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Computing equipment guidance for new Architecture students

Guidance for Architecture students wishing to purchase their own computing equipment.

Buying your own computing equipment

Whilst the school offers access to a great variety of IT equipment throughout all the years of your studies, including desktop computers, scanners, 2D and 3D printers, laser cutters and plotters, it may prove particularly useful to purchase your own laptop or desktop computer device.

Given the unpredictable impact that the pandemic management may have on personal engagement and learning conditions, but also because shared university facilities may occasionally be under high demand, you might wish to consider equipping yourselves with everything that allows you to stay connected or that simply buys you time.

If you are considering purchasing a computer, we then strongly recommend making it a laptop computer. The advantage of a laptop is that you will be able to easily carry it with you, if your learning conditions change, including bringing it to the design studios. Although, you need to take precautions with security, as your laptop will not be covered under the university’s insurance policy. Laptop insurance is available as part of the purchase from some computer suppliers.

School software packages

The School offers free access to several software packages including those for 2D drafting, 3D modelling, and other relevant software packages, although you will not necessarily receive comprehensive teaching in all of them.

We aim to help you develop an ability to learn independently and to recognize when you need to use a particular software package.

This software includes usage of Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, Autodesk, ArcGIS, Rhino 7, Sketch-Up, vRay Plugins (for Sketch-Up, Rhino and 3Ds Max), Design Builder and Miro.

Accessing software

This is dependent on the license, but software is either available for students to access on their personal devices and/or via the School lab computers.

Students will receive individual licenses for:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Rhino 7
  • Sketch-up
  • V-Ray Plugins
  • Autodesk Educational License.

Information on how to access the different software will be issued at the beginning of the academic year.

University software

As a student at Cardiff University, you can access Microsoft Office 365 applications at no extra cost. This includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook available for both Windows PC and Apple Mac devices.

You can install Office 365 applications on up to five computers (Windows or Mac) and up to five mobile devices (iOS or Android) and you can use it for as long as you are a student at Cardiff University.

Students are also entitled to install antivirus software on personally owned devices to help protect their device.

Computer specification for Architecture students

For Architecture students, common use of laptop exceeds email writing, using spreadsheets and composing papers. The School offers you the opportunity to utilise software, which support the development of complex 3D models and simulations that largely demand more powerful devices and can cost significantly more. The specification below acts as a recommended specification based upon software commonly used in various modules and learning activities. Individual details on this can be found further below:

  • Windows 10 Pro 64bit (Operating System)
  • Intel i7 (Processor
  • 16GB RAM (Memory)
  • 500GB Solid State Disk/SSD (Hard Disk)
  • 4GB Graphics Card (Quadro/GeForce Dedicated Graphics Card)

More information on specific hardware requirements for software:

Connecting to the University network

Yes, the wireless (wifi) network is freely available to staff and students while on campus for all personal laptop, tablets and mobiles devices.

Read more about how to connect to the University's wireless network.

Other IT requirements

As a student you will be provisioned with cloud storage space via OneDrive part of Office 365. This can be accessed from any web browser or device, and you can easily share files, collaborate online, and synchronize files between PC, laptop, tablet, and online storage. University IT also provides students with networked file storage.

It may be useful to purchase a portable external USB drive to save files and maintain a backup in addition to other services mentioned above. Also consider buying a good quality case to protect your device and an external mouse to aid with design work.

Using an Apple Mac computer

Whilst most of the core software can be installed on Apple Mac devices some software only supports installation onto Windows (such as Autodesk REVIT and DesignBuilder) therefore a Windows device is recommended. Apple users may be able to install and run Windows on their Apple hardware achieved via third party software, however, this is device dependent and not supported.

University supported Operating Systems

Windows 10 is the standard and supported Operating System around the University including computer lab and library locations. Please note, Microsoft withdrew support for Windows 7 early in 2020. Therefore, these devices no longer receiving critical security updates, are no longer supported and may not connect to the network.

Computer aided design

Not strictly necessary, but it never hurts to familiarize yourself with computer-aided sketching and drafting.

As part of the BSc programme and during your first year of studies, you will receive introductory seminars on commonly used software. However, it is both essential and useful that you gradually build your confidence in computer-aided design by engaging with various means and tools. This will enable you to learn and experiment quickly when you arrive at the School.