University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content

Notebook Computer Requirement - DDS Students

  • As a student at the School of Dental Medicine, you are required to own a notebook computer to serve your computing needs both in and out of the classroom.  
  • In the past, the School has enforced this requirement through a mandatory computer purchase program.  After extensive consideration of student feedback and many other factors, this purchase program is now optional.  
  • Students may meet the School's computer requirement by purchasing through our custom online Apple store OR by providing their own computer that meets our specifications.   
  • Since the School has limited IT resources, the option you choose will affect the level of in-house support that is available for your computer. The options are as follows:

Buy a recommended computer through our custom Apple store, and configure it yourself following our instructions.  

If you choose this option, you will have both supported hardware and software. In-house hardware support is limited to basic troubleshooting and interacting with Apple support to send your computer out for required repairs.

Bring your own computer - new or existing - that meets our requirements, and configure it yourself following our instructions.

If you choose this option, your hardware will be unsupported (unless you purchase or have a current Apple MacBook Pro or Air), and software support will be limited to titles included in our recommended package.

Please feel free to choose whichever option seems best for you. All students are eligible to borrow a "loaner" computer for a limited time if their own computer is out for repair.

Option #1: School Recommended Computer (July 30 order deadline)

  • July 30 is the LAST date that you should place an order from our custom Apple Store, but this ONLY applies if Apple's order form shows "Available to ship: Within 24 hours."  
  • If your order form shows any shipping delays, you must order earlier to allow sufficient time for your computer to arrive.

Basic models of our recommended and fully supported Apple MacBooks are described in this PDF:

MacBook Pro / Air Recommendations

SDM's Online Apple Store

  • Prices reflect the academic discount that you should see when ordering through our online Apple store.  
  • Items that must be upgraded to meet our minimum requirements - 8GB of memory and 250GB+ hard drive - are circled in red.  You're free to make any other upgrades you want, of course. 

The specific model you choose depends on your needs.  

  • If you want a very compact, lightweight computer with long battery life, the new MacBook Air is an excellent choice.  
  • If you think you need more computing power and aren't as concerned with size and weight, the 15 inch Retina display MacBook Pro models are best.  
  • If you want more storage for your files, the higher end MacBook Pro models offer larger hard drive options (up to 1TB).  Some of the additional information below (RAM, Hard Drive, etc.) may help you select the model that's right for you.  
  • When buying a recommended computer from our Apple store under option #1, you will need to install our required software packages, which are available to download free of charge using your UB IT name and password.  Details are at:

Software Configuration Guide

Option #2: Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC)

  • If you choose to bring your own computer and configure it yourself, you can use the MacBook specifications and these general requirements to help you choose.

 

New Computer

Existing Computer

RAM

8GB

4G

Hard Drive

500GB (250GB SSD)

250GB

CPU

Intel Core i5 or i7

Intel Core i3

Display

13 inch or larger

13 inch or larger

Networking

802.11g/n wireless

802.11g/n wireless

OS

OS X 10.11 or 10.12, Windows  8 or 10

OS X 10.9, Windows 7 or 8

  • You MUST have a computer that runs OS X or Windows;  
  • iPads, Android tablets, Chromebooks and other devices won't run all the software that you'll need to use here. Please note that these are minimum requirements - more is usually better.  
  • "Existing computer" refers to a computer that you already own that may be a year or two old.  Your existing computer may be good enough initially, but there's good chance that it will need to be upgraded or replaced at some point during your time at the School.  
  • If you're buying a new computer, you have a lot of options.  You could use our custom Apple store to buy a MacBook, then have it shipped to your address and configure it yourself.  
  • Or you can use any vendor you want - try out one of the new convertible Ultrabook / tablet hybrids, or a 17 inch gaming-capable notebook, or whatever else looks good to you - as long as it meets our specs.  
  • See below for links to the School's custom Apple Store and UB's online HP and Dell ordering pages;  a UB IT login is required to access these pages.

General Computer Hardware Information

RAM

  • We strongly recommend purchasing a computer with 8GB of RAM, since this will improve performance when you have multiple programs and documents open.  
  • Some notebook computers - including the MacBook Air and some MacBook Pro models - can NOT have their memory upgraded after you purchase them, so it's important to get enough RAM up front. 

