Best Computer Configuration for Graphic Design 2020

Best Computer Configuration for Graphic Design 2020 (Updated)

Are you a graphic designer and are looking for the best computer configuration for graphic design in 2020? Here’s the most comprehensive guide for the best desktop computer for graphic design you’ll ever read. So hang on. You’ll also learn how to put your PC components together, and a bunch of recommendations for graphic design software. If you scroll down further, you’ll get to read my story on my first Graphic Design Computer build.

You’ll find below our recommendations for the different build options including the budget, mid-range, and high-end builds for graphic design. Each column holds a list of components for each build. All links point to Amazon US. Please note that we might receive commissions for buying through our links. This is to support our work.

best computer configuration for graphic design
A piece of graphic design produced material

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Categories of Graphic Design PC Builds

See the table below for list of components for each category of budget, per platform.

AMD BUILDS

Take your pick from 3 options – Budget, Mid-range and High-end builds

BUDGET AMD GRAPHIC DESIGN PC BUILD

best computer configuration for graphic design

PART BRAND
Processor AMD Ryzen 5 1600 6-Core, 12-Thread Unlocked 65W Desktop Processor

Alternatives
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X
AMD Ryzen 5 2600
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G
AMD Ryzen 5 3600
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

Motherboard MSI ProSeries A320 AM4 Micro-ATX Motherboard

Alternatives
GIGABYTE B450M

ASRock AM4 MicroATX
Asus Prime B450M-A

Graphics Card AMD Radeon RX 570 4GB

Alternatives
GeForce GTX 1650
AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT
GeForce GTX 1660 Super
AMD Radeon RX 580
GeForce GTX 1650
AMD Radeon RX 550 4GB
AMD Radeon RX 560
Geforce GTX 1050 Ti
GeForce GT 1030
GeForce GTX 1060
GeForce GT 710

RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB

Alternatives
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB

SSD Samsung SSD 860 EVO 250GB

Alternatives
Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD 250GB – M.2 NVMe
Crucial MX500 250GB 3D NAND SATA M.2

Storage Drive Seagate Barracuda 1TB

Alternative
Seagate Barracuda 3TB

CPU Cooler Bundled with Processor
Power Supply Thermaltake Smart 500W

Alternatives
Thermaltake Smart 430W
Corsair CX Series 650 Watt Modular
EVGA 450 BR, 80+ BRONZE 450W
Corsair CX Series 450 Watt 80 Plus
SilverStone Technology 450W 80 Plus Bronze
Rosewill Arc Series 450 Watt 80 Plus Bronze
EVGA 500 80+ Bronze 500W
GIGABYTE 80 Plus Bronze 500W
ROSEWILL Modular Power Supply, 80 Plus Gold 500W 

Keyboard/Mouse Logitech MK550 Wireless Wave Keyboard and Mouse Combo

Alternative
Havit Rainbow Backlit Wired Gaming Keyboard Mouse Combo
Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
Logitech MK710 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
Dell Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo

Best Budget Alternative
AmazonBasics USB Wired Computer Keyboard Mouse 

Case Cooler Master MCB MasterBox PC Case

Alternatives
ROSEWILL ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case
NZXT H210 Mini-ITX PC Gaming Case
Enermax LL30 RGB Mid Tower
CORSAIR 110Q Mid-Tower Quiet ATX
darkFlash Micro ATX
Cooler Master MasterBox MB511
Zalman T7 ATX Mid Tower

Display Viewsonic 24 inch Professional Monitor

Alternatives
BenQ 24 Inch IPS Monitor
ASUS 23.8” Monitor, 1080P
Philips 32″ Curved Frameless Monitor
Asus Eye Care Monitor Full HD 27″ Frameless
ASUS 24″ ProArt Professional
HP 23.8-inch Full HD 1080p IPS LED Monitor

MID-RANGE AMD GRAPHIC DESIGN PC BUILD

best computer configuration for graphic design

PART BRAND
Processor AMD Ryzen 7 3800X

Alternatives
Ryzen 7 1700X
Ryzen 7 2700X
Ryzen 7 2700
Ryzen 7 2700X
Ryzen 9 3900X
Ryzen 7 1800X
Ryzen 7 3700X

Motherboard MSI Arsenal Gaming AMD Ryzen AM4 ATX Motherboard

Alternatives
MSI Arsenal Gaming AM4 ATX
Gigabyte B450 AORUS Elite
ASUS ROG Strix B450-F

