Computers for Incoming Students FAQ
Q) What is PCI?
A) PCI stands for Personal Computer Initiative. It is our effort to provide incoming freshmen with computers that fit the requirements of their departments.
Q) What kind of computer do I need?
A) Every department has different requirements. You can find the computer requirements for your major at www.compreq.vt.edu. All students will need at least a computer with a dual-core Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 250 GB 7200 rpm Hard drive or Solid-State Drive. Some students may require more than this, or may need specific computer models. Check with your advisor or department head for specific information.
Q) How are your prices compared to other companies?
A) Most of our computers are sold for less than standard educational pricing. In most cases, that can mean a savings of several hundred dollars! In addition to this, we sell our computers in "packages" for incoming freshmen. That means through us you are getting the laptop, a 25ft Ethernet cable, and the computer's 3 or 4-year warranty with accidental damage protection (plus our University Bookstore Priority Service!) all at a single low price. Please note that Apple computers do not come with accidental damage protection. When you compare our prices with other vendors, be sure to compare the contents of the entire package and the complete technical specifications of the computers.
Q) Can't I just get a $500 laptop directly from a manufacturer?
A) All students are discouraged from purchasing low-end and standard consumer models. There are several reasons for this: Most consumer-grade laptops do not meet the university standard computer requirements, which means the computer may not run the required programs as effectively as they should. In addition to this, many consumer-grade laptops are made with desktop or budget parts, which have a higher failure rate than is normal. When you get to college, you'll be using your laptop every day for every class, and you're going to want it to be as dependable as possible.
At the University Bookstore, all of our models are business-class quality. That means they have a lower failure rate than standard consumer models. Furthermore, all of our laptops meet or exceed the university requirements, leaving you with nothing to worry about. In addition to this, we service every computer that we sell on the terms of the manufacturer's warranty, which is included with every computer bundle. Lastly, our bundles have a built-in, lower than educational discount to offset the cost. These are just a few of the things we do to serve you as you settle in to your new life as a college student.
Q) What is "University Bookstore Priority Service"?
A) This is a service that you purchase with your computer bundle through the bookstore. It allows students to request a loaner laptop from the Service Center after they turn in their laptop for repair.
Loaners are typically given after a diagnostic is finished and a time of repair is determined. If the laptop repair can be done in 3 days or less, the student normally does not require a loaner. However, some repairs may take longer than this, especially in the case of ordered parts! To offset this, students with our Priority Service (computers purchased from the University Bookstore) may request loaners from the Service Center. For more info on loaner computers, see our Service Center webpage.
Q) What electronic items do I need on my first day of school?
A) Every department has their own computer requirements, so computers may vary widely between departments. However, there are some things they all have in common. All departments require a laptop computer, an external hard drive, and a flash drive.
Some other things you may need include: A power-strip with surge protector, a laptop backpack, a laptop lock, a printer, and Ethernet cable. All of these things can be found at the University Bookstore on campus.
For more information about university computer requirements, please click here.
Q) How does ordering a computer work? Will you have stock during orientation?
You may place an order with our order center via telephone, or you may order online. We require at least a $200 deposit, up to the value of what you purchase. When you pick up your order, either during orientation or August move-in, you will pay the remaining balance.
A) We will have some stock of computers for general purchase during the orientation, but it is best to reserve your computer as soon as possible to ensure that you have it before classes. Do not wait too long!
Q) Do you offer a payment plan or layaway?
A) We do not offer any manner of payment plan or layaway. We are a standard retail store that accepts credit card, debit, Hokie Passport funds, or cash. Our rental option for computers can help you split the payments on your computer over one year, with a buyout option at the end of the spring semester. Please call us for more details on this program.
Q) Can I use my scholarship money or financial aid to pay for my computer?
A) At this time, we have no way of accessing scholarship funds or financial aid accounts. The best way is to have your scholarship association or financial aid office write you a check, or reimburse you for the amount of the computer that you intend to purchase. When estimating cost of attendance for incoming students, a $2,500 increase is considered to help pay for the purchase of a computer. This will be reflected in your financial aid package. Please contact the Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid for more details.
Q) Can I upgrade a computer in a bundle? Can I increase the RAM of HD capacity?
A) Altering our laptops offered in our bundles would increase the cost of the computer. We are happy to place special orders or sell individual computers, but doing so during the orientation and back-to-school season will delay your order and may increase the price. As such, you cannot order a computer with such upgrades included.
However, we are happy to order extra RAM after the computer is purchased, and we'll even install it for you!
Q) I've placed my order online, but I haven't been charged yet. When will I be charged for the computer?
A) All of our orders require at least a $200 deposit. However, the computer is not fully charged until the computer is picked up during orientation or August move-in.
Q) Where do I get my software package? When do I get Microsoft Office?
A) As an incoming freshman, you will receive your software bundles at the end of summer orientation, at the same time you get your Hokie Passports. Your tuition bill will include the charge for software. You should only buy software from the University Bookstore if you can't get it otherwise from Software Distribution or directly from the university.
Q) Can I still get Windows XP on my laptop?
A) Usually, no. The university may offer some services in this regard, but XP cannot be commercially purchased any longer. Keep in mind that Virginia Tech students get a free upgrade to Windows 8 when they enroll and purchase an undergraduate student bundle.
Q) Should I get a portable hard drive instead of a desktop external drive?
A) For most students, the portable memory in the required flash drive will be more then enough to transport important documents. However, film students, graphic design students, and anyone with high-memory transportation demands (such as movie clips or multiple high-quality printing projects) may want to consider a portable hard drive to meet their needs. The portable hard drive is more expensive than a desktop one, but it will allow for more flexibility between classes.
Q) What is a laptop lock? Why do I need one?
A) A laptop lock is like a bike lock for your laptop. It plugs into a special connection on the back of side of the laptop and then wraps around a desk or other fixture, then locks into place, either with a key or a combination lock. This helps prevent theft of laptop computers on campus. After all you've spent on your computer, you want to be sure it's safe!
Q) Why do I need a laptop backpack?
A) A laptop backpack has a special sleeve specifically for a laptop, in addition to it's normal pouches and compartments. This is essential for students at Virginia Tech because the padded sleeves help to protect the computer during travel. A computer in a normal backpack will jostle and could become damaged, or may even lose data if the computer is asleep! A backpack with a built-in padded computer sleeve will solve that problem. Be sure to get one with plenty of padding on the bottom, in case you accidentally drop your backpack once you get to class.
Q) Can I get a Mac if I am a business major?
A) Macs will run Windows through "bootcamp," "Parallels," or "VMWare Fusion," and anything that runs Windows will meet the business requirements. However, the business department recommends that students buy a PC laptop, not a Mac. That is because Mac students may require more assistance in getting started. The University Bookstore recommends that you purchase the laptop that best fits the requirements and recommendations of your department.