Finding the best computer for graphic design can be very confusing, with so many manufacturers, different ranges from each manufacturer, and confusing product names within each range. To help you pick the best computer for graphic design work, we've listed the desktop devices that provide the best bang for the buck.
We've included a broad range of options in this guide, ranging in power and price, and including both Macs and PCs. We've listed all the relevant specs for each, but if you're finding that a bit baffling then scroll to the bottom of this page where we've put together a short FAQ.
The products on the list have been picked by our experienced team of reviewers, who personally test and review all the latest computers and laptops. Their findings and opinions inform our comments in this guide – check out our page on how we test computers for more detail.
One final point: some of the computers on this list don't come with a screen, so you may want to read our the best monitors too. Plus, if you'd prefer a laptop to a desktop, check out our guide to the best laptops for graphic design. Finally, if your apps are running slowly and crashing, then before changing your computer, consider upgrading to the best graphic design software instead.
For a quick overview of the best of the best, we've summarised our list below with all the most important need-to-know information about the best computers for graphic design.
It may be tiny, but the Mac Mini M2 Pro is incredibly capable, packing Apple's super-powerful M2 Pro chip. It handles complex creative tasks with ease, and it's nearly impossible to overload, even when running multiple creative programs at once.
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With M1 processing chips, the 2021 24-inch iMac offers incredibly fast performance and a neural processor in a sleeker and more sophisticated frame than the previous 2020 iMac, albeit with a slightly lower-res display.
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If Apple's not your thing, the Surface Studio 2 is a great all-in-one alternative. Plus, with features like its high-resolution touch-sensitive display, and seamless colour profile switching, it's a graphic designer's dream; but it's a little slower than its Apple rivals.
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Best computer for graphic design overall
When you're running graphic design software, the more power you have, the better. That means your software will load more quickly, run more smoothly and crash less often. Of course, the most powerful computers tend to be more expensive. But on the plus side, you'll get your work done faster, saving you time and money in the long run.
With all that in mind, the Mac mini (M2 Pro, 2023) is the best computer for graphic design we can recommend today. Despite its admirably compact design, it's very capable. And that's because it features Apple's latest, super-powerful chip, the M2 Pro, which takes performance to a whole new level.
In practice, our reviewer found it handled complex, labour-intensive tasks with ease. Indeed, she found it impossible to overload it: even when editing 8K video footage in Premiere Pro, while simultaneously running Photoshop, Freeform and multiple browser tabs.
Note that the Mac mini is just the computer, and you'll still need a keyboard, monitor and mouse to go with it. So that does make it pretty expensive, and if you're not running the most demanding apps, such as Cinema 4D, After Effects, 3DS Max or Premiere Pro, the amount of power it provides may be overkill. In which case, you may prefer some of the less pricey options on our list.
Best all-in-one computer for graphic design
The 2021 24-inch iMac doesn't have the discrete graphics card of the previous 2020 iMac, and sports a slightly lower-res display. But its M1 processing chips deliver absolutely blistering performance, plus the overall design is sleeker and more sophisticated.
The 2021 iMac also has a neural processor, meaning it can take full advantage of apps that use machine learning, such as the best AI photo editing software. And as we noted in our review, it offers a generous amount of built-in storage, something you can chew through surprisingly quickly if you're working with high-res images.
Best Windows computer for graphic design
We know that not everyone wants to use Apple products, so a list like this can't just be Apple-based. Fortunately, there are some great desktop computers for graphic designers who use Windows, chief among which is the Surface Studio 2.
This exceptional computer boasts a few unique features of its own, not least of which is the fact that its high-resolution touch-sensitive display allows it to seamlessly convert to a giant graphics tablet. Like doing your graphic design with a stylus? This is a great choice.
Other features on the Surface Studio 2 have clearly been implemented with graphic designers and other creative professionals in mind. Being able to switch seamlessly between colour profiles – so, from sRGB to vivid and DCI-P3 modes – is super-cool. Plus, as we pointed out in our review, you can configure the Surface Studio 2 with up to 2TB of SSD storage and 32GB of RAM.
