Looking for a new computer for graphic design? You're in the right place. If you require better ergonomics, a bigger display and more power for less cash, you're better off going for a desktop than a graphic design laptop.
Creating great work is all about having the right skills – but a machine with sufficient specs is also important for creating work that will please your clients and take pride of place in your portfolio. There's a lot of choice out there, however, which is why we've put together this guide.
Here, we've selected five of the best computers for graphic design. Whether you're a Mac user or a Windows wizard, you'll find something in this list that suits your needs.
Generally speaking, the more you pay the better the machine. But don't worry if you're on a tighter budget – we've picked the best cheap computers for graphic design, too. Read on for our selection of the best desktops out there...
01. Apple iMac Pro
Best computer for heavy lifting graphic design professionals
Display: 27-inch 5K Retina | Processor: 8-, 10- or 18-Core | Turbo Boost: up to 4.5GHz | Memory: 32GB | Storage: 1TB | Graphics: Vega GPU | Size: : (h) 51.6cm x (w) 65.0cm | Weight: 9.7 kg | Connections: 10Gb Ethernet, four Thunderbolt 3 (USB‑C) ports, four USB 3 ports, SDXC card slot
Let's be clear: this computer isn't necessary for most of us. The majority of graphic designers simply don't need this amount of power in a machine – and the cost is astronomical.
But there's a reason why Apple's new powerhouse workstation, the iMac Pro, is so darn expensive – in fact, there are several. And if you're one of the minority of professional users that need this level of power, and can afford the price tag, this is currently the best machine on the market.
First, there's the display – that incredible 27-inch 5,120 x 2,880 resolution display. Apple says it can produce in excess of one billion colours. If you've ever wondered whether you're really seeing your designs at their best, then this iMac's screen is about as true as you're going to get.
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.
This is the fastest and most powerful product Apple has ever made. And as you'd expect from Apple, keen attention has been paid to the ergonomics of the peripherals. The wireless Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard mean you have all the control and nuance you can handle.
The iMac Pro is overkill for all but the most professional of users. If your workflow doesn't involve intense creative tasks, huge file sizes, major editing or 3D rendering at very fast speeds, you won't need this amount of power. (And if it does, but the price tag rules you out, try looking at a high-spec 5K iMac).
However, if you need its power and can justify the cost, the iMac Pro is an incredible computer for graphic designers.
02. Microsoft Surface Studio
Best Windows PC for graphic design.
CPU: : Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: : Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M – 980M | RAM: : 8GB – 32GB | Storage: : 64GB SSD; 1TB HDD – 128GB SSD; 2TB HDD
It may sound clichéd to say that the Microsoft Surface Studio is the Windows-based answer to the best iMacs on the market, but clichés are generally rooted in truth.
This is no inferior substitute, however – it's the go-to workstation for Windows users. Check out the paper thin 28-inch PixelSense Display that puts the vast majority of other 4K screens out there to shame.
But that's not the best bit – it's touchscreen as well, meaning you can actually draw straight onto the monitor with the superb Surface Pen. If you've not used it before, you'll be surprised just how accurately the 4,096 levels of pressure-sensitivity allow you to sketch and draw. Saying it's just like a pencil and paper isn't really too much of an exaggeration.
03. HP Envy 34 Curved All-in-One
Best alternative Windows PC for designers.
CPU: Intel Core i5 - Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GTX 950M - AMD Radeon RX 460 | RAM: 8GB - 16GB | Storage: 1TB SSHD, 1TB - 2TB HDD; 256GB SSD | Display: 34-inch WQHD (3,440 x 1,440)
It's hard not to be wowed when you first lay eyes on the monumental 34-inch curved screen of the HP Envy all-in-one. The ultra-wide QHD (3,440 x 1,440 pixel) LED backlit Micro Edge display is unlike pretty much anything else you'll currently see on the shelves.
It's an astonishing amount of room to let your creations breathe, and displays plenty of screen furniture to let you make edits and changes with the utmost convenience. It's like having a dual display, but without the clunky hardware. Pretty nice for catching films and TV box-sets on your downtime, too.
Inside there's 8GB of RAM, a quad-core seventh generation Intel Core i7 processor and a 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD combination hard drive. A top spec for your cash.
04. Apple iMac with 4K Retina display
Best cheap Apple Mac for graphic design.
CPU: Intel Core i5 - Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 640; Radeon Pro 555 - Radeon Pro 560 | RAM: 8GB - 32GB | Storage: 1TB HDD - 3TB SSHD; 256GB - 1TB SSD | Display: 21.5-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – Retina 4K (4,096 x 2,304)
This is the Apple Mac to go for if you've got a fraction of the budget that the iMac Pro is being sold for. And if you think that means you'll be getting an inadequate machine, then think again – there's a reason why Macs are so popular among designers.
It may not be 5K, but we love the stunning 21.5-inch Retina display that you get with this iMac. It features a wider range of colours than some competitors' monitors thanks to its DCI P3 colour space. It means you get more accurate colouring and a greater vibrancy.
And because Apple puts such care into the construction of all its equipment, the keyboard and mouse are a joy to use as well.
05. Lenovo Ideacentre 910
Best cheap all-in-one PC under £1,000/$1,000.
CPU: AMD A6 – Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT 940 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 27-inch Full HD (1920x1080) | Storage: 1TB HDD
If you're looking at the price tags of the other computers for graphic design in this list, and then looking at your budget and seeing a mismatch, fear not – the Lenovo Ideacentre 910 is a more budget-friendly buy.
Considering the price, the processing power you get to render your designs is surprisingly brawny, with the quad-core Intel CPU and 8GB of RAM taking the strain. The Nvidia GeForce graphics card is a welcome addition, too – fine if you're wanting to implement animation.
You're not shortchanged on the size of the screen, either. But measuring 27 inches at the diagonals, the downside is that you're only dealing with Full HD, with an option to upgrade to 4K at a higher price.