University at Buffalo
Department of


Art & Design

Art History

Visual Studies

Computer & Software Purchase Recommendations

University at Buffalo expects students to have access to a computer that meet UB’s computing standards. The Department of Art maintains open computer labs for courses that require them. However, it is highly recommended that students purchase their own laptop and applications used in class. The Department of Art recommends the Apple MacBook Pro. These laptops are preferred over the iMac desktop for convenience and flexibility. While the iMac has comparable power, speed, RAM and storage, the MacBook can be used in class, in the library, while meeting with fellow students and faculty, and elsewhere.

Macintosh is the platform of choice for creative exploration and expression, and increasingly also among other disciplines on campus. Windows PCs and Macs are comparable in power and price, but PCs are generally more difficult to setup, more costly to maintain over the long-term, and more susceptible to viruses and spyware. The Mac OS has an advanced, intuitive interface, integrated media solutions, and high quality, durable hardware, which provide for a rich, creative experience. All new Macs include high speed networking capabilities, standards-based peripheral connectivity, HD audio and video, and an award-winning suite of media and office applications.

Macs are easily used in courses outside of Art, integrating seamlessly with UNIX, Linux and Windows environments. Popular applications are available for both Mac and PC, and Macs can read and write to PC disks. All new Macs can also run Microsoft Windows, bringing applications previously only available on the PC to Apple hardware.

The Department of Art recommends the following MacBook Pro minimum configurations for our students:

MacBook Pro 13″ with Touch Bar and Touch ID
Recommended for Art History & General Studio majors

  • 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor
    • 16GB RAM, 256GB Flash Storage, AppleCare. $2,242 from Apple Education Store.

MacBook Pro 15″ with Touch Bar and Touch ID
Recommended for Photo, Graphic Design & Emerging Practices majors

  • 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor
    • 16GB RAM, 512GB Flash Storage, Radeon Pro 460 Graphics Card with 4GB memory, AppleCare. $3,184 from Apple Education Store.

Additional Recommendations

In addition to a MacBook Pro, we also recommend  an external hard drive (such as listed below) for backups and transporting files between computers. Students are required to implement a backup strategy and to bring all files to each class.

OWC On-The-Go Pro 500GB
Bus Powered (No separate power cord needed)
USB 3.0

OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro 1.0TB
Larger, faster, better performance for video capture
eSATA / FireWire 800 / USB 3.0

Software — A Note About Not Purchasing Adobe Creative Cloud (CC)

All software needed to produce work for Art classes is installed for you to use on Open Lab computers. The Department of Art recommends NOT subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) products. We encourage the exploration of Adobe alternatives. Adobe recently moved to CC, which requires that students purchase subscription-based  licenses and pay a monthly fee (a year at a time for as long as needed) rather than paying a one-time price. It effectively triples the cost of ownership over 4 years. We and many other professional designers and educators find the CC funding model unacceptable, disempowering, and wrong-headed. The Department of Art will not be installing CC. Instead, we will continue to use CS6 as we research suitable alternatives. You can read more details in our “Recommendations to Students Regarding Adobe Creative Cloud.”

This page should be used as reference only. Prices and links above were current as of December 14, 2016 and may change.

202 Center for the Arts, North Campus
Buffalo, New York 14260-6010
(716) 645-6878
(716) 645-6970 fax