Graphics Card AMD Radeon RX 590

Alternatives
GeForce GTX 970
GeForce GTX 980
AMD Radeon R9 390
AMD Radeon RX Vega 56
AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT
GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
GeForce GTX 1070
GeForce RTX 2060
GeForce RTX 2060 Super
GeForce RTX 2070
GeForce RTX 2070 Super 
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB

Alternatives
Crucial Ballistix 3200 MHz DDR4 16GB
XPG Z1 DDR4 3000MHz 16GB
HyperX Fury 16GB 2666MHz DDR4
G.Skill RipJaws V Series 16GB DDR4
Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB DDR4
TEAMGROUP T-Force Delta RGB DDR4 16GB 3200MHz
SSD Samsung 860 PRO 512GB SSD

Alternatives
Samsung 970 EVO SSD 500GB M.2 NVMe
XPG Pro 512GB 3D NAND NVMe

Storage Drive Seagate Barracuda 3TB

Alternative
Seagate Barracuda 6TB

CPU Cooler Bundled with Processor
Power Supply Thermaltake Smart 500W

Alternatives
Corsair CX Series 750 Watt 80 Plus Bronze Certified 
Thermaltake Toughpower Grand RGB 850W 80+
EVGA 850 80+ Bronze 850W
GAMEMAX Rainbow 750W Fully Modular 80+ Gold  
GAMEMAX Rainbow 850W Fully Modular 80+ Gold  
EVGA SuperNOVA 850 P2, 80+ PLATINUM 850W

Keyboard/Mouse Logitech MK550 Wireless Wave Keyboard and Mouse Combo

Alternatives
Havit Rainbow Backlit Wired Gaming Keyboard Mouse Combo
Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
Logitech MK710 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
Dell Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo

Best Budget Alternative
AmazonBasics USB Wired Computer Keyboard Mouse 

Case Thermaltake Versa H17 Black Micro ATX Case

Alternatives
darkFlash Darwin Black ATX Mid-Tower
MSI Premium Mid-Tower PC Case
Cooler Master MasterCase ATX Mid-Tower
MSI MPG 500P Full Tower
Thermaltake Commander C36
Cooler Master MasterBox TD500

Display BenQ PhotoVue 27 inch QHD Photography Monitor

Alternatives
Dell Ultra Sharp LED-Lit Monitor 25″
ViewSonic VP2771 Professional 27″
Philips Brilliance 27″ Monitor, 4K UHD IPS, 122% sRGB,
BenQ 27 inch 4K Monitor for Designers
LG 27″ 4K UHD IPS Monitor with HDR10
LG 34″21:9 Curved UltraWide WQHD IPS sRGB 99%

HIGH-END AMD GRAPHIC DESIGN PC BUILD

best computer configuration for graphic design

PART BRAND
Processor AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core, 24-thread CPU

Alternative
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-Core, 32-Threads 

Motherboard GIGABYTE B450 AORUS Elite Motherboard

Alternatives
MSI Meg X570 Unify Motherboard
Gigabyte X570 AORUS Elite
ASUS ROG Strix B450-F Gaming Motherboard

Graphics Card GeForce RTX 2070 Super

Alternatives
AMD Radeon VII
GeForce GTX 1080
GeForce GTX 1080 TI 
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
GeForce GTX TITAN X 
GeForce GTX TITAN BLACK
GeForce GTX TITAN Z
GeForce RTX 2070 Super Founders Edition
GeForce RTX 2080 Super
GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
RTX 2080 Super Founders Edition
NVIDIA Titan RTX

RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB

Alternatives
Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB

SSD Samsung 970 EVO 1TB – NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD

Alternatives
Sabrent 1TB Rocket NVMe PCIe M.2
WD Blue 1TB NVMe
Silicon Power 1TB NVMe M.2
Sabrent 1TB Rocket NVMe M.2 Extreme
Samsung 860 PRO 512GB SSD
Sabrent Rocket Q 2TB NVMe PCIe M.2
Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD 2TB – M.2 NVMe
XPG Pro 2TB 3D NAND NVMe
WD Blue 1TB NVMe

Storage Drive Seagate Barracuda 6TB HDD

Alternative
Seagate BarraCuda 8TB 

CPU Cooler Bundled with Processor
Power Supply 700W SFX Fully Modular 80 Plus Gold PSU 

