I originally thought that you’d always want to have the most powerful hardware available to teach with and software to match it. After reading the text book and dealing with the curriculum from other assignments now, I would argue that in the junior years access is what’s more important. All the information is there that we could ever need and most computers are fast enough today to handle any website used in class. In the senior years though I would shift back to my original thought as simulations and processing demands would increase.
I typically like using free software when learning new ideas and concepts as it allows you to cover the basics and if you want to go into more detail at least you won’t get overwhelmed. Hardware is not as forgiving though especially with the rise of non customisable devices (tablets, phones ect.) and thinking 2-5 yrs from now is more useful.