Recommended IT equipment specifications for ICAS students
We recommend that ICAS students use their personal computers instead of employer-supplied devices. Discover our minimum IT technical specifications and our advice for students.
We recommend that, whenever possible, students use their personal computers (laptops, desktops or MacBooks) for ICAS courses and assessments.
That’s because employer-supplied devices sometimes have security restrictions that can block installation and updates of the software required by ICAS.
All computers should be tested in advance
Students can use an employer-supplied computer if necessary. However, as with all computers, it’s the student’s responsibility to test in advance and ensure they have a device that works with the recommended ICAS software.
For example, our assessment guidance, which is found in the Fundamentals modules on Advantage, notes that students should log into the assessment platform and take the Essential Onboarding Test before each set of assessments.
Our minimum technical specifications
As illustrated by the minimum technical specification below, most reasonably up-to-date laptops, desktops and MacBooks will be adequately equipped for ICAS use.
- Browser: The most up-to-date version of Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge that the device will allow.
- Operating System: Windows 10 or macOS 10.13.6.
- CPU: 1GHz or higher.
- RAM: 2GB (64-bit) RAM.
- Hard-disk drive: 16GB of free hard-disk space.
- Internet connection: Upload and download of at least 1MBps.
(Please note, these are the minimum specifications. Any improvement on these will provide an enhanced experience.)
Our buyer’s guide
Here’s some helpful guidance from our IT team for any ICAS student seeking to purchase a computer, either new or used/refurbished.
The features listed below should deliver a device that lasts for the longer term, whilst also providing good value for money.
Processor: The 13th Gen Intel Core i5 is now probably the standard choice for most people. It delivers good performance for most computing requirements without going overboard in terms of power and cost. If on a strict budget, you could opt for an Intel Core i3 or a lower-end AMD processor. While it won't be as powerful as an i5, it should suffice for everyday tasks.
RAM: A laptop with 4GB of RAM will work well for most basic tasks. However, it could be a little sluggish with more demanding applications, especially if you’re performing more resource-intensive calculations or data-modelling. For those activities we’d recommend aiming for 8GB if possible.
Storage: A 256GB SSD is a cost-effective choice - you don't need a large amount of storage, and this will provide the speed benefits of an SSD while keeping costs down.
Operating system: Windows 10 is generally the more affordable alternative to Windows 11. It still supports most software and applications and will likely be supported and updated for several years to come. However, if you’re purchasing a new device, it would make sense to get Windows 11 wherever possible, as this operating system will be better supported longer term.
Screen: We wouldn’t recommend anything less than a 14-inch screen. Please remember the bigger the screen, the heavier the laptop will be. This will largely be about personal choice.
Graphics: Integrated graphics, such as Intel UHD Graphics, are suitable for ICAS use. You’ll not need separate graphics unless you also intend to use your laptop for photo/video editing or gaming.
USB: Look for a laptop with at least two USB-A ports and one USB-C. These are common even in budget laptops.
Wireless and Bluetooth: Wireless and Bluetooth are typically standard features in laptops across all price ranges.
Camera: A 720p HD camera is now the standard for most laptops in the budget segment. This will ensure you have clear and reliable video communication during any virtual classes or proctored exams.
Where to get a good price: The last piece of advice from our IT team would be to consider outlets and refurbished deals. These often provide budget-friendly laptops that have similar guarantees to ones available on the high street.
Some sites to look at include: