Frequently Asked Questions
As a Missouri Western student, you can use a data network and computer labs, but you may also find it very helpful to have your own computer on campus. This page offers topics to consider as you decide whether to bring a computer with you.
- Do I really need my own personal computer at Missouri Western?
- What specifications should my computer have?
- What computer components should my computer have?
- What should I bring with my computer?
- Will I need a personal printer?
- What software will I need?
- What about maintenance and repair?
- How about theft deterrence?
- How do I connect my computer to the campus network?
Missouri Western does not require or expect you to have your own computer. Students are not required to buy their own computer at Missouri Western as the campus is equipped with many computer labs containing computers of various platforms with a wide range of accessories and software available for student use.
If you plan to purchase a new computer before coming to campus, the following configuration should meet your needs throughout the next four years at Missouri Western.
|Newly Purchased Desktop Systems||Newly Purchased Laptop/Tablet Systems|
|Newly Purchased iMac||Newly Purchased MacBook Pro|
* 32-Bit versions of Windows cannot address more than 3 GB of RAM. In order to use 4GB of RAM or more you must have a 64-bit operating system.
If you plan to bring an older computer, we suggest it have at least the specifications listed below. Please note that, depending on your usage, a computer meeting these specifications may not serve you adequately past your first year or two at Missouri Western. For students enrolled in graphic design or modeling classes, a system meeting the conditions below may not meet requirements to use required software. However, please note that public labs are available for student use that support required classroom software.
|Minimum-Requirements – Desktop Systems||Minimum-Requirements – Laptop/Tablet Systems|
|Minimum-Requirements – Macintosh Systems|
There are a lot of options when it comes to configuring a system, but you don’t want to end up with less than you need. When buying a system, whether it’s a laptop or a desktop, make sure to cover the basics. Below is a list of the different components and what they do. This will aid you in knowing what to look for when you are shopping.
- Processor: The processor is the heart and the workhorse of any computer. The processor does most of the work and has a direct effect on the speed of the machine, faster processors result in faster machines. When choosing a processor, think about what kind of things you will be doing with your new computer. Most applications DO NOT require the best possible processor.
- RAM: RAM is temporary storage that your computer uses for quick access to files, programs, and other data. The more RAM you have, the more data your computer can store for quick access. Very little RAM will cause your computer to run slowly, while having too much is unnecessary.
- Hard Drive: The hard drive is what stores all the data on your computer. Having more space will allow you to save more data. Be sure to choose an appropriately sized hard drive so that you have sufficient space for your work.
- Modem: Modems are almost default on all new machines. Modems use your telephone line to connect to the internet. Modems are not as popular as Cable Modem or DSL connections, but a dial up connection can still come in handy.
- NIC: If you plan on using high speed internet like DSL or Cable Modem connections, you will need a Network Interface Card, or NIC. Almost all new computers come with one, but double check to make sure the computer you are interested in has one. Some laptops require a “PCMCIA Network Adapter Card” because they do not have a NIC. This PCMCIA card will allow you to connect to the internet using faster connections, and they are relatively inexpensive.
- Monitor: We recommend 17 inches or larger for desktops, and 12 inches or larger for laptops. When shopping for desktop computer monitors there are two important factors to look for: The flatness of the screen, flatter is better, and the DOT-PITCH, lower is better. Many new desktop machines come in a “deal package” where the manufacturer chooses a monitor for you. For the most part, these will do but you can always upgrade to a better monitor.
- CD/DVD Drives: Most new computers come with a CD/DVD drive and the capability to burn CDs & DVDs.
- Sound Card and Speakers: The sound card is what allows the computer to play sound. Basic sound cards give sufficient sound quality but the speakers can make the system sound poor. The default sound card that comes with the machine will be sufficient unless you intend to do sound recording and editing. Many machine “packages” will come with speakers, these will also be fine but upgrading may be a good idea if you intend to use your computer as your main stereo.
- Video Card: The video card is what the computer uses to display programs and information on the monitor. Default video cards will look good but if you intend to do any intensive gaming or watch a lot of movies on your computer, you might want to think about an upgrade.
If you bring your own computer, be sure to include its associated documentation, warranty information, and backup installation disks. Keep these in a safe place in case you need to reinstall or reconfigure any hardware or software.
If you bring your computer to campus, you may want to consider bringing a printer as well. You will be able to print a document in a computer lab (there is no printing charge at MWSU), depending on the software used to create it. However, it may be more convenient to print in your room.
Of course, no computer is useful without software. A student may need to purchase:
- Office software: There are many office packages available. When looking for an office package, you may want a word processor and spreadsheet editor. Missouri Western supports and uses Microsoft Office. Office has many tools all in one package, allowing the user to handle many office tasks. Students can take advantage of our special Microsoft Office pricing for personal computers at Personal Purchases.
- Virus protection: It is important that you have an anti-virus program on your computer. You may want to install AVG antivirus software (free) on your personal computer. NOTE: AVG is neither developed or supported by MWSU. Use at your own risk.
Missouri Western cannot repair student owned computers, as in many cases this will void the manufacturers warranty. For this reason, Missouri Western recommends that students purchase an extended warranty (at least 3 years) and in some cases recommend on-site coverage with accidental damage. This will ensure a higher probability of and faster repair to a students systems. This may be called many things depending on the manufacturer, for instance Dell’s accidental damage service is called CompleteCare™. while Apple’s plan is referred to as AppleCare.
To discourage theft, it is a good idea to engrave your driver’s license or ID number (NOT your Social Security number) on all computer equipment you bring to campus. If you have a laptop, keep a separate record of its serial number and the Ethernet address of any Ethernet card you have.
There are several other options for connecting your computer to the campus network, depending on where you live. Also see wireless access to Missouri Western’s campus network. Need help connecting to the network? Contact the Help Desk by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 816-271-4555.