Alternatives
CORSAIR HX1200, 1200 Watt, 80+ Platinum Certified
EVGA Supernova P2 80+ Platinum 1200W
ROSEWILL Gaming 80 Plus Gold Certified 1600W Full Modular

Keyboard/Mouse Logitech MK550 Wireless Wave Keyboard and Mouse Combo

Alternatives
Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
Logitech MK710 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
Dell Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo

Best Budget Alternative
AmazonBasics USB Wired Computer Keyboard Mouse 

Case Thermaltake Core P3 ATX Tempered Glass Case

Alternatives
darkFlash Phantom Black ATX Mid-Tower
ASUS TUF Gaming Mid-Tower
Cooler Master Cosmos C700P
MSI Premium Mid-Tower Case

Display BenQ 32 inch, 4K UHD Monitor, IPS Panel

Alternatives
Dell Ultrasharp 32″ Monitor UHD 4k
EIZO ColorEdge CG2730 27″
BenQ 27 inch 4K Monitor Photo Editing IPS
EIZO ColorEdge Professional Graphics Monitor
LG 27″ 5K IPS LED Monitor
ViewSonic 34″ UWQ 14-bit 3D LUT & Color Calibration

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INTEL BUILDS

Take your pick from 3 options – Budget, Mid-range and High-end builds

BUDGET INTEL GRAPHIC DESIGN PC BUILD

best computer configuration for graphic design

PART BRAND
Processor Intel Core i3-9100F Desktop Processor

Alternatives
Intel Core i3-9100
Intel Core i3-8100
Intel Core i5-8400
Intel Core i5-9400
Intel Core i5-9600K

Motherboard MSI ProSeries Intel B365 LGA 1151 Micro-ATX Motherboard

Alternatives
Asus Prime H310M
Asus PRIME B360M-A
Gigabyte B365M
Prime H310M-E R2.0

Graphics Card RX 570 4GB  

Alternatives
AlternativesGeForce GTX 1650
AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT

GeForce GTX 1660 Super

AMD Radeon RX 580

GeForce GTX 1650

AMD Radeon RX 550 4GB

AMD Radeon RX 560

Geforce GTX 1050 Ti

GeForce GT 1030

GeForce GTX 1060

GeForce GT 710

RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB

Alternatives
Crucial Ballistix 3200 MHz DDR4 16GB
XPG Z1 DDR4 3000MHz 16GB
HyperX Fury 16GB 2666MHz DDR4
G.Skill RipJaws V Series 16GB DDR4
Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB DDR4
TEAMGROUP T-Force Delta RGB DDR4 16GB 3200MHz
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB

SSD Samsung SSD 860 EVO 250GB

Alternatives
Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD 250GB – M.2 NVMe

Crucial MX500 250GB 3D NAND SATA M.2

Storage Drive Seagate Barracuda 1TB

Alternative
Seagate Barracuda 3TB

CPU Cooler Bundled with Processor
Power Supply Thermaltake Smart 500W

Alternatives
Thermaltake Smart 500W
Thermaltake Smart 430W 80+
EVGA 450 BR, 80+ BRONZE 450W
Corsair CX Series 450 Watt 80 Plus
SilverStone Technology 450W 80 PLUS Bronze
Rosewill Arc Series 450 Watt 80 Plus Bronze
EVGA 500 80+ Bronze 500W
GIGABYTE 80 Plus Bronze 500W
ROSEWILL Modular Power Supply, 80 Plus Gold 500w 
Cooler Master MWE 500 Bronze, 80+ 
Corsair CX Series 500 Watt 80 Plus Bronze 
Corsair CX Series 550 Watt 80 Plus Bronze
Cougar VTX450 Power Supply 80+ Bronze Certified 450W
Apevia Astro 500W ATX Power Supply

Keyboard/Mouse Logitech MK550 Wireless Wave Keyboard and Mouse Combo

Alternatives
Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
Logitech MK710 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
Dell Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo

Best Budget Alternative
AmazonBasics USB Wired Computer Keyboard Mouse 

Case Cooler Master MCB MasterBox PC Case

Alternatives
ROSEWILL ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case
NZXT H210 Mini-ITX PC Gaming Case
Enermax LL30 RGB Mid Tower
CORSAIR 110Q Mid-Tower Quiet ATX
darkFlash Micro ATX
Cooler Master MasterBox MB511
Zalman T7 ATX Mid Tower

