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Best Mac for graphic design: How to pick the right Apple computer for creative design work

Craig Grannell | Dec. 14, 2015
The Mac still finds favor with the majority of designers

Which is the best Mac for graphic design and layout?

Macs were at the forefront of the desktop publishing revolution, bettering PC rivals when it came to colour accuracy and typography. The differences between OS X and Windows systems are less pronounced these days, and file compatibility is typically strong when using suites available on both systems, such as Adobe's Creative Cloud.

Nonetheless, the Mac still finds favour with the majority of designers. This is down to several factors: reliability; excellent niche apps only available for Mac (such as Sketch); and, frankly, Macs looking a lot nicer than PCs. (Designers aren't shallow, but they do like style!)

So you want a Mac, but is right for you? We've gone through Apple's range and figured out the best machine for certain types of designers, but first want to cover some general tips you should be mindful of when buying a new Mac.

What you design affects the Mac you buy

The further you go back in time, the more defined and focussed creative roles were. But these days, a designer may work across many fields. That's not to say there aren't still people solely working up magazine layouts in InDesign, but the modern designer is just as likely to be delving into illustration, interface design, and 3D.

The extremely rapid shift towards digital further complicates matters. A decade ago, perfect colour reproduction might have been the main concern for a designer when it came to buying new kit. But today, designers are increasingly likely to be working on screen-based design. The nature of employment may also require them to be more mobile.

RAM and storage for graphic design Macs

Two things that haven't really changed over the years is the tendency for design applications to be RAM-hungry, and for the majority of design projects to require a fairly hefty amount of storage. In both cases, you need to be careful, because Apple now largely considers Macs sealed units. In most cases, you can no longer later add extra RAM or storage.

With storage, you can at least utilise external drives for housing weighty folders and archives. With RAM, there's nothing you can do; our advice is to order extra RAM with your Mac, even if Apple's pricing for this is akin to having your wallet mugged. (If you buy a Mac where you can still add RAM at a later point, such as the Mac Pro or 27-inch iMac, go third-party instead.)


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