Which desktop computer to choose for graphic design

If you're looking for the best desktop computer for graphic design, you know the choices can be confusing. The type of work you do, as well as your budget will influence your decision. Read here for information about laptop computers for graphic design.

Which platform?

The first decision to make is whether you want to use a Mac® or a PC. Although Apple® used to be the only thing for graphic designers to use, the need to integrate with other parts of a company that use PCs has become important. Most design software can be used on both iOS® and Microsoft® Windows® platforms.

Mac or PC for graphic design illustration

Because Macs use an integrated monitor, Apple can control the display quality, which tends to be very high with accurate colors. There are still a few pieces of design software created only for iOS. PCs, on the other hand, allow you to connect to any display, which allows more flexibility when choosing a monitor.

PCs have worked hard to become more graphic-design friendly, and there are a lot of options to upgrade components. PCs can also integrate more seamlessly with a company's existing general software.

Which storage drive?

Crucial solid state drive

Which CPU?

The processor, or CPU, coordinates the other computer components. Look for speed and power in a processor, generally a quad-core or extreme series CPU is needed to run complex design software.

While you're looking at the processor, check on the graphics ability. Computers can be equipped with either a graphic chip integrated on the processor, or a separate graphics card. In the past, integrated graphics chips were not very powerful, able only to display web pages and standard documents. As more and more people are using photo editing software and other, more advanced graphics, integrated graphics chips have improved. If you do a lot of 3D designs or extensive video editing, an integrated chip can run most graphic design software. This will save you some money. If your budget allows or if you work with very complex software, look for a discrete graphics card. Read more about integrated and discrete graphics cards.


How much memory?

The computer uses memory, also known as RAM (random access memory), to call up information on the fly; to display the file you're currently working on. If you work with very large files, such as video clips, or if you typically have multiple software programs open at the same time, you will need more memory to be able to switch between programs and to display complex files. Get as much RAM as possible in your computer. If the configurations offered do not include enough memory, it's easy to buy and install more memory.

Find out more about recommended memory amounts for graphic design software.

Crucial memory (RAM)

Which display?

For graphic design, you want to get the best monitor your budget will allow. When looking at monitors, focus on the pixel density. Generally, you'll want HiDPI (called Retina HD® by Apple), HiDPI have a higher density of pixels, which then display more detail. The minimum pixel density for graphic design is 1920x1080 pixels.

Color accuracy is also very important in a display. Color accuracy is composed of two items, gamut and Delta-E. Gamut is how many colors are displayed, Delta-E is a measure of how far from accuracy the monitor is. For Delta-E, a lower number is better, aim for a monitor with a Delta-E score below 5. Of course, if the color gamut is very small, the monitor could have a very low Delta-E score, but not meet your needs. A monitor should have a gamut of at least 100% of Adobe® RGB.


Use this information with the knowledge of what kind of programs you'll be running, what general business applications you need to use, what kind of compatibility with your clients' systems you need, and what your budget is to find the best graphic design computer for you.

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