graphic designer working on desktop

8 Best Desktop Computers for Graphic Design In 2021

An all-in-one desktop computer is great for a graphic designer because the manufacturer has calibrated the monitor color profile and machine perfectly. Apple is probably best at this and that’s why for 2021 after our research we recommend their 21.5 or 27 inch iMac.

Deal alert! Mac mini!
The Mac Mini was recently re-released with Apple’s new M1 chip. This means up to 3x faster CPU, 6x faster graphics. If you’re on a budget and want a desktop not a laptop this is your machine.

Just grab the new Mac mini and get an external monitor.

We’ve selected some of the best desktop computers in 2021 that can help you tackle even the most demanding of projects. Machines that are not overpowered but can run Illustrator, Sketch, and a million open Chrome tabs at the same time.

1. Mac Mini w/ M1 Chip

The new Mac Mini was recently released with Apple’s all-new M1 chip. This is the only Mac with the new chip (the new Apple Macbooks also have it).

This means it has up to 3x faster CPU, 6x faster graphics. If you’re on a budget and want a desktop not a laptop this is your machine.

You will need a monitor. The Mac mini doesn’t come with one. you can use any monitor but we suggest the 27-inch (other top monitor picks).

The new Mac mini comes in a compact square-shaped design. At 1.4-inch thick, 7.7-inch wide it has a full aluminum body.

The new M1 chip is incredibly powerful. That means this version is far more powerful than the older Intel versions (Geekbench score). The new version has almost 2x the computation score of the late 2018 i-5 score.

You can purchase the Mac mini here.

2. Apple iMac 27 inch

Let’s start this review off with a bang. The iMac is as good as you’d expect a high-end Apple computer to be. It’s quite a bit less expensive than the iMac Pro but still should last 4-5 years.

True cost of ownership: Macs have a higher resell value than Windows computers. In my experience, they last at least 4–5 years before they start to be really sluggish. Imagine you buy an iMac for around $1,500 and sell it after four years for $450. That means the total cost was $1,050 divided by the four years is $262.50 a year.

Most recent version: Note even though we’re in 2021 the most recent iMac is called the 2019 iMac.


The iMac is simply a powerhouse. You can see this by just looking at its 27” 5K display. The resolution of 5120 x 2880 pixels will let a designer see everything in incredible detail. Pair this with over a billion colors and you get a display that’s very hard to match.

Why Do Macs Have Such Good Color Calibration? Mac computers have great color calibration because Apple has control over the entire process of building the computer. They build the computer, monitor, and software.

As far as the internal components go, they’re more than powerful enough to conquer virtually any tasks that a graphic designer can encounter. The Intel Xeon W 3.2GHz 8-core processor is a beast, and that’s nowhere near the best option available. You can choose a processor with as many as 18 cores, which is about as much power as you can get from a computer. Today these come with either a fusion or solid-state drive (SSD). A fusion drive is like a traditional hard drive but moves the files you are using most to the high capacity hard disk.

As far as the graphics go, the 8GB HBM2 Radeon Pro Vega 56 is the standard, which you can upgrade to the Vega 64 that has 16GB of HBM2 memory.

Of course, the RAM keeps up with the rest, at your choice of 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB. There’s 1TB of storage standard, which you can upgrade to 2TB. Of course, we’re talking about a solid-state or fusion drive here, so you can expect great hardware/software communication speed.

The Good

The iMac is incredibly powerful. It offers everything that a professional graphic designer might need. The graphics are unparalleled, with arguably the gold standard in graphic design in the Retina display. Add to it the one billion-plus colors and 5K resolution, it’s safe to say that there aren’t many machines out there that can compete with it.

The Bad

Even with the high resell value, the 27 inch iMac might be too expensive. If that is the case we suggest looking at the competitivity priced 21.5 inch iMac. It has similar specs to a smaller machine.

3. Microsoft Surface Studio 1st Gen

Seen as Apple’s biggest competitor in recent years, Microsoft has pushed the limits when it comes to all-in-one PCs. The Surface Studio is a unique piece of tech that has a lot to offer in terms of both functionality and performance.


Before we take a look under the hood, we should discuss the well-thought-out design of the Surface Studio. At first glance, it looks like any other all-in-one PC. But with one move of the hand, you can get into Studio Mode thanks to the Zero Gravity hinge. It goes down from its upright angle to about 20 degrees, providing many possibilities for creating stunning designs. What adds to this is the Surface Pen, specially crafted to provide designers with the perfect tool for all kinds of graphic design projects.

When it comes to the display, it’s a 28 incher that features a resolution of 4500×3000 pixels, which is quite uncommon. It supports three different color modes – DCI-P3, sRGB, and Vivid mode, the last of which enhances color reproduction and brightness to provide stunning visuals.

As far as the internals go, there’s the powerful Intel Core i7 processor, along with the NVIDIA 980M GPU, which isn’t the latest available but is certainly more than powerful enough to ensure great image and video reproduction. There’s also the 2TB HDD and 32GB of RAM.

