Before we jump to our top picks for the best desktop computers for graphic design, there are some crucial points you need to take into account when you are going to buy a computer.
1. Types of desktop computers
Desktops typically offer more performance for the cash than laptops and are less expensive to repair. They may allow for a more ergonomically correct work environment, generally come with better speakers, and allow you to view your work on a larger screen.
Full-Size Desktop: Though they require a lot of room under or on top of your desk, full-sized desktops are the least expensive and the easiest to upgrade and repair.
Compact Desktop: At less than half the size of full-sized desktops, compact or slim desktops are ideal if you lack space under your desk or if you plan to put the computer on your desk.
All-in-One Desktop: All-in-one desktop computers, also known as "all-in-ones," integrate the computer and monitor in one case. The components are tightly packed behind and underneath the display, making them difficult to upgrade or repair. Meant to be space-savers, they're also designed to look less dull than traditional computers. You'll pay big cash for these models
Gaming Desktop: Speaking of gaming systems, they have no limits. You get the fastest processors, the most sophisticated graphics cards, multiple large hard drives, and lots of RAM. Cases are usually large and offer room for additional components like extra memory or dedicated sound cards. These tend to be quite expensive.
2. Choosing your OS: Mac or Windows
Personal preference and experience affect the operating system of choice more than anything, making it hard to recommend one over the other. The best way to tell which one is perfect for you is to try both out to see which one feels more natural for you to work on, and which one will work with your favorite programs.
Mac computers are generally more expensive than Windows-based PCs, though they tend to be a little more secure. With fewer MacOS PCs out there, hackers are less interested in making viruses for them. The closed-ecosystem approach Apple employs for its products also makes it harder to spread malware — though not impossible.
Windows PCs have a much more strong gaming ecosystem to enjoy and are better for gaming enthusiasts.
Apart from that, the app ecosystem for both macOS and Windows is very good — there are so many apps for both platforms so no matter what you need to do, you’ll likely be able to find an app to complete the task. Eventually, you need to choose for yourself, but keep in mind that today’s Mac computers can also run the Windows operating system through programs such as Boot Camp, Parallels, or VMWare Fusion.
3. Power and performance
Performance is possibly the most important metric of any PC, and the CPU is the heart of that. You want at the very least a dual-core processor, but a quad-core will give you obvious performance. Intel’s Core i3 and AMD’s Ryzen 3 CPUs are fantastic in this respect, especially the latter, which support simultaneous multi-threading, which can make a CPU operate as if it has double the number of cores.
If you need a bit more power to make it the best desktop computer for graphic design, video editing, or video editing or are planning to play the latest games, then preferably you will want to look for a computer that has a six-core (or better) processor such as an Intel i5 or i7 or an AMD Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7.
When it comes to system memory or RAM, you want to make sure you have enough, and not too much more. A capacity of 8GB to 16GB is the sweet point for most users, including heavy gamers; 32GB and beyond is only really recommended if you’re doing a lot of heavy video editing, and will very much depend on the particular software you want to use.
A graphics card can be the most expensive part of a PC and is only necessary if you’re looking to play games. If you are, buy a GPU that fits your needs and budget. There’s no point in buying a $1,000 graphics card if all you want to play is Minecraft, but you’ll be disappointed if you try to play the latest AAA games on a budget GPU. Check out the specifications of the games you want to play to help decide which graphics card is right for you or check out our list of the best GPUs you can buy.
The size of a hard drive (or solid-state drive) decides how many programs and files you can fit on it before running out of space. A computer with at least 500GB of space is a good starting point. If you have a lot of design files, photos, games, or movies that you want to store, then you’ll want to consider a secondary drive with a terabyte or two of additional space.
Another thing to remember when thinking about storage is considering a solid-state drive (SSD) instead of a traditional hard drive. SSDs are much faster than traditional hard drives, which means you can open and find your design files among thousands of different files a lot faster.
The best desktop computers for graphic design:
Eager to know what is the best desktop computer for graphic design on the market? Here are our top picks:
1. Apple iMac (27-inch, 2020)
Apple’s latest iMac has had another update this year, and it now comes with powerful 10th generation Intel Core processors - you can even configure it to come with 10-cores, making this a formidable PC for graphic design.
