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Program Technology Requirements

Last updated on Jul 12, 2024


CCA requires that students own an external storage device and laptop that meets our minimum system requirements. This requirement will help ensure that all students have access to the college’s digital resources at home or on campus.

  • Undergraduate students are required to own a laptop that meets the minimum system requirements for software used in their intended major/program, listed below. For general and undeclared students or if your major/program is not listed the General / Undeclared CCA Laptop minimum specifications will be appropriate.
  • Graduate students are required to own a laptop that meets the minimum system requirements for software used in their program, listed below. If your program is not listed the General / Undeclared CCA Laptop minimum specifications will be appropriate.


General / Undeclared CCA Laptop

Required system specifications (2024)

  • Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro - M3 Standard chip with 8-core CPU
    10-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
    MINIMUM 16GB unified memory
    MINIMUM 512GB SSD storage
    Liquid Retina XDR display
    Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, headphone jack, MagSafe 3 port
    Purchase here: CCA / Apple Online Store Bundles (System Recommendation No. 5)


External storage device:
CCA students are required to own an external storage device for saving coursework and backups of digital work. When working with high-resolution image files, motion graphics, and video files, a great deal of data storage space is needed.


ANIMATION + GAME ARTS

System specifications for Animation and Game Arts students and students working extensively with digital image creation:

RECOMMENDED system specifications (2024)

  • Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro - M3 Pro chip with 11-core CPU
    14-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
    36GB unified memory
    1TB SSD storage
    Liquid Retina XDR display
    Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, headphone jack, MagSafe 3 port
    Purchase here: CCA / Apple Online Store Bundles (System Recommendation No. 1)

MINIMUM system specifications (2024)

  • Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro - M3 Standard chip with 8-core CPU
    10-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
    24GB unified memory
    1 TB SSD storage
    Liquid Retina XDR display
    Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, headphone jack, MagSafe 3 port
    Purchase here: CCA / Apple Online Store Bundles (System Recommendation No. 2)

Curriculum is designed for Macs, but if you prefer to use a PC, please see: Example / Purchasing link Alienware m16 Gaming Laptop with the following specifications:

  • 13th Gen Intel® Core™ i9-13900HX (36 MB cache, 24 cores, 32 threads, up to 5.40 GHz Turbo)
  • Windows 11 Home, English, French, Spanish
  • NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4060, 8 GB GDDR6
  • 16" QHD+ (2560 x 1600) 240Hz, 3ms, ComfortView Plus, NVIDIA G-SYNC + DDS, 100% DCI-P3, FHD IR Camera
  • 32 GB, 2 x 16 GB, DDR5, 4800 MHz
  • 1 TB, M.2, PCIe NVMe, SSD

Peripherals

  • Any 3-button mouse, wired or wireless
  • Digital drawing tablet. There are a range of acceptable tablets, including: Huion Kamvas 22, Huion Kamvas 13, Wacom One). Use this link to receive student discounts on Wacom tablets and products.

External Storage Device: All students in the BFA Animation and Game Arts program classes are required to own one or more external storage drives with the following minimum specifications:


ARCHITECTURE + INTERIOR DESIGN

Architecture (BArch, MArch, MAAD) and Interior Design recommend a Windows laptop, as some required software in the Architecture and Interior Design curriculums are only available for Windows (e.g. AutoCAD and Rhino). Virtualization software such as Parallels or VMWare are NOT recommended. As some classes require the use of computers in-class, DO NOT purchase a desktop computer.


MINIMUM system specifications (2024)

  • 15 or 16 inch screen, matte/non-glare screen surface recommended
    OS: Windows 10 (or Higher) 64-bit
    CPU: Minimum Intel i7 or AMD Ryzen 7, minimum 8 cores and 16 threads.
    GPU: Graphics card with at least 4GB of memory (NVIDIA preferred)
    RAM: 32GB RAM (64GB Preferred)
    1 TB or larger Solid-state drive (SSD)

Software: The Architecture and Interior Design programs use a core group of software: Autodesk (AutoCAD, 3DS Max, Revit), Rhino (CAM, Vray), Adobe Creative Cloud, ArcGIS, Lumion, and Enscape 3D. Much of this software is free or heavily discounted for CCA students. Learn more at: Creative Software.


