What computer do I need for Goucher's Digital Arts Program?
In the digital arts, your computer is your primary artistic tool. As such, there is often a benefit to having a high quality computer. On the other hand, fantastic art has been created with sub-par tools throughout history. With that in mind, it is recommended that you have the highest quality computer you deem affordable.
If you are planning on buying, some things to consider include:
An Intel-based Mac will give you the most flexibility in regards to operating system, allowing you to run your choice of Linux, Windows, OS X, or a combination. Mac OS X's CoreAudio and audio ports have historically handled audio extremely well and Mac monitors tend to be excellent. If you have any aspirations of iOS development, you will also need a Mac. Macs tend to suit the needs of digital artists well for these reasons, but OS X is not required for this program.
You can expect to work with the software of your choice in the classroom. However, your professors will be best able to support you if you have access to Adobe Creative Cloud and Ableton Live. All students in the program will have free access to Cinema4D, our 3D software of choice. Performers may additionally want access to Cycling 74's Max during their time in the program. Note that Goucher has special discounts for software available at software.goucher.edu, and that you should talk to your professors before making any software purchases for classes.
Useful for handling multiple processes simultaneously.
Hard drive speed
Fast drives useful for writing/reading high quantities of data to/from disk in real
time (eg. multitrack recording)
note: SSDs today are significantly faster than 7200rpm
Hard drive size
Large drives useful for massive projects (especially uncompressed video)
Many video/audio editing programs take up a lot of screen real-estate. You will benefit from a higher resolution.
Not all monitors represent color accurately or with sufficient contrast for those interested in the visual arts
a newer graphics card with high memory will be better for fast graphical rendering. We recommend using a computer with a dedicated graphics card, but it is not required.
speed of computing, Intel processors are the most widely supported
note: today the processor is often not the speed bottleneck
Make sure you will have enough ports on your computer for all your needs. This is
one major drawback for Apple computers.
note: USB hubs that connect multiple USB devices to one USB port on your computer are not ideal for things requiring fast access, like hard drives or audio interfaces. Factor this into your decision.
consider also your potential needs for VGA vs. DVI vs. HDMI. VGA<DVI<HDMI<DisplayPort, but VGA is still the most widely circulating video connection. HDMI is increasingly prominent and its ability to handle audio is convenient.
do you want to be able to burn CDs, DVDs, access microSD cards, etc.?
Recommendation (not a minimum):
Mac OS X
4GB RAM or more
7200rpm HD or SSD
250gb of space or more
1440x900 resolution or higher
2.0GHz dual core Intel processor or greater