Student Tech Requirements
Information for Fall 2016 admittance: incoming Freshman & Transfers (updated: 3/8/2017)
Apple MacBook Pro portables are the preferred and supported platform. Selected configurations best suit departmental coursework, and should have a long working life.
- Students entering the Graphic Design and Photography concentrations are required to procure laptop computers.
- Students entering the Studio concentration are not required to procure a laptop, but it is highly recommended.
- While it may possible to procure models that are lower cost, these may hinder work efficiency, and will likely have a shorter usable life for professional work.
- On campus purchasing—with educational discounts—can be made through the Cal Poly University Store.
- For those not yet on campus, be sure to use Apple's Education Store for best pricing.
Option 1 - Preferred Model:
- 15 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
- 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor
- Radeon Pro 455 with 2GB memory
- 16GB 2133MHz memory
- 512GB PCIe-based SSD
- Optional: AppleCare Warranty Protection Plan - $239
- Approximate cost with educational discount: $2,599 (+ $239 for AppleCare)
Option 2 - Basic Model:
- 13 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
- 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor
- Intel Iris Graphics 550
- 8GB 2133MHz memory (optional configuration: 16GB)
- 256GB PCIe-based SSD (optional configuration: 512GB)
- Optional: AppleCare Warranty Protection Plan - $183
- Approximate cost with educational discount: $1,699 (+ $183 for AppleCare)
Option 3 - Minimum Model:
- 13.3 inch MacBook Pro
- 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor
- Intel Iris Graphics 6100
- 8GB 1866MHz memory (optional configuration: 16GB)
- 128GB PCIe-based SSD (optional configuration: 256GB or 512GB)
- Optional: AppleCare Warranty Protection Plan - $183
- Approximate cost with educational discount: $1,199 (+ $183 for AppleCare)
NOTE: Apple portables CANNOT have their RAM OR SSD storage upgraded after purchase. You MUST select the amount of RAM and SSD storage you will need over the entire life of the computer!
• Preferred RAM: 16GB
• Preferred SSD: 512GB
- Adobe Creative Cloud. Approximate cost with educational discount: $20 per month for a 1 year subscription.
- Microsoft Office 365 University. Approximate cost with educational discount: $79 for a 4 year subscription.
Both of these titles are subscription based. New students need to subscribe for the 2015/16 school year. Subscriptions can be purchased through the Cal Poly University Store, or directly through Adobe and Microsoft.
If you feel the need to dive in and get familiar with the tools early, both Adobe and Microsoft offer a 30 day free trial subscription that you can download and install immediately, and license (buy) later.
Recommended Peripherals & Accessories
Backup Hard drive or Cloud Service
Every computer should be backed up! Hard drives are fragile mechanical devices, and are subject to unexpected failure, not to mention damage, loss, or theft. Laptops suffer more data loss than desktops, so be prepared. Plan to purchase and use a secondary external hard drive and/or back up service.
External USB (or wireless) mouse
Graphics programs require high levels of precision, and the touch pads built into laptops are not optimal for long-term work. Select a good quality optical or laser mouse, as inexpensive mechanical mice require frequent cleaning and are not precise.
USB flash drive
This small device will help you transfer files from one computer to another quickly and efficiently. 16GB should be sufficient for simple files, although larger sizes are available.
This will provide the user a larger viewable and working area which will increase productivity. A larger external monitor is useful for professional design tools in order to access necessary panels, settings, etc while still viewing your work, turning your notebook into a work station.
Ink jet Printer
The Department provides high-end specialty printers and printing resources for both Graphic Design and Photo students at or below commercial printing costs. Printing hours vary between quarters. Owning your own printer might make sense if scheduling and travel to the labs for printing is not practical. Although we do not recommend a specific model, we do encourage students to purchase from a major manufacturer such as Epson, Canon, or HP. When choosing a printer, verify that it is Mac compatible.
Flatbed Scanner/Digital Camera
These optional peripherals are extremely helpful in getting imagery into your computer. The Department of Art and Design does have cameras available for checkout, and scanners in the labs, however some students like to have their own equipment for home/dorm use.
Protective case or backpack
Keep your laptop protected from minor drops, scratches, and weather using a protective case that wraps snugly around the machine and has hard material to protect your computer. Spills and drops cause costly damage, loss of data, and device deaths.
Warranties and Insurance
Because of the large financial investment you will be making, we recommend that all students consider an exteneded warranty or insurance. We strongly recommend purchasing an Apple Care protection plan, or a third party plan such as Square Trade, which is extends coverage to most accidental damage as well.
Please read the Terms and Conditions carefully in order to decide if either is the right coverage for your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I really have to supply a portable computer?
Yes. Many Graphic Design and photography classes and studios directly integrate computing technology in the classroom and in many cases students are expected to bring their laptops to class to work on assignments. While the Department of Art & Design does have computer labs, these labs have schedule and/or access limitations, so your own machine is often the best way to get work done on time.
2. What if I want to purchase a different brand or model of computer?
Students who choose to use another platform will find limited support from Art & Design staff. We have selected computers that are capable of running the professional software used by the discipline and associated industries. These Macs are also compatible with the University infrastructure (network, etc.) and are designed with professional use in mind. The recommended computer is also configured to have the best possible longevity within the disciplines.
3. What about computer upgrades/options?
Here is a short list of upgrades/components and what benefit they serve:
• Memory (RAM) - This is the single best upgrade to increase the performance and longevity of your computer. RAM affects your ability to run multiple programs simultaneously and can greatly improve the responsiveness of your computer. Some applications (like Photoshop) will use all the RAM they have access to. 8GB is the minimum, but 16GB will serve you well in the future. NOTE: Current Apple portables cannot have their RAM upgraded; you must purchase the amount of RAM you will need over the entire life of the computer!
• Processor (CPU) - The processor is the ‘brain’ of your computer and is involved in every aspect of its operation. Although getting the fastest processor will certainly make your computer faster at specific tasks and functions, there are many aspects of computer use that are not bound by the speed of the processor, so this is not always the most economical upgrade. Students planning on doing extensive video production work should opt for all the CPU speed their budget allows. Faster CPUs typically extend the usable life of the computer as well.
• Hard Drive/Solid State(Storage) - Traditional hard disk drives typically have greater capacity at low cost, while solid state drives are much faster, but at a higher cost per unit of storage. Keep in mind that general documents such as papers, spreadsheets and email do not take up very much space. Video, photo, music, and high resolution graphic files are typically very large files, and require the most storage space. Departmental recommended computers include ample storage for your projects and assignments, but large personal projects or libraries of content will likely require increased storage capacity or devices.
4. What sort of support will I receive at the Department of Art and Design?
The Department of Art and Design provides technical support for department-approved laptops. We provide the following services:
- Connecting to the University network and servers.
- Required software installation.
- Operating System maintenance and support.
- Using the Department computer labs and printers.
5. Can I expect support for my personal hardware?
Yes. While the department can assist with some basic diagnosis or troubleshooting, we cannot perform significant repairs. If there are physical problems with your hardware, you will need to contact the manufacturer or authorized service center, such as the Cal Poly University Store, or MacSuperstore.
6. What can I do before I arrive to be prepared?
- Purchase all the necessary hardware and software as required for your concentration
- Become familiar with the basic operation of your computer. Powering up, charging the battery, using media, etc.
- Install the necessary software on your computer following the manufacturers instructions.
- Dive into Adobe Creative Cloud. Adobe has some great tutorials here.
- Look into purchasing some helpful accessories and/or peripherals.
Questions? Contact Information:
Building: 34 -160B
Assistant Professor, Graphic Design
Building: 34 -124