Core Design Program
Beginning in fall 2020, all students at Iowa State University will be required to own or obtain a laptop computer or other device appropriate to their discipline. For incoming Core students (freshmen and transfer students), we recommend that the laptop device you acquire has the following minimum specifications:
- Intel i3 processor
- 8GB of RAM (memory)
- 128GB of Solid State Drive storage
For multitasking flexibility, these are the first upgrades to consider:
- Intel i5 processor
- 16GB of RAM
- 256GB of Solid State Drive storage
(recommended for those who intend to store any pictures/video)
Also beginning in fall 2020, Core students will be required to have a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud for access to InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator software. Please hold off on purchasing a subscription; more information will be shared with incoming fall 2020 students soon.
Laptop requirements increase significantly for sophomores entering their degree programs after completion of the Core Design Program. These requirements are determined by departments and, as technology is always advancing, are updated annually. You may wish to wait to purchase a high-end machine until you are accepted into your program.
Please keep in mind that the complexity of your degree program will increase as you progress. As that complexity grows, so do the technological requirements. While you likely won’t need a higher-performance device during your Core year, you will benefit from having greater performance in the latter years of your degree program. Those who will be sophomores will receive a letter with information about the Design Laptop Program as one option.
When referencing a high-performance laptop, we generally mean a laptop device costing ~$2,000 or more. When referencing a low-end laptop, we generally mean a laptop device of ~$500–$1,000. For software compatibility, we recommend students look at laptops that run Windows 10 or MacOS. Examples include:
- Dell XPS 13
- High-end Dell Inspiron
- MacBook Air
Laptop Loaner Program
If you do not have access to a laptop and cannot afford to buy your own, the university has developed a Laptop Loaner Program. Laptops will be lent to current students through the University Library. Requests for participation will be accepted through 5 p.m. CDT Friday, Aug. 28. Full-time, degree-seeking students with the greatest financial need and those who have exhausted other options for financial aid will receive priority as laptop requests are processed.
Click the link to the loaner program page for more information and the request form.