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Best Processor For Graphic Design – The CPU

By October 12, 2020No Comments

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Best Processor For Graphic Design - The CPU

Best Processor For Graphic Design – The CPU

Picking the right processor for your Graphic Design computer is vital. But there are so many different processors on the market today. It’s hard to know what’s best as computer parts and applications are constantly improving and changing.

As a Graphic Designer and part-time gamer who has built several PCs, I wanted to give you a round-up of the best processors (CPUs) for Graphic Design computers. I will clearly explain what each CPU is good at. Specifically looking at different use cases and budgets. This way you can find out what processor is right for you.

If you are in a hurry, the best processors for graphic design are listed below. If you want to learn more about why the processor (CPU) is so important for Graphic Design, and what to consider when choosing a CPU, click to jump down.

Best Processor For Graphic Design

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X

Best professional-level workstation processor

Specs:

  • Base Clock: 3.7 GHz
  • Boost Clock: 4.5 GHz
  • Cores: 32
  • Threads: 64
  • L3 Cache: 128MB
  • Socket: Socket sTRX4
PROS
  • Market leader in multi-threaded performance
  • Beast at single and multi-thread performance
  • Relatively reasonable pricing
  • PCIe Gen 4.0 slot compatibility
  • DDR4 Support
  • Indium solder
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Requires high-level cooling
  • Requires an expensive TRX40 motherboard

If you need an absolute beast of a workstation computer for multi-purpose design use, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X is truly in a class of its own. You get insane levels of performance with 3.7GHz – 4.5GHz clock speeds, 32 cores, 64 threads. Not to mention AMD is the first to adopt the PCIe 4.0 interface. This beast from AMD outperforms and costs significantly less than Intels workstation CPUs, such as the Xeon W-3175X.

While the Threadripper 3970X is best in class and would be amazing an amazing CPU for professional-level workstations, it is likely overkill for most Graphic Designers. This processor is best for creatives who demand the highest level of performance. If you work on Motion Graphics, Video Editing, 3D Design, and rendering, the AMD Threadripper 3970X will make your workflow much quicker.

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AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

Great value for money – fast multipurpose processor

Specs:

  • Base Clock: 3.5 GHz
  • Boost Clock: 4.7 GHz
  • Cores: 16
  • Threads: 32
  • L3 Cache: 64MB
  • Socket: Socket AM4
PROS
  • Class-leading power for the money
  • Good price per core
  • PCIe Gen 4.0 slot compatibility
  • DDR4 Support
  • Compatible with most AM4 motherboards
CONS
  • Requires high-level cooling
  • Limited overclocking

If you are a Graphic Designer that also needs to do either Motion Graphics, Video Editing, or 3D work, the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is a solid choice. The 3.5 GHz base clock is enough power to handle all your 2D apps like Photoshop and Illustrator with ease. And if you need to use programs like After Effects, Premiere, Cinema, and Maya, 16 cores and 32 threads will give you the confidence to take on any kind of content creation.

Overall, 3.5 GHz, 16 cores, and 32 threads at this relatively affordable price put the 3950X in a league of its own. Ultimately, you get a CPU that can rival high-end workstations, at a much cheaper price. This is an excellent choice for Graphic Designers who also work on motion, video, 3D, or enjoy gaming on the side.

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Intel Core i9-10900K

Great for design apps & fastest CPU for gaming

Specs:

  • Base Clock: 3.7 GHz
  • Boost Clock: 5.3 GHz
  • Cores: 10
  • Threads: 20
  • L3 Cache: 20MB
  • Socket: Socket LGA 1200
PROS
  • Excellent for both single and multi-core threaded apps
  • Fastest gaming CPU
  • DDR4 Support
  • High overclocking potential
CONS
  • Requires high-level cooling
  • High power consumption
  • Limited overclocking
  • Only PCIe 3.0 interface

The Intel Core i9-10900K is a great choice if you are a designer who is also a gaming enthusiast. The i9-10900K has the crown for the fastest gaming CPU due to its blistering fast  5.3 GHz clock speed. With 10 cores and 20 threads, this CPU is still great for Video Editing, Motion Design, and 3D work.

If gaming isn’t your thing, but you still want a high-end CPU for After Effects, Premiere, or any of the 3D applications, I would lean towards the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X. The 3950X will edge the i9-10900K in all creative applications.

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AMD Ryzen 5 3600

Best all-around value budget AMD CPU

Specs:

  • Base Clock: 3.6 GHz
  • Boost Clock: 4.2 GHz
  • Cores: 6
  • Threads: 12
  • L3 Cache: 32MB
  • Socket: Socket AM4
PROS
  • Low price
  • Great performance for the money
  • Comes with cooler
  • DDR4 Support
  • PCIe Gen 4.0 slot compatibility
  • Compatible with most AM4 motherboards
CONS
  • Only 6 cores (still fine for Graphic Design)

The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is the undoubted value sweet spot for Graphic Designers who don’t need to do any professional-level video, motion, or 3D work. The 6 cores and 12 threads are more than enough for Graphic Design apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign. This CPU will also handle multi-tasking and give you decent gaming performance.

