Graphic design is a job that is gaining strength. For web pages, create infographics or simply to make sales through the internet of your designs. If you are already in this world or if you simply want to update your computers, the Mac has surely crossed your mind. In this article we tell you what you should take into account when setting up a Mac for this activity.
Why you should use a Mac to do graphic design
If you are going to start doing graphic design, surely you are facing the question of which is better: having a PC or a Mac to work on a day-to-day basis. There are many factors that have motivated designers or multimedia editors to choose macOS almost all the time . This is basically due to the quality on the screen when using panels that show a much more realistic color which is obviously essential in these editing situations. Likewise, it should also be taken into account that Apple develops hardware and software together and this makes the great efficiency that it can have stand out in the long run.
It should also be borne in mind that designers must have premium programs in order to carry out their daily activity. In this case, it should be known that compatibility is maximum with a large professional software suite. Although it is true that on many occasions you can hear that in macOS there are hardly any programs, this does not transfer to the professional environment. In this case you can find the main tools that you will need in your day to day.
As we will see below, Apple provides the necessary tools to personalize the Mac before making the purchase. In this way you will be able to give more weight to those hardware components that are going to be more interesting so that the programs work in a more efficient way. And in relation to this, a lot of weight must also be given to the long life that a Mac can have over a Windows PC, thanks to software updates for several years in a row.
The most important parts of the setup
Once you have decided that you are going to get a Mac to be able to work on a day-to-day basis, you have to choose the most appropriate configuration. When making the purchase of one of these computers you will find that there are different configurations, since the amount of RAM memory can vary, or any other component of the hardware you have. We will analyze it exhaustively below.
In all Macs that are marketed today, the GPU is integrated and not dedicated. Likewise, the chips developed by Apple have this part of the hardware integrated and which is essential for any designer. Keep in mind that in this case, people who work in design are constantly creating and uploading images at maximum resolution. This makes it necessary to have a suitable GPU to be able to encode all this information when exporting it and display it on the screen with the maximum possible reliability.
In this case, you should always end up choosing the GPU that has a greater number of cores. Typically, the chip models that have eight cores are more than enough to work with the preferred graphic design programs on Mac. Also, keep in mind that any graphic designer normally uses a tablet to be able to draw drawings in a unique way. much more suitable. In this case, this tablet acts as a second screen and you must always have the necessary hardware power to be able to have this second screen without causing any type of freezing. That is why we are facing one of the most important components in any designer’s computer.
And is that currently on the market you can find GPUs that have 7-8 cores, but you can find MacBook models with up to 32 cores. Obviously, for a task such as designing digitally, a monstrous power like the 32 cores can offer is not required. This is a setup that is more geared toward video editing professionals, but on a cinematic level. In the case of the activity that concerns us in this article, we must say that with 8 cores it can be more than enough in the case that traditional software and a single external screen are to be used. This is something of the most general within graphic designers. And the truth is that it is not necessary to have a larger GPU.
Although obviously everything will depend on your activity. In case you want to make designs at a high resolution, and render several projects simultaneously, you may need to have up to 16 cores. Although this is not a general thing, and in our experience with 8 cores it is sufficient in a Mac configuration.
Amount of RAM
We always hear about RAM and we attach great importance to how much RAM a Mac, iPhone or iPad has. But on many occasions we do not know very well what its real usefulness is. As its name suggests, RAM memory has the ability to store information but temporarily and quickly. That is why depending on the amount of RAM it will directly affect performance.
The editing programs used in this activity that we are discussing have the bad characteristic of using a large amount of RAM. This is because they are constantly scrambling information into the CPU and the instructions are stored right here. That is why we must always recommend that an adequate amount of memory be chosen when making a configuration.
Many possible configurations can be found on the market: 8, 16, 32 or 64 GB. This will all depend on the chip you chose during setup. But when asked how much RAM is recommended for a Mac configuration, we must opt for 16 GB. As we have previously commented, the programs used on Mac to carry out this activity can consume a lot of RAM. That is why in these cases it is interesting to have a RAM higher than the basic one offered by Apple, which is 8 GB. In the case of opting for the 8 GB you may notice how the screen may freeze or not open the programs or files in a correct way.
Obviously, this can lead to a price increase, but we are convinced that you will notice a significant improvement. Keep in mind that you will surely always use a second screen with a graphic tablet, and this is why you need to have plenty of resources to be able to move all the necessary information on your screen. In short, in the general fluidity of the system you will end up noticing it. Although it is true that this does not happen on a PC where you want more RAM if possible to work properly.
