TechCyte FAQs


Hardware Sales

What brands of computers do you sell? What kind of discounts can I get as a student?

At TechCyte, we offer discounted computers and tablet from Apple, Dell, and Microsoft. Students are eligible to purchase these as soon as they've received their acceptance letter and their University ID has been issued. Discounts vary among manufacturers and products. On most machines, the discount ranges from 10 to 15 percent off the retail price. Any system from Dell comes with Windows pre-installed, but Office must be downloaded separately.

Should I buy a computer now or closer to when school starts?

There are strong arguments on both sides here. Some retailers will tell you that the longer you wait, the more technology improves, and prices will go down. TechCyte recommends buying after the spring revisions (usually early June) to allow more time to get familiar with your new computer. Plus, it's one more thing off your plate when classes start!

What type of computer is recommended for my major?

Most laptops and desktops that TechCyte carries in stock will work for any major. To help narrow down your choices we provide our #MAJORSUCCESS to guide you based on your major. The most important factor of purchasing a computer is not necessarily what your major is though, but how you will be using your computer. Since each student is unique, we try to work with each student to determine a computer that will best fit their needs. If you can’t make it in to the store, give us a call during business hours or send us an email any time and we'll help figure out the best computer for your needs.

What do you know about the College of Design's Laptop Lease Program (LLP)?

Upon acceptance into the design program at the end of the first year, students can choose to participate in the LLP. This allows students to pay for a laptop on a per-semester basis. It includes the design software for your specific area of study as well as technical support and updates. The LLP is not required, and other options are available for students who do not wish to participate in the program. Click here for more information about the College of Design Laptop Lease Program.

Microsoft Office

What is the difference between Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office?

Windows is an Operating System. It provides the foundation on top of which all other programs run. Office is a productivity suite, a set of programs which must be installed on your computer to use (any system from Dell comes with only Windows pre-installed). Microsoft Office programs include Word, Excel, and Power Point, which run on top of an operating system, just like any other program on your computer. Microsoft Office is available for Windows and Apple computers.

Where can I get Microsoft Office, Windows Operating System, etc.?

Office 365 ProPlus for Students is a FREE add-on for Office 365 that the university has access to as part of the Student Advantage program. Students can log in to Office 365, see their ProPlus license, and download the latest version of Office (currently 2013 for Windows and 2016 for Mac) for free. Office 365 will work on Windows, Mac, and mobile devices. Requires an active ISU email address.

Other Software Questions

Are there alternatives to Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office?

Alternatives to the Windows OS include Apple's MacOS, which is only available on Apple computers. Linux is not typically recommended for use by most students. Competitors to Microsoft Office include iWork, available for Apple devices, and OpenOffice, available for any operating system.

Can Macs run Windows?

All of the Intel-based Macs (Apple computers released after mid-2006) are capable of running Windows. There are a number of different methods available. Apple’s Boot Camp is available for free through Apple and gives you an option upon startup to choose which operating system you want to boot into. Virtualization software such as Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion allow you to run MacOS and Windows simultaneously and are both available to ISU students.

What software do I need and what about virus protection?

Every student will need Microsoft Office - free for students with Office 365. Some students will need specific software packages for their major, but instructors will usually inform you of what you need once classes start. Much of this recommended software can be purchased at TechCyte at an educational price or is available free for students. View the IT Software for Students site for more information.

For virus protection, is recommended that you are using the most recent version of Mac OS or Windows to keep your computer secure. Both of these systems offer built in anti-virus and malware detection - you just need to make sure they are enabled and kept up to date.

I've heard that software availability for Macs isn't as good as PCs. Is this true?

Most students will find that a Mac runs all the software they will ever need. Microsoft Office is available for Macs, as is the Firefox browser, iTunes, and every kind of instant messaging.


What kind of Internet connection does the University provide for on-campus housing?

Wired and wireless internet is now available in all on-campus residence halls. Wireless connections are available in both common areas and student rooms. Students are strongly discouraged from setting up a wireless router or access point as it interferes with the other wireless networks in the residence halls. If you require more than two Ethernet connections in your room, it is acceptable to use a wired router. Setting it up correctly is critical to network functionality. If you aren’t sure how to do this, ask for help by contacting the IT Solution Center!

Wi-Fi is available across nearly all of the ISU campus, including many outdoor spaces.

Service & Repair

If I have a problem with my computer, where can I get it fixed?

Technology service and repair is available on campus through the TechCyte Service Center right here in the Iowa State University Book Store. More specifically, we are an authorized repair center (in-warranty and out-of-warranty) for Apple and Dell computers.
Click here for more information about our authorized service center.