MacHow2 uses affiliate links. Please check our Advertising Disclosure for more info.

Macs are by far the best computers for graphic design work in here we’ve looked at the best Macs for graphic design in 2022.

When it comes to the demands of graphic design software, Graphic Designers need a lot of graphic processing power, RAM and screen estate.

In 2022, the best Macs for creative and design work are undoubtedly the new generation of M1 chip Macs which offer much faster graphics and processing power than the older Intel chip.

In our research, we still found the 2021 M1 MacBook Pro to be the best Mac for graphic design in 2022 but the rapid evolution of the ARM M1 chip means things are not quite so clear-cut in the MacBook Pro’s favor as they once were.

There’s now a huge range of M1 chips to choose from including M1 Pro, M1 Max, M1 Ultra not to mention Apple is soon to release the M2 chip.

The release of the new Mac Studio in 2022 has also thrown another model into the mix which is firmly aimed at creatives such as Graphic Designers along with the amazing Apple Studio Display.

Why Macs Are Still Best For Graphic Design

Macs have always been the most popular computers for creatives in a wide range of fields ranging from desktop publishing to graphic design.

Macs have always been better than PCs when it comes to color accuracy, typography and layout design.

In general, Macs are also far more stable and less prone to viruses and slow downs compared to Windows PCs.

Although Windows PCs have caught-up a lot on Macs, many of the best graphic design software are now Cloud based anyway such as the industry standard Adobe Creative Cloud.

Therefore the platform that designers are using is become less important than the speed of their internet connection as everything moves towards the Cloud but Macs are still the machine of choice for designers.

And let’s face it, Macs also look a lot better than PCs so all things considered, it’s no surprise designers in the creative fields prefer Macs.

M1 Macs vs Intel Macs

The biggest change to the Mac range has been the introduction of the faster ARM M1 chips in November 2020 which are made by Apple.

All new Macs now have the M1 chip which has replaced the older Intel chip.

The M1 chip is much faster than the Intel chips offering up to 20 CPU cores in the M1 Ultra chip whereas the most powerful Intel chip could only go up to 12 cores apart from the incredibly powerful Intel Mac Pro with 28 CPU cores.

The more cores you have, the more tasks your Mac can handle at once.

This means you can be running several powerful graphic design applications at once and not notice any difference in performance.

The M1 chip has already been through several upgrades since 2020 and the M2 chip is already rumored to be on its way in 2022.

At the moment, different versions of the M1 chip are available in different models of Mac and the currently availability is as follows:

  • M1 Chip with 8 CPU Cores: Available in the 24 inch iMac, MacBook Air, 13 inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini.
  • M1 Pro Chip with 10 CPU Cores: Available in the 14 inch and 16 inch MacBook Pro.
  • M1 Max Chip with 10 CPU Cores: Available in the 14 inch and 16 inch MacBook Pro and Mac Studio.
  • M1 Ultra Chip with 20 CPU Cores: Available in the Mac Studio

The only Intel Mac that can really compare with the power of the M1 Ultra Chip model is the Mac Pro with 28 cores but with prices starting at $5,999 and considering it’s still got an Intel processor, we wouldn’t advise it as a good future proof investment for graphic designers.

Graphics Cards

When it comes to graphics cards, M1 Macs are again a much better option than Intel Macs.

The M1 chip, the graphics card and the RAM are integrated on M1 Macs for much faster performance. In Intel Macs, these are separate meaning it doesn’t process data as efficiently.

One advantage that Intel Macs do have over M1 chip Macs is that you can boost the graphics capabilities with an external graphics card known as an eGPU.

eGPUs are incredibly powerful and in some cases can even outperform the capabilities of M1 Macs.

Unfortunately, M1 Macs don’t work with eGPUs as the M1 chip doesn’t support them and there seems no chance of them being supported in the future.

Displays

One of the most important factors for any graphic designer is the size and quality of the display or monitor.

There’s no question that Apple makes the best displays on the market whether it’s the incredible retina screens on MacBooks, the amazing new 5K Apple Studio Display or the stunning 6K Pro XDR Apple Display.

Apple displays also offer other unique touches including:

  • True Tone which adjusts colors to the ambient light
  • Wide Color (P3) ranging from 500 nits up to an incredible 1600 nits in the Pro XDR
  • ProMotion in the 14 inch and 16 inch MacBook Pro which can alternative the refresh rate between 24-120Hz depending on what kind of imagery is being displayed on the screen. This provides faster scrolling and preserves battery life although it’s more useful for video editing than graphic design.

MacBooks may not be the first Macs that spring to mind when considering which Mac is best for graphic designing because of their relatively small screen size despite their portable appeal to designers on the move.

All MacBooks have a Retina display with the latest M1 MacBook Pros having the amazing Liquid Retina XDR screen with a stunning resolution of 227ppi (pixels per inch).

However, the biggest MacBook Pro display is 16 inches which is why many graphic designers favor the 24 inch iMac which also has a retina display.

