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Interior Design Computer Specifications

Interior Design Computer Specifications

Computers are dramatically affecting the way designers see and think about design. To address this issue, studios will address how technology impacts the design process.

The required design-related software places very large demands on the hardware. Design illustrations, running multiple programs at once and storing information are all required within our program's requirements. As students’ progress through the program these requirements become more complex and put more strain on aging hardware. As a result, minimum requirements are based on current and future technological needs within our program.

If you have further technical questions, feel free to email Rory Reid to make sure your computer will meet the requirements.

ItemWindows (PREFERRED)Apple
CPUi7 10000 Series or higheri7 or i9 11000 or 12000 SeriesAny i7 still offeredM1 or M2 Apple Silicon
2.5Ghz+ Base Frequency3.5Ghz+ Base FrequencyOn Apples 2018 or newerM1-2 Pro/Max are Better
Display15.6" Full HD (FHD) (1080p)15.6"-16" QHD/WQHD/4K14" Models16" Models
1920x10802560x1440 or 3840x2160Macbook Air's are not ideal
RAM Memory16GB DDR432GB-64GB DDR516GB32GB-64GB
 Apple memory cannot be expanded after manufacture
Disk Storage512GB SSD512GB-1TB NVMe SSD512GB512GB-1TB
Intel Optane not advisedNVMe SSDs are IdealMac Storage is proprietary and uniform across models
Optical DriveDVD +/- R/RW ExternalUSB-C > USB-ADVD +/- R/RW ExternalUSB-C > USB-A
Video Card/Graphics (GPU)Nvidia GeForce 1000 seriesNvidia GeForce 3000 seriesBenchmark Score 4500+M1 or M2 CPU
Benchmark ChartBenchmark Score 4500+Benchmark Score 7000+ These CPUs are also GPUs
External Hard DriveUSB-C 500GB ExternalTB3/4 500GB ExternalUSB-C 500GB ExternalTB3/4 500GB External
TB = ThunderboltCloud storage also acceptable but dependent on networkCloud storage also acceptable but dependent on network
Ports on LaptopUSB-C Highly AdvisedThunderbolt 3 or 4 is bestMost 2018 and later macs have Thunderbolt standard
1-2 Regular USB Ports1-2 Regular USB Ports
Flash Drive32GB64GB32GB64GB
USB-C and Thunderbolt will transfer much fasterMost 2018 and later macs don't have USB-A style Ports
Operating SystemWindows 10 - 64BitWindows 10 Pro - 64 BitMacOS 11 (Big Sur)MacOS 13 (Ventura)
Windows 11 - 64 Bit will also workAnything prior to MacOS 11 may potentially have issues
External Mouse3-Button Scrolling Wheel3-Button Scrolling WheelApple Magic Mouse3-Button Scrolling Wheel is
RequiredRequired Ideal
SuggestionsMicrosoft Surface Laptop StudioMacBook Pro's
NVIDIA GeForce RTX Series ONLY. Iris Xe will NOT WORK.  

Windows Vs. Apple – Although windows is preferred, both operating systems will work for this program. Apple systems will also need to purchase Parallel’s software so they are able to install and run Windows Only Software. This may or may not also require a purchased Windows license. Parallel’s is typically between $59.99-$99.99 depending on sales and version. Window’s licenses are generally around $100 but can be as low as $9.99.

CPU – For PC’s i7’s or i9’s are highly recommended. 10000-12000 Series is ideal with 12 being the newest and best. K series chips are usually the fastest of the entire series, while U series generally use lower voltages and are slower. i7 12900K > i7 12900U. Base Frequency should be no lower than 2.5GHz. The higher the base frequency and turbo speed the better. Apple M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max and M2’s all also function as graphics cards so the GPU requirement is covered if the system contains one of these chips for a CPU.

Display – This is more personal preference. A higher resolution option. will look cleaner and offer you more options when you start working with certain design programs. 8K>4k>(W)QHD>FHD is generally highest resolution to lowest. OLED screens are the best, but again it is personal preference.

