Which Mac Suits Your Needs as a Graphic Designer?

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Macintosh and graphic designing go side by side since the machine was first invented. This companionship has come along so strongly that Mac is often called “the designer computer”, which seems quite justified when we look at it from a designer’s perspective. In almost every advertising agency, business owners prefer their designers to use Mac computers.

The chief benefit of this system is that it improves content quality and enables the graphic designers to decrease expenses, increase productivity and save money that is mostly lost in production problems, vendor integration issues and equipment and network troubleshooting.

Macs are Good for Designers because…


  • Almost all production vendors prefer Macintosh files because it results in higher quality output
  • Macs dominate the graphics industry because it is the best graphics platform
  • Macs offers the best performance in high-end graphics applications
  • Macs provide improved productivity and lesser down-time
  • Mac-users enjoy more productive working hours

When graphic designers usually switch from Windows to Mac systems, the first question that pops in their mind is “which Mac should I buy?” or “Which Mac will suit my design needs the best?” You might have also seen people asking such questions on the web at different forums. Selecting a Macintosh or any computer machine is super easy for an average user, who needs it for general Internet browsing and other simpler works. For such a person, the choice is not based on the machine or its particular specs but on the money he has to spend.

However, in this post, we are not talking about the particular needs of a graphic designer with regards to a Mac. There are peculiar types of graphic designers, depending on their skills and the business they are in. Some graphic designers are much into printing, designing or illustration as compared to other fields and Mac manufacturers have a particular machine for each one of these fields. So I base my suggestions on the type of work you do as a graphic designer and which Mac machine will suit your needs the most.



iMac is a magnificent machine by Macintosh computers. This is a stunning, heavy-duty machine that has been built according to the needs of the most demanding users. Apple’s iMac is a middle-of-the-road desktop is a hardcore designer’s machine that works right according to the industry standards. Although, the choice of machine does not end here and there is a variation in the size and specs of the machine within iMac family.

Which iMac to get depends on how much money you have allocated for the buying. It is highly suggest that you add a little to your budget and go for the 24” screen iMac. Having a larger screen in the first place is important because you might not have the option of upgrading to a larger monitor later; it is better so get the largest. iMac (preferably 24”) has some other great features too that include best optical drive, video card, hard drive and a large RAM. From an all-in-one Mac point-of-view, iMac gives you the most future-proofing.

iMac Usage


The iMac is perfect for Web Developers and Graphic Designers, reason being, its larger screen for color palette-involving applications like Photoshop, Fireworks, Flash and Dreamweaver. The machine is equally good for Print Designers too especially the ones who are a little less demanding than typical MacPro users.

Similarly, iMac is an easy choice of Sound Designers too, as it offers much future expandability with USB and Firewire ports to add extra drives when needed. If you are into video creating business and your needs are limited to iDVDs and iMovies, then again, this computer is a good choice.

The iMac makes for a great Mac in a design studio or in the home office, particularly owing to its huge 24” built-in monitor, and a powerful processor. Because I don’t make a full-time living at home with my iMac can handle almost everything, no matter what you demand of it and all this is offered for a lot less money than the MacPro.



MacPro is another great technical and mechanical feat by Apple. Highest processing speed, fastest hard drives, quickest I/O and most flexible when it comes to modification and upgrading as compared to any Macintosh machine, are some of its most common attributes.

The later mentioned feature of MacPro is the most interesting. The machine has the technical elasticity to greater expandability at minimal cost. This expandability can range from adding extra hard drives, upgrading the video card, setting up a RAID, adding multiple monitors, and much more.

MacPro Usage


MacPro is the perfect machine for you if either you are a high-end print designer, a professional photographer, work with video, or are a total geek at computers. It is also a great computer for high-end productive Print Designers who work on 350MB or heavier Photoshop files 100+ page InDesign or Quark documents or have a thousand fonts to deal with. The coolest MacPro features of video cards, massive RAM and I/O make it one-of-a-kind specie among all the Macs.



MacBook, as the name says, is an awesome laptop by Macintosh. It is basically an entry-level laptop machine from Apple, which however, is no less than perfect.  It is a beautifully designed machine that is being used by people all over the world from all walks of life. Especially among the youngsters, carrying a MacBook is a sign of class and awesomeness.

MacBook Usage


MacBook is no doubt the coolest laptop for an average user, however, for a professional graphic designer; MacBook should not be the first choice. It can hardly be used for print designing and graphics and the main reason for that is its not having a dedicated video card, limited hard drive and the size of the screen is just not appropriate. Also, its processor’s speed is too slow for high-end designing jobs.

