Architecture Computer Requirements

(Updated April 2018)

Architecture undergraduate students must have their own computer by the Fall Semester of their second year.

Architecture graduate students must have their own computer by the Fall Semester of their first year.

Windows-capable computers are strongly recommended for Architecture students.

The School of Architecture at North Carolina State University sees computers and digital media as powerful tools through which architectural ideas can be developed, presented, explored and evaluated. As such, the computer and its associated technology broaden the repertoire of media available to the designer. The Architecture faculty believes that students should be proficient in the use of all available media, from pencil and paper to virtual reality, and should be able to knowingly switch from one mode of design work to another with ease.

Architecture students are introduced to computers as design tools in the Fall Semester of their sophomore year of the undergraduate (BEDA) curriculum, or first semester of the graduate program. Before that, undergraduate students are introduced to conventional design tools in First Year Experience design studios.

The Architecture faculty realizes that computers are as useful in a variety of learning environments (lecture and seminar rooms, travel studies, and even at home), as well as the design studio. To be equally viable with traditional media in varied settings, the technology must be fully portable. Therefore, the School of Architecture requires that students purchase a Windows-capable laptop personal computer and associated software as listed below. Undergraduate students should have the computers ready to use for required coursework at the beginning of the Fall Semester of their sophomore year. Graduate students should have their computer ready to use for required coursework at the beginning of their first semester.

The Architecture faculty prefers not to base hardware specifications on a particular operating system, but on the capabilities that are needed to support the necessary software. Computers using Windows 10 Pro Edition operating system are recommended for the School of Architecture because of software requirements. Below are the minimum technical specifications for student computers in the School of Architecture.

Apple Macintosh computers allow both Macintosh and Windows software to run on the same computer using a dual-boot system. Other options for running Windows applications on a Macintosh using virtualization software are available. We consider the dual-boot method the better option for our students because dual-boot provides better performance than virtualization. Some of our students are choosing to use dual-boot Macintosh computers instead of Windows-only computers. Students interested in running Windows on a Macintosh computer are encouraged to speak with the College of Design Information Technology staff. Please note the cost of Windows operating system and Windows software will be in addition to Macintosh software. Information for obtaining a free student license of Windows 10 Pro is available here.

Each department in the College of Design has different computer requirements. Please read the College’s Student Computing Requirements Information page for general information before spending money on computer hardware or software.

We recommend that your computer meet or exceed the specifications below. A computer with greater capability (processor speed, RAM, disk capacity) and expandability will be more likely to continue to run required software in later years of college.

This chart provides minimum recommendations for students purchasing new computers. Software requirements are listed at the bottom of the chart. Additional specialized software may be required in other courses, as determined by the instructor. Students may consider the purchase of other software to support their particular goals and learning styles.

Components Windows Laptop Macintosh Laptop
CPU (Processor) or Model Any model using Intel Core i7 or newer processors. MacBook Pro, any current 15″ model
System RAM
16 GB minimum, more preferred 16 GB minimum, more preferred
Hard Drive (Storage)
512 GB SSD or 750 GB/7200 RPM minimum, more preferred 512 GB SSD or 750 GB/7200 RPM minimum, more preferred
Monitor/Display
15″ minimum
(second external monitor recommended, but optional)
15″ minimum
(second external monitor recommended, but optional)
Video Adapter (Graphics Card)
1 GB VRAM minimum, more preferred 1 GB VRAM minimum, more preferred
Operating System Windows 10 Pro Edition  (Not “Home” versions) Mac OS X version 10.13 or later
Audio 100% Windows compliant sound card Built-in
Network Adapters
Wi-Fi is included. Wired ethernet adapter and ethernet cable recommended for faster connections in studio. Wi-Fi is included. Wired ethernet adapter and ethernet cable recommended for faster connections in studio.
External Hard
Drive for Back-ups
An external drive at least as large as your computer’s internal drive for backing up your computer.
Warranty Service minimum 3-year onsite parts and labor or third-party loss/damage coverage 3-year AppleCare Protection Plan or third-party loss/damage coverage
Software

Be sure to check for educational discounts through the College of Design or NCSU Bookstores.

Many Autodesk products are available free through Autodesk’s Education Community.

Information for obtaining a free student license of Windows 10 Pro is available here.

Additional software may be required for certain courses.

Microsoft Office 365
(free for NCSU students)

Autodesk AutoCAD 2018 or later (NOT LT version)• Adobe Creative Cloud

MultiFrame is required after first year for ARC331 and ARC332.

Macintosh-compatible Software:

Microsoft Office 365
(free for NCSU students)• Adobe Creative Cloud

Autodesk AutoCAD for Mac is available, but may not have all the features of AutoCAD for Windows. Windows version recommended.

Windows-compatible Software:

Microsoft Windows 10 Pro Edition (in addition to Mac OS X) and Windows-compatible software of your choosing. (You do not need to have the same software applications for both operating systems.)

Autodesk AutoCAD 2018 or later (NOT LT version)

MultiFrame is required after first year for ARC331 and ARC332. MultiFrame does not run in Mac OS X. Users will have to install Windows operating system.

Questions?

The College’s Information Technology staff will be glad to go over purchase choices or answer any related questions. You can send an email to design_help@ncsu.edu or use this form to contact the College Information Technology staff with specific information about your problem.