Student Laptop Recommendations

For the 2015–16 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 course work, as well as adequate storage to accommodate new software releases. Most students will build digital portfolios, render using Rhino, 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 two high-end computer labs for classes, but is moving steadily toward a mobile computing environment.

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Recommended Specifications

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 Solutions service team is available to provide free support for student-owned laptops.

 

A lightweight alternative: Students looking for an ultrabook that meets the recommended laptop specs should consider the Asus Zenbook (architecture, art, or CRP) or Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (CRP only). These devices exist with several options but can be found with AAP's specific recommendations.

 

Gaming branded laptops: Most new gaming laptops will work well if the specs below are followed. These are sometimes less expensive than workstation branded laptops, for example: ASUS ROG G501JW-DS71 Gaming Laptop.

Architecture Students

Laptop Specs

  • Intel i7 Quad Core processor
  • Windows 8.1 or 10 - x64
  • 8GB of RAM minimum, 16GB recommended
  • Dedicated video processor should be one of the following or greater: NVIDIA® Quadro® K2100M/K1100M, Nvidia Geforce 750M, AMD FirePro M4000 Mobility Pro
  • 500GB hard drive (SSD hard drive preferred)
  • Wireless Ethernet (at least 802.11 g/n)
  • Three-year warranty (recommended)
  • Theft and damage insurance (recommended)
  • Total estimated cost: $1,716–$2,500 for the recommended Standard Dell Precision or Lightweight Dell Precision

WARNING: With the release of the new slim Macbook as well as the Retina Macbook Pro's, AAP IT Solutions can ONLY recommend the highest end model of Macbook Pro, the 15" version with a Nvidia GTX 750M video card. The other models come equipped with an onboard chip that is considerably less powerful than the Nividia GTX 750M, and will not work well enough with your 3D software. The direct link to the only recommended Apple laptop can be found here with EDU discount. NOTE: The majority of students who purchase an Macbook regret the decision. They find themselves working in the Windows side the majority of the time and are left with a non-upgradeable and slower computer than students who purchase a more flexible Windows-based laptop. For example, RAM cannot be replaced or upgraded in a Macbook and hard drives cost a considerable amount more and are proprietary. 

Desktop Specs

Tower caddies are present in the studio desks

  • Dell Precision
  • Quad Core Xeon or i7 Processor
  • 16 GB of DDR3 RAM
  • Windows 8.1 or 10, x64
  • 2 GB Nvidia Quadro video card
  • 1 TB hard drive
  • Includes three-year warranty
  • Total estimated cost: $1,750

ACCESSORIES

  • USB thumb drive (16 GB)
  • USB storage hard drive/backup (500 GB–1 TB)
  • All architecture student desks in Milstein and Sibley halls are equipped with 27" LCD monitors
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Art Students

Laptop Specs

  • Apple Macbook Pro (Retina)
  • Quad Core i7 Processor (min 2.5 Ghz)
  • 16 GB of DDR3 RAM
  • Mac OS 10.10
  • Intel Iris Graphics and Nvidia GX 750M
  • 512 GB hard drive
  • 15.4" built-in LCD
  • Applecare three-year warranty: $249
  • Total estimated cost: $2,538 (NOTE: RAM in the retina series Macbook Pro cannot be upgraded as it is soldered to the motherboard. Due to this, AAP It Solutions recommends selecting the 16 GB version)

NOTE: The use of Mac computers in art-related professions is rooted in the culture. For a much lower price a student can purchase a Windows-based computer with similar or more powerful specs. All but a few pieces of software will run on both (Final Cut Pro is Mac only but Premiere is cross-platform). If  students purchase a Windows-based computer and need the use of Final Cut Pro, there is a 13-seat high-end space with Mac Minis and Macbook Pros available for student use.

 

Accessories

  • USB, Firewire 800, or Thunderbolt storage hard drive (1 TB)
  • 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 Specs

  • At least an Intel Core i5 processor (i7 preferred)
  • Windows  8.1 or 10, x64
  • 8 GB of RAM (minimum, 16 GB recommended)
  • 500 GB hard drive
  • Wireless Ethernet (802.11 g/n)
  • Three-year warranty (recommended)
  • Total estimated cost: The price of laptops with these specs can range from $500–$1,500. AAP IT Solutions recommends investing in a better laptop now that can last a student though their years at Cornell. Less expensive models tend to be less durable and unreliable.

Accessories

  • USB thumb drive (16 GB)
  • USB storage hard drive (500 GB)
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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.

Architecture Students

Art Students

CRP Students

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
  • Max MSP/JITTER
  • 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 NetID 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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