Display (Optional) Viewsonic 24 inch Professional Monitor

Alternatives
BenQ 24 Inch IPS Monitor
ASUS 23.8” Monitor, 1080P
Philips 32″ Curved Frameless Monitor
Asus Eye Care Monitor Full HD 27″ Frameless
ASUS 24″ ProArt Professional
HP 23.8-inch Full HD 1080p IPS LED Monitor

MID-RANGE INTEL GRAPHIC DESIGN PC BUILD

best computer configuration for graphic design

PART BRAND
Processor Intel Core i7-9700F Desktop Processor

Alternatives
Intel Core i5-9600K
Intel Core i5-9500
Intel Core i5-9600KF
Intel Core i5-8600K
Intel Core i5 6600K
Core i7 6700K
Intel Core i7-8700
Intel Core i7-9700K

Motherboard MSI Z390-A PRO LGA1151 ATX Motherboard

Alternatives
MSI MEG Z390 ACE LGA1151 
Asus ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming Motherboard
MSI MPG Z390 Gaming PRO Carbon LGA1151

Graphics Card AMD Radeon RX 590

Alternatives
GeForce GTX 970
GeForce GTX 980
AMD Radeon R9 390
AMD Radeon RX Vega 56
AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT
GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
GeForce GTX 1070
GeForce RTX 2060
GeForce RTX 2060 Super
GeForce RTX 2070
GeForce RTX 2070 Super 

RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB

Alternatives
Crucial Ballistix 3200 MHz DDR4 16GB
XPG Z1 DDR4 3000MHz 16GB
HyperX Fury 16GB 2666MHz DDR4
G.Skill RipJaws V Series 16GB DDR4
Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB DDR4
TEAMGROUP T-Force Delta RGB DDR4 16GB 3200MHz

SSD Samsung 860 PRO 512GB SSD

Alternatives
Samsung 970 EVO SSD 500GB M.2 NVMe
XPG Pro 512GB 3D NAND NVMe

Storage Drive Seagate Barracuda 3TB

Alternatives
Seagate Barracuda 6TB
Seagate BarraCuda 8TB 

CPU Cooler Bundled with Processor

Alternative Cooler
Cooler Master RGB CPU Air Cooler

Power Supply Thermaltake Smart 500W

Alternatives
Corsair CX Series 750 Watt 80 Plus Bronze Certified 
Thermaltake Toughpower Grand RGB 850W 80+
EVGA 850 80+ Bronze 850W
GAMEMAX Rainbow 750W Fully Modular 80+ Gold  
GAMEMAX Rainbow 850W Fully Modular 80+ Gold  
EVGA SuperNOVA 850 P2, 80+ PLATINUM 850W

Keyboard/Mouse Logitech MK550 Wireless Wave Keyboard and Mouse Combo

Alternatives
Havit Rainbow Backlit Wired Gaming Keyboard Mouse Combo
Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
Logitech MK710 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
Dell Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo

Best Budget Alternative
AmazonBasics USB Wired Computer Keyboard Mouse 

Case Thermaltake Versa H17 Black Micro ATX Case

Alternatives
darkFlash Darwin Black ATX Mid-Tower
MSI Premium Mid-Tower PC Case
Cooler Master MasterCase ATX Mid-Tower
MSI MPG 500P Full Tower
Thermaltake Commander C36
Cooler Master MasterBox TD500

Display BenQ PhotoVue 27 inch QHD Photography Monitor

Alternatives
Dell Ultra Sharp LED-Lit Monitor 25″
ViewSonic VP2771 Professional 27″
Philips Brilliance 27″ Monitor, 4K UHD IPS, 122% sRGB,
BenQ 27 inch 4K Monitor for Designers
LG 27″ 4K UHD IPS Monitor with HDR10
LG 34″21:9 Curved UltraWide WQHD IPS sRGB 99%

HIGH-END INTEL GRAPHIC DESIGN PC BUILD

best computer configuration for graphic design

PART BRAND
Processor Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop Processor

Alternatives
Intel Core i9-9900
Intel Core i7-9700K
Intel Core i7-9700F
Intel Core i7-9700
Intel Core i9-9900KF
Intel Core i5-8600K
Intel Core i7 6700K
Intel Core i7-8700K

Motherboard ASUS Prime Z390-A Motherboard

Alternatives
EVGA Z390 Dark, LGA 1151
Asus MAXIMUS VIII EXTREME
MSI Performance Gaming Intel Z170A LGA 1151
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero

