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Graphic designer working at a table with a laptop, tablet, and other design software

There’s a reason why recipes always list their ingredients before other instructions. DIY tutorials do this too. It’s because the first step in any successful task is having the right tools.

For designers, this comes down to their computer. You could be spending more time with your computer than your spouse. The choice you make will either make your job easier or harder. No pressure, though.

Many creators start by asking, “Which is better, PC or Mac, for designing or creative work?” Let’s explore that question and ways you can find your ideal design computer.

PC or Mac: Which is Better for Designing and Creative Work?

Mac vs. PC used to be a constant question for any computer shoppers. It still is to some degree, but brands and operating systems aren’t as critical as they used to be.

Neither PC nor Mac is inherently better for designers. Today, it’s more about individual computer hardware. An advanced Mac will be better than an underpowered PC and vice versa.

Top Tips: Choosing a Designer’s Computer

Without being able to rely on one operating system over another, how do you choose your computer? The options might feel overwhelming but take it step by step. Use these tips to find your computer soulmate.

Choose Design Software

Each creative professional has different design software programs they need. It depends on your work but you might need Adobe Creative Suite, Corel programs, CyberLink PowerDirector, or countless others. These programs are often high-performance, so it’s crucial to make sure your new computer will run each tool you need.

List any software tools that are 100% essential, along with another list of tools that would be nice but aren’t must-haves. Consider any organizational tools you want too, like software for freelance contracts and other housekeeping. Then do some research.

Each tool will lay out its recommended specs or system requirements: qualities the computer needs in order to run that tool smoothly. That could include specific processor speeds, graphics card specs, amounts of RAM, and more.

Write down all recommended specs for each must-have software tool as well as each non-essential tool. Then, compile it all into a minimum desired spec for each aspect of the computer. In other words, among all your spec recommendations, write down the highest processor requirement, highest RAM amount, and so on so you can find a computer that fits all those needs.

While researching graphic design software tools, make sure each one is compatible with Mac as well as PC. It would be rare today to find any that don’t have versions for each, but it’s worth checking.

Consider the Monitor

To do great design work, designers must be able to see the fine details of their work. That means a high-quality display or monitor is essential.

Your software tool research should have turned up minimum specs for the display, but stronger displays are better. It helps if you check these specs for your current display or monitor so it’s easier to compare it with new options.

Remember, with desktop computers, you can replace the monitor later for an upgrade. That isn’t an option with laptops, so when buying a laptop, your display should be an especially important consideration.

Think About Your Workflow

Each creative professional has their own personal workflow, usually without recognizing thinking about it. Jot down any functionalities you want from a new computer depending on how you like to work.

For instance, you might want a computer with tablet capabilities for drawing designs or using styluses. Some designers move around often, working from coffee shops or coworking spaces, so they want a computer that is light and portable.

Consider Other Electronics

A computer is one of many electronics in any designer’s toolbox. Your phone, tablet, or other electronics come into play too.

In some cases, certain functionalities open up for electronics in the same family. Those functions could streamline your workflow. For instance, using an iPhone with a Mac computer lets you use Airdrop to transfer files. Both PCs and Macs have their own file storage too – OneDrive or iCloud.

Consider which of these features would be helpful. Choose the computer that offers those capabilities or line up an alternative like an operating system-neutral storage drive.

Get Familiar with Various Operating Systems

To some degree, choosing a computer comes down to personal preference. Each person prefers one operating system over others depending on what feels natural for your workflow.

What are you comfortable with already? Are you prepared for a learning curve? That’s why most people choose Macs or PCs and stick with them.

Building Your Design Work Toolbox

For any type of design work or creative work, having the right tools gives you the freedom to truly let your creativity thrive without added burdens from software constraints or slow processing. That begins with picking the right computer, so use the tips above to guide your shopping trip.

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