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NOTICE: The following recommendations are not part of the UTSOA Computer Policy which has been approved by the faculty and administration of the school.  These technical recommendations are provided as a courtesy by School of Architecture Technology staff, based on our technical experience with hardware, software and student, faculty and computer lab support.

Pre-existing Hardware: As a general rule, we recommend postponing new hardware purchases until your current hardware breaks or cannot perform adequately.  Pre-existing hardware, or other hardware that does not explicitly meet the hardware specifications below, will be treated as being 'in compliance' so long as the hardware is successfully running all of the software required by the student’s program and courses.

Specifications: The specific minimum and recommended hardware specifications for the next academic year will be updated annually on or before July 1.  The minimum requirements constitute a computer system with an anticipated lifespan of two to three years.  The recommended requirements constitute a computer system with an anticipated lifespan of four to five years.

Table 1: 
Hardware Recommendations for New Purchases

Hardware Component




Intel i5 dual core 
or AMD equivalent

Intel i7 quad core 
or AMD equivalent


8 GB

16 GB

Hard Drive

250 GB (or more)

250 GB (or more) SSD

Video Card

Intel HD Series 
(or equivalent)

Discreet Video Card with at least 2 GB RAM

Screen Size (1)

13 inch

14-17 inch

Networking (Wireless)

802.11 a/g/n

802.11 a/g/n

Networking (Wired)

10/100 Ethernet

10/100/1000 Ethernet

Peripheral Connectivity

USB 3.0

USB 3.0


3 year

3-5 year + accidental damage

(1) - Screen size is mostly about usage style, weight, portability, and eyesight. Smaller screens provide lower weight and higher portability while larger screens provide a larger desktop at the expense of weight and portability. 

Apple Hardware

For those considering purchasing Apple hardware the following should be noted:

  • Since several applications used in the curriculum are only available on the Windows operating system, Apple users will be required to run Windows on their Apple hardware.
  • Apple's discreet video cards are not Autodesk certified.
  • Due to issues with using Boot Camp, we do not recommend Apple Hardware.  
  • We strongly discourage virtualization software like VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop for use with intense design software.
  • Students who are technically savvy and opt for Apple hardware with Boot Camp and Windows despite these recommendations should anticipate investing additional time and energy in OS maintenance and application troubleshooting.


In addition to your required laptop there are several peripherals which can be very helpful to your digital productivity and security.

  • External Mouse - An external mouse is a necessity for most CAD/GIS packages.  We have not included one in our laptop bundles due to the wide variations in price, look, feel, and connection options.
  • External Monitor and Keyboard - Laptops, while great for portability, are less good at providing and optimal ergonomic workspace.  If you anticipate lots of screen time in your degree, consider purchasing an external monitor and keyboard for your primary workspace.  We are currently recommending the Dell E2313H or Dell P2312H monitors, both are 23” 1920x1080 monitors with a sub $200 price point, the P-series includes an integrate USB for a small increase in price.
  • USB Memory Key or Mini Drive - Ranging in size up to 128GB, these devices provide easy access, storage, and mobility for working files. For working architectural or GIS files I would recommend 8GB or larger.
  • Cable Lock - A locking mechanism to lock your laptop, monitor, printer, keyboard, and other peripherals to your studio desk while you are away is a great way to protect your computer investment and your data.