Buying a Computer for Medical School

All students in the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia are required to own a laptop computer. Using your present computer,  make sure it meets the requirements in the Is my Current Computer Adequate? section below. If you need to buy a new computer, we recommend that you consider one of the configurations described in the What Computer Should I Buy? section. If you have further questions, feel free to contact us at

Is My Current Computer Adequate?

Generally computers need to be replaced every three to four years. The configuration below is a bare minimum that would be usable for a year or two.

Bare Minimum Equipment: Intel Core Duo processor 1.4 GHz, 16 GB RAM, 500 GB hard drive, 1024×768 resolution or higher, 13″ display (or larger).

Operating System: Mac OS 12 (Monterey) or above. Microsoft Windows 10 or 11 (64-bit) Home or Pro (Version/Build 21H2).

Windows-compatible and Apple Macintosh computers are equally appropriate for use at the School of Medicine. Netbooks, Chromebooks, and laptops running only the Linux operating system do not meet our minimum requirements.

The specifications above are the minimums required to take web based exams within our curriculum and exams in the clerkships administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).

What Computer Should I Buy?

Recommended Hardware Configurations

Cavalier Computers has defined several laptop configurations that include on-site support and accidental damage coverage here – School of Medicine computer package options


We recommend a 1TB or greater external drive. Backups of your key documents, data, and operating system are critical in case of laptop failure or loss.

A large external display (19″ or larger) for home can be helpful when viewing virtual slides as well as opening multiple documents simultaneously. Some students find that having a printer at home is helpful.

An extra computer charger (one to live at home, one to take with you) might also be beneficial.

A headset with a microphone is useful for your phone and/or laptop when participating in web conferencing.

What about a Mobile Device or Tablet?

Optional if you have a smart phone. During the clerkship phase of medical school, many of our students prefer carrying a small tablet (typically an iPad mini) instead of their laptop. Apple iOS devices are the most popular with our medical students; however, many students have had success with Android phones and some have been successful with Android tablets.

Which software should I buy?

Your initial software expense should be minimal. For example, we require that all students install anti-virus/malware software and no-cost options exist for both the Windows and Mac platforms.

You will need office software to view the Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Adobe PDF files distributed by faculty. The Microsoft Office applications are included with their Office365 subscription. Basic pdf viewers come packaged with and/or are generally available at no cost.

There are additional software titles available to UVA students at the ITS Software Gateway.

Where should I buy computer hardware and software?

There are many places to get good deals on computer equipment and software including direct from the manufacturers, online retailers, and local retail outlets. Cavalier Computers, a division of the University of Virginia Bookstore, offers educational discounts that meet or beat many prices available elsewhere. Cavalier Computers is located on the University grounds and offers the added convenience of local service and accidental damage coverage. You can contact Cavalier Computers at (800) 759-4667, option 2, or visit their site at to get information on their packages and order on-line.