Yes, it's getting a bit old now (it was first released in 2019) and its Intel processor lags behind Apple's M1 and M2 chips. But this Windows computer for graphic designers has a lot going for it: see our full Microsoft Surface Studio 2 review to find out more.
Best compact computer for graphic design
Released in March 2022, the Mac Studio is another very capable compact computer for graphic design. Powered by either an Apple M1 Max chip or a cutting-edge M1 Ultra chip (essentially two M1 Mac chips welded together), depending on user preference, it can be configured to be one of the most powerful computers Apple has ever created.
When we reviewed the Mac Studio, we were immediately impressed by how little space it took up, thanks to its compact chassis – it essentially looks like a stacked Mac Mini. We were also pleased to discover how energy-efficient it proved to be. Despite the M1 Ultra offering faster GPU performance than the most well-specced PC GPU, it uses 200W less in power terms. This is mostly down to the efficient architecture of the M1 chips, and in a time of spiralling energy bills, it'll likely go very much appreciated.
If you're performing intensive graphic design tasks like editing huge files in Photoshop, Mac Studio will perform admirably. If you're doing a little less than all that, this is probably more power than you need. Our Mac Studio review runs through all this in more detail.
Best iMac dupe computer for graphic design
Plenty of PCs have come out swinging against the iMac, but the HP ENVY 34 All-in-One is one of the best such challengers we’ve seen. Boasting an incredibly wide 24-inch 5K display, it’s ideal for losing yourself in your graphic design tasks, and has enough graphical and computing power to handle pretty much anything with ease. Also, it’s highly configurable, and if you’re willing to bump the price up a little, you can get it with a little more storage or processing power, or indeed a lot more.
The simplistic design of the ENVY 34 All-in-One means it blends in well in pretty much any home or office environment. It also can come with plenty of useful extras, some of which are a little unexpected – if you want, you can get a monitor stand that also doubles up as a smartphone charger! It’s unclear how useful this is, given that you’ll presumably have the computer set up at home or an office, where you’ll have access to plentiful chargers. But hey, it’s there if you want it.
The ENVY 34 All-in-One is graphically well equipped, boasting even in its simplest configuration an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. This should be more than capable of handling graphic design tasks, cementing this all-in-one computer’s status as a truly credible iMac alternative.
Best affordable computer for graphic design
The Dell XPS line of desktop PCs is one of the few remaining desktop towers still being made for a non-gaming market, but thankfully it also happens to be one of the best. Opting for a Windows-based PC is likely to grant you more freedom to customise your components, on top of usually being a far cheaper option to buying an iMac or Mac Pro when you compare performance to affordability.
Even the lowest-spec model still packs a dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 so those without a tonne of cash to splash on something like an iMac can get a powerful and capable machine for significantly less. Better yet, if you do have some cash to burn then you can opt for the 11th generation Intel i9 processor and an RTX 3070 graphics card.
Outside of being budget-friendly and flexible to your needs, other benefits include having a good selection of ports across the front of the tower (which means you won't have to fuss around with the rear of the machine), a built-in SD card slot and the fact that Dell offers plenty of corporate discounts, so you might be able to save even more cash through your employer.
Best gaming computer for graphic design
Gaming computers are far more abundant than family desktop towers these days, but because of the powerful components inside they also tend to be excellent graphic design PCs. This Alienware example is one of the best, with a flashy design and plenty of RGB lighting.
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 your needs and budget. This is also a great option for anyone who wanted an AMD-powered desktop over an Intel device, which is becoming more popular in recent years thanks to AMD's phoenix-like rise from the ashes.
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 if you need a lot of power.
