We present you with a new guide with everything you need to know to choose the best laptop for graphic design. Many graphic designers need a laptop to work comfortably from different locations or to take work home. For all those people who dedicate themselves to graphic design in a professional and dedicated or amateur and eventual way, here we will show you all the keys.
And be careful for all those who do not have the technical knowledge or who have read certain comments on some websites or forums, not always what seems evident for this type of task is what makes the difference. To get the most out of the software used for design, certain parts or components of the equipment must be powered. But … are they really what you expected?
What to understand when select laptop for Designers?
Here we show you everything you need to know to make the best possible choice to work with 2D and 3D software. Some of the points to pay attention to are the operating system, CPU, RAM, storage unit, screen size and type, and color accuracy.
Select Platform to work
Do you want to work with Windows, Linux or macOS? This is the first question you should ask yourself since the types of laptop you have to buy will largely depend on it:
Most of the models sold have Microsoft Windows installed. Therefore, it will be the option with the least problems you will have when choosing. Also, a large number of models available make it possible for you to choose products from different price ranges.
- Pros: the amount of available software and drivers or drivers to add peripherals for the design such as drawing tablets, etc. Also, lots of compatible models and hardware components to choose from.
- Cons: instability, errors, system crashes, restarts, malware, and other security threats. In short, discomfort that can reduce productivity. As for the investment, it would be average, not as cheap as Linux or as expensive as Mac. The performance is usually not the best, Windows is a heavy system that consumes many resources that will be reserved for it and not intended for what you want. Matter, your design software.
You can install it on both Windows computers and macOS computers. But in the first case, at the final price of the laptop, you will be paying the license to Microsoft not to use its operating system. Therefore, the best option would be to opt for computers without an operating system or with some preinstalled GNU / Linux distribution. Check more laptops at saim deals.
- Pros: Free license, free software (in most cases), a secure, robust, stable platform to spend every last second on productivity without worrying about viruses and other problems. You will also have lots of models and hardware components to choose from, therefore maximum flexibility to choose from, you can even install it on a Mac. Even heavier distributions tend to consume fewer hardware resources than Windows, so you will have more free resources to dedicate to the software you work with.
- Cons: Difficult to use for some users, and not so much available software (although there is no problem to work either, it is more, sometimes there are so many alternatives to Windows programs that the most complicated task you will find is choosing which alternative to use.).
In the case of macOS the options are greatly reduced since you can only use it if you buy an Apple-branded device, which is the most expensive of all. There is indeed an alternative, the so-called Hackintosh to install it on any PC, but that will not work well in all cases and we have to have several considerations when choosing the best hardware.
- Pros: stable and secure platform, as well as extremely easy to use to focus all your time and effort on productivity. The screens tend to have better color and quality accuracy compared to the average for PC equipment. The system is highly optimized to work with hardware, so it will not consume too many resources and you will have more available for your work.
- Cons: It is an expensive platform to buy and maintain, both its equipment and the services or apps that you will use are usually paid and more expensive than for other platforms in general. In addition to not finding as much compatible software (although this should not be a problem, there is enough to be able to work comfortably without hindrance). Mac is also very limited, only Apple computers, and because they are ultrabooks, their small size has caused connectivity (number of available ports) to be considerably reduced.
If you are wondering what is the difference between the three platforms, well, summarizing is the compatibility of the software and the price. If you are a professional you can choose the platform that is most comfortable for you, since the price will not be a problem if you get profitability. In case you are an amateur, better opt for the cheapest ones.
Also, be careful with the file formats generated by the software that we use on each of the platforms. If we want to share it with other designers or if we want to work from different platforms, they are not always compatible. For example, GIMP usually supports a large number of formats from other proprietary payment software, while the opposite does not usually occur. The proprietary suites usually only accept their native formats and little else.
CPU & GPU
The microprocessor or CPU is one of the most important elements, even though many think it is the graphics card. A fast and powerful processor is required to run the design software which is usually quite dense. In general, we should choose only computers with Intel Core i5 or i7 and AMD Ryzen 5 or 7. In either case, they should have at least 4 processing cores and belong to the highest series to have good performance.
If you opt for an APU, that is, for an integrated GPU instead of a dedicated one, although it may seem silly for graphic design, it is feasible. But in such a case, if you don’t have a dedicated graphics card, choose an AMD GPU. You already know that Intel’s built-in ones are pretty disappointing when it comes to performance compared to AMD’s. Of course, if you are going to dedicate yourself to 3D design instead of 2D, I recommend that you buy a computer with dedicated graphics or consider buying an external graphics card.
As we see, many think that the GPU is the most important thing for graphic design, but it is not. Think that the GPU is going to be exclusively responsible for presenting the image on the screen, and for the screen sizes that we handle in laptops, any GPU would be enough for us. Investing too much money in a dedicated graphics card like the professionals at AMD or NVIDIA can be wasted money.
So do not be obsessed with having a super powerful dedicated graphics card. Of course, if you can avoid Intel HD, the better, especially if you are going to use three-dimensional works. It destines that money saved in this sense to enhance other components that will be decisive, such as the CPU, which will be in charge of carrying all the work of the design programs, multimedia work, etc.
Main memory or RAM is another very important element to run the software smoothly. The processes of the programs that are running are going to be stored there, and if their access is fast and their capacity allows loading more of them, the faster everything will be. Better to opt for DDR4 type memory with capacities> 8GB.
The hard drive is another part or component to seriously consider. The first choice is if we want to have a conventional hard drive or HDD, or if we want a solid-state drive or SSD. HDDs are cheaper and have greater capacity, but the latency will be worse than what we have in an SSD. Therefore, it is preferable to buy a computer with an SSD so that the tasks are more agile and if we need more capacity to store our creations, let’s buy a separate external hard drive.
Screen size and type
Being a portable computer will greatly limit us in this regard. We only have a certain number of screen sizes available. In general, do not buy equipment with screens of less than 15 ″, preferably that is 17 inches to see all our designs adequately. As for the resolution, the higher the better, but in these cases, unlike what we discussed in other guides for other uses, never less than 1920 × 1080 pixels.
The accuracy of a color, of which I have previously spoken, is also key to getting better performance when working with color. Better to use screens that have at least 100% RBG (Adobe). Accuracy is measured in Delta-E, and a lower number is better, and a monitor with a number less than 5 is preferred. However, it is not easy to find such detailed specifications on notebook computers, so we may have to search the net to see if any user of that product knows the value.
As for the type of panel or technology, it also influences the designer’s work a lot. It is best to buy a computer with a HiDPI screen (Apple calls it Retina HD). You should also stay away from touchscreen devices, as designers often find them somewhat troublesome, especially because of the dirt left by fingerprints on the panel and which can make the image look blurry.
If you want to use a digital tablet or a digital pen to draw, better think about the peripherals we refer to in the next section but stay away from the touch screen…
You already know that there are some interesting peripherals for graphic designers. In fact, in another of our guides, we talked about them. This does not interest us in this case, since we can buy them separately at any time and whatever the equipment we buy will not come as standard.