Finding the best computers for graphic design is not easy, especially with the many brands of computers available on the market today.
In this article, we will apply our 10 years of experience working with different computers and information from graphic designers at different professional levels to come up with the best options you can buy without necessarily breaking the bank.
The one you choose will, of course, be determined by the level of expertise you are at and the final professional usage you intend to use the computer for.
Design software has specific system requirements that, if ignored, can cause problems and a negative user experience.
Best computers for graphic designers
- Mac Mini (M2 Pro, 2023): Best Computer for Graphic Design Overall
- iMac (27-inch, 2020): Editors Choice
- Microsoft Surface: The Best Windows PC for Graphic Design
- HP Envy 31.5” All-in-One: All-in-One Computer for Graphic Design
- Dell XPS 8960 Desktop: The best for video Editing
- Alienware Aurora Gaming: The Best Gaming Computer
- Dell Precision 3240: The Best Desktop for Graphic Design
- Lenovo Yoga A940: Best PC for Graphic Designers
- Apple Mac Studio M2 Ultra: Most Power on a Computer for Graphic Design
Mac Mini (M2 Pro, 2023): Best Computer for Graphic Design Overall
- Display: None
- Processor: M2 Pro
- Graphics Processing Unit: 16-core GPU
- RAM: 16 GB or 32 GB options
- Storage: 256 or 512 GB, 1 or 2 TB options
The Mac mini (M2 Pro, 2023) is our best overall pick. Powerful performance and processing power ensure that you can run software faster and even multitask.
To check how fast your computer will run, you need to check the RAM and the nature of the processor. A modern processor and large RAM will allow you to quickly and easily run multiple programs.
The Mac mini (M2 Pro, 2023) features the new M2 Pro chip and a large 16 GB RAM size. If you even want more power, you have a larger 32-GB RAM option.
Additionally, you will have a 16-core GPU for a clear graphics display on the monitor. It does not come with its own display, but you will have the option of connecting up to three displays.
This is a premium-level computer and will not lag even when overloaded with animation and 5K or 8K video editing.
Unlike most MAC computers that have a screen, this one is just a computer, and you will have to buy the mouse, monitor, and magic keyboard separately.
iMac (27-inch, 2020): Editors Choice
- Storage: 256 GB (8 TB) SSD
- Memory: 8 GB of RAM
- Display: 27-inch (diagonal), Retina 5K display
- Processor: Intel Core i5 up to Core i9
- Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300 graphics
The Apple iMac is the best overall computer for this purpose. First of all, you will not need to buy a monitor separately. It comes with a 27-inch monitor with a 5K Retina display that is super crisp and clear. This is a big plus for any pro designer because you can view your work with great color accuracy.
In this 2020 update, the 10th-generation Intel Core i5–i9 sets apart this computer as a great industry leader and choice computer for creatives.
If you use memory cards, especially for photographers, this machine has a memory card slot, a feature not too common in most computers.
The AMD Radeon Pro 5300 is one of the best things about this machine when it comes to its performance. It makes the machine super powerful compared to others in its price range.
One downside, however, is that the machine needs some configuration to meet its full potential because, when you buy it, the hard drive is 256 GB instead of our recommended 1 TB.
The RAM is also 8 GB, which is not bad but can be better, especially if you intend to use it for animation. However, both of these factors are flexible, with the RAM expandable up to 128 GB and the storage up to 8 TB.
PC and Android devices are good, but just like graphic tablets, the Apple brand stands out as one of the best devices.
Microsoft Surface 2: The Best Windows Computer for Graphic Design
- Screen: 28 inches
- RAM: 16GB–32GB
- CPU: Intel Core i7
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB; GTX 1070 8GB
- Storage: 1 TB–2 TB SSD
Some designers will rush and go for the iMac, but for the Windows guys, this machine gives the iMac a run for its money. A very powerful and fast computer with Intel Core i7 processors. With this, running many programs will be a walk.
Viewing your work in high detail is vital for the quality of your artwork. This computer comes with a strikingly large 28″ (4,500 x 3,000) PixelSense display and a stunning touchscreen with 13.5 million pixels of true-to-life color.