On the other hand, MacBook is heavenly for Writers and Web Developers who require the machine only for writing or coding purposes. As mentioned earlier, due to its VGA and smaller screen size, it will not be a good choice for developing Flash websites and web designing. You can extend its specs, like all other Mac computers, and most common add-ons are an additional mouse and an external monitor.

MacBook Pro


Doing graphic designing work on a laptop is not a suitable choice. Laptops have smaller screens, slower hard drives less RAM and much smaller screens. However, there are still some people who have the eye and the mind that can work on a laptop, provide, it works well for their designs. MacBook Pro is an amazing small machine that helps you get connected with your tasks on the go.

MacBook Pro Usage


As mentioned earlier, using a laptop as your main work platform is probably not the optimal setup. Similar is the case with MacBook Pro. MacBook Pro is a really good computer and is a highly efficient portable device, but for graphic designing, you need a bit more than just beauty and portability.

MacBook Pro is not suitable for print designer, reason being the video card, processor speed and RAM limitations mentioned earlier. On the other hand, Web Developers, who do not need massive storage and processing power, can go about having MacBook Pro. Also, web designing software like Dreamweaver, Flash and Fireworks will run at more than acceptable speed on the MacBook Pro.  For the size of the screen, I think 15” is good enough.

Although there is a 17” size of MacBook Pro available too, but it will become too big to be portable enough and the basic concept of a laptop to be handy and portable will diminish in such a large size. If you need extensions for this machine you can go for an external hard drive, the power cord, firewire cables and probably a Bluetooth Mouse.

Apart from all the draw backs this machine has, MacBook Pro is a cool machine with wonderful features. Photoshop runs great for creating the images needed for web use, Pages handles the writing tasks perfectly and virtually every other piece of software needed for quick design editing on the road.

MacMini and MacBook Air


Mac Mini and MAcBook Air are not at all for the graphic designers. There are two fancy machines, very thin and small in size and weight and are absolutely not suitable for any kind of designing.


The Crux


Macintosh computers are the best machines for graphic designing related tasks nowadays. The choice of buying one kind of Mac out of so many choices depends on a lot of factors, especially your budget. When deciding which Mac you want to buy try to get more than you can afford even if you’ll have to push the bounds of your budget a bit, because sooner or later you’ll need to have greater specs and being already prepared for that will help you much.

Happy buying Macintosh!

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About the Author

Arfa Mirza is a EuroPakistani and a graduate of Media Studies. Writing is both, her passion and profession. She is big fan of world cultures and is the proud co-founder of dzineblog360 and webblog360, alongwith her husband.

Comments and Discussions

  1. TechLoaded, 29 September 2010

    I used to use a Mac, but have now pretty much used over to a PC for pretty much all of my design needs. I’m really kinda saddened that Apple has basically thrown the Mac out to work on their “i” stuff.

  2. Sara, 29 September 2010

    I myself have an iMac Intel i7 Quadcore with 4G ram with a 27″ screen. A large screen is a must.

  3. Alrayyes, 30 September 2010

    You forgot to mention building a hackintosh. Mac Pro performance without being ripped off.

  4. Mars, 30 September 2010

    macbook pro will do

  5. Laura Meider, 1 October 2010

    I use imacs for my work……I love the sleek design of them and prefer to work at a desktop computer rather than a laptop so this narrows down my options straight the way! I think laptops are perfect for transportation but I find them hard to actually sit and design with one.

    If budget was not such of an issue then I would have a MacPro however, I find that an imac is great for what I want to use it for design, web design and general computer use. The design of them and the fact that it is so minimal means it can also fit on the smallest of desks!

  6. Sergei Tatarinov, 1 October 2010

    This is so “funny”… Especially the sentence saying “MacPro is the perfect machine for you if either you are a high-end print designer, a professional photographer, work with video, or are a total geek at computers.”.. Makes me laugh, really. Well, I’m not a fan boy of either a Mac or a PC, and I have enough experience with both platforms. I like Mac’s design, OS and screen quality; PCs suck at those. I don’t like MacBooks and iMacs for their low perfomance, compared to the PC of the same price. Sure I would go with a 12-core MacPro and 30″ Cinema Display, but they cost like a decent car, which I, of course, can’t afford. Currently, I’m working on a PC machine that costs $1,000, and it’s a Core i5 + 6GB RAM + 2TB HDD. You can’t get the same perfomance power from a 13″ MacBook. As for the display, I recently got a professional (IPS matrix) display which does its’ job perfectly well. It’s 24″ and is 3 times less expensive than Apple’s Cinema Display. Althought Macs are being referred to as “designer’s computers”, there are still tons of great options if you are not wealthy enough for having a Mac.

