Laptop and Software Recommendations

Laptop, Software, and Hardware Recommendations for
Graphic Design and Digital Media Students

If you are a Graphic Design Major (BFA), Studio Art, Art Education or Digital Media major thinking about concentrating in Graphic Design or Interactive Design (or just taking credits in this area) and are seriously considering purchasing a laptop for college, the Department of Art and Design would highly recommend that you purchase the following equipment and software:


  1.   We recommend a Mac since it is the industry standard for most of Art and Design practice.

We encourage purchasing a laptop and not an IMac or MacPro station. A laptop is convenient and mobile.

WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND A 14” to 16” SCREEN. A 16” screen is ideal for working on graphic design and digital images. Anything less than a 13” screen makes working on images/design difficult (especially longer work sessions).

The 16” MacBook Pro option is excellent, but the most expensive option. The 13” MacBook Air is also a good machine at a cheaper price. We do not recommend the MacBook since it currently only comes in a 13” screen, which is too small for Graphic Design and Digital Media work.

The minimal option of RAM and hard-drive storage on any of these laptop recommendations is good for the work you will be assigned. However, the higher amount of RAM, the better performance. This is especially true for video and motion design work. If you are interested in focusing on this type of digital work, we recommend that you consider purchasing more RAM for your laptop. Larger hard drive space is also good (but more expensive). It is easier to expand data storage options with external drives and cloud-based storage. In most cases, you can also add more RAM later if you discover you need more.

  1.  Adobe Creative Cloud:   We recommend that you subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud. Information on student rates can be found at the following link:


There are three programs that you will use in most of your Graphic Design and Digital Media classes.  (They are also used a great deal, if not exclusively, in the field of graphic design and digital imaging.) They are:

      a.   Adobe Photoshop

      b.   Adobe Illustrator   

      c.   Adobe InDesign

      d.   Adobe After Effects

            The “Creative Cloud All Apps” option is currently available for $19.99 per month. This is
            a very good price and includes the most used apps listed above and many others.

  1.  External Drive or Removable Data Storage:  If you decide to purchase your own computer system you will need to acquire a simple and easy way of transferring and backing up the work you do on your laptop to the MAC lab in Frey (or anywhere else).  We recommend purchasing an external drive that does not require additional external power (it draws its power from the computer it is plugged into).

             Other possible options for data transfer are Flash disks or memory sticks. These are very convenient and small and are available in many storage amounts and prices.

Cloud-based storage (like Dropbox and Google Drive) is also an option. “Free” versions of these cloud storage options offer minimal space but could be good for just transferring current files you are working on. There are various pricing options for more storage space on the company websites.

As a student, you can receive educational discounts on any Macintosh computer and Adobe Creative Cloud. Check Apple’s web site under “educational” for the latest educational discounts on all their computers, software and accessories. After you graduate you will have to pay full price so take advantage of educational prices and you will save a great deal of money!

Before you invest in any equipment, it would be wise to read some reviews of products before you buy them. We recommend They have great reviews of all kinds of equipment and give you prices so you can research the best deals. 

This equipment is expensive!  It is not necessary to buy any or all this equipment!  The Department of Art and Design MAC lab is perfectly capable of facilitating your education, but investing in your own equipment can really enhance your education and overall work.  In addition, after you graduate and start your job search, you will soon see the advantage of having your own equipment when it provides you the means to update your portfolio, resumé or promotional materials.  Having your own equipment also provides you the opportunity to do freelance work if you choose.  (In many cases, design firms prefer to assign freelance work before they hire any full-time staff designers.)

For more information, call or e-mail:

Graphic Design and Digital Art Professors

David Kasparek, Professor of Graphic Design

                        Phone: 717-766-251, ext. 2381



Hong Huo, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design and Digital Media

                        Phone: 717-766-251, ext. 2236



Information Technology Services

Chad Keene, Director of Technology Support

                        Phone: 717-766-251, ext. 2500