Minimum Required Specifications for Students' Personal Notebook computers

The Law School sets specifications for students' notebook computers to ensure consistent, functional compatibility between its systems and students' computers.  Compliance with the specifications determines how many of the systems will work well with students’ computers.  It also determines the level of support students will receive at the Help Desk.

Computers in compliance with the specifications in place for recent academic years remain compatible with Law School systems and eligible for Help Desk assistance.

Important systems at the Law School for which students need compatibility and support:

  • Connecting to the student wireless network
  • Printing via the wireless network
  • Using Exam software
  • Streaming class recordings
  • Obtaining off-campus access to certain research sites via the Library’s proxy server

Supported Operating Systems (OS)

Computers running:

  • Microsoft’s Windows 7 (Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate)
  • Microsoft Windows 8.0
  • Microsoft Windows Vista
  • Apple’s Mac OS X Snow Leopard
  • Apple’s Mac OS X Lion
  • Apple's Mac OS X Mountain Lion

While the Law School will strive to establish compatibility between Mac OS computers and Law School systems, some current incompatibilities may persist and others may develop over time. 

Notice Regarding Windows 8 and Windows XP

Windows 8 will function as an OS for both computers and tablets.  Please note that the tablet, or “Metro”, version of Windows 8 is NOT supported at GW Law.  All attempts will be made to ensure compatibility with the computer version of Windows 8 OS, but are not guaranteed. 

Computers running Windows XP are supported only to the extent possible.  All support for Windows XP computers will end after Spring 2013.

For Windows XP computers, supported "to the extent possible" means:

  • Windows XP computers are not compatible with the Law School’s exam software.  In other words, users of Windows XP computers will not be able to use those computers to take their exams (and must either borrow a compatible computer or hand-write their exams). 
  • As Windows XP nears the date after which Microsoft will provide no further support (April 2014), users should expect to encounter an increasing number of incompatibilities that will not be resolved by the Law School.
  • For Windows XP computers, Help Desk assistance will be restricted to basic setup and troubleshooting, depending on system compatibility status and the Help Desk’s assessment of the required level of effort to accomplish such assistance.

As a result, incoming students should make every effort to avoid dependence on a Windows XP computer at GW Law.

Students should not expect a tablet alone to meet the Notebook Requirement.  Help Desk support for tablet-type devices is limited.  Students wishing to use a tablet at the Law School should consider their shortcomings; wireless network access is not guaranteed, inability to view class recordings, incompatability with Law School's exam software, and inability to send print jobs wirelessly to Law School printers.


Operating System


For Priority Compatibility & Support:  English versions of Windows, specifically: Windows 8.0, Windows 7 (Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate); Windows Vista.    Apple’s Mac OS, specifically:  Mac OS X Snow Leopard; Mac OS X Lion; Mac OS X Mountain Lion.   

For Compatibility & Support to the Extent Possible: Windows 7 Starter; Windows XP; Non-English versions of Windows.


New versions of an OS (i.e., Windows 8 or Mac OS X 10.8) and software (such as web browsers or media players) are not supported until after their public release and substantial compatibility with GW Law Systems is confirmed.

Wireless Network Card


A wireless card that is compatible with 802.11g or 802.11n wireless networking transmission standards as well as 802.1X network authentication. 



There is no strict requirement for a particular processor. 

System Memory (RAM)


2GB, to adequately multitask and to anticipate the ever-growing memory demands of software.

Hard Drive


There is no strict requirement for hard drive storage space.


Law School-related documents and presentations, even when compiled over 3-4 years, do not require excessive hard drive storage space.  Typical law students, however, tend to fill smaller hard drives with photos, videos, and music files.  A larger hard drive may be appropriate if you plan to store such files on your computer.  An external, USB-connected hard drive should be considered as an option to facilitate archiving or backing up files.

Video Capability/Graphics Memory


There is no strict requirement for video capability or graphics memory.

Optical Drive


There is no strict requirement for a particular optical drive.


Law students should consider having access to a recording-capable drive, such as a DVD/CD-RW, or DVD+/-RW as an option to facilitate archiving or backing up files.  This drive could be part of the notebook computer, removable, or external (USB-connected).

USB Ports


At least 1 USB port is required.


Practically every notebook computer is equipped with at least 1 USB port; whether you should have more ports on the computer is a personal preference.  (Inexpensive, external USB hub devices can provide flexibility when the computer itself has a limited number of USB ports.)  The most common use for the USB port will be to connect an external drive such as a flash memory storage device (a.k.a. "memory key" or "flash drive").  These small, convenient file storage devices are crucial for quick backups and transfers of files between computers.

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