  7. 145+ Awesome Fresh Articles for Designers and Developers — tripwire magazine, 2 October 2010

    […] Which Mac Suits Your Needs as a Graphic Designer? […]

  8. Alex S, 3 October 2010

    When you show me how Macs can be cheaper than a PC and actually put some backing on your points I will believe you. You should zero technical experience in your wording and should have more than basic computer knowledge before writing an article such as this.

    Photoshop is available on Windows and OSX. The OS is irrelevant in the long run, what it comes down to is hardware.

    $999 gets you either:

    MacBook: Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz, 2GB DDR3, 250GB HDD, 13.3″ 1280×800 LED.

    Asus G61: Core i7 720M 2.8GHz, 4GB DDR3, 320GB HDD, 16″ 1368×768 LED.

    Double your budget, similar situation. Your non-Apple PC will always get you 50% or more performance for the same or less. Even if your budget is limitless you are limited on hardware choices for the Mac, so you will always have more performance in a PC. This is assuming you BOUGHT your PC, many designers who use Windows opt to build their PCs for even more bang-for-your-buck.

    Prove me wrong. You can’t.

  9. Eminenz Media, 4 October 2010

    WOW……..very useful info……….I was looking for this info

    Thanks alot

  10. Nemet, 4 October 2010

    This article gives the impression that programs such as Adobe CS and even larger screens are not an option if you don’t own a Mac. Mac and PC use the same hardware. The article would be best written as the title states i.e. “You have chosen to use a Mac, here are the options” rather than including some really questionable remarks.

  11. Rich Palmer, 4 October 2010

    Personally, I’m a middle man – I’ve just ordered myself a Mac Book Pro, but have been using a PC everyday for the good part of 5 years.

    This said, I really can’t agree with some of the statements you’ve made.

    A Mac Book Pro is more than capable when it comes to design – get yourself an external keyboard, external mouse and another monitor, plug them all in and use like it like you would a normal desktop computer.

    The statements you’ve made about Macs offering the best performance and more advanced tools are based on what exactly? A PC of similar specs to that of a mac may not show the same level of performance, but you’re also going to pay a lot less for the hardware initially. That said, if you were to spend the same on both systems the PC would more than likely out perform the Mac. As for more advanced tools, the industry standard software (i.e. Adobe Software/Autodesk Software etc.) is available on both platforms, and thus offer the same tools to both systems.

    Would be great if you could prove your initial statements (especially since I’ve just invested in a MBP), but I really do think you’re making some wild remarks with very little evidence.

  12. julio Rivera, 5 October 2010

    the imac works just right for me =)

  13. Sergei Tatarinov, 10 October 2010

    why is my comment still awaiting moderation, when the ones that came later are getting approved?

  14. goobernutz, 12 October 2010

    I hope the next article is “Where to hire a proof-reader for your outsourced blogspam articles”, because the Engrish in this post makes me brain ‘urt.

  15. Soumya, 12 October 2010

    Just got my new iMac and in love with it! 🙂

  16. Dave, 5 December 2011

    I don’t know much about graphical designing or what computer qualifications you need but I think I can help clear up the decision in a purchase of a MAC vs. a PC….. Benefits of a Mac Versus a PC. Generally most users consider the Macs to be more user friendly than PC’s. I used PC’s for 8 years before I discovered MAC’s, and after about a week of use I realized I found something far superior. When you plug an external hard drive it appears directly on the desktop. I like finder better than the windows start menu. I think the iWork programs are better than Microsoft Office. I just personally think the OS of the MAC is better than that of Windows. Lion is by far the superior operating system. If you have a mac with a track pad you can you’ll be able to utilize lion to its fullest extent. I would recommend watching a video on OSX Lion and the tutorials for iWork on Apple’s website to see what I mean. Everyone else’s comments are indeed correct for the same price you buy a MAC, you can by a PC with much more hardware. However, PC’s require an anti-viruses subscription, (to prevent crashes), and hardware updates. Whenever a new OS comes out for Windows, hardware upgrades are usually required. If you don’t upgrade your computer your computer will crash more frequently. With a Mac a lot of older gen. computers are compatible with the new MAC OS. Overall I think Apple’s software and hardware are better and more reliable than a PC.

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