Whether you are just starting out as a graphic designer or you already have spent some time in the industry, providing excellent results to your clients should always be a priority. The best graphic designing skills are greatly complemented by high-end computers with outstanding features.
When out shopping for the best computer for your graphic designing tasks, there are a number of factors you should consider first. If you want a deeper insight into what features you should look for when getting your next computer, you should also look at the specification requirements of different software. Here is a quick breakdown of the requirements for the three most common Adobe software; Adobe Photoshop & Adobe, Illustrator
Choosing the Best Computer for Graphic Design
Buying the perfect computer for graphic designing can be daunting at first. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to order the first shiny and attractive computers they set their eyes on. Do not worry as most of us have been there at one point.
The attractiveness of the computer is not a major feature to consider. Take a look at some of the most important features to first know about before buying your next machine.
1. Graphics Processing Unit
The Graphics Processing Unit of a computer should be one of the first features you should look at when purchasing a computer for graphic design. Having a better GPU ensures better quality images and attention to detail is given. The better graphics performance of a computer is directly proportional to the quality of graphic designs you produce.
Unlike other design practices such as encoding, 3D Animation, Video Editing, etc., graphic design does not involve heavy GPU tasks. You can actually save some cash by working with the average GPU on the computer. At the end of the day, good results are needed. To be on the safe end, it is advisable to get a computer with a better than average graphics processing unit.
In some cases, a computer with a better graphics processing unit might be a bit expensive for you. Graphics cards can be swapped. Therefore, if your computer’s graphics card is not performing well, it might just be time to change. Striking visuals and the display of richer colors are just but the tip of the iceberg, of what great Graphics Processing Units offer.
The best graphics cards for serious graphic designers include;
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080
- AMD Radeon VII
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
2. Central Processing Unit
The CPU, or Central Processing Unit as it is mostly known as is the brain of your computer. The software and other tools which graphic designers use are very much processor-intensive. Newer programs that get released every year, only add to the intensity of the central processing power needed.
A computer that is able to perform about a billion computations a second is the least a graphic designer can get. However, for much better results and easier management of the graphic design software, you should get a computer with a processing power of over 1 billion computations per second.
These computations are known as GHz and a good computer has a processing power of 2 GHz or more.
Here are the processor requirements for Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator (Windows and macOS)
- Windows: 1.6GHz or faster processor with SSE2 support
- macOS: 64-bit multicore Intel processor
- Windows: Multicore Intel processor with 32/64-bit support or AMD Athlon 64 processor
- macOS: Multicore Intel processor with a 64-bit supply port
For seamless operation, here are the best CPUs to use for the major graphics software;
- AMD Ryzen 2700x
- Intel Coffee Lake i7-8700k
- The Intel i5 8400 Coffee Lake and AMD Ryzen 5 1600 are also good for designers who are on a budget
3. Random Access Memory
The RAM of your computer greatly determines how efficiently and fast you will deliver your projects on time. The amount of memory that your computer’s ‘brain’ has is directly proportional to the quality of work you will deliver. Having more RAM on your computer means the ability to process many things at a faster rate, without your computer lagging.
There is certain software that requires one to have more RAM in order for them to perform. This means that the software you use will determine whether you need a higher RAM, compared to the one you are accustomed to.
Here are the RAM requirements for Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator (Windows and macOS)
- Windows: Minimum 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
- macOS: Minimum 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
- Windows: 2 GB of RAM (4 GB recommended) for 32 bit; 4 GB of RAM (16 GB recommended) for 64 bit
- macOS: 4 GB of RAM (16 GB recommended)
Essentially, a computer with at least 8 GB of RAM is recommended for a graphic designer. Should there be more funds on the table, aiming for 16 GB of RAM or higher is ideal for more intensive graphics work.
4. Hard Drive
The Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid State Drives (SSD) are the major types of hard drives that computers have and they have got everything to do with graphic designing. While they technically function the same way, they are very different from each other and have their own individual advantages and drawbacks.
HDDs are cheaper than SSDs, sometimes even costing half the price for the same storage. While the HDDs are cheaper, and with more storage space, they are not as durable as SSDs. Unlike SSDs, HDDs have moving parts that make them prone to damage. The speed difference is very notable between these two as well. Computers that have SSD hard drives boot faster and the software load faster too. Starting off with 500 GB is not bad at all for a graphic designer. However, a 2 TB will be the best option. But 2TB’s are not at all affordable. If you are looking for a cost-effective way you can get a 500GB SSD and then a 2 TB HDD. Install your windows and all the applications on the SSD and keep the project files on your HDD.
Here are the Hard Drive requirements for Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator (Windows and macOS)
- Windows: 5.2GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 2.4GB to download all optional content
- macOS: 6.5GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 2.5GB to download all optional content (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices)
- Windows: 2 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation; SSD recommended
- macOS: 2 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation; SSD recommended
- Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K
- Dell UltraSharp UP3216Q
- Philips Brilliance BDM4065UC
As a graphic designer, you ought to always deliver the best quality results using the latest technology. When getting a computer with the aforementioned features, look for one which you can easily upgrade.
AMD’s flagship Ryzen CPUs can be upgraded without having to change the mainboard. For some CPUs such as the Intel 1151 socket, you may have to purchase a new mainboard at some point, when a new upgrade has been released.
RAM can be easily upgraded by either swapping out with a bigger size or adding it if there are free slots available. Before doing so, it is paramount to check on the compatibility in order to avoid instabilities in the future.
GPUs, on the other hand, can also be swapped easily as they use PCI-E sockets. You should not encounter any problems doing so as these socket versions are backward compatible.
Laptops vs. Desktops
Generally, desktop computers can provide you with bigger displays, better & more powerful processors, and more memory. Laptops are more preferable since they are very portable. Moreover, there are some laptops that not only offer you portability but also come with top-of-the-range features, perfect for a graphic designer. MacBook pros are a perfect example of it. Even a basic 13-inch MacBook Pro is perfectly capable of handling any graphic designing software.
For a beginner graphic designer, a desktop is more recommended than a laptop. This is because they offer more power, bigger display screens, and the components are very easy to replace over time. Laptops on the other end tend to be a bit more pricy but quite handy when moving around. Find the best graphic designing computer which best suits your budget.