All sophomore design students are required to have a laptop by the start of Fall Quarter at the beginning of the sophomore academic year. At minimum, the laptop should have an Intel dual-core i5 or higher processor, 8GB of RAM (preferably 16GB), and 512GB minimum SSD in storage capacity. If possible, we recommend that you purchase more storage capacity—either 1TB SSD, or an external drive that can hold 2TB.
For students majoring in Visual Communication Design and Interaction Design, the laptop should have wireless capability and be able to run a recent version of the Adobe Creative Cloud software (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects, and Premiere Pro).
For students majoring in Industrial Design, the laptop should be capable of running Rhino (a 3-d modeling program) and/or Solidworks. The requirements to run SolidWorks are here: https://www.solidworks.com/support/system-requirements. The laptop should also have wireless capability and be able to run a recent version of the Adobe Creative Cloud software (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects, and Premiere Pro).
Apple or PC?
Many students ask if they should buy an Apple laptop or a PC machine. In Visual Communication Design, the Apple platform is dominant. Specialized graphic design software (such as Glyphs and Principle) are only available on the Apple platform.
Industrial Designers typically use PC machines more than Macs. The majority of CAD modeling software is built to run on PCs. However, if you already have a Mac laptop, please note that it is possible to run Windows on it by either setting up Bootcamp partitions or by using Parallels (this depends on the specific Mac laptop model.)
Interaction Designers are divided between Apple and PC. Note that motion graphics, 3D animation/rendering, game design, and VR need a powerful GPU, so if your interests lie in those directions, you could consider building your own PC to meet your requirements. Additionally, a PC may be easier to work with if you plan to focus on Arduino/Raspberry Pi work and physical computing.
Software for the Design Sophomore Year
Sophomore students entering the Design major will need to use the Adobe Creative Cloud service. Your subscription will need to include: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Acrobat Pro This software is only available via subscription directly through Adobe. Adobe does offer academic pricing.
Design students, especially Visual Communication Design students, may want to use a font management program such as Font Book (free, built into OSX), or Linotype FontExplorer X. Microsoft Office is available for all UW students for free as part of the UW STF program. Details are available at: http://www.washington.edu/uware/