Overall, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 will give you amazing value for money. It outperforms Intel CPUs in its price range. The 3600 also separates from the Intel comparables by offering DDR4 support and PCIe Gen 4.0 slot compatibility. This will allow you to take advantage of new SSDs and GPUs. In summary, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 value for money proposition is hard to beat.

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Intel Core i5-10600K

Best all-around value budget Intel CPU/span>

Specs:

  • Base Clock: 4.1 GHz
  • Boost Clock: 4.8 GHz
  • Cores: 6
  • Threads: 12
  • L3 Cache: 12MB
  • Socket: Socket LGA 1200
PROS
  • Low price
  • Good at single and multi-thread workloads
  • Room to overclock
  • Easy to cool
CONS
  • Only 6 cores
  • Only PCIe 3.0 interface
  • No cooler included
  • Needs LGA 1200 motherboard exclusively

The Intel Core i5-10600K is a solid choice for Graphic Designers who don’t work on video, motion, or 3D work. With a 4.1GHz – 4.8GHz speeds, the i5-10600K will be an outstanding performer for most Graphic Design needs. It might be a little more expensive than the comparable AMD Ryzen 5 3600. But whether you prefer Intel or AMD will come down to your own brand preference, budget, or motherboard slot compatibility.

If you do any gaming on the side, the Core i5-10600K offers the highest-level gaming performance in its price range. Just know, this CPU needs to pair with an LGA1200 motherboard. Also, you will have to buy cooling separately as the i5-10600K does not come with any cooling. All in all, the Core i5-10600K offers high-level performance for Graphic Design tasks and gaming.

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Why Is The Processor Important For Graphic Design?

The processor, or CPU, is like the brains and muscle. Its job is to receive inputs and deliver the appropriate output. A capable CPU is critical because Graphic Design is much more demanding than basic computing such as browsing the web or writing in Google Docs.

Having the right processor is key for Graphic Designers, as they need to run multiple applications and processes at the same time. However, Graphic Design is not as demanding on your computer as video editing, motion graphics, and 3D Design. Therefore, what CPU you need will depend on what kinds of Graphic Design you will be doing.

Once you know what kinds of design tasks you will be doing in the short and long term, it will be easier to know what processor will meet your needs. For further clarification, you can always look at the recommended specs for each software you use (you can jump to this section later in the article).

BUT!, choosing a processor based on the recommended specs alone will not set you up for success. Adobe CC Apps recommended specs are based on the minimum or baseline requirements. Adobe is not making recommendations for optimal performance. And they are not considering multitasking, which is essential for any Graphic Designer, no matter what experience level.

The Processor or CPU is the central processing unit. Its basic job is to receive inputs and deliver 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. 

Nowadays, processors can handle tasks one at a time, or concurrently on multiple “cores”. So you would think more cores is better. However, most design software is optimized to use a high core clock. As opposed to multiple cores. For example, a 6-core, 3.6 GHz CPU can be faster than a 24-core, 3.0 GHz CPU in Photoshop, as an example.

Generally speaking, for most Graphic Designers who don’t work in video, 3D, or motion graphics, I recommend a 64-bit quad-core CPU, with a minimum 2GHz.

If you are doing some 3D work, Motion Graphics, or Video Editing, a combination of high core-counts and high clock-speeds will give you better performance.

Is Ryzen good for graphic design?

Yes AMD Ryzen Processors are good for Graphic Design. The same can be said for Intel processors. If you are wondering if AMD Ryzen CPUs are better than Intels, unfortunately, this is a complicated question. I have to say, it depends.

Generally speaking, Intel CPUs have better single-core performance. Where-as AMDs have better multi-core threaded performance. Of course, this depends on what models you are comparing.

If you are wondering what CPU brand is better for Graphic Design, there’s a couple of things to consider. First, most Graphic Design software apps like Photoshop and Illustrator won’t benefit much from the multi-threaded performance offered by AMD. So it’s better to choose a CPU with higher single-core clock speeds. Intel CPUs tend to have higher single-core clock speeds over AMD. However, the differences are minor and hard to notice.

Another thing to consider when deciding between Intel and AMD is your use case and budget. If you do any Video Editing, 3D Design, Motion Design, or Rendering, the multi-threaded performance edge generally goes to AMD. Another generalization I should mention, which is that AMD CPUs are usually a bit cheaper than Intels.

Adobe Creative Suite Software Processor Requirements

  • Adobe Photoshop: Intel or AMD processor with 64-bit support; 2 GHz or faster processor
  • Adobe Illustrator: Multicore Intel processor (with 64-bit support) or AMD Athlon 64 processor
  • Adobe Indesign: Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor
  • Adobe XD: PC CPU: 2GHz, Mac: 1.4GHz
  • Adobe After Effects: Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
  • Adobe Premiere: Intel 7thGen or newer CPU – or AMD equivalent

Other Design Software Processor Requirements

  • Maya: 64-bit Intel or AMD multi-core processor.
  • Cinema 4D: 64-bit on Intel or AMD 64-bit CPU with SSE3 support
  • ZBrush: Core2duo or AMD equivalent with SSE2 technology or better
  • Keyshot: Intel or AMD 64 bit processor with SSE4.1 or higher
  • CorelDRAW: Intel Core i3/5/7 or AMD Athlon 64
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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