Should I use Mac or PC for Graphic Design?

There used to be a time where Mac was king in the world of graphic design. Nobody was using a PC. Things have changed a lot since then. Because of this, there is one question that remains. Should I use a Mac or PC for graphic design?

Mac or PC for graphic design

This is a difficult question. Even so, we think the Mac vs PC debate will go on forever in regards to UX equipment. Everybody has their preference. If you’re interested in buying a new computer, keep on reading. We’re going to answer a few questions and help you decide which is better for graphic design, Mac or PC.

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Should I use Mac or PC for design?

To answer the question of why most graphic designers use Mac, we have to go back in time. There are some fundamental reasons why designers use Mac that originated back in the 80s and 90s. First, we have to look at what DTP is.

DTP stands for desktop publishing. It is the process of designing for print. Examples of DTP work include books, posters, and magazines. In today’s graphic design world, you’ll most probably design for mobile devices and desktop screens but back in the day, designing for print was the way to go.

Why did Apple hit the jackpot here? Well, the original Mac supported PostScript by default. PostScript was a format created by Adobe that was required by printers to print DTP work. In addition, the world’s first DTP-tool, PageMaker, was a tool exclusive to the Mac platform as well.

There’s a great story on how John McWade beta-tested PageMaker for Apple in 1985. He created a poster over the weekend and completely blew away Apple on Monday with his results. Aldus, the creator of PageMaker, became a part of Adobe a few years later.

Photoshop and PageMaker only made it to PC years later. From this point, the damage was already done. The years where desktop publishing was only possible on Mac set Apple up as the graphic designer’s choice when it came down to computers.

You know what they say. Old habits die hard. Most graphic designers use Mac because it has always been the case. It isn’t necessary anymore but yet it still remains the case today.

Finally, and this is something you can argue about, Macs are generally seen as slick high-quality machines that are aesthetically pleasing. Graphic designers, who are all about making things look good, like this as this is their job.

Are Macbooks good for graphic design?

Yes, Macbooks are great for graphic design. We just talked about how the first Macs were great because of PostScript and Pagemaker support. Skip to today and you will still see that Macs are a great choice for any graphic designer. There are many great graphic design apps available on Mac.

Yet, you have to keep something in mind. Today’s graphic design tools rely heavily on a computer that has a strong GPU. They do so more than prototyping tools that are being used by UI and UX designers.

What type of designer are you? What do your clients require you to do? If you are focused on graphic design, your best bet is to go for a Macbook Pro. Are you more of a vector-based designer? A Macbook Air will do just fine. Of course, a Macbook Pro will be even better, but it is not a hard requirement.

We wrote a post on which Mac is best for UX design. Here we take more of an in-depth look into MacBooks for designers. Check it out if you want to know more and get a few recommendations as well.

The best PC for graphic design

To determine the best PC for graphic design, we have to consider two variables. The first one is a question that needs to be answered.

What type of designer are you? You have to keep in mind if you are on the road a lot. If that is the case, the best graphic design PC for you is a laptop. If you need raw power and a lot of space, your best bet is a desktop PC with a great monitor for UX design.

Up next we have the PC specs you will need to perform day-to-day graphic design tasks. These specs are the same regardless of your choice of PC (laptop or desktop). The following are the specs you have to keep in mind.

  • RAM, or Random-access memory.
  • CPU, also known as the processor of your computer.
  • The GPU, or graphics card.
  • Amount and type of storage.
  • Screen size.

We wrote a post on which laptop is best for UX design. This post contains an in-depth explanation of these specs and what to keep in mind. We provide you with a list and some suggestions on which laptop to get.

If you combine your requirements and the specs you will need for graphic design work, you will have your answer on which PC is best suited. If you want a laptop, check out the post we’ve mentioned just before. We do not have a guide on desktop purchases yet.

Mac vs PC

Choosing between Mac and PC as a graphic designer comes down to personal preference, client availability, and the tools you want (or have) to use. There’s not a Mac vs PC battle going on any longer.

The days of PostScript and tools being platform exclusive are over. Most tools are available both on Mac and PC. One big exception is that Sketch is only available on Mac.

This brings us to our point. Your choice for Mac or PC comes partially down to the clients, colleagues, and companies you work with. For example, some companies require their designers to do their work using Sketch. In that case, you will need a Mac for your design work.

Other companies do not have such requirements. Yes, a lot of design companies work with Mac so you will have to keep that in mind. However, in most cases, you are free to choose between Mac and PC as you see fit.

One final thing to keep in mind is the price difference between Mac and PC. While a lot of high-end PCs, like the Microsoft Surface Book, are close to the price point of most Macs, you can still get a great PC that is a lot cheaper than most Mac devices. However, Macs retain their value better so you will make up the difference in the long run when you resell your Mac.

Still in doubt? There’s an extensive Mac vs PC post on Reddit with multiple quality insights that might help you out. 

Further reading

Choosing between Mac or PC for graphic design comes down to personal preference and business requirements. Does the client or company you work for use Mac or Sketch? Go with that. In every other case, go with your gut feeling.

It is as easy as that. We’re past the time that Apple was the clear go-to choice for graphic design. You can do great work on both operating systems.

Do you need help selecting your next laptop for design? We wrote a post on exactly that. We talk about specs, suggestions, and accessories to help you choose. Go check it out.

Do you have feedback on this article? Missing something? Or just a question? Reach out to me and I’ll get back to you!

Profile picture of author Nick Groeneveld, a senior UX designer and mentor for The Designer's Toolbox

About the author

Hi! I'm , a senior designer from the Netherlands with experience in UX, visual design, and research. I'm a UX coach that supports other designers and have completed design projects in finance, tech, and the public sector.

Through The Designer's Toolbox, I'm an Educational Partner for Interaction Design Foundation.

☎️ Book a 1:1 mentor meeting with me or let's connect on LinkedIn, Twitter and Medium.