Graphic 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!

Graphic Design undergraduate students must have their own computer by the Fall 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 is required for our Graphic Design students.

Download the departmental Materials List for more detailed information from the Department of Graphic Design and Industrial Design. (Adobe Acrobat 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
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 20″ 4K resolution minimum (Consider two monitors for more working space on the computer.)
iMacs include a built-in 5K monitor. Monitors from other vendors will work with Apple computers.
15″ or 16″ display included (Consider a second 4K external monitor for more working space on the computer.) Monitors from other vendors will work with Apple computers.
Graphics Processor Unit (GPU) Should have a discrete GPU.  4 GB VRAM or higher. Avoid integrated graphics processors
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
Software

Be sure to check for educational discounts through the College of Design or Wolfpack Outfitters.

Additional software may be required for certain courses.

• Adobe Creative Cloud

Microsoft Office 365 (free for NCSU students)

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

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.