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Students - Shopping List

Basic Student Shopping List

The university recommends that all students have the following items at the start of their time at CU Boulder:

  • Computer with Dual Band spectrum (2.4 GHZ and 5 GHz) 802.11n or 802.11ac for Wi-Fi networks
  • CAT 6 cable for wired internet
  • Surge protector
  • Antivirus software
  • iClicker remote (if directed by professor)
  • Free (including Office 365) and discounted software (including Adobe Creative Cloud) via campus software licensing


OIT has a set of minimum configuration recommendations for student computer ownership. Visit the Computer Purchase Recommendations to make sure your computer is properly equipped for your academic needs.

The CU Book Store has academic pricing available through many hardware manufacturers, including Dell, Lenovo, and Apple. Additionally, students can buy discount computers through the Dell member purchase program.

If you're purchasing a used computer or bringing one from home, be sure to check OIT’s Supported Software and Hardware lists to make sure it's supportable.

Chromebooks, iPads and Tablets

For most students, Chromebooks, iPads and other tablets are likely not suitable as replacement for a laptop during their college career at CU Boulder. These devices offer a limited application experience for software programs required by some classes.

Connecting to the Internet

Wired network connection

A CAT 6 cable is strongly recommended for easy connection to the ResNet Ethernet jack in residence hall rooms and family housing residences.

Students living in the residence halls and university apartments (family housing and Bear Creek) have access to the university's high-speed Wired Internet. To connect, you will need to bring or purchase an Ethernet cable.

Wireless network connection

Computers with Dual Band spectrum (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) 802.11n or 802.11ac are required for full compatibility with campus Wi-Fi networks.

CU Boulder students have access to UCB wireless networks and eduroam Secure Wireless to connect to the Internet. UCB Wireless is available in most university buildings on main campus and residence halls. Visit the Network and Internet Services page for information about connecting to Wi-Fi, using a secure connection and other network configuration information.

*Note: Students are prohibited from using their own wireless access points in the residence halls or university apartments. Contact the IT Service Center for questions and proper etiquette when using campus wireless.


With over 50 printing stations strategically placed around campus and multiple ways to print and pay, printing and scanning your documents is convenient and easy.

If you are bringing a printer to the residence halls and university apartments, OIT recommends USB wired printers for the most consistent operation. Wi-Fi printers are not recommended as they can degrade the Wi-Fi connection for users in the vicinity of the printer.


Protect yourself by keeping your computer's antivirus software up to date with any needed patches and disabling file sharing. Antivirus protection is available at no charge for students.

Software Downloads

CU Boulder offers a variety of software to students at low or no cost. Before purchasing software, check the Software Catalog for available low-cost offerings.

Adobe Creative Cloud

We provide heavily discounted pricing for Adobe Creative Cloud annual subscriptions for students. Available applications include Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere, Creative Cloud Express, Fonts and more.

Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 software is available at no cost to students. Available applications include Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, and more.

Surge protection

OIT recommends students use surge protectors to protect your technology from the consequences of a power surge. Surge protectors can be purchased at the CU Book Store or other retailers.


CUClicker or iClickers are handheld devices that allow students to respond to in-class concept questions. Clickers are becoming more commonly used, but it is highly recommended that you wait to buy a clicker until attending your classes and getting direction from your instructor. In some cases you may be able to use the iClicker student app to vote in class, using mobile devices such as phones, tablets, or laptop computers. Please check with your instructor before assuming this is possible.

On-Campus Resources 

CU Book Store

The CU Book Store offers computer hardware, software and accessories, a wide range of calculators, headphones, cables, adapters and other electronic goods. Located in the University Memorial Center (UMC), the CU Book Store Tech Department has computer and other product demos, rental laptops and a repair service partner, as well as staff to help with all your technology needs.  For location, hours of operation, and purchasing information, visit the CU Book Store's website.

IT Service Center

Contact the IT Service Center at or 303-735-4357 for help with all OIT services, such as email and IdentiKey, Internet connectivity, telephone service and other technology-related questions or problems.

Walk-in Desktop Support

OIT’s Buff Techs walk-in centers provide support to all campus affiliates for university and personally owned computing equipment on a first-come, first-served basis at our walk-in centers in the Center for Academic Success and Engagement (CASE) room E276 and Norlin Commons.

Office of Information Security 

Office of Information Security provides security training, awareness and resources for keeping your data and devices secure.

Look for OIT during New Student Welcome

Representatives from OIT will be present at New Student Welcome Days to answer any questions you might have about purchasing computers, connecting to the Internet, telephones for on-campus residents, email accounts, and getting support for everything technology related.