HMS Student Laptop Requirements & Recommendations

All MD and DMD students are required to own a laptop that meets the following minimum system requirements for exam software:

Mac (OSX 10.11) or PC (Windows 10) laptop with an Intel i5 1.86Ghz processor, a 13" screen, 4GB of RAM, and a 256GB hard drive.

The Harvard Medical School IT strongly suggests the following recommended system requirements for an optimal computing experience:

Mac (OSX 10.13) or PC (Windows 10) laptop with an Intel i7 2.0Ghz processor, a 13"-15" screen, 8Gb -16GB of RAM, and a 512GB or better hard drive. An extended service plan (such as AppleCare) is advisable. A second AC adapter (power supply) is handy if the original is lost or damaged.

Exam software requirements information:

Examplify Requirements for PC, Mac, and iPad. Download Examplify here. Note that Windows 7/8, Mac OSX 10.9/10.10, and iOS 8/9 are no longer supported. According to ExamSoft, the Examplify software will still work on those operating systems, but ExamSoft will stop doing active testing and bug fixes for their software on those operating systems. See the links for detailed information.

NBME SHELF exam Frequently Asked Questions.

Note that most exam software requires a minimum screen size of 13 inches and/or a minimum resolution of 1024 x768.

When purchasing a laptop, please note that some models are less upgradeable than others. One such example is the Macbook Air. Plan on buying a computer that will last the duration that you need, even if this means a slight increase in price, since you may not be able to upgrade (add more RAM or a larger hard drive) later.

Borrowing Computers

The HMS IT Computer Resource Center offers loaner computers to HMS students under the following circumstances:

  • Exam loaner: When a student's personal computer is unable to pass the necessary exam qualifications or is otherwise unsuitable to run the exam software, we can offer a loaner computer during the exam.  This computer is returned at the end of the exam.
  • Repair loaner: When an HMS student's personal computer is undergoing repairs at a repair facility, the HMS IT Computer Resource Center can offer a temporary loaner computer for up to 7 days while the personal computer is being repaired.  This computer is returned within 7 days, or when the personal computer repair has been completed, whichever is first.

Important: The Student Loaner Computer Service is limited to HMS MD and HSDM DMD Students only.  Faculty, staff, FAS/HST and other program students are not eligible for this service.

For more information about the Student Loaner Computer Service, please email itservicedesk@hms.harvard.edu or stop by the HMS IT Computer Resource Center located in TMEC 225.

Purchasing Non-Standard Computers

If you need to purchase a non-standard computer for specific research or multimedia needs please contact your local departmental client services representative or the HMS IT Service Desk at 617-432-2000 prior to purchasing. There are many configuration options available for both Apple and Dell. Your client services representative will be able to guide you through the process of selecting the appropriate computer and configuration to meet your needs.