A lot of graphic design software is available out there, both paid and free. Many of them provide great features and capabilities that help designers create wonderful graphic designs. However, sometimes these great features cost their computer performance. Not only because the graphic design software can be heavy, but the images they create are also sometimes heavy too due to their high resolution.
If you are working professionally as a graphic designer and work with heavier software, you will need to consider getting good computers. What is considered good in terms of system requirements depends on what type of designing project you usually do and what software you use.
It is important for designers to understand what type of hardware they need. When they understand the system requirements, they will get the right one and possibly save money because they don’t have to buy what they don’t need.
There are a lot of things to consider when you are choosing hardware for graphic designers. It includes the type of work, budget, portability, file compatibility, and so on. To help you better, here are some guidelines you can follow when you buy a new computer for your design software.
PC vs Mac
The first thing to consider is whether you are going to buy a PC or Mac computer. In the past, computers manufactured by Apple were the first choice for many graphic designers. Some of the software used is also available only on iOS. However, this trend has changed, and a lot of software is available for multiple platforms. So, you don’t have to strictly choose Apple products for graphic designing.
Although plenty of software can be used in the various operational systems, Apple products, especially the upper-end models, are pre-configured for graphic design. While it can be great hardware for designing, note that sometimes it cannot be upgraded. If they do, only the memory and storage drive can be changed. Therefore, you might night different devices when your old computer is no longer able to support the software you’re currently using.
At the same time, PCs sometimes need works to make them work well for graphic design. However, you can select the components you like, which means you will build a computer with a great performance for graphic design. While it may seem like a lot of work to do just to build a computer, it is actually cheaper and you can only swap a few components when you want to upgrade it.
Whether PCs or Macs, no matter what your choice is, the real issue is compatibility. You need to know what formats your clients usually require, and it is best to follow the same format. Of course, you can always convert the format. However, it will be better and faster just to work with the common system as your clients.
Desktop vs Laptop
Another thing to consider is whether you should get a desktop or computer. A laptop is a portable and convenient option, especially if you travel a lot. With this device, you can work anywhere you are, even when you’re on the road. However, the problem with a laptop is its smaller screen and components that often change. For some people, this might not be a problem. However, if you prefer to work on a larger screen, you might want to step away from this option.
A desktop does not have the portability of a laptop, especially due to its size. However, it is often faster and more powerful. Also, with the reasons mentioned in the previous point, you can upgrade your desktop per part, which will be cheaper in the long run. So, if you tend to work at home more, a desktop is the best option to get.
You might want to get both for easier decisions, and that can work well if you’re equally frequent in work at home and travel. However, if you decide to do so, you will still need extra work to ensure you get the files on the correct machine and are compatible on both desktop and laptop. Also, getting two computers will certainly be expensive.
The storage drive is another important part you need to consider when you are going to purchase hardware for graphic designers. You can get two options: the traditional HDD (hard disk drive) or an SSD (solid-state drive). The difference between both lies in the technology used to store and retrieve data.
In general, HDD is cheaper and has the highest capacity of up to 10TB. However, It has a slower speed a less durable. It is also not energy-efficient since it uses more energy to operate. On the other hand, SSD is more expensive than HDD. It also has faster speed, is more durable, and uses less energy. However, its highest capacity is only 4 TB.
The difference between HDD and SSD can make it difficult to choose. However, the good news is that you can combine different types of drives in one system.
If a laptop is the device of your choice, you should get an additional external drive and use it to store the completed files. This way, you can save a lot of space on your laptop and use it to keep current files only.
To be able to work smoothly, you will need at least 512 GB of SSD or 750 GB of HDD for your working drive. However, if you often work on several large files, then you will also need a larger drive. Failing to do so will make your laptops slow, and it will be hard for you to work effectively.
When you are looking for a hard drive, look at how fast it is. The speed is indicated in RPM, and the bigger the number, the faster it is and the better it will be. For graphic design, you should get a drive with at least 7200 RPM.
