Background Image Alternative Text: Architecture student working on her computer for final project
Computer Requirements

Computer Requirements

To be a college student in the twenty-first century, the School of Architecture requires the purchase of an appropriate laptop computer and software. On entering the design studio sequence, each student is required to purchase a laptop computer and software that meet specifications stated on the School website. The laptop and required perpherals must be up and running by November 1 of the fall semester or by June 10 of summer I term.

This document is provided as a guideline for purchasing a laptop computer in the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University. This school was the first in the country to require architecture students to purchase a laptop for use in the design studio environment in the early 1990s (as noted in the Carnegie Boyer Report and the Chronicle of Higher Education). With this in mind, we understand the rapid pace at which the computer industry upgrades and improves the performance of new technology. Please understand that this guideline is only a starting point for today, and as technology changes you may need to upgrade and possibly replace older technology in the near future. In turn the School will provide the high-end printing, plotting, scanning, and network services to support the student-owned machines.

The School of Architecture requires all students to purchase a laptop (with related software and peripherals) in the beginning of their first year of Design Studio 1A. It should be purchased and operational by November 1 of that semester. Students will use the computer in their first semester (Design 1A) to document their work for final submittal. The machine and related software will be an integral part of the second semester of first year (Design 1B).

When purchasing your computer consider the expandability of the system. How big is the hard drive; can it be replaced? How much RAM (random access memory) does the computer have? What is the maximum amount that can be added? How good is the video card? Be advised that laptop video cards CANNOT be replaced. How many peripheral ports such as USB and Firewire are available? It is likely that you may need to upgrade the machine (in two years) and possibly replace it in 3-4 years. As new software versions become available, the computer may need to be more powerful and have more storage.

Software used in the design fields have minimum system requirements that must be addressed carefully. Most software used in the studio and supporting classes is upgraded yearly.

Please refer to the following LAPTOP guidelines and requirements

Processor: Intel Core i7
Hard Drive: Minimum 250GB (Recommended 500GB or above)
Memory (RAM): Minimum 8GB (Recommended 16GB) w/ expansion capability
Video Adapter: Minimum Video Adapter 256MB Nvidia or ATI (Recommended 512MB DIrect X 10 Capable with Shader Model 3)
Storage: CD/DVD/RW Required (Internal or External), 1-8 GB portable flash drive. 250GB or greater External Hard Drive Required
Screen size: 15inch (minimum)
Network:  Ethernet    10/100 or 10/100/1000 built In
 Wireless    802.11g
Other (required): Digital camera
  10-15ft CAT5 Ethernet cable (required for network connections)

Operating System Requirements

New windows machines ship with Windows 10, which will work with the university's network. School of Architecture students are required to use Windows 10.

New Apple Machines ship with the latest Mac operating system that is compatible with the university's network. Older Apple machines will need to run Mac OS 10.9 or above and have Intel Processors. PowerBooks are not acceptable.

Apple users will be required to use software that is not compatible with the Mac OS. This will require Students to use Apple's Boot Camp or other Windows Emulator (VMFusion, Parallels, ETC.) that allows Windows to run on the Apple Machine. School of Architecture students are required to use Windows 10. (See second bullet under "word precessing" below).

NOTE: Vista Home Edition and Windows 7 Home Edition WILL NOT WORK WITH OUR NETWORK and are not supported by the School of Architecture or ITS (Information Technology Services).


Suggested Software*: Each year level in the studio has specific requirements; freshmen need access to Adobe products. There will be a curriculum requirement for entering second-year studios to have the current Adobe Creative Suite (Creative Cloud). Elective courses will also have specific requirements (not unlike textbook requirements).

First year

Word Processing

Microsoft Office (latest version)

Design Software

Adobe Creative Suite (Creative Cloud)

  • Student license available

2nd year

CAD Software

AutoDesk products

3D Modeling 

Google SketchUp

Rhinoceros (Rhino 5.0)

  • Students license available (vary w/ studio requirements)

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

AutoDesk Revit

  • Free download available to students


Verify with studio requirements.

* Please note that the School of Architecture considers software requirements analogous to textbook purchases.

Background Image Alternative Text: Outside Giles Hall

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School of Architecture

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  • 240 Giles Hall
  • Post Office Box AQ
  • Mississippi State, MS 39762
  • Phone: (662) 325-2202
  • Campus Mailstop: 9633
  • Jackson Center:
  • 509 East Capitol Street, Jackson
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