Choosing a Computer for Design Work? 4 Things to Consider

There are many work tools and accessories that you need to have as a graphic designer. However, it would not be a stretch to suggest that a computer is perhaps the most important thing out of the lot.

You can rely on a graphics tablet, but it is not that efficient to work on a small screen. Instead, it is much better to connect your tablet to a computer and see the work on a larger screen.

So, the question is, what do you need in a computer if you plan to purchase one for graphic design? This article covers pretty much all the bases.

Work Software Compatibility

Let's start with software compatibility. You would not be able to use a computer for work if it cannot run the software you use, right?

Whether a particular application works or not usually comes down to its compatibility with the operating system. Even if you wish to carry out simple tasks, such as converting heic to jpg or adding a watermark, you need a particular tool.

Fortunately, most software developers aim to create tools that are compatible not with one but multiple operating systems. MS Windows, macOS, and Linux are among the most popular picks as far as different OS options go.

Unless the software is exclusive to a particular operating system, you should be fine. However, it is still better to be safe than sorry, so be sure to double-check before you end up wasting money.

Operating System

Continuing about operating systems, it is not just about software compatibility. No, there is much more that makes people prefer one operating system over another.

Right now, there is no denying that MS Windows has the lion's share of the market. According to Statista, roughly 74% of computer users prefer Windows, while macOS and Linux have about 15% and 2%, respectively.

For many, MS Windows gives that sense of familiarity. If you have used Windows since the 95 or 98 versions, it is understandable that you want to stick to MS Windows 10 or 11.

Having said that, the tendency of seeing more and more graphic designers picking macOS is not that surprising either.

Imagine yourself looking for consistency and good looks. The two things should be quite prominent among graphic designers.

If you are someone who cares about the object itself and how it looks and syncs with the software, then MacBooks are a good option.

At the same time, if you were to go with Macs, it would mean paying a premium price for hardware that might not necessarily meet all your expectations and needs. This brings us to our next point—the price.


Like with many other things, the choices for services or products we purchase often come down to how much they cost. Computers are no exception to this rule.

If anything, the price plays an even bigger role than usual because computers are quite expensive.

One could argue that getting a second-hand device is a good option, but it might not be the best approach if you wish to have a smooth work experience. Used computers tend to underperform and cause various issues.

Ultimately, you might end up paying for a cheap device more due to repair costs and maintenance. Not to mention the time you would have to waste on this.

There are two significant areas that determine how expensive a computer is—hardware and software.


In the hardware department, you need to consider your needs. Overall, graphic design software is not that demanding unless you are running something specific. Therefore, you might not need powerful hardware.

On the other hand, you might also be looking to get a computer that you can use for more than just work. For example, if you want to enjoy modern video games without sacrificing graphics, the right pieces of hardware are a must.

While focusing on hardware, you need to weigh available options. If you are not too tech-savvy and wish to get help to choose the right setup, do not hesitate and get in touch with a local computer service store as most of them offer such a service.

Seeking help from strangers on the internet is also a good option. There are various groups on social media and other online forums that specialize in computer builds.

It might take a bit more time to research all the details, but if you want to pick the right computer for your graphic design work, you need to dedicate the necessary time.

Emphasize your memory needs, what kind of GPU and CPU you want, and how much storage you realistically need.

As a rule of thumb, it is better to go with a solid-state drive instead of a hard drive these days. The former is by far a superior option performance-wise. It is also more reliable and durable.

Do not be fooled by the fact that you are paying more for less total storage. SSDs are worth it, and it is only a matter of time before they completely replace HDDs.


By software, we do not mean tools and applications you would need for work because we already talked about those. No, think of security, for example.

Costs add up if you need different software types on your computer because built-in tools are not enough because of the operating system. Speaking of which, if you plan to go legal, you will also need to pay for the operating system separately or consider the fact that the price for it is already part of the deal when you are purchasing a computer.

Now, for other software. Antivirus tools are a given these days, given how many different cybersecurity threats there are on the internet. Even if you are confident in your understanding of these threats and know what to avoid, the odds of a computer getting infected are still there.

To prevent these problems, one has to run reliable antivirus software. In some operating systems, default tools are enough, whereas that is not the case for other operating systems.

Investing money in antivirus and other software types you will need on a computer is also part of managing the price. Thus, be sure to do enough research and not neglect to consider computer software that is not necessarily related to the graphic design work directly.

Laptop vs. Desktop

The last bit to cover is choosing between a desktop computer and a laptop. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

One of the standout things about laptops is that you can take them with you. In other words, if you travel a lot for work or like to change your environment to get inspiration for designs, then it makes sense to get a laptop.

Meanwhile, desktop computers have to remain static, but they make up for the lack of portability by having better overall hardware. If you invest the same money for a laptop and desktop computer, the latter is by far a better choice hardware-wise.

There are two other important aspects to distinguish when discussing laptops and desktop computers—maintenance and accessories.


Taking care of a computer is a must, particularly when you rely on it for work. Maintenance is not that problematic for both desktops and laptops. Perhaps one thing that stands out a bit is cleaning the dust inside.

It is much easier to take a PC case than it is to take an entire laptop apart to clean it thoroughly. Many laptop owners are reluctant to tinker with the device and do not bother cleaning the dust because they risk damaging it. Or, they pay money to have professionals clean it for them.

Laptops also have a battery, meaning that you will need to charge it beforehand if there are no electrical outlets available to you. Once a laptop becomes older, its battery lifespan shortens, meaning that you will have to charge it more frequently.

Things like desktop clutter, storage space, background processes, startup items, and memory leaks (counter them with regular computer restarts) are pretty much the same regardless of what you are using between a desktop and a laptop.


A graphics tablet is perhaps the most important accessory for a graphic designer, and you will need to get it regardless of what type of computer you choose.

It is a different situation with other accessories, though. Laptops have trackpads and built-in keyboards. Unlike desktop computer owners, laptop users do not need to spend money on an external keyboard or mouse.

With that in mind, some people do not like trackpads and would much rather use a mouse instead. Laptop keyboards can also be a bit tricky to use because they are flat. As such, even if you go with a laptop, you might find yourself getting external equipment.

Integrated microphones, webcams, and speakers are similar in the sense that you can use them or get external alternatives.

Overall, laptop users do not have to worry as much about computer accessories. The situation is different for desktop computers.


So there you have it. The four points discussed in this article ought to give you an idea of what you need to consider when choosing your next computer for graphic design.

The ultimate choice comes down to how much money you can afford, but that should not come as a surprise. Since there are so many different computers available, take the time you need to find an option that suits your needs the best.
Choosing a Computer for Design Work? 4 Things to Consider  Choosing a Computer for Design Work? 4 Things to Consider Reviewed by Opus Web Design on February 18, 2022 Rating: 5

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