To see how the Surface Studio performs in the tests, check out this video:

The Good

What sets the Surface Studio apart from the competition is the design, or the Studio Mode, to be more exact. You can work directly on the 28” panel, which can add a lot to your productivity and work quality.

In addition, the amazing display is paired with powerful internal components, so it goes without saying that it can meet the needs of even the most demanding of users.

The Bad

As you might expect, all these features come at a price to match. If you’re new to graphic design, this might not be for you both in terms of the price and overabundance of features. On the other hand, with the release of the Surface Studio 2, this one might start to get a little long in the tooth, so power users may very well start to think about an upgrade.

4. Acer Aspire S24

If you’re a casual designer or if you’re at the beginning of your career, you might not want to spend thousands of dollars on your computer. With the Acer Aspire S24, you don’t have to. It’s a very affordable solution that offers just enough great features and only a few drawbacks.


To truly appreciate everything that the Acer Aspire S24 has to offer, you have to accept it for what it is. It’s not a premium machine loaded with cutting-edge tech. Instead, it’s tailored towards those that are on a budget and don’t need top-notch specs.

With that in mind, it certainly has more than a few features that make it appealing. The first one is the design. It looks and feels very futuristic, with a very respectable 23.8” display. However, the display is where the biggest flaw resides. It’s Full HD, meaning that it has a resolution of only 1920 x 1080. Many designers will find this to be enough, but it can’t compete with 4K displays which have become increasingly accessible.

As for the performance, the machine should be powerful enough for most. The Acer Aspire S24 comes with 24GB of memory in all: 8GB DDR4 and 16GB Intel Optane Memory.

When it comes to additional features, there are a few of them that are a nice touch. The cinematic sound will ensure that you can enjoy high-quality audio reproduction, and Acer’s VisionCare will protect your eyes from fatigue. The base of the display also acts as a wireless charging panel, which is a unique innovation that you don’t see in most setups.

If you want to see the Aspire S24 in action, take a look at the video below:

The Good

The main selling point of the Acer Aspire S24 is the low cost and useful features. You’ll definitely get your money’s worth here, so unless you’re in need of premium specs and features, this one might be the best choice.

The Bad

The worst thing about this machine is the Full HD resolution. Even though the display has good brightness and contrast, it’s nowhere as sharp as what’s available today. There might be situations where you’ll wish you had 4K. This doesn’t make it suitable for professionals who routinely work on demanding tasks that require immaculate attention to detail.

5. Apple iMac 21.5”

If you’re into Apple’s devices but can’t afford the iMac Pro, you’ll be glad to know that there’s another machine that performs like a beast but at half the price. The iMac 21.5” offers excellent value for the money in this regard.


This new iMac features a 21” 5K display that you really need to see in person to fully appreciate. It’s very bright, incredibly detailed, and capable of displaying more than a billion colors. Apple’s Retina display technology never disappoints, and this machine is no exception.

For the internal components, you get everything you need for your projects, no matter how complex they might be. There’s a 7th Gen Intel Core i5 processor that runs up to 3.8GHz, along with 8GB of RAM. The Radeon Pro GPU comes with 8GB of VRAM, so you can rest assured that the visuals will be stunning, especially when you take that 5K display into account.

Aside from this, there’s a 2TB Fusion Drive and a variety of connectivity options including a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), SDXC card slot, and Gigabit Ethernet port.

The Good

What’s great about this iMac is the same thing that goes for many Apple devices – they have legs. Even though it’s not the latest and greatest, it can outperform a good many of them. You can’t really go wrong with the iMac 21.5”.

This also comes with a magic mouse and keyboard. If you want your own accessories make sure to check out our list of mechanical keyboards and mice for graphic design.

The Bad

Of course, the price is the main drawback of the iMac 21.5 inch is you don’t get all the screen real estate that you get with the larger and slightly more pricy iMac 27”.

6. HP ENVY 34

If you’re into cutting-edge innovation, HP has something for you. The ENVY 34 is an extremely well-designed powerhouse that has all the specs needed for your design projects. If flat screens aren’t appealing to you anymore, this can be the best choice.


The first thing you’ll see when you take a look at the ENVY 34 is the ultra-thin 34” curved display that will leave you speechless. It’s an LED display with QHD (3440×1440) resolution that offers stunning visuals.

The screen has an sRGB color gamut of 99%, and you can put it into a Technicolor-certified mode, which enhances the colors to give an even more compelling image and video reproduction.

The machine sports a 7th Gen Intel Core i7 2.90GHz processor and 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM. Put these together and what you get is a smooth experience taking on pretty much any kind of project you’ll be working on. As for the GPU, the ENVY 34 has an AMD Radeon RX 460 graphics card with 4 GB GDDR5 VRAM.

As far as connectivity goes, HP decided to combine form and function in the best way possible. To maintain the sleek and futuristic design of the curved screen, they put all the ports in the base:

  • 4 USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 Thunderbolt 3 port
  • HDMI In/Out ports
  • 10/100/1000 Base-T Network port
  • 3-in1 media card reader

With this array of inputs and outputs, you can connect any peripherals that you might need to deliver high-quality work to your clients.

