Graphic Design Computer Requirements

(Updated April 2018)

Graphic Design undergraduate students must have their own computer by the Spring Semester of their first year.

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

Macintosh computers are required for Graphic Design students.

The Department of Graphic Design and Industrial Design at NC State was the first program in the University of North Carolina system to require students to have a computer for their studies. This requirement has allowed our students to gain a level of computer proficiency and confidence that is essential in practice. Graphic design integrates computers in virtually every step of the design process from conception to production and in a range of media including print, video, and web. Apple Macintosh is the preferred platform of the graphic design field and for our Graphic Design students.

Sophomores will take Imaging I in their fall semester. This course is an introduction to image-making and requires the student to purchase a digital camera. There is a large range of features available on digital cameras—only the most basic are necessary for the course.

Download the departmental Materials List for more detailed information from the Department of Graphic Design and Industrial Design. (Adobe Reader required to view this file.)

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.

Macintosh Computers

Components Macintosh Desktop Macintosh Laptop
CPU (Processor) or Model Good
iMac 21.5″ or 27″(includes built-in monitor) any current model
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 20″ minimum (Consider two monitors for more working space on the computer.)
iMacs include a built-in monitor. Monitors from other vendors will work with Apple computers.
15″ display included (Consider a second external monitor for more working space on the computer.) Monitors from other vendors will work with Apple computers.
Video Adapter (Graphics Card)  1 GB VRAM or higher
Operating System Mac OS X version 10.13 or later
Audio Standard on Macintosh
Network Adapters Wi-Fi and Wired ethernet connection included. CAT 5 or 6 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

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

Additional software may be required for certain courses.

• Adobe Creative Cloud

• Adobe Font Folio Education Essentials

Microsoft Office 365 (free for NCSU students)

Digital Camera (Sophomore Year) 8.0 Megapixel or higher, Macintosh-compatible digital camera with case


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 or use this form to contact the College Information Technology staff with specific information about your problem.