On many occasions, the images resulting from graphic design or the tools that are used have a high weight. That is why it is advisable not to have a storage that is basic with few GB. This means that we always recommend having storage to spare so as not to have problems in the future. There are many options that you will be able to find when configuring your Mac. From 500 GB to 4 TB. Our particular advice is that right now you check the storage of your computer and see how much you are occupying after months of use. From this information you will be able to know if you need more than one TB or much less.
We think that if you are going to use your Mac for a long period of time, you will appreciate having plenty of space. 1 TB of storage can be more than adequate to avoid problems when it comes to having all the programs you need installed. And also if you are a person who likes to have all their projects stored locally, we also recommend having a space to spare. So today, having 1 TB may be the most recommended, since it must be borne in mind that it cannot be modified once the Mac has been purchased.
But you also have to take special interest in the type of storage you are going to choose. In the most current Macs all have a fast SSD storage unit. But in the event that you are going to acquire a second-hand one, it is important to check the unit that it integrates at all times. In the event that you bet on a mechanical storage unit or HDD, it is likely that it does not have an adequate speed to be able to open the programs or export information in an optimal way.
Is the CPU important?
Another aspect that should be noted about the hardware of a Mac is undoubtedly the CPU, although in this case it may be the least important among many quotes. Ultimately we are talking about the computer brain, but in this case it is not the most relevant. When the typical graphic design programs are used, as we have previously commented, what is most used are the GPU and RAM memory resources.
But obviously the Mac will be given many more uses on a day-to-day basis beyond using this type of program. That is why it is important to have a CPU to match, and above all to have a long useful life. At Apple you can find many different customization options, but we always recommend being in the middle. Obviously, you don’t need a CPU as if you were going to edit cinematic videos, but you don’t have to fall short either. In the long run it is appreciated to have a good CPU to avoid having to renew the Mac in several years.
The Mac model you should choose
It is known to all that Apple offers many different models of computers. A big division can be made between the desktop models and the notebooks as such. Next we are going to analyze which one can be recommended depending on the situation and within the type, the current model that we should recommend.
Work on your desktop: Mac mini
A desktop computer obviously has its pros and cons. At first, you will not have the fear of running out of battery at any time, and it also offers greater comfort by having a fixed work space. As against, it is obvious that it is not a team that is dedicated to one person who works in different locations. That is why a desktop Mac is ideal especially for those who have a small office set up in their own home or in an office that has been rented.
Among all the models that can be found in Apple, due to its value for money, we must recommend the Mac mini that integrates the M-class chip. In addition to having a fairly small size, it offers more than enough power for the specific software to be used in everyday graphic design. Specifically, the configurations that we recommend are the following:
- M1 chip with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage.
- M1 chip with 16 GB of RAM and 1 TB of SSD storage.
Apple’s proprietary chip integrates an 8-core GPU which is more than sufficient and supports an external display. This is ideal for connecting a graphics tablet that acts as an external monitor. The problem that you may have is that you will have to look for an external screen to be able to view the images, the difference being with the iMac that if it integrates this screen. But even if it is a problem, it can be turned into an advantage. This is because as a designer you will be able to choose the monitor that best suits the way you work, and you will not have to “settle” for the one that Apple offers. Choose the resolution, the nits of brightness that it has or the size that may be more suitable for you.
When you see a computer with such a small size it is logical to think about ventilation . Editing programs can put stress on the system especially when exporting. In these cases, the Mac mini promises more than good ventilation with the integrated fan to keep everything under control.
Such is the power of this Mac mini that it can be compared with a MacBook Pro with the same features . Keep in mind that in this case you can have a very similar experience, but in a compact way since the Mac mini does not have a battery that powers all the components. That is why the Mac mini is perfect, having the power of a MacBook Pro, but being more customizable than an iMac by being able to choose the screen you want to use yourself.
Do graphic design on the go: MacBook Air and Pro
In the event that you do not have a fixed workplace, it is logical that a desktop computer is not the most recommended. In this case, you can opt for laptops that allow you to work anywhere while on the move. Obviously, it forces you to constantly charge the battery, but it does not become a problem, since being able to work in a cafeteria or in different offices can be a more than valid method. The problem obviously is that the main screen is not customizable, although a secondary monitor can always be connected.
The MacBook Pro is the device par excellence for the work of professionals in different fields, and also for graphic designers. In this sense, you can find very powerful hardware that is suitable to perform numerous tasks simultaneously. The settings that can be recommended in this case are the following:
- Model with M1 chip with 8 cores and 8-core GPU. Storage or 512 GB and 16 GB of RAM.
