There are more than 285,000 graphic designers employed in the US workforce today. The occupation is predicted to grow over the next decade as well.
Whether you’re just entering the field or you’ve been working in it for a while, you probably know the importance of having the right tools. Software and systems can make all the difference.
To that end, people often ask which computer system is best for graphic designers: Mac or PC?
One has long been the top choice, but tradition doesn’t always mean something is the right choice. This guide takes an in-depth look at both options. With it, you’ll learn which are the best computers for graphics design.
A Matter of Tradition
If you’re just starting out in the graphic design world, you may have heard that Macs are automatically better than PCs. You may have noted that many of your designer colleagues say they prefer using Mac computers for graphic design work.
If you’ve worked in the field for some time, you may even know people who have been turned down for jobs because they prefer PC.
So, are Macs really better than PCs for graphic design? Or is there something else at work here?
As it turns out, there’s a little bit of both happening here. Historically, Macs have been preferred by the graphic design industry. That’s because, for a very long time, Macs were superior to PCs in almost every way.
Digital typography, for example, originated on the Mac system. Adobe Photoshop was originally developed for the Mac’s OS as well.
The reason is that Apple focused on many of the things graphic designers have to worry about. This includes:
- Color displays
- Digital typography
- Ease of use
You can think of Apple’s Retina display screens. The focus on high resolution and stunning images is baked into Mac’s history.
Mac Computers for Graphics Design
From the history of Apple, it’s clear why graphic designers have favored Macs. Today, many people still choose Macs because of tradition or loyalty to the system.
Older graphic designers may be set in their ways. They’re most familiar with certain tools. Younger designers may follow their predecessors.
There are still some legitimate reasons for a graphic designer to choose a Mac over a PC today. These might include a preference for the Mac system.
For others, Mac-only software is the key. Some programs are specially designed to help transfer large files at faster speeds. For graphic designers who may work with uncompressed images and video, that can be a lifesaver.
Some people also use Apple-specific software for motion graphic design.
A Mac also allows you to seamlessly integrate with other Apple devices. Although no Mac laptops have touchscreens, the new macOS Catalina comes with Side Car. This feature lets you connect an iPad as a second screen.
Finally, you can also connect to a 4K monitor. This is especially useful if you’re using a laptop for graphic design.
Don’t Count PC Out
Unlike Apple, PCs tended to focus on more general use. Most people aren’t designing gorgeous web graphics, billboard ads, or logos.
This focus on broad appeal allowed PCs to dominate the business world in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As computers became more affordable, people purchased machines with a familiar operating system. Microsoft Windows came to dominate the market for computers.
Historically, PCs were a bit behind the times when it came to offering the tools graphic designers need. Things have changed a lot in the last few decades.
Today, a graphic designer working in a Windows-based environment can do just about anything someone on a Mac can. There’s even more crossover between the platforms. That means it’s easier to get the software you need on either system.
Being more popular means that PC has two major advantages over Mac:
- More software availability
- Better integration with clients’ systems
Since the majority of the business world runs on Windows, you’ll have an easier time transferring files and opening documents. The integration between Mac and PC has improved drastically in the last two decades. There are still times when moving files from PC to Mac causes problems.
Sometimes, those issues stem from the software being used. While there are some Mac-specific programs out there, many programs have migrated to Windows as well.
The same can’t be said for some Windows programs. Some developers only release a Windows version of their software. If you or a client want to use it, you’ll have to get a PC or learn how to run Windows via virtual machine on Mac.
Some of the Best Computers for Graphics Design Are PCs
It might come as a surprise that some of the best graphic design laptop and computer choices are actually PCs.
While Apple has always had a focus on colors and fonts, Windows has made leaps and bounds in the last few years. Today, a PC can do pretty much anything a Mac can do.
As an added bonus, Windows now offers some good laptops for graphic design. These laptops use touchscreens. This allows designers to draw and reposition elements with ease.
Apple has yet to integrate its touchscreen technology into a laptop. Right now, the best you can do is buy an iPad. The Microsoft Surface tablet is similar.
PCs are also better choices when it comes to customization. Think about laptops and computers designed for gaming. These customized PCs come with upgraded components designed to stream and render graphics with ease.
The customizability of PCs also makes them well-suited to applications like high-end animation. You may need to use many graphics cards or hard drives to handle these processes. A custom system is more adaptable to your workflow needs.
Which is Best?
Now we’ve compared the history of Macs and PCs, as well as the current state of the technology. The question remains, though. Which platform is better for graphic design?
The answer is neither, really. Both Mac and Windows have their advantages and disadvantages. Most graphic designers agree you can do quality work using either system.
Which is “best” comes down to a matter of personal preference.
Some people prefer Mac’s operating system. They find it more intuitive. Others prefer the PC environment since it gives them more control.
Some graphic designers are wedded to specific software tools. While many programs work in both environments, there may be some that are Mac only or PC only.
Apple may still have a very slight advantage over PC for color management and typology.
When it comes to web design, though, neither system outperforms the other. In fact, you’ll probably need to use both systems. Web applications need to be tested for both Windows and macOS, so it makes sense for graphic designers to be familiar with both.
Which Should You Get?
When choosing a laptop or computer for graphic design, you’ll want to consider your needs.
If you need to do highly specialized work or need a customizable system, a PC might be your best bet. If you work with clients in the business world, you might opt for a PC. You may even choose to work with a PC for certain programs.
The same is true of the Mac. You might also decide to buy a Mac because it’s what you learned on. If you had a mentor or took classes, then you might already be familiar with the OS and specialized software.
Of course, you’ll also want to think about longevity and your budget. PCs generally have a shorter lifespan than Macs, although you’ll be looking at replacing both within five years or so.
If you’re just starting out in the field, it may not make sense to invest in a Mac right away either. PCs are usually much more affordable. The ability to customize them also means you can stay up to date without replacing the entire system.
For many graphic designers, then, it makes sense to start with a PC. If you must have a Mac for some reason, you can rest assured that you’re still getting an excellent tool for graphic design.
As we mentioned, it may even make sense for graphic designers to be able to work in both environments. This is especially true if you’re developing anything for the web. If you need to make the switch from PC to Mac, then a guide to macOS can make things easier.
See the Big Picture
Computers for graphics design have come a long way in a short time. Today’s graphic designers have more choice than ever before when it comes to getting powerful machines to do their jobs. With the right tools, creating high-quality animation, gorgeous designs, and more is easier than ever.
Looking for more design tips or inspiration? Check out our library and discover beautiful wall art and the latest décor tips.