Computer specifications

What sort of computer do I need?

We get asked a lot for what sort of computer you need if you're going to learn 3D animation, develop VFX, code or design games. The software that you will use in these courses can be very demanding on your computer. The good news is that most computers made in the past three years will run most of the software we use at AIE.

Commonly asked questions

Do I need to buy a computer if I study at AIE?

If you are studying on-campus, we provide everything you need to complete the course during course hours: computers, all the software and have equipment like wacom tablets and game controllers that you can borrow. If you want to continue working on your projects outside school hours (and we highly recommend that you do), you will need your own computer.

If you are studying online, you will need your own computer and good internet connection. We provide most software but there is some that we can't provide due to licensing restrictions. This differs course to course and there are free and paid options.

Mac or PC?

The most popular platform across the game development and VFX industries is PC systems running Microsoft Windows. AIE uses Windows 10 in all computer studios. If you have a Mac, don't worry - you can run almost all the software we use on your Mac, but if you are buying a new computer we would recommend a Windows PC.

Laptop or Desktop?

You will get more 'bang for your buck' if you get a desktop - essentially you can get a more powerful computer - CPU, GPU, RAM and hard drive (see below) - in a desktop setup. If you are buying a laptop don't forget to budget for an extra monitor - 22" or larger. Laptops are great if you spend lots of time on public transport and can be productive in transit.

Component Recommended Minimum
Operating System Windows 10 Windows 7
CPU Intel i7 6700 processor or
AMD Ryzen 5 2600
Intel i5 4790 processor or
AMD Ryzen 3 3100 processor
GPU Nvidia GTX 1650 4Gb
(or Nvidia RTX 3700 when released)
Nvidia GT 1000 series (ie: GT 1030 2GB)
or AMD RX 570 4Gb
RAM 32Gb + 8Gb
Hard Drive 500Gb SSD + 250Gb SATA
Monitor 27" LED (or 22 x 2 LED Monitors) 22" LED
Approximate cost (Sept 2020) $1800 $1200

Important components in computer specifications

 

CPU - Central Processing Unit

The main brain in a computer, the CPU runs all the complex calculations required by the software. This is the most important part of your computer and usually, not possible to upgrade without upgrading other parts of your system such as your motherboard. Generally this should be the most expensive part of your computer.

 

GPU- Graphics Processing Unit (or Graphics Card)

This is the secondary brain in your computer that controls all the display information. All of the 3D and games-related software relies heavily on your GPU and increasingly other software can offload some of the processing to the GPU as well.

Some computers have an integrated GPU and share memory with the CPU. Many laptops have integrated graphics to make the most of the battery life and reduce the amount of heat generated. A dedicated graphics card is highly recommended as it will be significantly more powerful and has it's own dedicated memory. This is generally the second most expensive part of your computer.

 

RAM - Random Access Memory

RAM is the temporary or short term-memory of the computer. When you book software, it loads all the instructions into memory. Any work you create are stored in this part of the memory until your save them on your hard drive. Because much of the software and files that students are working on are large, it's important that you have enough. The most common type of RAM currently is DDR4 and if you have an older system you may have DDR3 or DDR2.

Hard Drive

Monitors

Laptop vs desktop

Links to recommended computer specifications for key software