It's not essential to have a laptop or PC: we provide all the software you'll need in student computer rooms. There are large computer rooms dedicated to Engineering both in Queens Building and in the Merchant Venturers' Building. You also have access to many other computer rooms around the University. We do our best to keep these open as much as possible, including one with 24-hour access.
Meanwhile, many of you will want to bring your own computers, often laptops, and I'm often asked what sort of laptop would be suitable. We do not recommend (or advise against) any particular brand of laptop, nor do we have any recommended specification.
One caveat: to support your first year course in CAD, you can get a free student-licensed version of the Autodesk Inventor software we use, and that only works on Windows. (It can be made to work on a Mac, but it sounds like a pain: you need to run it with an emulator, and there are rumours of file compatibility issues if you bring work back to a Windows PC. No-one's ever asked me if it'd run on Linux and I don't fancy the odds.) Of course, you can still use the same software in our computer rooms.
The university runs a walk-in student laptop and mobile clinic that can assist with both Windows and Mac software problems. As well as general issues, they'd be able to help you connect to University services such as campus WiFi, student filestores and remote desktop access. They can also help with smartphones as well as laptops.