Computer Requirements

All undergraduate students entering the architecture program are required to have a laptop computer. Some of the applications used in upper level coursework are only available on Microsoft Windows. It is possible to run Mac and Windows operating systems on Apple computers, so if you prefer to purchase a Mac, please see the "How to install Windows on your Mac with Boot Camp" guide from Apple


The most important criteria in evaluating a laptop is that it can easily run the software required for your Architecture coursework. Design applications are graphics intensive, so adequate display resolution, RAM, and graphics processing are all vital factors to consider when purchasing. 

Laptop computer must meet or exceed the following specifications:

  • 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel i7
  • 16 GB 1600 MHz RAM

  • 500 GB SSD (preferred) or 1 TB Hard Drive
  • 4 GB Graphics Card
  • High-Resolution Display, 1920x1080 pixels or higher
  • Current Operating System (Windows 10 is available free for Cal Poly students)


Students should arrive with the most current edition of:

  • Adobe Create Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat) either as subscription or stand-alone, (available for $29.99/year for students). Visit the Cal Poly Service Desk website for more information.
  • Rhino 6 (Student Edition for 3D Modeling). Although it is available for both operating systems, some plug-ins for the software will only run on the Windows version. See below for discount purchasing.

Cal Poly students, faculty, and staff may download various software at no cost or purchase software at a significant discount via the Kivuto "OnTheHub" website.  Please visit this site for details on how to access on the "OnTheHub":

For commonly used CAED software that is not offered "OnTheHub" look at the following suggested links or check with your professor.

  • Rhino (available at the Cal Poly University Store at a discounted student price)
  • SketchUp (the “Make” version can be downloaded free of charge)
  • AutoDesk Education Community (AutoCAD and Revit): Free student licenses are provided upon registering with your Cal poly email address.

Educational Pricing

Call or visit the Cal Poly University Store (805.756.5311) for educational pricing on both software and hardware. Prices are also published on the Cal Poly University Store web site.

A Word About Email

Cal Poly provides a free email account to every student. Use of this account is required, even if you also maintain an off-campus account. Cal Poly email will be used by faculty, the Architecture Department and the University as an official means of communicating with you. Make it a habit to check your account regularly, or have it forwarded to your off-campus account.

Additional Resources


Updated 06.13.18

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