It still uses an old quad-core Intel processor that works okay. However, with increasing demands, this needs an urgent update. You can configure the Surface Pro from 8 GB to 32 GB of memory, and the SSD is expandable to 2 TB from 1 TB.
Lenovo Yoga A940: Best all in one computer
- Screen: 27″ 4K UHD IPS
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
- RAM: 32 GB
- Storage: Up to 1TB M.2 SSD and 2TB HDD
This is a great all-in-one computer and is quite price-friendly for all the things you get in one purchase. Like with the Microsoft Surface and iMac, you save on the monitor cost.
The Lenovo Yoga A940 comes with a 27-inch monitor that has touchscreen pen support. A 4K display makes it great for design work.
For the processor, a 9th generation Intel Core i7-9700 Processor with Pro (3.0 GHz, up to 4.70 GHz) will allow your programs to run faster and you can multitask easily.
Dell Precision 3240: The Best Desktop for Graphic Design
- Display: None
- Processor: Intel Core i9
- RAM: 64 GB
- Storage: 2 TB
- GPU: 4 GB NVIDIA T1000
The Dell Precision 3240 is the most powerful PC computer in this roundup. Just like the Dell XPS 8960, it features a powerful Intel Core i9-10900 processor.
However, it features a larger RAM of 64 GB and 2 TB of storage space. This is far more than you will need for both basic and complex graphic design tasks.
The computer has 4K display support and a 4 GB NVIDIA T1000 Graphics GPU that ensures your work will be clearly displayed on a high-quality display.
The Dell Precision 3240 ensures seamless connection to your devices, such as graphic tablets, thanks to multiple connectivity ports. Additionally, you will have Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6 incorporated.
Unfortunately, it does not come with a monitor or keyboard, and you will have to buy them separately.
Upgrading this compact computer also faces many limitations, so be careful if you wish to get a computer that you can upgrade endlessly.
Apple Mac Studio M2 Ultra: Most Power on a Computer for Graphic Design
- Display: None
- Processor: M2 Ultra
- GPU: 60-core GPU
- RAM: 32 GB to 192 GB
- Storage Space: 8 TB
If you are looking for the most powerful computer, we recommend the Apple Mac Studio M2 Ultra. This is a computer set apart for any heavy lifting tasks you might want to perform.
You will have a very powerful M2 Ultra processor with multiple high-performance cores. For the RAM, you will have a choice from 32 GB to 192 GB.
This is an extreme powerhouse that cannot be stopped by any design applications.
Unfortunately, Apple Mac Studio comes at a high price tag and may not be ideal for beginners. Additionally, only the CPU is included, meaning that other accessories must be bought separately.
Dell XPS 8960 Desktop: The Best PC for Video Editing
- Display: None
- Processor: Core i9
- RAM: 32 GB
- Storage: 1 TB
- GPU: Dedicated, RTX 3070
Animation and videos are different from static graphics and drawings. A simple computer with basic specifications will easily create static graphics.
However, for animation and videos, you will need a very powerful computer to work on them effectively.
The Dell XPS 8960 Desktop is our best pick for video editing and animation. It features a powerful Intel Core i9-13900K and 32 GB of RAM.
Whether you are running Cinema 4D for animation or Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing, this computer will be perfect and can even run them both simultaneously.
For the display, you will have an 8 GB NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GDDR6 graphics processing unit that ensures you view your artwork on screen in high detail.
You will have 1 TB of SSD storage space that is quickly accessed and large enough to save files and install software.
Finally, it comes preinstalled with an easy-to-use Windows 11 operating system that will perfectly integrate with your editing software.
Dell XPS 8930 Tower Desktop: The Best Dell Graphic Design Computer
- CPU: 11th Gen Intel Hexa-Core i5
- Graphics: Intel UHD
- RAM: 16 GB
- Storage: 512 GB SSD
Dell is a popular brand that comes up with powerful and affordable computers with every new model. The brand has done a commendable job with this customizable computer.
Starting with the speed. The computer is super-fast and will accelerate your ideas with its 9th-generation 8-core processors. The Dell Tower Desktop also has high-performance graphics, making it ideal for video editing, playbacks, and even gaming.
