Today's operating systems require at least 4GB of RAM to run efficiently, 8GB to run comfortably. If you'd like to run more than one program at once (Office, browser, music, etc)... even simple ones... more RAM should be on your list.
Hard Disk

256 GB

512 GB

If your computer comes with a solid state option, it will be faster and more reliable. Don't get anything smaller than a 256 as you will find yourself pressed for space soon. External hard drives can help to alleviate space concerns.
Screen size/resolution

13 inches or min. 1024 x768

13 inches or better Testing software requires a minimum screen size of 13 inches to support a minimum resolution of 1024 x768.

802.11b/g/n - Windows

Airport Extreme - Mac

802.11n - Windows

Airport Extreme - Mac

Again, in order to facilitate watching videos at the best quality, speed, and without interruption, we really recommend 802.11n wireless.
Video Card 256 MB 512 MB Today's operating systems need a minimum of 256 MB to function properly. We recommend 512 MB or more to aid students in watching course materials more fluidly.
Operating System

Windows 7 or 8, 32-bit

Mac OSX 10.9 or newer

Windows 7 or 8, 64-bit

Mac OSX 10.10 or newer

Being as up-to-date as possible is key to

  • ensure that all of your course materials work correctly;
  • you are able to access special java applications;
  • you are able to take advantage of new sharing, backup, and productivity features that these operating systems offer.
Support/Protection Plan

Extended warranty and service plan

Apple Care

Extended warranty and service plan

Apple Care

An extended warranty is strongly recommended. If your computer is out of warranty, many common repairs would cost you more than the computer is worth. Most manufacturers offer extended warranties of three years or more which would carry you through most if not all of your time here at HMS. 
Battery & Power Adapter 4 hour battery & a power adapter 8 hour battery & two power adapters

Students are expected to bring their laptops with them to class. A fully charged battery and spare power adapter are strongly recommended.

Keep in mind - Some "ultra-portable" or "ultra-book" models are less upgradeable or flexible than others.  One such example is the Macbook Air.  Plan on buying a computer that will last the duration that you need, even if this means a slight increase in price, since you can't go back later and add more RAM or a larger hard drive.  

Lots of other students have found use from: headphones (noise cancelling ones are quite popular!), iPad keyboards, a tablet stylus, an extra battery (charging in TMEC can be hard to find), and more.

ALWAYS be sure to BACK UP!