Possibly most notably for graphic design work, the new iMac 2020 has new AMD Radeon Pro 5000 graphics cards, and these offer a huge rise in performance compared to the Vega GPUs of last year's models.
Along with the outstanding macOS operating system, the iMac offers such a fantastic computing environment for graphic design work, and you’ll be amazed at how much performance can be jammed into such a small space behind the display.
While the 21.5-inch model better values, the iMac is not a cheap option – especially when you add all the extras, such as the largest storage capacities.
2. Microsoft Surface Studio 2
Microsoft's Microsoft Surface Studio 2 is an all-in-one that can do a few things that the iMac can never do. Its high-resolution 28-inch display (4,500 x 3,000) is touch-sensitive, which means it can be used as a gigantic graphics tablet when you lay it down flat using the hinge at the back.
Although Microsoft is still using an older quad-core processor, the rest of the Surface Studio packs a mean punch. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or 1070 graphics card options can provide some excellent performance too, and there’s up to 2TB of SSD storage and 32GB of memory available.
3. Lenovo Yoga A940
The Lenovo Yoga A940 makes working on this all-in-one PC a daydream for designers and digital artists.
First, you get a stunning 4K screen that can be angled so that it turns into a comfy (and large) digital canvas. It also includes a stylus, digital creation dial, and a wireless charging mat for topping up compatible phones.
While the components used aren't as powerful as the ones found in the iMac Pro or Surface Studio 2, they still do a respectable job of keeping up with most tasks – and it has enabled Lenovo to price the Yoga A940 very competitively.
4. HP Pavilion 590
In the HP Pavilion 590, HP has come up with a great looking, well built, and excellent value desktop PC that is great for graphic design. With a choice of Intel and AMD Ryzen processors, it’s all about value for money - but without any huge compromise in terms of graphic design capability.
Even the amazingly affordable Pavilion 590 that’s comes with an AMD Ryzen 3 processor will run powerful graphic design software well.
The high-end Pavilion 590 model comes with an AMD Ryzen 7 processor though, an eight-core chip that will outshine Intel-powered PCs and Macs in some tasks, featuring distinct AMD Radeon Pro Vega graphics as well.
1. Do you need a graphics card for graphic design?
For all but the most basic graphic design, a dedicated GPU is a good idea. If the GPU you've selected has an option between a desktop or workstation unit, choose the workstation unit, they tend to be more robust. A dedicated graphics card will have memory on it, usually called VRAM (video random access memory).
2. Is 8gb RAM enough for graphic design?
Usually, 8GB of RAM should suffice. If you use Adobe software i.e. Photoshop and Illustrator, you'll need to also look at the scratch disk settings that could boost the speed in rendering processing. Get good brands of RAM sticks. Good luck and all the best with your graphic design.
3. Should I unplug the PC after using it?
Make it a habit to unplug your computer every night. Not only is this a real energy saver, but it also can protect your computer from serious damage. It's not an old wives' tale — a power surge caused by lightning can completely fry your computer. To be on the safe side, at least unplug your computer during a storm.
4. Do desktop computers last longer than laptops?
Laptops have an even shorter lifespan of two-to-three years. Unlike desktops, which have larger CPU cases, laptops are compact and have minimal ventilation. And since they're usually carried around, they're often more susceptible to wear and tear.
5. Should I pick an all-in-one computer?
As well as traditional tower desktop computers, there are also all-in-one computers available. These have all the components built into a screen, and there are several advantages to this. First of all, they are stylish and space-saving, as you do not need to have a big beige box sitting on your desk – just the screen and a mouse and keyboard.
As the PC is built into the screen, it means you don’t need to buy a monitor separately either, which can save money. Plus, with PC components getting thinner and more powerful than ever.
There are a few downsides you need to consider, however. First, is that they can’t be easily upgraded like traditional PCs, as the components are usually specially designed to be fitted behind the screen – much like a laptop. They can also be more expensive – and you'll have to consider the screen quality as part of your purchase. Still, they are worth considering, so we’ve included a few all-in-ones in this list of the best desktop computers for graphic design.