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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

The best displays for graphic design

We touched on this earlier, but design has become more complicated of late from a displays standpoint. Once, you'd have wanted a high-end matte display from a company like Eizo, with almost perfect colour reproduction. Some traditional graphic designers reel when confronted by the glossy displays found on an iMac (although it has to be said that these displays aren't as glossy as they were a few generations ago).

But things aren't so simple. Many designers work primarily on projects intended entirely for screen, including digital magazines, websites, and app interfaces. High-res displays are a further consideration. Apple's mobile devices all now boast Retina displays, as do a great many Android and Windows Phone equivalents; on the desktop, the rise of 'Retina' is slower, but seemingly inevitable. You therefore must consider whether your role will primarily entail creating content for such displays, and buy a Mac accordingly. (Also consider future-proofing. If your Mac's going to last a few years, buy for the present and future, not the present and past.)

Desktops vs. portable Macs for designers

What kind of designer are you when it comes to the jobs you do? Are you the type that never leaves the office, in which case a desktop system might suit? Are you a roving freelancer, augmenting a different in-house team on a month-to-month basis? If so, you probably don't want to be lugging a 27-inch iMac around on a train.

Often, notebooks are seen as the best compromise regardless, due to providing flexibility. Even if you only rarely visit clients or work away from an office, you can take a portable Mac with you. But they're also more expensive than broadly equivalent desktops. For example, the mid-range 13-inch MacBook Pro (2.7 GHz i5; 256 GB SSD; 8 MB RAM; Intel Iris Graphics 6100; 2560x1600 resolution) costs £1,199, the same as the priciest 4K 21.5-inch iMac (3.1 GHz i5, 1 TB HDD; 8 GB RAM; Intel Iris Graphics 6200; 4096x2304 resolution).

But now let's get down to business: the best Macs for specific kinds of designers

Best Mac for print design: 27-inch iMac 5K

Once you get beyond business cards and tiny flyers, print projects tend to benefit from a large canvas on which to design. If you're working on magazines, you want to be able to have a double-page spread before your eyes, as close to full-size as possible. When designing larger fare, you don't want to be navigating it on a tiny notebook display.

 

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