If your work includes video editing using a desktop computer, the RAID setup is a great choice for a smoother workflow. With this setting, your multiple drives will work like it is a single drive. This setup is great for working on really large files such as videos.
GPU and RAM
A GPU or graphics processing unit comes in two different settings, integrated into the processor or installed separately. For graphic design, however, a dedicated GPU is a better option. When choosing GPU, get one for the workstation unit because there are usually more robust and better for graphic design.
A dedicated graphics card has a memory in it called a VRAM. You can consider this a short-term storage space for files you are currently working in. Like selecting a storage drive, you should also opt for VRAM with a bigger capacity. For intricate design work, you should get one with a minimum capacity of 1TB.
The next thing to think about is the processor or CPU. It is an important part of a computer because the CPU directs all the components of a computer. Pay close attention to the specification since graphic designing requires a computer with a good processor.
For graphic design, you need to look at the number of cores and the speed. To be able to work seamlessly with great graphic design software, make sure that your processor is at least a quad-core with a minimum of 1 gigahertz GHz) speed.
A memory of the computer, or often abbreviated as RAM, is different from VRAM. While VRAM is used by the graphics card only, RAM is the part used by a processor to store information about the files you are currently working on. With this processor, you can switch between files and program easily.
When choosing a good computer for designing, make sure it has RAM with a minimum capacity of 16 GB. However, if you want to get heavier and more sophisticated design software to work with, you may want to add more memory since it may slow down the performance of your computer.
Don’t worry if your current computer has a lower RAM capacity. That is because you can upgrade the RAM in most computers. All you need to do is add or replace the current RAM that your computer has.
A lot of people think that graphics cards are only useful for gaming purposes. However, this item is actually really important for any device that is going to be used for designing. Thankfully, almost all popular brands and packages computers are already equipped with this hardware. All you need to do is find the right specifications.
Another important thing to consider is selecting the Graphic card. A mid-end graphic card is recommended for 2D designing painting. Some of the options include NVIDIA GeForce GTX1050 or AMD’s Radeon R7. Having great graphic cards will help you design smoothly, and you don’t need to keep upgrading your computer every year since these two are good enough.
However, if you’re mostly working on 3D modeling software, you need better graphic cards. Some of the great choices are among the latest NVIDIA series, including GTX 1060, GTX 1070, and GTX 1080. If you prefer AMD, you should try the R9 series grom the Radeon GPUs.
Last but not least is considering the peripherals. No matter what kind of computers you get, they should have both wired and wireless connectors. It is important that your computer can connect in more than one way to have great adaptability.
This is a great feature to have, especially if you frequently travel and meet your clients. You never know what will be available at the site and whether the clients’ device is compatible with yours or not. Therefore, making sure that your computer is adaptable is important.
If you mostly work from home, it will be easier to find monitors. Opt for a 20-inch monitor with the highest resolution and pixel density. You will also need to be careful with color accuracy since it is an important factor in designing. Opt for a VA or IPS monitor as they tend to have higher color accuracy.
If you decide to get a laptop, you should try to get the biggest screen that you can take anywhere you are going. In general, a 15-inch monitor is sufficient. It is small enough to take with you when you’re traveling but still big enough that it can help you work on graphic files well and effectively.
For a laptop, look for those with a screen resolution of at least 1600×900 or 1920×1080. If you think you need more space, you can also consider getting a 4K TV or monitor. This monitor is very useful when you work at home to see the graphics better and clearer.
Now that you know all the necessary requirements to get great hardware for graphic designers, you need to consider your budget. Use the above guidelines to measure which components you will splurge on and which components you want to upgrade later.
It may need a lot of time to research and find the right formula for you. However, with careful thinking and consideration, you should be able to find the right computer for your graphic design career.
A beautiful, crisp, and accurate design can be achieved with powerful software and hardware. So, pay attention to the details of your hardware as well if you’re looking for great hardware for graphic designers. Great hardware combined with great software will certainly help you create a great design smoothly and effectively.