Graphics Card GeForce RTX 2070 Super

Alternatives
AMD Radeon VII
GeForce GTX 1080
GeForce GTX 1080 TI 
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
GeForce GTX TITAN X 
GeForce GTX TITAN BLACK
GeForce GTX TITAN Z
GeForce RTX 2070 Super Founders Edition
GeForce RTX 2080 Super
GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
RTX 2080 Super Founders Edition
NVIDIA Titan RTX

RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB

Alternative
Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB

SSD Samsung 970 EVO 1TB – NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD

Alternatives
Sabrent 1TB Rocket NVMe PCIe M.2
WD Blue 1TB NVMe
Silicon Power 1TB NVMe M.2
Sabrent 1TB Rocket NVMe M.2 Extreme
Samsung 860 PRO 512GB SSD
Sabrent Rocket Q 2TB NVMe PCIe M.2
Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD 2TB – M.2 NVMe
XPG Pro 2TB 3D NAND NVMe
WD Blue 1TB NVMe

Storage Drive Seagate Barracuda 6TB HDD

Alternative
Seagate BarraCuda 8TB

CPU Cooler
(For best performance, it is recommended to
go for a liquid cooler if you are going to overclock, though an air cooler will still provide adequate cooling)
Bundled with Processor

Alternative Air Coolers
Cooler Master RGB CPU Air Cooler
Noctua NH-D15
be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4
Noctua NH-U12S Premium CPU Cooler

Alternative Water Coolers
NZXT Kraken X53 240mm AIO
Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R Addressable RGB Close-Loop AIO
DEEP COOL Castle 240EX, Addressable RGB AIO Liquid CPU Cooler
DEEPCOOL Castle 360EX, Addressable RGB AIO Liquid CPU Cooler
DEEPCOOL Castle 360EX WH, Addressable RGB AIO Liquid CPU Cooler

Power Supply 700W SFX Fully Modular 80 Plus Gold PSU 

Alternatives
CORSAIR HX1200, 1200 Watt, 80+ Platinum Certified
EVGA Supernova P2 80+ Platinum 1200W
ROSEWILL Gaming 80 Plus Gold Certified 1600W Full Modular

Keyboard/Mouse Logitech MK550 Wireless Wave Keyboard and Mouse Combo

Alternatives
Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
Logitech MK710 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo
Dell Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo

Best Budget Alternative
AmazonBasics USB Wired Computer Keyboard Mouse 

Case ASUS TUF Gaming GT501 Mid-Tower Computer Case

Alternatives
darkFlash Phantom Black ATX Mid-Tower
Thermaltake Core P3 ATX Tempered Glass Case
Cooler Master Cosmos C700P
MSI Premium Mid-Tower Case

Display BenQ 32 inch, 4K UHD Monitor, IPS Panel

Alternatives
Dell Ultrasharp 32″ Monitor UHD 4k
EIZO ColorEdge CG2730 27″
BenQ 27 inch 4K Monitor Photo Editing IPS
EIZO ColorEdge Professional Graphics Monitor
LG 27″ 5K IPS LED Monitor
ViewSonic 34″ UWQ 14-bit 3D LUT & Color Calibration

Click here to move to the step-by-step guide on how to build your own PC.

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My Graphic Design PC Configuration (Still Kicking as at Today)

Ok. So here’s my story.

I remember the first time I built my graphic design PC. I wanted to have the best computer configuration for graphic design. It was so exciting because this was the very first time I was buying higher-level components for specialized work – graphic design. I had ordered the components from Amazon, and all had arrived within a week. I remember losing sleep because of the sheer excitement of building my own PC. By the way, that was in 2013, when Intel released its 4th Generation Core processors.

I had opted for a mid-range budget for my build, and my processor of choice was the Intel Core i5 3570K, paired with the Intel Desktop Media Series DH77KC Motherboard. The RAM was a Komputerbay 16GB of DDR3 memory. Other components include Cooler Master Air cooler and 500Watts Power Supply, the SSD was a Kingston Digital 120GB drive. I also got a Barracuda hard drive of 3TB and Azio gaming keyboard and mouse combo.

I didn’t get a new display, as I had a Samsung Syncmaster 19″ monitor. Also, I used the case from my previous build instead of buying a new chassis. Lest I forget, the graphics card was a Geforce GTX 660 with 2GB GDDR5 graphics memory.