RAM Memory – More is better. Going below 16GB will cause major issues with several programs and increase load times / rendering times. Anyone going with Apple should double what they need compared to a PC due to Parallels. Parallels lets Windows and MacOS run side by side, but resources will need to be split. So on a 32GB MacBook Pro you would generally assign 16GB to Windows and 16GB to the Mac side. This is recommended for Apple’s, but not required.

Disk Storage – Avoid drives that contain any mention of rpms. This means it’s an older spinning drive and not an SSD or NVMe. NVMe’s are the fastest followed by regular solid state drives (SSDS). 512GB is the lowest recommended due to large design file sizes. Apple drives are potentially soldered to their mainboard and therefore not upgradeable in the future.

Optical Drive – Optional if you plan on using disc media.

GPU – Find the GPU on the system your planning to buy and then search for it in this benchmark list. You want to have a card that has a score of 3500 or better MINIMUM. Any less and you will struggle to run multiple programs that are required. The higher the number on this list, the better. 4500+ is recommended. Some systems have AMD graphics which are usually called Radeon cards. Their naming scheme makes it harder to tell how fast it is compared to NVIDIA, so it is best to consult the benchmark chart.

External Hard Drives – You will want a spot to backup your data. External’s make this easy, but cloud storage is also an option. If you go with an external you should try and get a USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 or 4 connector so that data transfer speeds are as fast as possible (make sure your system has a USB-C or Thunderbolt Port.)

Ports on Laptops – Macs will all come with Thunderbolt ports. PC’s that have at least 1 Thunderbolt or USB-C port are ideal as they offer much faster data transfer speeds than regular USB. Ideally on a PC you have 1 USB-C/Thunderbolt and 1-2 standard USB Ports. MacBook Pro’s will not come with any standard USB ports so you may need to consider an adapter if you plan on using any.

Flash Drive – If you have an External Drive that should cover this requirement.

Operating System – Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit is the best option for PCs. Windows 11 will work but we have seen several driver issues. This will get cleaned up by Microsoft eventually as it continues to receive updates. MacOS you’ll want the latest possible on your machine. Anything prior to Big Sur (MacOS 11) may experience issues as design programs receive more updates and older versions become obsolete.

Suggested Systems – If you get a Surface Studio make sure it has the GeForce RTX Graphics. Intel Iris Xe graphics will not be sufficient for any of the programs required. MacBook Pro’s with the M series chips will all work great but the 16”’s extra screen space is probably worth the extra cost.

To facilitate student competency in top-rated software products demanded by industry professionals, SDSU requires students to purchase current versions of software packages. It is imperative that students have the required software packages purchased and properly installed PRIOR to their first day of studio in their second year of the program (fall of the second year). Students with questions or concerns about this installation process should contact the SDSU Support Desk (see below for contact information).


(FREE through SDSU - Jacks e-mail office 365 to access)
(FREE through SDSU - Jacks e-mail office 365 to access)
WINDOWSn/aWINDOWS 10 64-BIT or higher

*Students planning to purchase a PC should select from one of the Autodesk Pre-approved systems. In the Autodesk website listed, students can select use with Revit, and Windows for a list of approved hardware configurations. Some software only works on Windows. If buying a Mac, you have to install Bootcamp or Parallel which costs extra for a yearly subscription and might cause lower hardware performance.

**Students may be asked to purchase additional software in conjunction with representation electives. Any additional software purchases will be disclosed prior to students' class registration.


  1. The Interior Design program and the School of Design at SDSU prohibit the use of pirated software. Students who have pirated software on their computers will not be serviced and can be reported. Student are expected to maintain proof of ownership for all software, and will be expected to maintain a file cataloging of all software license numbers, serial numbers, etc.
  2. Be advised that it takes 2-6 weeks for laptops with custom specifications to be received after purchase. Students should plan ahead accordingly to ensure their computer has been received, software loaded, and full functionality ensured prior to their first day on class in their second year.
  3. Direct sales of specific software packages may be required. See the following websites for information about those packages.
  4. Contact the Support Desk with any issues or call 605-688-6776
  5. Be sure to contact Sahand Abbasi to learn more about system specifications before purchasing your computer.