SoA Technology Guide


Students studying architecture at the David R. Ravin School of Architecture work extensively on computers, and a personal laptop computer is an essential tool of that education. Students may use a laptop they already have or choose to buy a new laptop from any vendor. The requirements below combine the UNC Charlotte Niner Ready Laptop Initative information as well as more specific criteria for our programs.

PC or MAC?

Students may use either a Windows-compatible PC or a Mac computer. The choice largely depends on personal preference. Most of the software used in architectural education and practice is PC-based, with the exception of Adobe graphics software, which is equally compatible (and cross-compatible) on Mac and PC. Mac users, however, may use a machine powerful enough to install and run a partition known as Parallels and the Windows operating system, both of which involve an additional expense over the standard price of the Mac (see links below).


The recommendations below may be purchased in bundles prepared by NinerTech Store (see link below), which provides streamlined access to on-campus services and support, as well as an educational discount. Students purchasing their computers at other vendors should use the provided information to ensure that their purchases meet the recommendations.

Recommended PC build:

  • Windows laptop with dedicated processor comparable to AMD Ryzen 7 5800H (20 MB total cache, 8 cores, 16 threads)
  • Graphics card comparable to the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
  • 4 GB GDDR6
  • 32 GB RAM
  • External mouse

Recommended Mac build:

  • Macbook Pro laptop with M1 or M2 chip
  • Parallels software platform (educational discount link)
  • Windows OS for Parallels
  • 32 GB of RAM (upgrade from standard amount)
  • External mouse

Note: Chromebooks, iPads, and mobile devices DO NOT meet the laptop requirement.

Note: OneIT and NinerTech may not have posted our most recent recommendations by the time you are ready to purchase, so use these specs as the most current ones to match.

Storage Requirements: Students are required to use the University’s cloud-based backup platforms (Google Drive and OneDrive) instead of external drives for routine backups. This is the safest and most reliable way to store your day-to-day files. External hard drives are useful for long term archiving and for some large file types used in certain elective classes. Students are therefore encouraged to have a large external hard drive (1TB or more) on hand for those purposes, but they should not rely on external hard drives for day-to-day usage.


Foundational software suites required for all students:

Additional software suites required for all graduate students and most upper-level undergraduate students:

  • Autodesk Suite: AutoCad, 3DS Max, and Revit are available at
  • Rhinoceros (Rhino) 3D Modeling: student subscriptions are available for purchase at