The night I got these components, I couldn’t sleep well because of sheer excitement. I had looked forward to actually building my own PC for a long time. Well, the following day, with a little bit of headache due to sleeplessness, I went to work putting the components together.

My build went stress-free, though. The only issue I had was the motherboard; with my limited budget, I could only afford the cheap Intel Media series motherboard. I found out later it doesn’t support overclocking. I really wanted to overclock the Core i5 3570K, which is the main reason I bought the processor. Otherwise, I would have gone with the 3570 Core i5, or something i7’ish. Here are the photos from back then…

Well, as a matter of fact, that PC build is still kicking ass till today. I use it mainly for graphic design and Video Editing, though it struggles at 4K Video editing. I’m using it right now, editing this article.

One of my motivations for starting this site is to help you to get the best components for the best prices available. I don’t want you to make the same mistake I made, matching a non-overclockable motherboard with an overclockable processor. And, as a matter of fact, this motivation doesn’t just apply to this article, but to all the build guides on this website. You can definitely trust these guides.

What level of configuration do you need for a Graphic Design Computer?

Since Adobe Pagemaker debuted on the Mac years ago, desktop publishing introduced a whole new industry, and there began to be a huge demand for graphic designers. Graphic design involves producing graphics for print and the web.

Your graphic design PC must be able to handle the design workflow. If you are a beginner just starting out, your budget may or may not be a problem. Usually, beginners have a low budget to play with. But you have to make sure your processor is at least a quad-core processor. The recent AMD processors are a good choice for budget builds. They are a combination of lower prices and great performance, compared to their Intel counterparts.

Continue reading for our recommendations on the list of hardware you can get for the best computer configuration for graphic design.

If you are already established in the design business, then you might want to go for higher-specced configurations. We are talking about NVMe SSDs, six-core to eight-core processors and large hard drives in the region of 8TB. Why is this so? This is because if you are handling Adobe Photoshop files, you are going to need a large storage drive because the file sizes are usually huge.

best computer configuration for graphic design
A Brochure produced with one of the popular design apps

Why you need to invest in the best Computer Configuration for Graphic Design

As far as graphic design is concerned, time is money. You don’t want your computer to run slower, due to mismatched hardware. Let’s say you need to open a 2GB Adobe Photoshop file and your storage drive is a 5,400rpm mechanical hard drive.

This file operation can last up to 1.5 minutes, compared to just about 30 seconds on a fast SSD or even 10 seconds on an NVMe SSD. The net result is that you get to make more money because your work/time ratio is drastically reduced. In addition, you’ll save up on energy bills because you can achieve more in less time.

What about bottlenecking? Bottlenecking on a computer happens when a low-specced component is paired with higher-specced ones. The end result is that your graphic design workflow is slowed down. For instance, if you pair a high-end processor with an old mechanical hard drive, you will not achieve the best performance. 

This is because the processor is processing data at a very fast rate, and it has to wait for the hard drive to process the data at a much slower rate. Our selected components have been cross-checked for compatibility issues, and we try to address this issue by selecting only compatible components. Your best computer configuration for graphic design must be able to run your creative apps without lag, no matter the size or complexity of the file you’re working on.

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Best Software for Graphic Design

If you are a beginner graphic designer and you need to get software that can handle your graphics and print jobs, here is a list of popular free and paid apps to take a pick from.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop CC

Undoubtedly the king of graphics, Adobe Photoshop is a software developed and published by Adobe Systems Incorporated. Adobe has its Headquarters in the US. Adobe Photoshop is a computer software package, designed primarily for photo editing. Over the years, however, Photoshop has grown to become many things to many professionals, including graphic designers.

Photoshop is capable of the following:

  • Photo and image manipulation
  • Graphic Design
  • Web graphics
  • Texturing for 3D applications such as 3D Studio Max, Maya, etc
  • Creation of content for Mobile Devices such as Phones and PDA’s
  • Creation of graphical interactive menu elements for DVD’s
  • Can be used to edit video frame by frame

Photoshop started its life in 1990 as a Macintosh-only application and continues to be developed to this day. Support for the Windows platform was added in 1993. The application was initially developed by Thomas and John Knoll. Thomas was a programmer, while John was in charge of special effects for Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) on the first Star Wars film. Photoshop is here today because John asked Thomas to develop software to add effects and painting tools to images used on George Lucas’ epic.

Since 1990 when the first version of Photoshop was released (Adobe Photoshop 1.0), Adobe
has been offering more and more features in subsequent releases, the latest installment being Adobe Photoshop CC 2019 (released October 2018).

Adobe Photoshop is basically an image editing application. It is bitmap-based – meaning that it is designed to manipulate bitmaps (bitmaps are a computer representation of images using tiny colored dots known as pixels).

Photoshop has strong ties with other Adobe software for media editing, animation, and authoring. Files in Photoshop’s native format, .psd, can be exported to and from Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Adobe Encore to make professional standard DVDs and provide non-linear editing and special effects services, such as backgrounds, textures, and so on, for television, film, and the Web.

For example, Photoshop CS broadly supports making menus and buttons for DVDs. For .psd files exported as a menu or button, it only needs to have layers, nested in layer sets with a cueing format, and Adobe Encore DVD reads them as buttons or menus.
Photoshop is a pixel-based image editor, unlike Adobe Illustrator, which is a vector-based drawing application.
In addition, Photoshop can utilize the color models RGB, Lab, CMYK, Grayscale, Binary Bitmap, and Duotone. Photoshop has the ability to read and write raster and vector image formats such as .eps, .png, .gif, .jpeg, and .pict.

It also has several native file formats such as:

  • The .psd (Photoshop Document) format stores an image with support for most imaging options available in Photoshop. These include layers with masks, color spaces, ICC profiles, transparency, text, alpha channels and spot colors, clipping paths, and duotone settings.
    This is in contrast to many other file formats (e.g. .eps or .gif) that restrict content to provide streamlined, predictable functionality. Photoshop’s popularity means
    that the .psd format is widely used, and it is supported to some extent by most competing software.
  • The .psb (Large Document Format) format is a newer version of .PSD designed for files over 2 gigabytes.
  • The .pdd (PhotoDeluxe Document) format is a version of .PSD that only supports the features found in the discontinued PhotoDeluxe software. The “CS” stands for Creative Suite and was introduced with Photoshop 8, a new concept Adobe introduced to enable the integration of their software products.

You can download a fully usable demo of the software from the Adobe website here, but be reminded that the demo works for 30 days after which you’ll be required to activate to be able to continue using the software.

The Workspace is highly customizable; you can easily rearrange the tools and palettes to your preference. The cool thing about the interface is that you can actually save your current settings as a Workspace file.

This helps a lot when you set up a new system or reload your operating system, and you don’t have to bother about setting up your copy of Photoshop the way you want. The workspace file saves all your palette locations, keyboard shortcuts, tool settings, and application preferences.

Adobe Photoshop has full support for graphics tablets, which allows you to draw intuitively using a graphics tablet. Conclusively, Adobe Photoshop is a great choice for graphic designers, though the only downside is the monthly subscription only purchase plan. Many designers, especially beginners may not find it pocket-friendly.

CorelDraw Graphics Suite 2020

CorelDraw is another alternative when it comes to graphic design apps for Windows. CorelDraw has grown to become a worthy alternative to Adobe Illustrator and Indesign. Since CorelDraw version 1.0, the app has come a long way up to the present version CorelDraw 2020. 

CorelDraw is a vector graphics application. It handles computer graphics using vector representation made up of lines and shapes using mathematical procedurals for generating these objects. This vector approach ensures that the objects are not subject to loss of quality at its native format.

The software supports various file formats including vector and bitmap formats. It also supports the import of a host of file formats. With CorelDraw, you can create just about any type of graphics, whether for print or for the web. Print formats range from IDs to large format documents measuring several meters in dimension. 

CorelDraw also supports multi-page layouts for magazines and book publications. Graphic designers will definitely love CorelDraw, that is if you’re not pitching for the Adobe camp. The current version of CorelDraw has the regular and student version. By the way, the Student Version is much less cheap.

Corel Photo-Paint is bundled with CorelDraw and is useful for editing your photos. CorelDraw is a total package for graphic designers and illustrators alike. Click the links below to get CorelDraw.

Adobe In-Design

Adobe InDesign

Still a part of the Adobe suite of subscription apps, InDesign has maintained its status as a capable and solid vector design application that graphic designers continue to find useful. Its capabilities range from its superb automation abilities and a huge library of professional fonts, any serious designer should use In-Design.

The only downside is the higher subscription cost, otherwise, it’s a must-have. Click the button to download a copy.

