What makes a desktop computer an inspired choice for a graphic designer? Despite what many people believe, it’s more than just the specs. Getting the best setup means focusing on the features that matter. As you will see, these extend beyond the graphics card and screen resolution.
The sheer number of desktops marketed to graphic designers is overwhelming. Many setups come with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. So, how do you research the best desktop computers for graphic design?
You might be able to call off your search right here. We’ve selected some of the best desktop computers that can help you tackle even the most demanding of projects. Keep reading to take a closer look at them.
Let’s start this review off with a bang. The iMac Pro is as good as you’d expect a high-end Apple computer to be. Of course, it’s also as expensive. It’s easily the priciest machine on our list, but if you’re willing to pony up the investment, rest assured you’ll get your money’s worth.
The iMac Pro is simply a powerhouse. You can see this by just looking at its 27” 5K display. The resolution of 5120×2880 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.
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.
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 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB. There’s 1TB of storage standard, which you can upgrade to 2TB or 4TB if not enough. Of course, we’re talking about SSD (Solid State Drive) here, so you can expect great hardware/software communication speed.
If you want to see how all of this looks in action, check out the video below:
The iMac Pro 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.
Obviously, the biggest drawback of the iMac Pro is its price. Apple products are priced at a premium, for both the quality and that air of exclusivity.
Also, as much as the specs are stunning, they may be a bit overkill for many graphic designers. This machine is reserved for the most serious of professionals. Nevertheless, it can certainly be a great investment in your career.
Seen as Apple’s biggest competitor, 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:
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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 27” offers excellent value for the money in this regard.
This iMac features a 27” 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.
If you want to see why it’s better than some high-end devices that came out after it, check out the video below:
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 27”.
This also comes with a magic mouse and keyboard. If you want your own accessories check out our list of mechanical keyboards and mice for graphic design.
Of course, the price is the main drawback of the iMac 27”. Even though it’s a lot cheaper than the iMac Pro, it may be outside of many people’s budget. But if you’re willing to reach for a reliable machine that offers outstanding performance, it’s definitely worth considering.
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 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:
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:
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.
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.
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 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, 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.
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.
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.
If low-cost towers don’t do it for you, this one might pique your interest. It’s 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 graphic design. Well, the reason is the hardware. High-end gaming PCs have the cutting-edge tech required for smooth design experience, so if you’re all about performance, a gaming PC such as this one will surely meet your needs.
It 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.