Design Studies Computer Requirements

(Updated March 2019)

Design Studies students must have their own computer by the Fall Semester of their first year.

Either Macintosh or Windows is acceptable for Design Studies students.

Design Studies students will use computers in some digital imaging courses, but will mainly need computers to write papers, design research posters, and other forms of print media. The College’s IT Labs and Clusters are also available for Design Studies students to use. Students wishing to purchase a new computer and software should follow the recommendations below. An older computer may be sufficient for some time if it meets these minimum specifications for older computers.

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 on their own 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 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. 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.

Windows Computers

Components Windows Desktop Windows Laptop
CPU (Processor) or Model Any model using Intel Core i7 or newer processors.
System RAM
16 GB minimum, more preferred 16 GB minimum, more preferred
Hard Drive (Storage)
256 GB SSD or 500 GB/7200 RPM minimum, more preferred 256 GB SSD or 500 GB/7200 RPM minimum, more preferred
Monitor/Display
21? or larger—1920 x 1080
minimum screen resolution
15? or larger (second larger external monitor, 1920 x 1080 minimum resolution recommended)
Video Adapter (Graphics Card)
2 GB VRAM or more
Operating System Windows 10 Pro Edition (Not “Home” version)
Audio 100% Windows compliant sound card
Network Adapters
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
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

Macintosh Computers

Components Macintosh Desktop Macintosh Laptop
CPU (Processor) or Model iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Mini, or MacPro, any current model MacBook Pro, any current 15″ model
System RAM
16 GB minimum, more preferred 16 GB minimum, more preferred if capable
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 (Monitors from other vendors will work with Apple computers.) iMacs include a built-in monitor. 15″ (Second external monitor for more working space optional) Monitors from other vendors will work with Apple computers.
Video Adapter (Graphics Card)
2 GB VRAM or more
Operating System Mac OS X version 10.14 or later
Audio Standard on Macintosh
Network Adapters
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 3-year AppleCare Protection Plan or third-party loss/damage coverage
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.)

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.