Student Laptop Recommendations

For the 2017–18 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 and render using Rhino in addition to writing papers and email. Some AAP classes make extensive use of Blackboard for class 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.

Jump to

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), Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (CRP only), or Microsoft Surface Book (architecture, art, or CRP). 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 but unfortunately sometimes have a lower build quality.

The Cornell Store: The Cornell Store provides laptops at a discounted rate that meet the specs below. The store offers both Windows-based laptops and Macintosh laptops.

Architecture Students

Laptop Specs

  • Intel i7 Quad Core processor
  • Windows 10 x 64
  • 16 GB of RAM
  • Dedicated video processor should be one of the following or greater: NVIDIA® Quadro® K2100M/K1100M/M1000M, Nvidia Geforce 950 M, 1050 M, AMD Radeon R9 M370X, Radeon Pro 555/560, AMD FirePro M4000 Mobility Pro
  • 500 GB 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: $1,737 for the lightweight Dell Precision 15 5510/20, or $1,765 the heavier Dell Precision 15 7510/20 with the above specs. Models with high-definition (retina) displays are available as an add-on for $300 more.

WARNING: With the release of the slim Macbook as well as the Retina Macbook Pro, AAP IT Solutions can ONLY recommend the highest end model of Macbook Pro, the 15" version with an AMD Radeon Pro 555/560 video card. The other models come equipped with an onboard chip that is considerably less powerful than the 555/560, and will not work well enough with 3D software and complex models. NOTE: A large number of students who purchase a Macbook Pro 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 (after four years) than students who purchase a more flexible, Windows-branded laptop. For example, RAM and hard drives cannot be replaced or upgraded in a Macbook Pro because they are soldered into the motherboard.

Desktop Specs

Tower caddies are present in the studio desks:

  • Dell Precision
  • Quad Core Xeon or i7 Processor
  • 16 GB of DDR3 RAM
  • Windows 10, x64
  • 2 GB Nvidia Quadro video card or GeForce 960 or higher
  • 1 TB hard drive
  • Includes three-year warranty
  • Total estimated cost: $1,750

ACCESSORIES

  • USB thumb drive (32 GB)
  • USB storage hard drive/backup (500 GB–1 TB)
  • All architecture student desks in Milstein and Sibley halls, Cornell in Rome, and AAP NYC are equipped with 27" LCD monitors
Back to top

Art Students

Laptop Specs

  • Apple Macbook Pro Non-Touch Bar (Retina)
  • Quad Core i7 Processor (min 2.3 Ghz)
  • 16 GB of DDR3 RAM
  • Mac OS 10.12
  • Intel Iris Graphics
  • 512 GB SSD hard drive
  • 15.4" built-in LCD
  • Applecare three-year warranty: $269
  • Total estimated cost: Retina Macbook Pro with no touchbar: $2,341 on the Apple EDU site (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. However, for a 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 Mac Pros available for student use. AAP IT Solutions suggests determining the need to run Final Cut Pro on a laptop and purchasing based on that need (students can also check with their advisor).

Accessories

  • USB, Firewire 800, or Thunderbolt storage hard drive (1 TB)
  • Anti-virus software installed and properly configured
Back to top

CRP Students

Laptop Specs

  • At least an Intel Core i5 processor (i7 preferred)
  • Windows 10 x 64
  • 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 (32 GB)
  • USB storage hard drive (500 GB)
Back to top

Software Used at AAP

Below is a base list of software typically used at 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
Back to top

Purchasing Software and Hardware

The Cornell Store carries equipment that matches some of the specs above. The Cornell Store sells a variety of software from Adobe and others at a discount specifically for higher education.

Back to top

Internet Access and Printing Services

Cornell has a wireless network that covers most of the 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.

Back to top

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. Please review Cornell's recommended Anti-Virus software here.

Back to top