Computing Suggestions

The following computing suggestions are for all students in the School of Cinema and Media Arts, but especially for those in the Production emphasis.


The School of CMA and the Production Center are currently heavily Mac-based. (The new computer lab opening Fall 2020 will have some Windows machines.) Because of this, we recommend the Apple MacBook Pro line with:

  • 8 GB of RAM (16 GB or more recommended)
  • A GPU card with at least 2GB of GPU VRAM (4GB recommended).

MacBook Pros aren’t easily customizable after purchase, so we’d recommend spending part of your budget on upgrading the processor, RAM memory and discrete GPU card. External hard drive storage can be purchased cheaply, so we would recommend getting a small, fast SSD for the main, internal hard drive.

New MacBook Pros only have Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, so you will need to purchase adapters like USB-C to USB and USB-C to HDMI to connect other peripherals.

Depending on how much you expect to be using the laptop for “heavy lifting” (like rendering and color-grading), you can choose different specs. We always have the Edit Bays in the Production Center (and upcoming computer lab) available to take care of the heavier loads, if you’d like to purchase more of a standard laptop.


All of the software that you’ll need to complete class assignments is available in the Edit Bays in the Production Center (and on the computers in the upcoming computer lab).

If you’d like to purchase your own copies or subscriptions of the major software, some recommendations are:

Adobe offers discounted, student pricing for their subscriptions. Avid offers free versions of their software—the “First” editions. They’re fully functional, but have limitations. Resolve is fully-featured and available for free. You only really need to purchase a license for it, if you’re going to be exporting in 4K.

Hard Drives

External hard drives can be inexpensive, but be aware that you really do get what you pay for. Most spinning, slim, portable hard drives are prone to failure. If you are in the habit of frequently backing up your content, this shouldn’t be a problem, though.

For the best performance, choose a hard drive that spins at 7200 RPM (5400 RPM hard drives are less expensive, but are slower). If you can afford it, go with an SSD, which has no moving parts, making it more reliable (with caveats) and much faster. SSD hard drives are more expensive than spinning hard drives for the same capacity, but aren’t prone to the same mechanical failures as their spinning counterparts. For example, an SSD can take a fall from a tabletop, and still work just fine. A fall like that can be the death knell of a spinning hard drive.