Apple has removed the 27 inch iMac and effectively replaced it with the Mac Studio with the Apple Studio Display also provides another alternative to the MacBook and iMac range for graphic designers.

However, whichever Mac you choose you can always extend your screen estate with an external monitor.

The Apple Pro XDR and Apple Studio Display connect to any Mac including MacBooks and are easily the best monitors for graphic designers that need support for 6K and 5K resolutions respectively.

However, you can use just about any external monitor with a Thunderbolt or USB-C port with a Mac.

  • The latest 2022 Mac Studio has the best external monitor support of any Mac with 4 external displays via Thunderbolt/USB-C and 1 via HDMI if you get it with the M1 Ultra chip.
  • The basic 2020 M1 MacBook Pros only support 1 additional display up to 6K resolution at 60Hz
  • The 2021 M1 Mac Mini supports up to 3 external displays: 2 via Thunderbolt/USB-C and one via HDMI port.
  • M1 Pro Macs support 2 external displays: two with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz via Thunderbolt/USB-C and HDMI
  • M1 Max Macs support 4 external displays: 3 with up to 6K resolution via Thunderbolt/USB-C and 1 of up to 4K via HDMI
  • M1 Ultra Macs support up to 5 displays including 4 Apple Pro Display XDRs  of 6K resolution via Thunderbolt/USB‑C and one 4K display via HDMI.

Whichever M1 Mac you buy, there are also other ways to connect multiple displays to M1 Macs by using docking stations.

Our advice is, don’t let the smaller screens on MacBooks or the lack of screen with the Mac Mini and Mac Studio put you off buying one over an iMac.

For more you can check out our guide to the best monitors for the Mac Studio and MacBook Pro and the best monitors for the Mac Mini to see which ones work best with the different Macs available.

RAM: Upgradable vs Non-Upgradable

The latest generation of M1 Macs aren’t up-gradable internally which means that you can’t upgrade the RAM in an M1 Mac after purchase.

None of the M1 Macs can be upgraded because the RAM is integrated into the M1 chip for faster performance.

An M1 Mac will easily outperform any Intel Mac with the same amount of RAM so we strongly recommend buying an M1 Mac.

It’s therefore important that you add as much RAM as possible when you customize and purchase any M1 chip Mac for the first time.

M1 Macs ship with 8GB of RAM as standard but you can upgrade to 16GB when you purchase it.

The M1 Pro can be upgraded to 32GB RAM, M1 Max up to 64GB RAM and Ultra up to 128GB RAM.

Nowadays, there are very few Macs on the market that can be upgraded later. The exceptions include the older 27 inch Intel iMac, the Intel Mac Mini and the Mac Pro.

External Storage

Graphic Designers have to deal with huge file sizes for images, layouts, multimedia content and more and your Mac’s internal storage will rarely be enough.

Like RAM, the hard drive or SSD in M1 Macs is not upgradable after purchase so it’s best to add as much as possible when you purchase the Mac.

Unlike RAM however, you can easily extend the storage capacity of your Mac with an external drive.

We strongly recommend going for an external Solid State Drive (SSD) such as the Samsung T5 for graphic design as they are much faster than traditional mechanical drives.

For more on the best Mac compatible external storage devices check out our guide the best external hard drives for Mac and for SSDs, check out our guide to the best SSD drives for Mac.

With this in mind, here are the best Macs for graphic design of 2022.

1. M1 MacBook Pro 16/14 inch (M1 Pro/Max)

best mac for graphic design

The 2021 M1 MacBook Pro with 14 or 16 inch screen and the M1 Pro or M1 Max chip is the best Mac for graphic design due to a potent combination of power and portability.

We think the 2021 M1 MacBook Pro gives graphic designers the best of both worlds – a reasonably sized screen when on the move but plenty of options for connecting an external display when at the desk.

Launched in October 2021, the M1 MacBook Pro is by far the most powerful MacBook on the market and is tailor made for graphic designers that need maximum graphic processing power.

It’s twice as powerful as the older 2020 M1 MacBook Pro and the M1 Max is even twice as powerful again as the M1 Pro chip so we strongly recommend getting the M1 Max chip MacBook Pro if your budget allows.

The only downside is that it is 200g heavier than the 2020 MacBook Pro – but it’s more than worth it.

Highlights of the M1 MacBook Pro 16 inch with M1 Pro or M1 Max chip include:

  • Two ProRes accelerators in the M1 Max to make rendering 3D images a breeze even on battery power
  • Up to 8TB of internal storage
  • Stunning Liquid Retina XDR display for crystal clear images
  • 14 or 16 inch screen to make it easier to edit designs although we strongly recommend extending this with an external monitor.

The 14 inch M1 MacBook Pro with M1 Pro or M1 Max is around $500 cheaper and around 100g lighter than the 16 inch model but we recommend at least a 16 inch screen for graphic design.

If you’re unsure whether to go for the M1 Max or M1 Pro, we recommend checking out our look at the M1 Max vs M1 Pro.