Another upside that is worth mentioning is how silent this computer is. The system is well built with thermally controlled fans that barely whisper even after working longer hours.
If you are the kind of person who loves some music while working, this computer is your best pick because it offers high-quality sound. The engineers of this Dell XPS Tower Desktop used Waves MaxxAudio Technology combined with MaxxSense, which makes the external speakers produce a clearer, fuller, and louder sound.
Dell Tower Desktop has about 11 USB ports, with two type C USB ports, one at the back and one at the front, and three USB-A ports at the front.
HP Envy 31.5 Inches: the best desktop computer for graphic design
- CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11700
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
- RAM: 32GB
- Storage: 1TB
- Display: 34-inch 5K display
Lately, all-in-one computers have gained popularity. iMac set its standard high, and other brands like Microsoft followed suit. Although the iMac and Microsoft Surface 2 are known to be high-end computers with slightly different specs that might make you own both, this HP Envy all-in-one computer has bridged the gap.
The computer has a stylish and elegant design, and it just wows us when unpacking it. If you are a fan of enormous screens, this is just the perfect pick for you.
HP Envy can do anything you want it to do for you, from gaming to editing to designing using those heavy programs that make weak computers crush.
The only thing we didn’t like is that the stand isn’t that flexible, but you can tilt the display downward or upward effortlessly. The overall quality of the display is good.
Another thing that makes us love this computer is the CPU and GPU, which are 8-core processors with a speed of 4.5GHz combined with dedicated graphics, making it easy to handle your design projects.
There are multiple ports at the rear and on the sides of the computer. HP Envy also has a pop-up webcam that can be retracted back into the computer fully.
Another feature worth mentioning is the Audio Advanced stream, which lets you use the sound bar and control it with your phone using Bluetooth.
Alienware Aurora: Best Gaming Computer
- CPU: Up to AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
- Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
- Storage: Up to 2TB SSD + 2TB HDD
Alienware Aurora Desktop is an ideal computer for those who want an extra powerful computer when it comes to graphics design. The overall design of this computer wowed us completely. The build is strong with a unique appearance; you might mistake it for a small woofer.
Of course, the desktop isn’t on this list because of its beautiful design. There are so many incredible features packed into this unique design. The desktop has AMD processors, and it also features a NIVIDA RTX3000 GPU. These features do a great job of handling graphic design, and you have the freedom to choose from a wide range of customizations.
When it comes to storage, this computer offers you an incredible amount of space to save up your projects and even run heavy design programs efficiently without any lag. With a 2 TB SSD and 2 TB HDD combined with a RAM of 128GB, this desktop is the real deal.
Whether you’re a gamer or a designer, this desktop is a great pick because it carries high-end specs at a mouth-watering cost.
How to choose a computer for graphic design
How do you choose the best computer for graphic design? Before you go for a graphic design computer, here are some factors to consider.
The trick is to find a computer that can multitask without hanging and at a great price. The below factors affect speed and, in turn, multitasking ability. The second factor, price, depends on your budget.
The tools you use in your workflow will greatly determine the kind of professional you will become in the future. I recommend you choose a computer that is a little higher in specs than you currently require to match up to your future needs as you grow.
The hard drive will either be a hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive (SSD). You may be wondering what the difference is between SSD hard drives and HDDs and which one is best for your graphic design computer.
SSDs have no moving parts and replace them with memory chips. This makes them tolerant of adverse conditions like drops, unlike HDDs that have spinning parts. Although more costly, SDDs offer more speed and durability.
CPU – Central Processing Unit
The processor determines the speed at which your computer will make calculations, which will determine the overall speed. The processor’s speed is measured in GHz. 1 GHz simply means the number of calculations your computer makes per second; 1 GHz is 1 billion calculations in a second.
Most of the software you will run on your computer as a graphic designer will be quite CPU-intensive. Although the software will run at 1 GHz, we recommend 2 GHz and above if you do not want it to be slow and annoying while using it.
