Student Laptops Recommendations

For the 2013–14 academic year, AAP strongly recommends that all students have a personal laptop computer powerful enough to support the demanding video and computational requirements necessary for coursework, as well as adequate storage to accommodate new software releases. Most students will build digital portfolios in addition to writing papers and email. Some AAP classes make extensive use of Blackboard for course management and syllabus distribution. The college provides and maintains several high-end computer labs for classes, but is moving steadily toward a mobile computing environment.

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It is strongly suggested that each student own the recommended laptop computer,  accessories, and base software listed below. The mobility of owning a laptop is essential as much of the work is collaborative and happens in a variety of locations. Please note that the AAP IT service team is available to provide support for student-owned laptops.

A lightweight alternative: Students looking for an ultrabook that meets the recommended laptop specs should consider the Asus Zenbook (weighing less than a pound). The notebook exists with several options but can be found with AAP's specific recommendations. A sample search link is here.

Recommended Specifications

Architecture Students

Laptop Specs

  • Intel i7 Quad Core processor
  • Windows 7 or 8 x 64 (32 bit version has ram limit of 4GB)
  • 8GB of RAM
  • Dedicated video processor should be one of the following or greater: NVIDIA® Quadro® K2000M, Nvidia Geforce 650M/750M, AMD FirePro M4000 Mobility Pro.
  • 500GB hard drive
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Wireless Ethernet (802.11 g/n)
  • Three-year warranty (recommended)
  • Theft and damage insurance (recommended)
  • Total estimated cost: $1,650–$2,400 for the recommended Dell Precision


  • USB thumb drive (16GB)
  • USB storage hard drive/backup (500GB –1TB)
  • All architecture student desks in Milstein and Rand halls are equipped with 27" LCD monitors (except for first-years)

Desktop Specs

Tower caddies are present in the studio desks.

  • Dell Precision
  • Quad Core Xeon or i7 Processor
  • 8 GB of DDR3 RAM
  • Windows 7 or 8 x 64-bit
  • 2 GB Nvidia Quadro Video Card
  • 500GB hard drive
  • Includes three-year warranty
  • Total estimated cost: $1,750
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Art Students

Laptop Specifications

  • Apple Mac Book Pro
  • Quad Core i7 Processor (min 2.3 Ghz)
  • 8GB of DDR3 RAM
  • Mac OS 10.8
  • Intel HD shared AND NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M video card
  • 500 GB hard drive
  • 15.4" built-in LCD
  • Applecare three-year warranty: $249
  • Total estimated cost: $1,900–$2,800 (Please note: The RAM in the retina series Macbook pro cannot be upgraded as it is soldered to the motherboard. Because of this, we recommend selecting the 16GB version)


  • USB, Firewire 800, or Thunderbolt storage hard drive (500GB)
  • Anti-virus software installed and properly configured
  • Download Symantec Antivirus and Firewall free from Cornell University IT Security here
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CRP Students

Laptop Specifications

  • Intel Core i5 processor
  • Windows 7 or 8 x 64 bit
  • 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
  • Dedicated video processor with 1GB video RAM
  • 500GB hard drive
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Wireless Ethernet (802.11 g/n)
  • Three-year warranty (recommended)
  • Total estimated cost: $1,299–$1,699


  • USB thumb drive (16GB)
  • USB storage hard drive (500GB)
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Software Used at AAP

Below is a base list of software typically used in AAP. This list is never complete, nor is all software required by each discipline since curricula change as students move through their educational years. Use of non-base applications by instructors will be screened for cost and support issues by the chair of the department, and, if approved, the college / department will purchase the non-base software on behalf of the students affected.




Other Non-Base Software:

This software is currently available on AAP teaching computers:

  • Audrio
  • Processing
  • Inventor
  • Revit 
  • Zbrush
  • Stata
  • Arc GIS (We also offer a free student edition)
  • Final Cut Pro X
  • Google Earth Pro
  • Google Sketchup Pro
  • Global Mapper
  • Geolytics 
  • Community Viz
  • Maya
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Purchasing Software and Hardware

The Cornell Campus Store does not carry hardware that will support a student at AAP. It is recommended that students purchase directly from Dell or a third party. Cornell sells a variety of software from Adobe, Microsoft, and others at a steep discount specifically for higher education.

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Anti-Virus Software

All computers that connect to any of Cornell’s networks must have an updated version of anti-virus software. Cornell has a campus-wide site license for Symantec anti-virus and Symantec firewall protection, and provides this software free of charge to students (a valid Cornell net id and password is required). Any popular anti-virus software will work, but it is required that virus definition updates be scheduled regularly on a daily or weekly basis.

Download Symantec Antivirus and Firewall free from Cornell University IT Security

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Internet Access and Printing Services

Cornell has a wireless network that covers most of campus, including AAP’s buildings, so network access is easily obtainable. Cornell also offers network-based printing services for a small fee per page. AAP has numerous Net-Print printers throughout its buildings; however, printing in a student’s dorm room may require a personal printer.

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Computer Security at Cornell

Keeping personal computers secure takes far less time than recovering from a security breach. If a computer is compromised, the user will likely lose access to it for at least a few hours, and possibly several days. Users may also lose any work done since the last computer back up. If the security problem puts sensitive data at risk, or if a computer is lost or stolen, the effects can be far-reaching. Any unsecured computer puts the entire network of users at risk. 

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