Art+Design Computer Requirements

(Updated March 2021)

NOTE: All students should have a full computer, at least an older computer, available for coursework in the Fall Semester of their first year. Using a smart phone only will not work for courses.

ALL departments require students to have a computer with minimum specifications listed below. Computers that do not meet minimum specifications may prevent students from completing course assignments. 
Please read this page AND the general information before spending money on computer hardware and software.

EACH DEPARTMENT HAS DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS!

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

Animation/New Media students: Windows computers are strongly recommended.

All other Art+Design Students: Windows or Macintosh computers 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.

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
Hard Drive (Storage) 512 GB SSD minimum, more preferred (multiple drives are fine)
Monitor/Display 21″ or larger—4K minimum screen resolution 15″ or larger (second 21″  or larger external, 4K minimum screen resolution monitor recommended)
Graphics Processor Unit (GPU) Should have a discrete GPU. Minimum 4 GB VRAM or more professional graphics card. NVidia graphics cards preferred for increased compatibility. Avoid integrated graphics processors.
Operating System
Information for obtaining a free student license of Windows 10 Education is available here.
Windows 10 Home or Pro
Audio Standard on PCs
Network Adapter Wi-Fi card or adapter
Backup External Drive – Windows Backup & Restore (external drive needs to be at least twice the computer’s storage capacity)

Cloud Backup Services – Google Backup & Sync (using NCSU Google account with “unlimited” storage) or another backup service

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, 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 Wolfpack Outfitters.

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″ or 16″ model
System RAM 16 GB minimum, more preferred
Hard Drive (Storage) 512 GB SSD minimum, more preferred (multiple drives are fine)
Monitor/Display 21″ or larger – 4K minimum screen resolution
(Current iMacs include a built-in 5K monitor. Monitors from other vendors will work with Apple computers.)
15″ or 16″ display included
(Second external monitor 21″ or larger – 4K minimum screen resolution optional, but recommended) Monitors from other vendors will work with Apple computers.
Graphics Processor Unit (GPU) Should have a discrete GPU. 4 GB VRAM minimum or more.
Avoid integrated graphics processors.
Operating System Mac OS X version 10.14 or later
Audio Standard on Macs
Network Adapter
Wi-Fi card or adapter
Backup External Drive – Time Machine (external drive needs to be at least twice the computer’s storage capacity)

Cloud Backup Services – Google Backup & Sync (using NCSU Google account with “unlimited” storage) or another backup service

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 Wolfpack Outfitters.

Additional software may be required for certain courses.

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