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Best Desktop PCs For Graphic Design

By May 2, 2020August 30th, 2020No Comments

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Best PCs For Graphic Design Pre-Built Computers

Best Desktop PCs For Graphic Design 2020

A curated list of the best pre-built PCs for Graphic Design.

Apart from your education, buying a PC for Graphic Design is likely the biggest career investment you will make. Choosing the right PC for Graphic Design will keep you thriving as a creative for years to come. But picking the right PC to meet your needs and budget can be difficult. With so much to consider, I will share my knowledge and extensive research to make your decision much easier.

Graphic Designers never want to be limited by hardware. Your workstation should be able to handle large files, while multitasking, without breaking a sweat. This way you can focus on the creative. So the most important thing is to make sure the PC you buy has the right specs for professional design use.

In this guide to choosing the best pcs for Graphic Design, I will give you my picks/recommendations and answer some of the common questions around buying PCs for creative work. Oh, I will also try to cut through some of the marketing hype and jargon we constantly hear with computer parts.

Best Desktop Computer For Graphic Design – 7 Options For Different Use Cases

Apple iMac 27-Inch With 5K Retina Display

Best Value Apple Design Computer

PROS
  • Spectacular Color Accurate Display
  • Beautiful styling and design
  • Excellent build quality
CONS
  • Expensive
  • No HDMI or dedicated DisplayPort output
  • Only 8GB RAM
  • No display height adjustment
  • Upgrades can be expensive

Specs:

  • CPU: 4-8 Core Intel Core i3, i5, i7, i9
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Pro 570X, 580X, Vega 48
    RAM: 8GB – 64 GB
  • Storage: 1-3TB
  • Display: 5K Retina

For designers loyal to the Apple brand, look no further than the 27-Inch iMac. With the latest iteration of the iMac, Apple has focused on performance improvements by offering a range of CPU, GPU, and memory options. For example, the top-end spec now comes with an i9 processor and an AMD Radeon Vega 48 graphics card. The only problem is the top tier version featuring the i9 is insanely expensive at over $3,300. If you are in the market for a top tier iMac, this 27-Inch performs similarly to the roughly $5,000 iMac Pro. Overall, better value for money.

If you don’t have the budget for the top tier model, you can opt for the base spec which features an i5 processor starts around $1,700. This is where the value proposition starts to fall apart. Not only are you stuck with the older i5 and only 8GB of RAM this model also uses a Fusion drive that is far slower than other similarly priced PCs that offer SSDs. Yes, you can upgrade components. However, that is expensive on Macs. And you shouldn’t have to pay to upgrade a computer that you have spent more than $1,700 on.

The base model has two impressive selling features. First is that 5K retina display is simply brilliant for Graphic Design. Second is the design and build quality that is synonymous with Apple products. 

Overall, this 27-Inch iMac is amazing if you go with the i9 processor top-spec. The base model, on the other hand, is good enough for non-power users. Or if you are comfortable with upgrading some components later to unlock better performance.

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Apple iMac Pro 27-Inch With 5K Retina Display

Best Apple Computer For Creatives – With A Premium Price

PROS
  • Powerful
  • Spectacular color-accurate display
  • Beautiful styling and design
  • Space grey color is slick
  • Excellent build quality
CONS
  • Insanely Expensive
  • No HDMI or dedicated DisplayPort output
  • Only 8GB RAM
  • No display height adjustment
  • Limited upgrades

Specs:

  • CPU: 8 – 18 Core Intel Xeon
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Pro Vega 48
  • RAM: 34GB – 64 GB
  • Storage: 1-3TB SSD
  • Display: 5K Retina

If you swear by Apple products and need their highest performing computer, the iMac Pro is for you. But you will need to have the money to back that play. This iMac’s starts at an eye-watering $5,000! Price aside, creative professionals who use Apple will welcome a host of performance gains.

Speaking of performance, the iMac Pro is the most powerful computer Apple has ever made. It comes in a variety of configurations that will range between 5,000 base and $15,000 top-spec. Ya, savage! It features an Intel Xeon W processor offered in the following options: 8, 10, 14, and 18 Core. For GPU, the iMac Pro can be had with AMD’s Radeon Pro Vega 48. Memory comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB options. As for storage, there are 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB SSD options.

The 5K Retina display is the same as in the iMac 27-Inch. With 500 nits of brightness across 14.7 million pixels and 1 billion colors, this is the display all creative pros lust after.

Overall, this beast of a computer is likely overkill for most designers. You can opt for the regular iMac and upgrade some components. However, If you are a designer that demands the highest level of computer specs and has the money to spend, you won’t be disappointed.

