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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 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 purchasing new hardware unless your current hardware meets the minimum specifications.  However, 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.

titleApple Hardware

For those who currently own or are 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.

Minimum/Recommended 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 for architectural design purposes of two to three years.  The recommended requirements constitute a computer system with an anticipated lifespan for architectural design purposes of five years.

Design Laptop Hardware Requirements for New Purchases

Hardware Component


Recommended (Basic)

Recommended (Advanced)


Intel i7 quad core
or AMD equivalent

Intel i7/Xeon/i9 six core
or AMD equivalent

Intel i7/i9/Xeon six+ core or AMD equivalent


16 GB

16 GB or 32 GB


Hard Drive

256+ GB SSD

512 GB SSD

512 GB SSD

Video Card (1)

4 GB NVIDIA Quadro (e.g. P1000)
or AMD FirePro

4 GB or more
NVIDIA Quadro (e.g. P2000)
or AMD FirePro

VR Ready NVIDIA Quadro

(e.g. Quadro RTX 3000)

Screen Size (2)

13 inch

14-17 inch


Networking (Wireless)

802.11 a/g/n

802.11 a/g/n/ac

802.11 a/g/n/ac

Networking (Wired)



Peripheral Connectivity

USB 2.0

USB 3.0

USB 3.0


3 year

3+ year + accidental damage

(# of years should match program length - recommended)

3+ year + accidental damage

(# of years should match program length - recommended)

(1) - The most important recommendation for video cards is that they are on the list of Autodesk Certified Hardware for Revit. The card search can be found at
(2) - 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. 

Additional Recommendations (Peripherals/Services)

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/BIM 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 E-series or Dell P-series monitors, both are 23” 1920x1080 monitors with a sub $200 price point, the P-series includes an integrated USB and adjustable stand 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.
  • Digital Camera - The School offers digital cameras for checkout, however, if photography is a large component of your design process, there are many benefits to selecting, owning, and getting to know your own digital camera.
  • 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.