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a sibling to Adobe Photoshop software. Illustrator was designed for digital artists and illustrators in mind. The software is loaded with a host of features for creating just about any design format on the computer. Illustrator’s drawing toolkit is second-to-none, featuring support for graphics tablets. With Illustrator, you can create any type of drawing easily.

The software supports a host of file formats for import and export purposes. One chief consideration is that your computer should have lots of RAM, preferably 16GB DDR4. This is because Illustrator is a RAM hungry application. You can download a copy of Illustrator.

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Canva

Canva

Canva is a great design tool designed to empower just about anyone to achieve decent graphics on either a desktop or a smartphone. The service is web-based, meaning that you need an internet connection to use the app.

Canva offers numerous free templates that will get you up and running quickly on the type of design work you intend to achieve, and it does that beautifully and simple enough.

Apart from that, it also allows you to pay a subscription in order to access premium design templates and assets. However, with the free templates, you can easily customize any type of design and output the image in a few seconds.

The monthly subscription stands at $12.95 per month, but if you just want to use the free templates, here’s the link below.

GIMP

This is a versatile software for graphic design. The best thing about this app is that it is free. Gimp allows you to create graphics and edit your photos. It borrows most of the tools available in Adobe Photoshop. 

If you are a beginner constrained by your budget, you should go for GIMP here.

Most important components for Graphic Design PC

  • PROCESSOR
    The most important component here is the processor. We recommend a quad-core or Hexa-core processor, whether Intel or AMD processor.

  • BOOT DRIVE
    Another important component is the boot drive, for which we recommend a fast SSD drive.
    This will ensure your Windows and apps run speedy and are very responsive. Graphic design involves lots of file operations such as opening, manipulating and saving. Sometimes, file sizes could run into gigabytes. This is why you need the best SSD drive for maximum performance. Alternatively, you should go for an NVMe SSD for the best performance. These class of SSDs are speedier than ordinary SSDs. You should expect file transfers in the region of 1,300MB/s up to 1,600MB/s. With that, your file handling operations should run as fast as possible, saving you money in the long run.

  • STORAGE DRIVE
    Another important component is the storage drive. For this, you need a beefy mechanical hard drive, at least 3TB, with 7,200rpm. With this, you have more than enough space to store your graphic files, downloads, and assets.

  • RAM
    Next is the RAM. You need lots of RAM, as much as your motherboard can accommodate. For budget builds, at least 8GB of DDR4 RAM is adequate. It is recommended to go for at least 16GB of RAM for greater multitasking ability and performance. If you can afford 32 or 64GB, great.
  • GRAPHICS CARD
    You need a dedicated graphics card to build a graphic design PC because Photoshop requires a supported graphics card in order to utilize some of its features. If the graphics card is unsupported, these features will not work at all. Besides, you may want to do some video editing or some 3D rendering by the side, or even do some gaming. So, for the most part, you need a dedicated graphics card, preferably with CUDA or OPEN CL support.
  • MONITOR:
    You need a monitor that is capable of reproducing colors accurately, both on-screen and on paper. We recommend the 24-Inch Viewsonic Professional Monitor for graphic designers.

You can check out our pre-configured build for the ultimate graphic design PC, with components carefully selected by our technical department. We also recommend checking out this post on how to build a PC step by step. You won’t find a better guide elsewhere.

We’ve also reviewed the best 24-inch monitors for various applications, including graphic design. Be sure to read it up for recommendations on the best monitor for graphic design.

Conclusion

Graphic designers face lots of challenges in the form of tight deadlines and meeting up with client demands. I hope your expectations were met by reading this guide, and you finally get to build a graphic design PC you can be proud of. If there is something I missed, kindly let me know in the comments section and I’ll add it to help others. Meanwhile, you can check our reviews here, and other build guides for custom PCs.

If you like this article, don’t forget to drop a line to let me know. It keeps my morale kicking and motivates me to keep publishing these guides. Thanks for reading.

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My passion for PC hardware is my greatest motivation. I love technology and how it can make life easier and less complicated! When I’m not tinkering with hardware, I’m reading. I love to travel and I usually can’t wait to sit down on my PC to work.

I’m also a copywriter, designer, video editor, and writer. I also do some 3D with 3DS Max. Do you want to reach me? Use the Social Media buttons, or shoot me an email. I’ll be glad to hear from you!

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