Recommendations for Computer Purchases

The Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration offers access to over 130 computer workstations in the Binenkorb Computer Center and the Nestlé Library, but students may find it difficult to access equipment during peak times when classes are in session and many assignments are due. For this reason, most of our students choose to purchase their own computers.


The Nolan School’s faculty rely exclusively on computers with Microsoft Windows 10 or 11 operating systems. We strongly recommend selecting a Microsoft Windows-based machine with the most recent version of Microsoft Office to avoid any compatibility issues, particularly related to class assignments.
Although new Apple computers are currently capable of running Windows, running the Windows version of Office on a Mac requires buying a Windows license and another software application such as Parallels or Boot Camp. A dedicated Windows computer is still strongly recommended.

Laptop or Desktop?

Performance and cost are now very similar, so personal preference is key. Some students enjoy the ability to take their computers all over campus, benefiting from the extensive wireless networks that are in place at Cornell. Some classes may require a laptop in class. Ultimately, each student should purchase a computer they are comfortable with.

Two purchasing mistakes to avoid:

  1. Please avoid purchasing a “chrome book” or a “netbook” laptop: These computers do not allow you to install software locally on your computer. Instead, they require that you run the cloud version of the software. One quick way to spot this type of cloud book is to look at the size of the hard drive. If it is small, like 32GB or 64GB, it is likely a cloud book. Please make sure your computer has at least 128GB Solid State Drive (SSD) or a 256GB Hard Drive (HDD).
  2. Please avoid machines with an S Mode operating system: The S Mode prevents you from installing software unless it comes from the Windows store. An operating system like “Windows 10 Home 64-bit” is preferred.

View university-wide computer recommendations

Get information on Cornell’s wireless networks


As a student in the Nolan School, you will be required to use Microsoft Office a great deal. While Office is available on all of our public computers, it is also available for students to download and install. Download the most recent version of Office for Students.


An easily overlooked but vital aspect of purchasing a new computer is the warranty that comes with it. Larger vendors, such as Dell, typically offer four-year warranty plans that include parts and labor. In some cases they might cost a little extra at the time of purchase but can save a tremendous amount of money and time if parts fail.

Servicing Your Computer

Please note that the Nolan School does not provide support for either hardware or software issues for students, but there are Cornell-provided support options. For computer repairs, the Cornell Store offers services. For on-campus technical support, please consult Cornell’s IT Service Desk.

If you have any questions, please contact:

  • Rob Miettunen
    Assistant Director of Instructional Technologies