Recommendations for your personal computer

Acquiring the equipment

For second year (3rd semester) bachelor-level students, it is mandatory to have a personal laptop, but we strongly recommended that you already have one at the beginning of your studies at EPFL.

You can purchase the equipment you need through Poséidon (IT help desk for students) as soon as you are enrolled and have an EPFL e-mail address.

Of course, you may choose to purchase the necessary equipment on the open market, but be careful about after-sales service and and warranties (which are often only valid for one year, with the option to extend them, although federal legislation requires a two-year warranty for the material).


Unix/Linux is the most commonly used in computer science, but Windows and Mac OS also work well. (However, as of today, iOS and Android are not yet sufficient.) You can easily install a virtual machine on Linux or Windows, which will enable you to use another operating system, or you can configure your computer to boot up a choice of the three systems.

Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, MSI, Razer, Surface (among many others) all provide quality products. (In general, Apple products are more expensive for the same level of service.) Currently, Poséidon offers only products from Apple, HP and Lenovo.

The brand – Intel or AMD – does not matter; recent processors have four or six cores.

Graphics processors are useful for machine learning, simulations and data science in general. So, use a dedicated graphics card Nvidia or AMD.

A minimum of 16 GB of RAM is recommended.

Essential, preferably with ac or n.

Today, it’s almost mandatory to have a SSD, the recent OS being optimized for this type of storage. Most computers have SSD, so it’s not really a problem anymore. If you have an old computer, it’s advisable to replace the hard disk with a SSD and use the hard disk as external storage. SSD of 256 GO or 512 GO cost very little nowadays.

You must optimize the three. The larger the screen is, the more the weight and power consumption increase; so to ensure energy autonomy, a large battery is necessary, but it is also heavy. In general, with a larger laptop, when needed you can change the hard disk and the battery (which enables you to augment the autonomy, to replace it with a second one if needed and to replace the battery when it ‘dies’.)

Keep in mind that a laptop is fragile, therefore, we recommend that you purchase a protective case and perhaps also a sac especially adapted to your laptop; avoid dropping it and above all be careful with the screen.

It could be useful to have a large screen (more than 20”). For storage, a simple external hard drive will do the trick.