Computing and Information Services
Texas A&M University
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Student Computer FAQ

Do I have to bring my own computer?

No. Texas A&M recommends all students have a personal computer if it is financially feasible, but it is not required. CIS offers a full range of computing equipment in the Open Access Labs, so that resources needed for classwork should be available to students.

Why is owning a computer recommended?

Computers are an integral part of education at Texas A&M. Students have to write papers, search the Internet, access email, view online class material and do many other things that require a computer. Acquisition of information technology skills also are seen as a major part of higher education. While several hundred machines are available in the labs for student use, most students find having their own computers far more convenient than completely relying on those in the labs.

Do I need to buy a new computer?

No. Texas A&M does not require students to own a specific model of computer. However, students are encouraged to talk to their academic advisor about any departmental requirements, check on requirements to connect to ResNet, and make sure the computer can run the software needed to complete classwork.

Should I bring a Mac or PC?

Texas A&M and CIS make no recommendations as to which computer platform students should bring. If all other factors are equal, bring the one with which you are the most comfortable. However, while there is no campus-wide preference on platform, students are encouraged to talk to the academic advisor for their department, because some colleges and departments do have platform preferences.

Should I bring a laptop or desktop?

Desktops and laptops are both widely used on campus. They both present their own advantages and disadvantages. Desktops tend to be cheaper and offer higher computing performance. Laptops, on the other hand, are portable and offer the advantage of wireless connectivity from most areas on campus.

While Texas A&M does not have a campus-wide recommendation, talk to your academic advisor, because some departments do have preferences.

Should I bring a printer?

Professional quality black-and-white and color printing is available in the Open Access Labs around campus. Depending on printing needs, even if a student exceeds the semester printing quota, the cost to print on campus through the labs is often less than purchasing a printer, ink, paper, etc. The one major advantage of having your own printer is its availability for printing out rough drafts and having print outs readily available without having to walk to one of the labs.

What is required to connect my computer to ResNet?

If you are living on campus and want to connect to the residential network (ResNet), make sure you have the following items for your computer:

An Ethernet card
A computer needs an Ethernet card or NIC to be able to connect to the Internet. The card should be auto-sensing 10/100 Base-T and have an RJ-45 connection (this may be the same thing you already have hooked up to your cable modem or DSL at home). Almost all new computers already have one installed. If your computer does not have an Ethernet card, most major electronics retailers carry them.

An Ethernet cable
A Category (or CAT)-5, 5E, or -6 twisted-pair Ethernet cable with RJ-45 connections that is 15 to 20 feet long* (but not longer than 20 feet) is required. These cables should be available at any electronics or computer store.

*The reason for this length is that there are two Ethernet jacks in each room (one for each occupant), and both of the jacks are in the same spot in the room. Typically, one desk is a lot closer to the connections than the other, so one resident usually ends up having to "snake" some cable around furniture or corners to connect it to the computer.

What do I need to connect to A&M's wireless network?

Wireless Internet access (called TAMULink) requires that your laptop be equipped with a wireless networking card that is IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi compliant. Cards can be found at most computing retail stores or added by your vendor when buying a new computer.

Why is wireless not allowed in residence halls?

Unapproved attachment of wireless access points is strictly prohibited in Texas A&M residence halls. These devices cause major disruptions and security risks in ResNet and cause outages for fellow students. Any access point found active on ResNet can cause the port to be disabled and the user will need to contact Help Desk Central to re-enable connection. IF you disable the wireless feature, you are permitted to have routers, printers, DVD/Blu-ray players, game consoles, etc.

Can you fix my computer if it breaks?

Maybe, it depends on what is wrong with it. The first step is to figure out what the problem is. For this kind of diagnosis we recommend calling Help Desk Central at 979.845.8300. They are open 24/7 and can talk you through most problems. They also have technicians who focus on hardware and connectivity issues that require a more hands-on approach to the situation.

For a modest charge Help Desk Central Repair can do limited troubleshooting and installation of software and some hardware. Also, students, faculty and staff can take advantage of the university's warranty service for personally owned Dell or Apple computers through Help Desk Central. Please call 979.845.8300 for assistance.

What about software?

Until you get into specialized classes, most students will only need the basics when it comes to software. Web browsers and email clients can easily be downloaded from the Internet. Office Suite, Windows upgrades, antivirus software, and more can be obtained at steep discounts (or even at no charge!) from the university at Some site licensed software is also available to students through the Texas A&M Software Center.

What other accessories would be useful?

New computer accessories are coming on to the market all the time. Some of these are just toys, but some can be of real benefit.

  • USB/Flash Thumb drives allow you to keep a backup copy of your work that is portable and can be carried with you wherever you go.