HARD DRIVE

  • There are two different kinds of internal storage to consider when buying a notebook computer: a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid state drive (SSD - Apple calls this "flash storage").  
  • The differences between the two are capacity, speed and cost: HDD = big, slow and cheap, while SSD = smaller, faster and more expensive.  Here's a performance comparison between two HDDs (blue) and two SSDs (red):
  • As you can see, the SSD performs much better for most common tasks, so it's a good choice if you want speed.  
  • However, SSDs are much more expensive per gigabyte than HDDs, so you probably won't have as much internal storage if you opt for an SSD.  
  • For example, at our custom Apple store (see the PDF above), the $999 13" non-Retina MacBook Pro has a 500GB HDD, and upgrading to 1TB (twice the space) costs $90.  The $1,699 Retina MacBook Pro has a a 512GB SDD, and upgrading to 1TB costs $450 - 5 times the cost for roughly the same space upgrade.
  • If you really want to carry all your files with you all the time, a traditional HDD will be the most cost effective alternative, but your performance will suffer.  A good compromise:  get an SSD (about 250GB) in your notebook and also get an external hard drive (2 TB should cost about $100, 1TB should be less) so you can archive your files frequently to save space on your internal drive.
Mac model Speedmark 9 score
Retina MacBook Pro/2.3GHz
(15-inch, quad-core i7, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, 128MB Intel Iris Pro 5200 / 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 750M, Late 2013)
282
Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz
(13-inch, dual-core i5, 512GB SSD, 8GB RAM, 1GB Intel Iris, Late 2013)
177
Retina MacBook Pro/2.4GHz
(13-inch, dual-core i5, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, 1GB Intel Iris, Late 2013)
168
Retina MacBook Pro/2.4GHz
(13-inch, dual-core i5, 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM, 1GB Intel Iris, Late 2013)
155
MacBook Air/1.7GHz
(13-inch, dual-core i7, 512GB SSD, 8GB RAM, 1GB Intel HD 5000, Mid 2013)
169
MacBook Air/1.3GHz
(13-inch, dual-core i5, 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM, 1GB Intel HD 5000, Mid 2013)
142
MacBook Air/1.3GHz
(11-inch, dual-core i5, 256GB SSD, 4GB RAM, 1GB Intel HD 5000, Mid 2013)
143

CPU

  • Comparing CPUs gets complicated - clock speed, number of cores, cache memory and architecture all play a role.  Comparing published numbers can be difficult - take a look at this speed test chart from Macworld:
  • The 15-inch MacBook Pro on the first line is much faster that the 13-inch model on the second line (282 vs. 177), but the 13-inch runs at a faster clock speed than the 15 inch (2.6GHz vs. 2.3GHz). 
  • That's an unfair comparison, of course, since the 15 inch MacBook has a quad core i7 CPU vs. the dual core i5 CPU in the 13 inch model.  But that's the point we're trying to make: the numbers can be very confusing, so be sure to do your homework.  
  • A low number may not be as bad as it seems, and a high number may not be as good....

Operating System

  • If you're buying or bringing a Mac, OS X is most likely your operating system of choice.  We require that you have version 10.8 (Mountain Lion) or 10.9 (Mavericks).
  •  If you have an older MacBook that won't support one of these, it doesn't meet our requirements.  You can also run Windows on a Mac - see below.
  • If you're bringing a non-Mac, you'll need to use Microsoft Windows (sorry, no Linux support yet...). Windows 8, with its flashy home screen and missing start button, is the current version, but most of UB still runs on Windows 7.  
  • We'll do the best we can to help you out with getting the right software, connecting to UB's network, etc. if you're using Windows 8, but it isn't as fully supported as Windows 7 yet, so there could be glitches.  
  • If you ask us to configure your MacBook with Windows, right now you'll get Windows 7.

Warranty and Support

  • We strongly recommend buying an extended warranty if you're purchasing a new computer.  
  • When buying from Apple, this is simple: you can buy three year AppleCare coverage ($183 on 13 inch models or $239 on 15 inch), and that's all.  
  • Other vendors have a lot of options, and some offer coverage for accidental damage, too (not covered by AppleCare, though you could get a third party warranty).  
  • For example, on a Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga Convertible that meets our requirements ($949), you can get a basic three year warranty for $109, but for $299 you can get three years of coverage with accidental damage protection.  
  • On a Dell Inspiron 15 inch touch screen notebook that meets our specs ($911.99), you can get FOUR year warranty coverage for $162.24 and add four year accidental damage protection for another $133.44. 
  • Apple is easy (and their customer service is excellent), but there are many more options available from other computer manufacturers.

SDM In-House Helpdesk

  • Our in-house help desk at SDM will provide hardware support for Apple MacBook products, limited software support and "loaner" computers that you can use while yours is out for repair or being replaced. 
  • Hardware support is largely troubleshooting and then sending your computer out to Apple for service;  there isn't much inside a MacBook that we can actually service in-house.  
  • We'll provide general help with UB-supported applications, but we do expect that you'll be able to manage basic tasks like installing applications and running system updates on your own.  
  • Our loaner program is being revamped at the moment, but our goal is to make sure that we have a fully configured computer available to loan to any student who has an immediate need - your computer is out for repair, you're waiting for a new computer to be delivered, your dog ate your hard drive, etc..
  • On-campus, non-warranty support for non-Apple computer hardware is available from VITEC solutions through their drop off location on the second floor of the Lockwood Library on the north campus.  Details and rates are available on their Web site at: http://vitecsolutions.com/ub/

Questions about the Notebook Requirement?

Please contact

Dr. Daniel Emmer emmer@buffalo.edu

Office of Academic Affairs.

Questions about the School's computer purchase and setup program?