Another iMac alternative computer for graphic design
If you love the all-in-one look but you don't want to pay Apple prices then the 27-inch Yoga AIO is an AMD-powered Windows PC that's received great reviews and offers an attractive option for creative professionals and hobbyists who want a product optimised for graphic design.
The 4K display comes with an optional 99% Adobe RGB colour gamut and DCI-P3 99% colour space which is useful for anyone who needs colour accuracy optimisation, the screen can be fully rotated to portrait mode with just a push of a finger if you need a different angle.
With the recent popularity of vertical platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels, many artists and graphic designers are exploring new formats to push their work, so that rotating display could come in handy for things other than finding a more comfortable working angle.
You're also getting up to 1TB of SSD storage and the option for a 2TB HDD. Hard drives might be outdated on gaming devices, but their affordable capacity gives you plenty of space to save projects. For especially demanding applications, the 27-inch Yoga AIO's 32GB of RAM will make running just about any application in the Adobe Creative Suite a breeze.
How to choose a computer for graphic design
When it comes to choosing which computer is best for graphic design, there are several key things you'll want to look out for, and these are the pillars that also inform which devices we include in the list above.
For starters, you'll need a lot of powerful components to handle creative work. You'll want a CPU with four, six or more cores to run creative software, as well as at least 246GB SSD storage and 8GB memory to speedily handle your files and programs. A dedicated graphics card isn't a must-have unless you're also doing more demanding tasks like 3D rendering, and so you can get away with an integrated graphics card; but ideally, go as powerful as you can to future-proof your device.
Some PCs included in our list above are integrated, all-in-one devices with a screen. You might not need that, or you might see it as a huge boon to reduce desk clutter.
Now you know what your dream computer for graphic design looks like, you'll need to crash somewhat down to reality and address the elephant in the room; budget. Generally speaking, the best computers for graphic design will need beefy components, which come at a hefty price; but you can make the odd concession to bring the price down.
What makes a computer good for graphic design?
Desktop computers may have fallen out of favour with general home and office users over recent years, but they still play an important role in industries and markets that require a lot of power. While there are some great laptops for graphic design out there that can help with your graphic design work, they generally can't offer the same level of performance as desktop computers due to them needing to be thin, light and portable.
Desktop PCs don't have to worry about that, and you can usually configure them more easily to accommodate your needs. They can also be more affordable than a laptop with comparable specifications, but because the best computers for graphic design need powerful components like cutting-edge processors 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.
A dedicated graphics card is also advantageous, but most graphic design applications won't be as demanding on your system as tasks like 3D rendering. Opting for a gaming PC that's packing a beefy Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU will certainly help (and enable you to use ray tracing-boosted features), but integrated graphics will do at a push.
Many of our models here have displays built-in – these are called all-in-one computers, often abbreviated to AIO's – the iMac is a great example, with everything is inside one box. Increasingly PCs have also moved to this form factor, but 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.
Is Mac or PC better for graphic design?
The battle between Apple and PC fans has been raging for decades, but as far as which brand is 'best' at graphic design, each has their respective strengths. There are very capable Mac and PC solutions for a range of demanding requirements across the market, but what brand you align yourself with will ultimately boil down to a few personal preferences.
Microsoft PCs are typically much cheaper than Apple alternatives, and desktop towers are usually easy to upgrade which can greatly prolong the lifespan of your machine. For an especially beefy build, you can even opt for a gaming PC as they usually pack a powerful graphics card, more memory (RAM) and a capable processor from either Intel or AMD.
Apple devices on the other hand, while more expensive in some regions, are known for being high-quality and having a simple, easy-to-use operating system. Historically, many graphic designers have used iMac and Mac products because of the Apple ecosystem and simply because it was considered the industry standard for several years.
These days, there's no clear winner (despite our choices on this top ten list) because both operating systems are well optimised to support your hardware and software needs. It's easy to find a product to suit your needs across either OS so we recommend that if you have plenty of experience using either PC or Mac, stick to what you know unless you're looking to diversify your skills across both brands.