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Adamant Custom Workstation Computer

A Powerful Graphic Design PC That Can Handle 3D And Video Edited

PROS
  • Ultra-fast performance
  • Easily upgradable
  • Solid port options
CONS
  • Insanely Expensive

Specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i9-9900K
  • GPU: GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
  • RAM: 64GB
  • Storage: 1TB SSD NVMe, 8TB HDD
  • Display: None/Tower only

If you are looking for a high-end powerful PC that can handle 3D work and video editing, the Adamant Custom Workstation is an excellent choice. Even if you strictly work in 2D, this computer will massively increase your productivity. It has a beast of a processor in the Intel Core i9-9900K. 64GBs of RAM will handle large files and multitasking easily. In addition, this PC comes with ultra-fast 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD, and a 8TB HHD. In terms of the graphics card, this beast of a workstation comes with one of the fastest GPUs, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080Ti.

After reviewing the spec-sheet, this PC has amazing parts. And it should for the high price point. It is perfect for designers who work in multimedia. Or those who like to game on the side. Overall, this Adamant workstation is a serious high-performance PC that will transform your productivity.

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Microsoft Surface Studio 2

Best All-In-One Graphic Design PC With Touch And Tablet Functionality

PROS
  • Touch and tablet screen interactivity
  • Vertical hinge
  • Minimal design
  • Good performance
  • High fidelity display
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Somewhat dated parts inside

Specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7
  • GPU: GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
  • RAM: 32GB
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Display: 28-Inch, 4500 x 3000

Microsoft’s Surface Studio 2 is an all-in-one PC specifically designed for creatives. Its main selling feature is a dual purpose 28-inch touch display. You can lay the screen down flat via the hinge mechanism. I remember drawing on is at Adobe MAX, and it was quite impressive. Other than the dual-purpose screen, the Surface Studio 2 has some decent secs that will handle most graphic design use cases. 

Even though it features an older i7 processor, it still gets the job done. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or 1070 graphics card is more than enough for Graphic Design purposes. It comes with 32GB of RAM. Also up to 2TBs of SSD storage.

The Surface Studio 2’s display is really nice. At 28 inches and 4500 x 3000 pixels, graphics are ultra-clear and crisp. In terms of color accuracy, the high contrast display comes with 3 color profiles, sRGB, DCI-P3 and vivid.

Bottom line. If you are a designer who has the budget and needs a multi-purpose computer that functions as a design PC and drafting tablet, you will be happy with the Microsoft Surface Studio 2.

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Dell XPS 8930 Tower Desktop – 8th Gen

A Solid Midrange Desktop For Graphic Design

PROS
  • Good performance
  • Compact form factor
  • Easily upgradable
  • Solid port options
CONS
  • Slightly loud fans
  • The case is a little small

Specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8700
  • GPU: GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
  • RAM: 32GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD + 2TB SATA HDD
  • Display: None/Tower only

The Dell XPS Tower 8930 is a compact and upgradable desktop that is great value for money. You get 3.2Ghz Core i7-8700 which is amazing for all-around performance and productivity. The GPU is a 4GB Nvidia GeForce 1050ti, which is great for most designers. If you do any heavy animation or motion graphics work, you will want to upgrade your GPU. Memory is sufficient with 32GB DDR4 RAM. This can be easily upgraded later if needed. When it comes to storage, you get a lot for the money here. A 512GB SSD plus 2TB SATA HDD will give you ample storage and file management speed.

Overall, the Dell XPS 8930 is a solid option for Graphic Design use. It is compact and easy to upgrade. This makes it flexible for long term use. The only downside is that this PC has a slightly loud fan. But even that can be upgraded.

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Dell XPS 8930 Special Edition Tower Desktop

Best Mid to High End Desktop For Graphic Design Under $2000

PROS
  • Fast performance
  • Compact form factor
  • Easily upgradable
  • Solid port options
CONS
  • Slightly loud fans
  • The case is a little small

Specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i9-9900K
  • GPU: 4 GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti
  • RAM: 64GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD + 1TB SATA HDD
  • Display: None/Tower only

If you are looking at mid to high-end PCs for Graphic Design, The Dell XPS Tower 8930 Special Edition has some nice component upgrades over the standard XPS 8930. If your budget is around $2000, the special edition will give you fast performance in a minimal and sleek case design.

In terms of component upgrades over the standard XPS, you get the newer Intel Core i9-9900K processor, instead of the Core i7-8700. Special Edition gets 64GB DDR4 RAM, as opposed to the standard editions 32GBs. Both XPS computers come with a 512GB SSD. However, the non-special edition has a 2TB HDD. Where-as the Special Edition only comes with 1TB. This isn’t a big deal, as storage can be easily upgraded.

In summary, the Dell XPS 8930 Special Edition is a fast performing Graphic Design PC. It features a compact sleek design. If you need more storage or want to change out parts in the future, this Dell is easily upgradable. The only downside is that this PC has a slightly loud fan. But even that can be upgraded inexpensively. All things considered, this PC is an excellent choice for professional Graphic Designers who want performance, upgradability, and minimal case design.

