Laptop Program: Recommended PC Laptop
Updated: 23 March 2018 05:13 PM
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We are still evaluating laptop models for 2018. We recommend you check out our Laptop Program: Purchase Advice page, and wait until Summer 2018 to purchase a laptop.

Recommended PC Laptops: Microsoft Surface Book 2 & Pro and Dell XPS & Precision 

Microsoft Surface Book 2: Best Option for Recommended Programs

The new Surface Book 2 has two different models a 13" and 15" models.

Surface Book 2 – 13.5" / 256GB / Intel Core i7 or better

We recommend purchasing the Surface Book with a minimum of an i7 processor and 8GB of RAM. There are more expensive models available and these provide more RAM and storage.

  • 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U (quad-core) with up to 4.20 GHz Max Turbo
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 discrete GPU w/2GB GDDR5 graphics memory
  • 256GB SSD
  • 8GB RAM
  • 13.5” PixelSense Display, Resolution: 3000 x 2000, (267 PPI), 10-point multi-touch G5
  • Surface Pen not included
  • Windows 10 Pro

Surface Book 2 – 15" / 256GB / Intel Core i7 or better

  • 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U (quad-core) with up to 4.20 GHz Max Turbo
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 discrete GPU w/6GB GDDR5 graphics memory
  • 256GB SSD
  • 8GB RAM
  • 15” PixelSense Display, 3240 x 2160, (260 PPI), 10-point multi-touch G5
  • Surface Pen not included
  • Windows 10 Pro

Surface Book 2 vs MacBook Pro: Face-off! (Laptop Mag)

Surface Laptop vs. Pro

Recommended Surface Pro model: Surface Pro - Intel Core i7 / 256GB SSD / 8GB RAM

  • The Surface Pro is ideal for drawing: you can lie it flat, and draw on the screen.
  • We do not recommend any of the cheaper configurations, as if you're going to be drawing in Photoshop or Illustrator, you will want the computing power of the Intel i7.
  • Surface Pro Signature Type Cover and Surface Pen are not included and cost extra.
  • With its fantastic PixelSense display, improved Type Cover, faster performance and even better battery life, the Surface Pro is still the king of detachable 2-in-1s.

Surface Pro

Lowest cost option: Surface Laptop - Intel Core i5 / 256GB SSD / 8GB RAM

  • If you have no plans to draw on your screen or just want the least expensive option (and something comparable to the Dell XPS 13) then this is it. You can configure this laptop with a more expensive i7 processor, but we would perhaps direct you to get the Surface Pro, as you can use it for drawing.
  • In our limited experience, the Surface Laptop has a better screen than the Dell XPS 13.
  • LaptopMag: Surface Laptop vs. Dell XPS

Surface Laptop


Dell Laptops

OCAD University is currently reviewing the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 laptop and other models. We will update this page in the coming months.

OCAD University supports the Dell XPS 13 and Dell XPS 15 laptops for programs requiring Windows software. These machines are well built, powerful, and well priced. We recommend three specific configurations of these laptops. There are cheaper versions available, with slower processors, but we don't necessarily recommend them.

Dell Precision 5520

Best option for any 3D CAD/CAM work.

Laptop Mag - Dell 5510 Review (2016 Model)

"Dell's Precision 5510 is a premium 15-inch workstation that offers powerful performance, an eye-popping ultra-HD screen and an attractive, lightweight body. If you don't need the power of a workstation but still want a 15-inch computer with the beauty of the Precision 5510, check out the Dell XPS 15, which is almost exactly the same on the outside but offers better battery life. However, if you want to do professional 3D work or high-end calculations on the go, the Precision 5510 is hard to beat."

Dell XPS 15

PCMag Review Dell XPS 15 2017

"Highly Recommended, for All Artists […] The Dell XPS 15 Touch should be at the top of your list if you're setting up a graphics or video editing studio, or are a well-funded art student"

Trusted Reviews Dell XPS Review

The Dell XPS is a lightweight, powerful, gorgeous alternative to the 15" MacBook Pro at a lower price, but with excellent build quality, discrete graphics, Quad-core processing and a touch screen.

Dell XPS 13

Recommended minimum specified model for Faculty of Art (except Integrated Media).

The Dell XPS is a lightweight, gorgeous alternative to the 13" MacBook Pro at a lower price. 

Laptop Mag - Editor's Choice - Dell XPS 13

Already Own a PC? Don't want to buy the Recommended Model?

Here is our minimum recommended specification for older PC models.

We've seen a lot of cheap PC laptops that are hopelessly underpowered, poorly constructed and bad value for money overall, and we recommend you talk to the Help Desk before buying a machine. If your system is not a recommended system we offer no support for it:

  • We don't provide image your laptop
  • We cannot install any operating system (Windows) on your laptop
  • We do not troubleshoot any kind of issue with your computer
  • Unless it's an Apple there is no repair support. The Dell models are "return to depot" warranties. If you purchase a Microsoft warranty, the Microsoft Store at the Eaton Centre can assist you.
  • You will be required to manually install all of your software.
  • Sometimes, the software does not install at all and we cannot be responsible for any issues relating to unsupported computers.

This often results in students wasting large amounts of valuable time: your time is more valuable than the money you save buying a cheap laptop. Please purchase a recommended configuration for your program.

What about XYZ brand of laptop?

We can't say whether another brand laptop may or may not be a good deal or good hardware to use. We evaluate all the computers we recommend and listen carefully to student feedback. We keep in mind that you will have this computer for three to four years. We recommend you purchase the recommended Microsoft Surface, Dell or Apple MacBook Pro.