Design Studies 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!

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. 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.

Each department in the College of Design has different computer requirements. Please read the College’s Student Computing Requirements General 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 i5 or equivalent processors or better
System RAM
16 GB minimum, more preferred
Hard Drive (Storage)
256 GB SSD minimum, more preferred (multiple drives are fine)
Monitor/Display
21″ or larger—4K
minimum screen resolution
15″ or larger (second larger external monitor, 4K minimum resolution recommended)
Graphics Processor Unit (GPU) Should have a discrete GPU. 2 GB VRAM or more. 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 Adapters
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
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 Cloud

Macintosh Computers

Components Macintosh Desktop Macintosh Laptop
CPU (Processor) or Model iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Mini, or MacPro, any current model Any current 13′ MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, any current 15″ or 16″model
System RAM
16 GB minimum, more preferred
Hard Drive (Storage)
256 GB SSD minimum, more preferred (multiple drives are fine)
Monitor/Display
21″ or larger (Monitors from other vendors will work with Apple computers.) Current iMacs include a built-in 5K monitor 15″ or 16″ (Second external monitor for more working space optional) Monitors from other vendors will work with Apple computers
Graphics Processor Unit (GPU) Should have a discrete GPU. 2 GB VRAM or more. Avoid integrated graphics processors if possible.
Operating System Mac OS X version 10.14 or later
Audio Standard on Macs
Network Adapters
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
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 Cloud 

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.