To get a glimpse of the magic the ENVY 34 has to offer, take a look at the video below:

The Good

Obviously, the design and display innovation is what makes the ENVY 34 stand out from the crowd. It’s a unique display that offers a completely new way of working on an all-in-one desktop, so there’s no doubt that many professionals will find it worth their money.

The Bad

Speaking of money, you’ll have to open up your wallet wide if you want to get your hands on the ENVY 34. In all fairness, you can’t really expect this level of performance and features to come at a low price. Also, the curved screen can be both a blessing and a curse. It might take some time for you to get used to it, and there’s a possibility of it distorting certain elements of your projects.

7. Dell XPS X8700

This is the best computer on this list if you are on a budget. Let’s steer away from all-in-one desktops for a moment. Maybe you already have a stunning display and great peripherals and the only thing you need is a tower to make them come to life. If that’s the case, the Dell XPS X8700 might be perfect. The value for money is there and the specs are more than good, so this can be a great choice for those that don’t need the best of the best.


The tower features a 4th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, which might not be the most advanced anymore, but it’s still powerful enough to deliver a smooth experience while using system-heavy programs. What really kicks it up a notch is the 16GB of DDR3 RAM, which is certainly enough for some of the more demanding editing programs.

Primarily built with gamers in mind, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 745 ensures advanced graphics. When you take into account the power necessary to render all those gaming scenarios in great detail, it’s safe to say the GPU can offer all the support you need on your design projects.

There’s also a 1TB HDD hard drive, along with 10 USB ports, HDMI, Bluetooth 4.0, and an amazing 19-in-1 media card reader.

Overall, there aren’t any over-the-top features to get too excited about. This PC is really about value and reliability without any gimmicks and overkill capabilities.

The Good

What’s great about this PC is that you get some advanced specs at an affordable price. As the saying goes, it can take you from point A to point B. Unless you’re a high-level professional that expects nothing less than outstanding performance, this XPS is very likely to satisfy your needs.

The Bad

There’s really not overly bad to be said about this PC, provided that you understand its intention. It’s not the latest Dell XPS, so it’s most suitable for casual graphic designers. Otherwise, feel free to look up the current production XPS.

One thing that does come as a flaw is the built-in Windows 8.1. You don’t get the latest available option out of the box, so you’re going to have to upgrade the OS manually if you want to take full advantage of the hardware.

8. CUK Continuum Gamer PC

If low-cost towers don’t do it for you, this one might pique your interest. The CUK Continuum Gamer PC is packed with some of the most advanced hardware available on the market, so the performance you is nothing short of outstanding.


You might be wondering why we’re pushing gaming PCs in an article about desktop computers for designers. Well, the reason is the hardware. High-end gaming desktops have the cutting-edge tech required for a smooth design experience, so if you’re all about performance, a gaming PC such as this one will surely meet your needs. Plus if you need a break from Photoshop you can play any top-tier game.

The Continuum Gamer PC sports an 8-core 9th Gen Intel i9 processor, which goes up to 5GHz and provides 16-way multitasking. Combine this with the 32GB of DDR4 RAM and you get an impressive performance that should match any designer’s needs.

But it doesn’t stop there. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 with 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM is one of the most advanced GPUs in the tech world. Aside from it, there’s the combination of 500GB NVMe SSD (solid state hard drive) and 2TB 7200rpm HDD.

This is pretty much everything you need to ensure you stay up to date with the newest tech for quite some time. Pair it with a good monitor and you may have yourself the ultimate setup for graphic design.

The Good

Out of so many great features that this machine has, it’s the GPU that stands out the most. The graphics card is one of the most important components for graphic designers, and rest assured this one will be able to tackle all sorts of demanding tasks.

The powerful processor also shouldn’t be ignored. Intel has produced some outstanding chipsets over the past few years, and the one you get with this PC is about as powerful as they come.

The Bad

As you’ve probably expected, the biggest drawback is the price. This is far from an affordable PC, so not everyone will be able to get their hands on it. Not everyone should, either, since the specs that justify such a high price are only necessary if you work on projects that require the use of very power-hungry software.

On a side note, this PC tends to get quite loud. This wouldn’t be that big of an issue if you were a gamer with your headphones on, but make sure it’s not going to be too distracting for you.

The Wrap Up

There’s a good desktop computer for every graphic designer. As you can see, they come with all kinds of features that you have to take into consideration before buying.

The best way to choose the perfect computer is to think about the kind of programs that you have to run and the projects that you’ll be working on. This way, you won’t end up with something that’s not up to the task or blow your budget for features that you don’t need.

This isn’t to say that you should be frugal with your pick. By splurging a little, you can have a piece of future-proof design equipment and stave off the upgrade bugs that hang around this field like some pesticide-proof high-tech locusts.

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If you are looking for a less expensive (and more mobile) solution you might want to consider buying a laptop and hooking it up to an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard when you’re at your desk.

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Staff Writer DLC

Daily Logo Challenge staff writers focus on creating in-depth guides focusing on mastery of design and development. Let us know what you think in the comments section above.