External Storage Device
Connects via USB
1 TB (Terabyte) minimum storage space


COMICS

The MFA in Comics program requires a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or a mobile computing device that can run the following digital platforms: Adobe Photoshop, Moodle, Mural, and Zoom.

  • In addition, students must be able to produce high quality digital reproductions of their comics work via flatbed scanners or digital cameras for sharing across platforms.
  • CCA students are eligible for educational pricing plus discounts on AppleCare and some MacBook Pro models at the CCA / Apple Online Store

External Storage Device
Connects via USB
1 TB (Terabyte) minimum storage space


DESIGN + GRAPHIC DESIGN + ILLUSTRATION

The following minimum requirement is for Design (MFA), Graphic Design, and Illustration students and students working extensively with digital image creation:

MINIMUM system specifications (2024):

  • Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro - M3 Pro chip with 12-core CPU
    18‑core GPU and 16‑core Neural Engine
    MINIMUM 18GB unified memory
    MINIMUM 512GB SSD storage
    Liquid Retina XDR display
    Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, headphone jack, MagSafe 3 port
    Purchase here: CCA / Apple Online Store Bundles (System Recommendation No. 9)

External Storage Device
Connects via USB, 1 TB (Terabyte) minimum storage space
Purchase here: CCA / Apple Online Store Bundles (System Recommendation No. 7 & 8)


DESIGN STRATEGY

The MBA in Design Strategy Program requires a laptop such as a MacBook Air or a mobile computing device such as a tablet. Students can opt to use an iPad or similar tablet while attending residencies if they have access to another computer at home or work. We have partnered with Apple to offer laptops and peripherals that meet our technology requirements. CCA students are eligible for educational pricing plus discounts on AppleCare and some MacBook Pro models at the CCA / Apple Online Store.

External Storage Device
Connects via USB
1 TB (Terabyte) minimum storage space


FILM

The following minimum requirement is for BFA and MFA Film students, and students working extensively with digital video and audio.

RECOMMENDED System Requirements (2024)

  • Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro - M3 Max chip with 14-core CPU
    30-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
    36GB unified memory
    1TB SSD storage
    Liquid Retina XDR display
    Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, headphone jack, MagSafe 3 port
    Purchase here: CCA / Apple Online Store Bundles (Recommended System No. 3)

MINIMUM System Specifications (2024)

  • Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro - M3 Pro chip with 12-core CPU
    18-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
    36GB unified memory
    1TB SSD storage
    Liquid Retina XDR display
    Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, headphone jack, MagSafe 3 port
    Purchase here: CCA / Apple Online Store Bundles (Recommended System No. 4)


Media Storage and External Drive Requirements

External USB 3.1 or thunderbolt SSD, minimum 2TB, and an additional external drive (SSD or 7200 RPM) of the same size for backup. System Backup Drive matching internal drive size.

Equivalent Windows Systems While PC / Windows OS Systems may be used, the Film Program recommends Apple machines for purposes of instruction compatibility and interoperability with other CCA equipment. You should expect to be fully self-supporting if you choose to work with a Windows system: instruction is always done using Mac systems. A Windows laptop substituting for the required Apple laptops must have equivalent performance in all areas to the Apple specifications given above. Windows machines must be capable of running Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Audition, DaVinci Resolve, and ProTools. External drive requirements are the same as those given above.


FIRST-YEAR

First-Year students are required to own a laptop that meets the minimum system requirements for software commonly used across the curriculum:

Required system specifications (2024)

  • Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro - M3 Standard chip with 8-core CPU
    10-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
    MINIMUM 16GB unified memory
    MINIMUM 512GB SSD storage
    Liquid Retina XDR display
    Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, headphone jack, MagSafe 3 port
    Purchase here: CCA / Apple Online Store Bundles (System Recommendation No. 5)


External storage device:
CCA students are required to own an external storage device for saving coursework and backups of digital work. When working with high-resolution image files, motion graphics, and video files, a great deal of data storage space is needed.

