A personal computer is an essential tool for learning and professional work at Taubman College and the college strongly recommends that you have a computer to bring with you for your course and studio work.
The College does not mandate the purchase of a specific type or model of computer but recommends capabilities listed below. Taubman College uses both Windows and Macintosh computers. Laptops are recommended for portability and security. A high-speed wireless network, supporting the current 802.11ac standard and compatible with previous standards, is available throughout the building
|OS:||Windows 10 64-bit recommended||OS X current version|
|Processor:||i5 or i7||i5 or i7|
|Screen:||14" or better||14" or better|
|Memory:||8 Gb min; 16Gb recommended||8 Gb min; 16Gb recommended|
|Graphics*:||Intel HD 5000 or better; Discrete graphics card recommended for heavy modeling||Intel HD 5000 or better|
|Storage:||portable 1tb HD||portable 1Tb HD|
|Flash Drive:||32-64 Gb||32-64 Gb|
802.11 ac recommended
|Other features/ accessories:||Security lock kit**; insurance; 3 yr/extended warranty/multi-year service agreement; wheel mouse; digital camera; external monitor, external hard drive for back-up and additional storage; case/bag|
The expected useful life of a computer is three years. Architecture is a compute and graphics intensive program; recommended configurations are at the higher end with faster processors, more memory, and often, for heavy modeling needs, a discreet graphics card (e.g. Nvidia Quadro or AMD FirePro). Urban Planning students will not need the higher end configurations, or a discrete graphics card, as their software profile differs; a mid-range laptop will work well. Pre-architecture and freshmen will also not need the higher end configurations; pre-architecture work is not as graphically demanding and any machine purchased now will be two years old by the more intense third year. Again, a mid-range laptop is fine.
As this is being written (Summer 2018) the new models including the 8th generation Intel processors (recognized with an "8" prefix in the model number, as in i5-8XXX or i7-8XXX), in both new Windows and MacBook Pro laptops, are showing high performance and very good pricing. Sites like Passmark provide ways to compare the performance of the CPUs and graphics cards listed in vendor configurations and it's useful to shop the vendor sites (HP, Apple, Dell, Lenovo) as well as the University's Tech Shop and other third-party resellers. The Tech Shop is warranty authorized for servicing HP, Apple, and Dell computers.
Avoid including Office bundles, high-end Windows versions, or anti-virus software in your purchase -- those are all much less expensive at Tech Shop or free. Mac and Windows machines are both used in the College but if you anticipate significant use of applications only available on Windows (Revit, 3DS Max, ArcGIS...) consider selecting a Windows machine. While there are solutions to allow running Windows applications under macOS, such as VMWare and Parallels, some applications, like Rhino, won't support them due to performance problems. Apple's Bootcamp, which comes with macOS, will work for these applications but does require a Windows license (available through the Computer Showcase). Rhino for Mac, while it does not support every feature in the Windows version, such as the variety of plug-ins that are available, is used successfully by many students and is under continual development. Some students have chosen to combine a Windows desktop with a less expensive/lighter laptop.
When purchasing, be sure to check whether there is discount pricing for students as this is quite common. Many vendors (Dell, HP, Lenovo...) offer them but they are not always easy to locate. Using the vendor's own search box, their "Chat" help feature, or an external search engine for terms that include the vendor's name and "student discount" or "student pricing" can help reveal these. In using an external search engine be careful that you are finding legitimate vendor sites and not unfamiliar sites that may have only included these search terms to attract viewers.
*The majority of laptops include Intel's "HD" graphics chipset. Recent versions have provided good performance with College applications but some vendors have additional recommendations: Rhino
For general purpose productivity applications (word processing, spreadsheet...) the University offers Google Apps for Education and Microsoft's Office 365 at no charge. For graphics work, the University offers the Adobe Creative Cloud suite at no charge. Architecture students who wish to purchase Rhino for Windows or Rhino for Mac will find the College's Media Center has pricing substantially lower than online educational vendors; the College is an educational reseller for these products. The Tech Shop, just across the street, offers Windows and Mac software at educational prices. The University provides links to downloadable anti-virus software for Macs and Windows; all machines, real or virtual (Fusion, Parallels), running Windows should have anti-virus software installed. The University also provides VPN software for accessing College resources from off-campus.
AutoDesk products are not required but AutoDesk has released the majority of their catalog, including AutoCAD, Maya, Revit and 3DS Max on their education site, AutoDesk Education Community, available for free download with a three year license. Other online (Novedge.com, Studica, JourneyEd.com, Campustech.com) companies offer educational pricing on many products.