SMIS MS/HS Laptop Selections

St. Mary's does not specify which type of PC or operating system students must purchase.  Windows and Macs are both fine choices.  Instead, we specify minimum requirements that the laptop must meet.  Almost any laptop purchased within the last two years will meet these specifications. Please ensure the following, however:
  • it must have modern WIFI capabilities (WIFI 4 and 5)
  • it must have an English OS: Windows (8.1 or 10) or MacOS are recommended
  • Microsoft Office is also a requirement but the school provides a free copy to all enrolled students
  • Students also receive an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription (purchasing Photoshop or Illustrator with your laptop is not necessary)
  • We have Apple TVs in each classroom that allows for collaboration among the students and teachers.  The minimum hardware requirements to use this feature are OSX MacBook Air or Pro (Mid 2011 or later) 2GB RAM.  The minimum requirements for a Windows PC are Windows 7 with 2GB RAM and installing AirParrot - this is not a requirement but something to note that a Windows PC does not come ready for use with Apple TV.

The choice comes down to the individual 
student and his needs. The majority of our students (about 95%) currently choose Macs. Those that choose a Windows PC tend to do so for one of three reasons: One: They like the particular model or brand such as the Microsoft Surface. Two: They find a PC offers more value for money. and/or Three: Students who have a high interest in computer programming, robotics and technology sometimes choose a Windows PC as it is arguably better suited for this due to compatibility with software and hardware.  An Apple product is also a good choice. Which model, again, depends on individual preference, needs and interests.

If the student is looking for a computer that will meet his day-to-day school needs then a MacBook Air or MacBook will certainly be a suitable choice. Costwise the Air is the most affordable and its portability for everyday use is a huge benefit. The MacBook is even lighter (only 0.92 kg) and comes in different colours, if that is important. The biggest differences here between the Air and the newer MacBook is that the MacBook has the 'Retina' display and thus looks better.  It is also has a slower processor but has longer battery life as a result which is nice to get through the whole school day and then some. 
So, if the student just needs a computer for everyday school work the MacBook is the way to go with the MacBook Air being a more affordable alternative.
Now, if the student is more of a serious computer user who perhaps is looking to do a whole lot of video editing or multitasking then a MacBook Pro is good choice.  However, it tends to be quite heavy (up to 2 kg) and can make an already loaded book bag that much heavier. 
In any event, an English keyboard (needs to be ordered) and English OS (comes installed - just needs to be set) are highly recommended for any choice.

Should you decide to purchase an Apple product, be sure to take advantage of the special discount offered to St. Mary's students available at this link.


Macbook Pro 13-inch


1.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
8GB 2133MHz memory/128GB SSD
True Tone Retina Display

Windows PC (Example Only)

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

  • Intel Core i5, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM
  • 13.5-inch touchscreen display