Art+Design Computer Requirements

(Updated March 2019)

Art+Design undergraduate and graduate students must have their own computer by the Fall Semester of their first year.

Windows-capable computers are strongly recommended. (Windows computers or Macintosh computers with Boot Camp and Windows 10 Pro are acceptable.)

The Department of Art+Design requires purchase of computers by all its students by the first semester of their first year to start their exploration of technology as a creative medium for art and design.

Undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Art+Design have the opportunity to learn and be creative with a wide-range of computer-based software applications and technologies, including graphic design, drawing and illustration, motion graphics and visual effects, animation, web design, game design, interactive media, programming for artists and designers, writing, print media design, 3D modeling, digital and material fabrication, and more.

Higher-end Windows computers that can handle intense processing and rendering are strongly recommended to cover a breadth of creative computational practices. Students should avoid purchasing computers with integrated graphics processors and are encouraged to select NVidia graphics cards for increased software compatibility.

Students who choose to use Apple Macintosh computers will need to use the dual-boot method to allow both Macintosh and Windows software to run on the same computer. 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. 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 or Education version 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. Higher-end  computers 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.

Windows Computers

Components Windows Desktop Windows Laptop
CPU (Processor) or Model Any model using Intel Core i7 or newer (or equivalent) processors.
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 21″ or larger—1920 x 1080 minimum screen resolution 15″ or larger (second 21″  or larger external, 1920 x 1080 minimum screen resolution monitor recommended)
Video Adapter (Graphics Card) Minimum 2 GB VRAM or more hardware-accelerated OpenGL 2.0 or higher professional graphics cards. NVidia graphics cards preferred for increased compatibility. Avoid integrated graphics processors.
 System Windows 10 Pro Edition (Not “Home” version)
Audio 100% Windows compliant sound card
Network Adapter Wi-Fi adapter may be included. Built-in RJ-45 and CAT 6 cable recommended for faster connections in studio. Wi-Fi adapter may be included. Built-in RJ-45 and CAT 6 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
Additional Hardware Three-button mouse with mouse driver software
Optional Equipment Wacom tablet recommended.
• Digital Camera, minimum 8 mega-pixels, manual over-rides on automatic exposure and possibly focus controls. Compatibility with the student’s computer platform (Windows or Macintosh), memory cards for image storage.
• External Portable Speakers
• Security cables and locks.
• Surge protector to protect against power problems.
Software

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

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)

• Adobe Creative Cloud

Additional software may be required for certain courses in Animation and Interactive Media, some are free for students and others require a paid student license including:

  • Autodesk Maya (Animation)
  • Autodesk Mudbox (3D Modeling)
  • ZBrush (3D Modeling)
  • Unity3D (Game Design)

Macintosh Computers

Components Macintosh Desktop Macintosh Laptop
CPU (Processor) or Model Good: Current iMac, 21.5″ model with Radeon graphics processors or any current 27″ model

Better: iMac Pro, or Mac Pro, any current model

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 21? or larger – 1920 x 1080 minimum screen resolution
(iMacs include a built-in monitor. Monitors from other vendors will work with Apple computers.)
15? display included
(Second external monitor 21? or larger – 1980 x 1080 minimum screen resolution optional, but recommended) Monitors from other vendors will work with Apple computers.
Video Adapter
(Graphics Card)
2 GB VRAM minimum or more.
Avoid integrated graphics processors.
Operating System Mac OS X version 10.14 or later
Audio Standard on Macintosh
Network Adapter
Wi-Fi and Wired ethernet adapter included. 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 3-year AppleCare Protection Plan or third party loss/damage coverage
Additional Hardware Three-button mouse with mouse driver software
Optional Equipment Wacom tablet recommended.
• Digital Camera, minimum 8 mega-pixels, manual over-rides on automatic exposure and possibly focus controls. Compatibility with the student’s computer platform (Windows or Macintosh), memory cards for image storage.
• External Portable Speakers
• Security cables and locks.
• Surge protector to protect against power problems.
Software

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

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)

• Adobe Creative Cloud

If you want to run both Mac OS X and Windows on a Mac, you will also need 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.)

Additional software may be required for certain courses in Animation and Interactive Media, some are free for students and others require a paid student license including:

  • Autodesk Maya (Animation)
  • Autodesk Mudbox (3D Modeling)
  • ZBrush (3D Modeling)
  • Unity3D (Game Design)

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.