- Model with M1 Pro chip with 16 CPU cores and 10 GPU cores. 512 GB storage and 16 GB of RAM.
- Model with M1 Max 32-core GPU chip. 1 TB storage and 16 GB of RAM.
In this class of MacBook Pro you can find very different configurations in terms of the power they offer, and also the price that it will end up costing. The choice will always depend on the use that is going to be given to it. Between the M1 chip and the M1 Pro we are especially interested in the difference in cores in the GPU, which is two. It is ideal for the case of using traditional graphic editing programs and exporting any type of image. By having efficiency cores, a higher performance will be achieved while avoiding application freezing at all times. Also in the M1 chip with 8 cores you can also have a good experience although obviously there will be differences in practice.
And if we focus on power, it should be noted that this team will not find any type of relevance limitation. The fact of having an active heat dissipation system with fans does not have to limit the power of the chips. This makes it an ideal team, above the MacBook Air that we will see below. In addition, when you are doing graphic design there are many hours that must be spent in front of the computer to leave the projects completely finished. That is why having a good cooling system is essential, as well as a long-lasting battery . These two characteristics are fulfilled in this case.
If you put it before a practical case, obviously there are clear differences between the different configurations that can be found in MacBook Pros. When rendering an image that has a high weight, the cores of a GPU will be decisive. This is because they will be responsible for coding all the information. That is why in these cases it will be noticeable significantly if you have a MacBook with an M1 Max, Pro or base chip.
In addition, the fact of having an active ventilation system intervenes as we have commented previously. When rendering an image the GPU obviously starts to heat up this part of the chip. In the case of not having a ventilation system, the system will not be able to develop its full potential to avoid, among other things, burning the motherboard itself. That is why the presence of this system makes it possible for the MacBook Pro to perform in a more optimal way, compared to the MacBook Air that does not have this system and ends up causing the performance to be not optimal at all. The problem is the price as we have commented, since this may not be a team for someone who is starting out on the road of graphic design.
But in case you don’t want to spend a lot of money on your MacBook, the MacBook Air should also be recommended. This is a computer that does not have an excessive price and has hardware that has nothing to envy its brother, the MacBook Pro. Specifically, the configurations that we must recommend are the following:
- MacBook Air M1 with 8 GPU cores, 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of SSD storage.
- MacBook Air M1 with 8 GPU cores, 16 GB of RAM and 1 TB of SSD storage.
In this case, it is always advisable to opt for a Mac that has 8 GPU cores . As we have commented previously, the fact of having one more core can be decisive in order to have access to a higher image performance. In the end when you are working with images, it is logical that the GPU has to play a fundamental role and it is better to opt for the best option that exists. We say this, because if we talk about the MacBook Air it can be found with a variation of 7 GPU cores and the price difference is not significant.
You can think of the other great laptop that Apple has, such as the MacBook Pro, which we have talked about earlier. We also opted for the Air model because of its value for money. In this case you can find a configuration that is identical on both computers. The only apparent change that may exist in her gut is the ventilation system. While the MacBook Air does not have any type of active dissipation system, with fans, the Pro model does have fans. These make it possible to get much more performance from the hardware by dissipating the heat that is generated without having to apply any type of restriction at the software level.
Although, with the MacBook Air in some of the configurations that we have discussed, it may be more than enough. You will not have to shell out a large amount of money to be able to have the best of the market and work with your specific software. Obviously in most cases you will have to get a hub , since one of the drawbacks you may have is the absence of compatible ports for your work accessories such as the graphic design tablet.
If we put ourselves in a real situation with this Mac, we must take into account at first that it can be cheaper. But if you are rendering an image with this MacBook Air, you may run into some speed issues . This is because it has different limitations as we have commented previously at the level of the ventilation system that prevents the hardware from having all its performance. That is why even if you are dealing with a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro with identical specifications, in practice it is a serious problem as it is much slower.
Be aware of updates
Keep in mind that Apple updates its Macs relatively frequently. In this case, you should be calm, since normally all these recommendations continue to be applied, but with the best ones that are integrated. This also applies to the software itself and we are going to see how it progresses with new extra functions. This is something that may become obvious to those people who are already within this ecosystem, but for new people it is something new.
Surely it has crossed your mind when it is a good time to buy a new computer. The thought may come to you that it is better to wait for a renovation that does not have a specific date. That is why we recommend that you always buy when you need it, since renovations will not include highly relevant news that may be decisive for your activity.