GPU: Graphic Processing Unit
Sometimes you will work with very heavy graphics, which may make your computer slow and difficult to operate. They are annoying, especially if you are working on 3D animation or on a timeline.
These types of files require a dedicated unit for processing graphics. This is called a graphics card. It will help you work smoothly across different software and renderings.
If you are using your computer for specific plugins, make sure to check whether the plugin is compatible with the one you have. For example, some plugins like Video Copilot’s Element 3D work on some graphics cards but not others.
RAM: Random Access Memory
Every time your computer needs to get files, it goes to the hard drive. To increase retrieval speed, computers have partial memory that they keep at the top of their heads instead of going to the hard drive all the time.
This is called RAM (Random Access Memory). If you want an upgrade and do not know which one to start with, then RAM is the best place to start.
You will need a computer with at least 8 GB of RAM as you start, but check the ability to expand because as you grow, you will need more RAM. Your ideal machine should at least allow expandability to 32 GB.
For graphic design, you need a good display for your day-to-day work. You need a monitor that can achieve high brightness and resolution and be very accurate in color display. Please check out the good monitors for graphic design you can buy.
A computer for a graphic designer is a main tool of trade, so as you balance affordability and effectiveness, always treat it as an investment for future returns.
If you are running on a low budget and want a cheap computer, be very keen on the expandability of the features because you can improve them over time to upgrade a cheap, slow machine to a graphic design powerhouse.
If you prefer a laptop, watch out for our next article, where we discuss drawing laptops. They are also great for graphic designers. However, a desktop computer is preferable for graphic design because it is easy to upgrade to higher memory and almost any other specification, including graphic cards.
For the longest time, debate among artists, graphic designers, and other professionals has been heated on whether to go for PC or Mac computers. Both Mac and PC brands have some very advanced machines that pack a lot of power. Which brand between Mac and PC is best for graphic design?
Mac vs PC for graphic design?
Apple or Mac computers have a sleek and cool look and come with a straightforward and easy-to-use OS. However, despite being considered industry standards, Mac computers are more expensive compared to PCs.
Sometimes you may be on a budget and wish to buy a cheap, low-spec computer you can upgrade later. If this is you, the PC is for you because upgradability is a little complicated with Macs. For graphic design PCs, you can easily upgrade and improve everything from RAM to storage space and end up with a powerful computer.
There is no clear-cut choice between the two, however, but budget and preference of the operating platform you want to make the difference. I prefer a PC because I have used it for so long.
Are gaming computers good for graphic design?
Gaming laptops can easily run graphic design software. The specs are great, but you need to be careful when choosing the screen size. We recommend a minimum of 15 inches of screen size and 17 inches for optimal performance on a graphic design laptop.
The best desktop computer for graphic design Available
Is a Mac or PC better for graphic design?
Apple or Mac computers have a sleek and cool look and come with a straightforward and easy-to-use OS.
However, despite being considered industry standards, Mac computers are more expensive compared to PCs.
Which computer is best for graphic design?
The Mac Mini (M2 Pro, 2023) is the best graphic design computer. If you prefer a Windows system, the Microsoft Surface is our best pick.
What are the PC requirements for graphic design?
Operating System: 64-bit Windows 10 and above
RAM: 8 GB and above
Storage: 500 GB SSD and above
Processor: A multi-core processor like an Intel Core i5 or i7
Graphics Card: Integrated GPU (Graphic Processor Unit)
What computers do most graphic designers use?
Mac Mini (M2 Pro, 2023): Best Overall
iMac (27-inch, 2020): Editors Choice
Microsoft Surface: The Best Windows
HP Envy 31.5”: All-in-One
Dell XPS 8960 Desktop: best for video Editing
Alienware Aurora Gaming: The Best for Gaming
Dell Precision 3240: The Best Desktop
Lenovo Yoga A940: PC For graphic Design
Apple Mac Studio M2 Ultra: Most Powerful
Written by: Denis Maina
I am an experienced and skilled graphic designer with a strong focus on Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. He specializes in creating a wide range of design materials, such as digital art, business cards, stationery, logos, flyers, posters, banner ads, brochures, PSD templates, and other graphics.