Top 5 graphic design computers
If you’re looking for the best computer for graphic design in 2021, then we can help. On this page we’ve listed some amazing PCs and Macs that can help you with your creative work, with cutting-edge hardware that can handle any graphic design task you need, while also offering excellent value for money.
So, the best computer for graphic design in 2021 will have modern multi-core processors and plenty of RAM. This makes them powerful multi-tasking devices, able to run multiple programs at once, which can seriously speed up your workflow. You’ll also need plenty of storage to keep hold of your projects, so every device on this list comes with fast hard drives or SSDs.
The best computers for graphic design also come in all shapes and sizes, from traditional ‘tower’ desktop PCs, which are usually more affordable, to all-in-one PCs like the iMac. These place all the parts behind the screen, which offer you more space on your desk, though they can be more expensive and harder to upgrade. There’s even some great compact PCs like the Mac mini, which offer plenty of power for graphic design tasks, despite their small size.
With Amazon Prime Day coming soon, now is a great time to start looking for a new computer for graphic design. After something more portable? Check out our round up of the best laptops for graphic design.
The best computers for graphic design available now
Apple’s largest iMac now packs powerful 10th generation Intel Core processors. There’s even an option to go with a hugely powerful 10-core CPU from Intel, making this an incredibly accomplished PC for graphic design.
The 2020 iMac also comes with AMD Radeon Pro 5000 graphics cards, and this gives it the biggest leap in performance for graphic designers compared to the previous models, which made do with older AMD Vega graphics.
iMacs are incredibly popular PCs with graphic designers, and the macOS operating system offers you all the apps and tools you’ll need. It’s also got a gorgeous slimline all-in-one design that means it looks great on any desk, and doesn’t involve plugging in various bits and bobs and trailing cables all over the place.
See our in-depth iMac 2020 review for more details. Apple has also recently released the new 24-inch iMac (below), which is powered by its own M1 hardware, rather than Apple. It’s a great device, but we still think the slightly older 27-inch model is a better PC for graphic design thanks to its larger screen and discrete graphics card.
Apple has a brand-new iMac for 2021, packing a new 24-inch screen size and radically overhauled design. The new iMac feels like a modern reimagining of the iconic all in one.
Not only does it have a new look (available in a range of colors, harkening back to Apple’s classic G3 all-in-one PCs), but it also has had a refresh when it comes to hardware as well. Unlike the 27-inch iMac above, it is powered by Apple’s own M1 chip, which is also featured in the new MacBook Pro 13-inch and MacBook Air.
It’s a brilliant bit of hardware and runs pretty much any graphic design apps with ease. However, we should point out that it uses integrated graphics. It’s fine for pretty much anyone, but if you’re going to be doing more graphically intensive work, then you may want a PC with a dedicated graphics card. This means while the 24-inch iMac is a very good PC for graphic design, we still think the 27-inch iMac beats it for pure graphic design use.
While many graphic designers will go straight for the iMac, what about people who want to stick with Windows 10? Microsoft’s Surface Studio 2 is an excellent all-in-one alternative to Apple’s devices, offering a sleek and stylish design that easily rivals the iMac.
It’s not just a clone, however, and it actually has a few great features that the iMac misses. For a start, its high-resolution 28-inch display (4,500 x 3,000) is touch-sensitive, which means it can be used as a giant graphics tablet when you lay it down flat using the hinge at the back. That’s something the iMac cannot do.
However, Microsoft is still using an older quad-core processor from Intel, and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or 1070 options are now beginning to show their age. However, they should still offer plenty of power for your graphical design work, and you can configure the Surface Studio 2 to come with up to 2TB of SSD storage and 32GB of RAM as well. Hopefully, 2021 will see Microsoft release an even newer version with updated components, though so far we’ve not seen any hint of a new Surface Studio PC.
Apple’s compact Mac mini has been given a big overhaul, and it now comes with the all-new M1 chip – which has been designed by Apple itself to offer stunning performance.
This means it’s an incredibly versatile PC for graphic design that can handle pretty much any task you throw at it, and it’s a far more affordable option than the iMac above. In fact, as the new iMac 24-inch model runs on the same M1 hardware as the Mac mini, performance between the two is almost identical, even though the Mac mini is quite a bit cheaper.
Sure, you need to buy a monitor for it (or use one you already own), so it’s not quite as neat and tidy on a desk as an all-in-one, but the small size of this PC means you can easily hide it away behind a screen – and it’s a lot more affordable than the iMac.
It runs macOS, just like Apple’s other computers, which means any graphic design app you can use on the iMac, you can use on the Mac mini.
The base model features the Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU and 16-core Neural Engine with 256GB SSD, and there are four expansion ports at the back for either USB or Thunderbolt external storage, plus HDMI 2.0 to simultaneously support two displays.
The HP Pavilion 590 is quite possibly the best value graphic design computer money can buy, and proves that you don’t have to spend a fortune if you want a solid and dependable PC to work on.
It comes with either Intel or AMD processors, and there are a range of configurations available that allow you to get a Pavilion 590 that best suits your needs and budgets. For example, the cheapest Pavilion 590 comes with an AMD Ryzen 3 processor, and will still run powerful graphic design software extremely well.