Software: CCA Adobe Creative Cloud accounts are available to students, learn more: here. Other required software will be provided to students as needed for class, see: Creative Software.


INDUSTRIAL DESIGN

Industrial Design recommends majors purchase a Windows PC laptop as some curriculum-required software (e.g. SolidWorks) are built to run on Windows. As some classes require the use of computers in-class, do NOT purchase a desktop computer.

No Mac Recommended:
All the newly released MacBook Pros, outfitted with the new Apple Silicon M chip will only run macOS natively. Additionally, virtualization software such as Bootcamp will NOT work on the M chip as it requires the Intel processor.

MINIMUM system specifications (2024):

  • CPU: recent i7, i9, or Ryzen R7
    RAM: minimum 16GB, 32GB preferred but not required
    Hard Drive: 1TB Solid State Drive (SSD)
    GPU: NVIDIA RTX 3060, 3080, 4060, or 4080 with a minimum of 8 GB of VRAM
    Examples / Purchasing links: Dell XPS 15, Lenovo Legion, Asus Vivobook Pro, MSI Creator Z16


External Storage Device

  • 1 TB or larger capacity
    7200 RPM or Solid-state Drive (SSD)
    Connects via USB

INTERACTION DESIGN

The following minimum recommendation is for Interaction Design undergraduate students:

MINIMUM system specifications (2024)

  • Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro - M3 Pro chip with 11-core CPU
    14-core GPU, 18-core Neural Engine
    18GB unified memory (36 GB Recommended)
    512GB SSD storage
    14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
    Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, headphone jack, MagSafe 3 port
    Purchase here: CCA / Apple Online Store Bundles (System Recommendation No. 6)

External Storage Device: All CCA students are required to own an external storage device for saving coursework and backups of digital work. When working with high-resolution image files, motion graphics, and video files, a great deal of data storage space is needed.


INTERACTION DESIGN (MDes)

The MDes program is hardware and software agnostic. Students can opt to use a portable laptop, tablet, or desktop. Most assignments can be completed with access to a modern web browser capable of running applications such as Figma, Adobe XD, Miro, Mural, Google Slides, or Slido. Some prototyping software (such as Unreal Engine) will require 16gb RAM. Although it dominates the creative industry, Apple products are not a requirement; that said, we have partnered with Apple to offer hardware and peripherals with student discounts, available at the CCA / Apple Online Store.


Apple Purchasing Information

We have partnered with Apple to offer laptops and peripherals that meet our technology requirements. CCA faculty, staff, and students are eligible for educational pricing plus discounts on AppleCare and some MacBook Pro models at the CCA / Apple online store. By purchasing through our online store you will help contribute to the support of student technology at CCA. To use the discount in person, visit an Apple Store with your current CCA ID.

CCA strongly recommends the purchasing of appropriate warranty and support plans AppleCare for Mac for all computer purchases.


Insurance for Student Owned Technology

We strongly recommend that you purchase insurance to protect against loss, theft or damage. Therefore, we urge all families to contact their insurance agent and check their homeowners or renters insurance policy to see if it provides such coverage; and to consider obtaining personal property coverage if it does not. For more information, please visit www.collegestudentinsurance.com.

Please note that CCA is not affiliated with or endorse individual insurance vendors or their products.


Support for Student Owned Laptops

Our Help Desk and User Support Specialists are available to help you with troubleshooting assistance and limited support for student-owned laptops. Please call or submit a ticket online to make an appointment with User Support:

Phone: 415-703-9560 (Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm)
Email: helpdesk@cca.edu
Online: Submit Help Desk Ticket

For hardware issues, contact the Apple Store. User Support is happy to help refer you if you are unsure what kind of support you need.