Knowledgebase: Hardware
Laptop Program: Recommended PC Laptop
Updated: 08 November 2019 10:52 AM

Related: Purchasing Advice

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

Microsoft Surface Book 2: Best Option for Recommended Programs

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

Minimum: Surface Book 2 – 13.5" / 256GB / Intel Core i5 (8th Gen) or better

We recommend purchasing the Surface Book with a minimum of an i5 (8th Gen) processor and 8GB of RAM. There are more expensive models available and these provide more RAM and storage.

  • 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8350U quad-core processor, 3.6GHz Max Turbo
  • Intel® HD Graphics 620 integrated GPU (on Intel® i5-8350U model)
  • 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

Better: Surface Book 2 – 13.5" / 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 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

BEST: 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 Pro 6

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. The i7 model is similar in price to the Surface Book 2 (i5).
  • 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 X: OCAD University does not recommend the Surface Pro X: do not buy the Surface Pro X.

Surface Pro


Dell Precision 5530

Best option for any 3D CAD/CAM work.

The only laptop we recommend (Apple and PC) that supports Solidworks Realview is the Dell Precision 5530. Lack of Realview will not prevent you work getting your work done. Industrial Design students should consider this model.

"The Dell Precision 5530 is a Quadro powered workstation in the body of an XPS 9570"Ultrabook

What sets the Dell Precision 5530 apart from all the other laptops on this list is that it ships with a NVidia Quadro P2000 graphics card. Quadro is NVidia's workstation class card certified for use with Autodesk's CAD products, and is optimized for CAD/CAM.

Dell Precision 5530

Dell Precision 5530 2-in-1

The Dell 5530 15 2-in-1 is a fantastic laptop that you can flip around and draw on the screen: perfect for an OCAD U student. Unfortunately, the Dell Active Pen is not included in the box.

Zdnet Dell Precision 5530 15 2-in-1 Review

"The Dell Precision 5530 2-in-1 workstation is a nicely engineered workstation-class laptop."


Dell Precision Laptop Dell Precision 2-in-1 Laptop


New Dell Precision 5540

New Version of the Dell Precision 5530: still great for 3D CAD/CAM work.

The new Dell Precision 5540 is shipping with 6-core and 8-core 9th Generation Intel Processors and Quadro T1000 or T2000 graphics. While it packs a bit more power, it's not currently subject to some of the discounts available on the 5530.


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

Here is our minimum recommended specification for older PC models.

We recommend you talk to the Help Desk before buying a machine. Based on our surveys, students are generally happier with the laptops we recommend. These two charts show satisfaction for our recommended models (first) and any other laptop (second):

laptop satisfaction laptop satisfaction other models

If your system is not a recommended system we offer little support for it:

  • We cannot image your laptop nor install Windows operating system on your laptop
  • We make a best effort troubleshoot issues brought to us, but generally we will redirect users to their own manufacturer for support.
  • We repair Apple laptops on site. The Dell models are either return to depot or on-site warranties. If you purchase a Microsoft warranty, the Microsoft Store at the Eaton Centre can assist you.

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.