The high-end Pavilion 590 model comes with an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, an eight-core chip that will outperform Intel-powered PCs and Macs in some tasks, featuring discrete AMD Radeon Pro Vega graphics. Plus, even this model is excellent value for money.
If you’re after an absolute powerhouse of a computer for doing your graphic design work on, and you’re willing to invest a lot of money, then the Apple Mac Pro is definitely worth considering.
The huge amount of power on offer here (along with a price tag to match) means this won’t be for everyone, but if you need a PC that can handle extremely taxing workloads, then consider the Mac Pro. You’ll find tasks such as rendering take a fraction of the time that less powerful machines take, and by being able to complete projects more quickly, it means you can take more on. So, in many cases, the Apple Mac Pro is a wise investment that can end up covering its own costs – and more.
And, while it is very powerful and very expensive, there are plenty of configuration options, which lets you pick the specs that best suit your needs and budget. It’s also got a modular design, which means unlike Apple’s other devices, like the iMac, it’s easy to upgrade parts of the system later on. This means it can be future proofed for years to come.
If you want an incredibly powerful PC for graphic design, and one that also looks incredibly stylish, then the Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 is a fantastic option. Alienware PCs are traditionally gaming PCs, but because of the powerful components inside, it means they are excellent graphic design PCs as well.
The Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 comes with AMD’s latest and greatest processors, and it also features Nvidia’s latest RTX 3000 series graphics cards as well. This makes it an incredible performer when it comes to graphic design. Best of all, it comes in a range of configurations, so you can easily pick a model that best suits yours needs and budget.
Alienware products usually tend to be quite expensive, but the Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 is very reasonably priced, and it has a brilliant build quality and design. This computer for graphic design is well worth the investment.
The iMac Pro is a very pricey all-in-one PC, and that means it won’t be suitable for a lot of people. However, if you’re after a powerful iMac, and a creative design PC that combines workstation-level performance with an elegant design, then this is the machine to get.
If you don’t fancy the look of the Mac Pro, but like the sound of its power, then the iMac Pro is a great alternative. It comes with a built-in 27-inch display with a huge 5,120 x 2,880 resolution. Apple says it can display in excess of one billion colours with P3 colour support.
This means your creative work is going to look its absolute best, and if you’re in an industry such as photography or video editing, where colour accuracy is of the utmost importance, then the iMac Pro is going to be an excellent investment.
Combined with your choice of either 8GB or 16GB HMB2 AMD Vega graphics, the full beauty – and, of course, any errors or flaws – of your work will be seen in dazzling 5K quality.
However, if you don’t need the amount of power on offer here, then you can save yourself a lot of money by going for a more affordable computer for graphic design – such as the regular iMac.
The Dell Inspiron 27 7000 is a brilliant affordable all-in-one PC that is a lot cheaper than Apple’s iMac, but doesn’t skimp on the performance or build quality.
For a start, you’re getting a stunning ‘Infinity Edge’ 4K display that makes the iMac’s screen, with its thick surrounding bezels, feel positively dated.
Specs-wise, you’ve got plenty of options, as with other Dell machines, which means you can get a configuration that offers you exactly what you need. With 8-core AMD processors and beefy GPUs, this is a brilliant affordable iMac alternative that doesn’t compromise on quality.
This is another gaming PC that also offers brilliant graphic design performance. Unlike the more expensive Alienware PC on this list, the Dell G5 Gaming Desktop is a much better value proposition, eschewing flash design for a straightforward look.
And, while it doesn’t quite offer the cutting edge components of its more expensive cousin (Alienware is owned by Dell), it still packs plenty of power. You get a choice of graphics cards, that not only help you play the latest games, but it’s also great for graphic design professionals as well, as those GPUs can help create, edit and render complex designs.
Best of all, as far as gaming machines go, the Dell G5 is impressively affordable, which makes it a great choice for graphic designers looking for a powerful PC that won’t cost huge amounts of money. And, if you like to play the odd game as well when you’ve finished working, then this is a great choice as well.
Best computer for graphic design: What to look for
Naturally, talent and hard work will get you a lot further than just having a great computer for graphic design, but having a powerful machine will certainly help you to get things done more quickly.
But, why should you pick a computer, rather than a laptop for graphic design? While there are some great laptops out there that can help with your graphic design work, they generally can’t offer the same level of power and performance as desktop computers due to them needing to be thin, light and portable.
Desktop PCs don’t have to worry about that, which means they are much more powerful, and are more affordable as well. However, because the best computers for graphic design need powerful components like cutting edge graphics cards, don’t expect any of these PCs to be particularly cheap.
A desktop with a processor (CPU) that has four, six or more cores will run apps like Photoshop or Illustrator with ease, while at least 8GB of memory, 256GB of SSD storage and fast memory will help you work on multi-layered, high-resolution documents, without your system slowing you down
Many of our models here have displays built-in – these are called all-in-one computers – the iMac is an example. Everything is inside one box. Increasingly PCs have also moved to this form factor.
One drawback is that these are not as upgradeable as a standard, tower desktop PC, so that’s still the best option for flexibility and overall performance.