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HP Pavilion Gaming PC Desktop

Best Budget PC For Graphic Design

PROS
  • Good price
  • Good performance for the price
  • Compact form factor
  • Easily upgradable
  • Solid port options
CONS
  • Flimsy case
  • Will need to upgrade RAM and storage

Specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8700
  • GPU: GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
  • RAM: 32GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD + 2TB SATA HDD
  • Display: None/Tower only

If you are on a tight budget or just starting out as a Graphic Designer, the HP Pavilion Gaming PC Desktop is a good option. In the sub $800 price range, you get a lot for the money here. First, you get a capable Intel Core i5 processor. Second, the powerful 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti is a very capable GPU for the price point. For memory, you get 8GB of RAM, that can be easily and inexpensively upgraded. In terms of storage, this HP comes with a fast 256GB SSD. I would definitely add more storage, as 256GB probably isn’t enough.

Overall, if you are on a strict budget but want the ability to upgrade parts later, the HP Pavilion Gaming PC Desktop is a great choice.

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What Computer Specs Do I Need For Graphic Design?

The computer specs you need for Graphic Design work will depend on what kind of design work you do. For example, Motion Graphics Designers will generally need higher performance parts than 2D designers. That said, even designers that don’t do 3D or Motion Design, Adobe Creative Suite programs and general multitasking has become more demanding.

It’s important to make sure the computer you buy has the capable specs and components so that you can do your job smoothly. Let’s run through the main components and what specs to look out for.

CPU Specs For Graphic Design PC Build:

Best Computer Configuration For Graphic Design CPU

The Processor or CPU is the central processing unit. It receives inputs and delivers the appropriate output. Having the right processor is key for graphic designers, as they need to run multiple applications and processes at the same time. 

I recommend Intel Core i5, i7, and i9 processors as suitable for Graphic Design. Generally speaking the higher the number, the newer and better.

RAM Specs For Graphic Design PC Build

RAM For Design PCs

RAM, or Randon Access Memory is where a computing system stores data that it is actively using. If you don’t have enough RAM, your system will slow down. We cover how much RAM you need for Graphic Design later in this article. But to give you the overview, I look for PC’s with 32GB as a minimum. If you are working with a higher budget, go with 64GB. If you can only afford 8GB or 16GB, you can always upgrade later.

GPU Specs For Graphic Design PC Build

Best PCs For Graphic Design GPU

The GPU, or Graphics Processing Unit, translates the tasks your PC is computing into images and sends them to the monitor. The good thing for Graphic Designers is that the majority of their tasks are not GPU intensive. Most Graphic Design tasks are handled by CPU, RAM, and Graphics Card Video RAM. As a result, this is one area you don’t have to break the bank over.

When looking at GPU specs for Graphic Design, you should look at what resolution your display is. And how many displays you have. 4K displays will be more demanding on your GPU. If you run 4K displays or do motion design work, you want 8GB of VRAM in your graphics card. Lower resolution monitors and non-motion designs can opt for 4GB VRAM GPUs. If you want to learn more about how to choose GPUs for Graphic Design, check out our article: Best Graphics Card For Graphic Design

Storage Specs For Graphic Design PC Build

Best Computer Configuration For Graphic Design RAM

Designers save, copy, paste, and transfer files all day long. This is where you will need to make sure the PC you buy has capable storage. You want to have a PC with an SSD (Solid State Drives). SSDs are almost always preferred for data storage. They are much faster and more durable with no moving parts.

If you want the fastest storage, look for NVMe PCIe SSDs for the best performance. To learn more about SSDs, check out this article: Best SSDs For Graphic Design.

Motherboards For Graphic Design

If you are buying a pre-built PC, you don’t really need to worry about the motherboard. However, knowing what motherboard you are getting is important for future expansion and upgrades. You want to know if your motherboard has additional slots for storage and RAM. Also what kind of slots they are. This way you can ensure there’s is room to improve your PC down the road.

Monitor For Graphic Design.

Monitors For Graphic Deisgn

Some of the computers we recommend in this article come with monitors, and some don’t. Generally speaking, Graphic Designers will need a monitor with 2K 2560 x 1440 px minimum resolution. Professional designers will prefer 4K 3840 x 2160 px resolution.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to monitors. I prefer 27 inch, 4K monitors, for design work. For our recommendations and more information, check out: Best 27 Inch Monitors For Graphic Design. If you are on a budget, check out this article: Best Cheap Monitor For Graphic Design.

How much RAM is needed for Adobe Creative Suite?

In my experience as a Graphic Designer working in a variety of media, 8GB of RAM is the bare minimum for running Adobe Creative Suite. However, I recommend 32GB or 64GB. The reason being, designers need to multitask while working with large files. If you don’t have enough RAM, your computer will pass data to the hard drives, which slows things down considerably.

How much RAM is needed for Photoshop?

Speaking of multitasking, Graphic Designers will likely have a few programs running, such as Outlook, Windows Explorer, Photos, Chrome with multiple tabs open.

I tested this by capturing my PC’s memory performance stats with the programs I usually have running when designing. Note, my build has 64 GB RAM.

RAM Memory Performance Breakdown

I only had a couple of small files in Photoshop and Illustrator while Chrome and outlook were running. With this light load, I was already using closer o 20GB. As you can see, it can add up. If you want your computer running smoothly, it has to be 32 or 64 GBs of RAM.

How much RAM is needed for Illustrator?

Adobe recommends 8GB minimum, but 16GB is recommended/preferred. 

How much RAM is needed for After Effects?

The same thing with Photoshop and Illustrator, Adobe says 8GB is the minimum and recommends using 16GB. For me, 32GB is the minimum, but 64GB is preferred.

How much does a decent design PC cost?

I will depend on what you classify as decent. But for the sake of argument, let’s say decent is a low to mid-range PC for beginner to intermediate designers. This PC would need to handle 2D design work in Photoshop and Illustrator. Also some multitasking like email, web browsing, etc. If this is the criteria, a decent design PC will cost you $900 – $1400.

What you get for the money depends on whether you build or buy a PC. In the next section, we will go over the pros and cons to each.

Should I Build A PC Or Buy One For Graphic Design?

The answer to this question ultimately comes down to your situation. Either way, there are pros and cons. Overall, if you want control, customization, upgradability, and to save money while you are ok building yourself, or paying someone to do it, you build. If you don’t want any hassle of building yourself, want peace of mind with warranty/support, etc, and have the money to buy a pre-built PC, you buy.

Buying A PC:

PROS
  • No hassle building it yourself
  • No issues with hardware compatibility
  • Single point of contact for warranty and support issues
CONS
  • Usually higher cost
  • Less customization and upgradability

Building A PC:

PROS
  • Typically cheaper
  • Customize components for your needs
  • Better performance for the money
CONS
  • No single contact for warranty or support
  • Could break something during the build
  • Lots of research to ensure compatibility

Is it cheaper to build or buy a PC?

Building a PC is usually cheaper than buying a PC. Think of it like food. The same meal when buying all ingredients at the grocery store is usually cheaper than going to a restaurant. Similar to buying a pre-built PC, you are paying more for convenience, assembly, and support.

Is building a PC hard?

Building a PC is not that hard. It takes patience, having the right sizes of screwdrivers, and the ability to follow instructions. I would recommend watching a couple of videos on Youtube, which will give you an overview and some tips.

When I built my first PC, I was intimidated. But it is not that hard, and highly rewarding when you are done. I’d say take your time, be patient, and do it. That said, if you prefer to buy pre-built, any of our recommendations are solid PCs.

Is building a PC worth it?

Building a PC is worth it to me, and it can be to you as well. But it really depends on your needs. We’ve highlighted the pros and cons above. If you think you can benefit from building a PC instead of buying a pre-built, check out our article, Best Computer Configuration For Graphic Design.

Is Mac Or Windows Better For Graphic Design?

It surprises me that this is still a topic for discussion. Because nowadays, most designers will know that there are advantages and disadvantages to both Mac and PC. There is no better platform or operating system for Graphic Design.

What is better for any given designer will depend on their specific needs or use case. Let’s get into why graphic designers prefer Mac and PCs.

Why do graphic artists prefer Macs?

  • Retina Display
  • Integration profile across multiple Apple devices.
  • If you are a motion graphics designer that uses Final Cut Pro.
  • Personal preference on the operating system.

Why do graphic artists prefer PCs?

  • Windows PCs simply cost way less for the same or better performance specs.
  • Ability to upgrade parts or customize your configuration.
  • Personal preference on the operating system.

In the end, whether you prefer Mac or PC comes down to a couple of key points. First, it depends on what operating system you are most familiar with. Second, if you are looking for high-performance specs for the money. Lastly, do you want the ability to customize and upgrade parts?

Conclusion

In summary, there are some solid options here for all levels of Graphic Design use. But it is important to understand what you need in a PC for now and later. You want to make sure your workstation is future proof. In addition, if buying a pre-built PC is the right decision in the first place. I hope this helps you figure out what is best for your design needs. I’ve linked a few helpful articles on this topic below.

If you are building a PC and need other parts, check here:

Other Graphic Design PC hardware reviews:

Camden Taylor

Author Camden Taylor

Camden is Arturth's founder. A Senior Graphic Designer from the Pacific Northwest, he has a passion for art, design, and bringing people together through the creative process.

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