You can read more about this amazing laptop in our M1 MacBook Pro review.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • The most powerful MacBook on the market
  • Incredibly fast 3D graphics rendering even on battery power
  • Twice as fast as the old Intel MacBook Pro
  • Up to 8TB of internal storage
  • Stunning display
  • Battery power for up to 21 hours

Cons:

  • Price
  • Not upgradable

2. M1 Mac Studio

best mac for graphic design - mac studio

The Mac Studio is Apple’s latest Mac aimed at creative professionals and has been released alongside a new monitor the 27 inch 5K Studio Display.

The Mac Studio is a mix between the Mac Mini and M1 MacBook Pro with an incredibly powerful M1 Max or new M1 Ultra chip with 20-core or 64-core performance.

Apple calls the M1 Ultra chip “the worlds most powerful chip for a personal computer” and it’s certainly going to be hard to beat with up to 64-core performance.

It also includes 128GB of unified memory, 800GB/s or memory bandwidth and an 8TB SSD which dwarfs the processing power of both the Mac Mini and MacBook Pro.

It’s also jam packed with ports for connectivity including four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 10GB ethernet port, two USB-A ports, HDMI and a Pro audio jack.

The Mac Studio is squarely aimed at creative professionals in the graphic design, video editing, music production, Virtual Reality and game development fields.

Pricing for the Mac Studio starts at $1,999 (£1,999) for the M1 Max with the M1 Ultra starting at $3,999 (£3,999) If you bought a top of the range Mac Studio with M1 Ultra chip, 8TB of SSD it would cost $7,999 (£6,100).

On top of this is the new 27 inch 5K Studio Display which costs $1599 (£1499) – so it’s by far the most expensive Mac for graphic designers on the market.

However, you could also use an alternative external display for the Mac Studio instead.

Check-out our full Mac Studio review to see what we thought of this unbelievably powerful compact Mac.

Pros:

  • The most powerful Mac on the market with M1 Ultra chip
  • Up to 64-core processing power
  • Up to 8TB internal SSD
  • Supports up to 5 external monitors
  • Incredibly high quality images when paired with Apple Studio Display

Cons:

  • Price
  • Not upgradable after purchase

3. M1 Mac Mini

cheapest mac for graphic design

The M1 Mac Mini is the smallest Mac you can get but it packs an incredible punch. It’s also the cheapest Mac for graphic design with the basic model starting at just under $900.

Unlike MacBooks, the Mac Mini also has the advantage of an audio-in port for those that want to connect an instrument to it without a USB audio interface.

The Mac Mini also has an Ethernet port for hard wiring internet connections instead of having to rely on WiFi all the time.

The other great advantage of the Mac Mini is that you can also upgrade the RAM and SSD drive in an M1 Mac Mini even after the original purchase (although this would only be possible by a specialist technician).

You can customize up to 64GB of RAM with the M1 Mac Mini when purchasing with storage of up to 2TB.

Remember that since the M1 Mac Mini has no monitor, keyboard or mouse, you’ll have to buy them separately although you can use pretty much any monitor, keyboard or mouse with it. Check out our guide to the best external

Unlike Intel Mac Minis, you also can’t connect an eGPU to it as eGPUs don’t work with the M1 chip.

If you’re looking for the best Mac for graphic design on a budget, the M1 Mac Mini offers great value for money and portability.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • Great for Beginners or Amateur Musicians on a budget
  • Works with Logic Pro X and GarageBand
  • Can support 2 displays simultaneously
  • Up to 2TB of storage
  • Easily portable

Cons:

  • Requires purchasing of keyboard, monitor and mouse
  • Internal storage limited

4. M1 iMac

m1 imac graphic design

If you’re going to be based permanently in a graphic design studio or at home, then look no further than the new M1 iMac.

The iMac is a far superior standalone work station compared to the Mac Mini if you need more RAM, better graphics and of course, an amazing 4.5K display with the 24 inch model.

In fact, any iMac is good enough for music production although we recommend avoiding the 21 inch model unless your budget really won’t stretch.

All processors in iMacs support what’s known has Hyper Threading which means more than one core processor can handle instructions threads at the same time.

The iMac comes with silent SSD drives and the latest iMacs have the M1 chip. The 24 inch iMacs also has a mic input for recording audio directly into it.

The iMac also comes with 3 USB ports and 2 Thunderbolt ports so there’s plenty of room for connecting peripherals. All of this of course is built into the display which makes the iMac such a clean and clutter free graphic design workstation.

Note that the 27 inch iMac is no longer available as Apple has replaced it with the Mac Studio and Apple Studio Display.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • Ideal for desktop based graphic designers
  • Amazing 4.5K display
  • Supports hyper threading
  • Includes mic input for audio

Cons:

  • Not portable
  • Lack of ports
  • 27 inch model discontinued

5. iMac Pro

imac pro professional graphic design

The iMac Pro is Apple’s high end Intel iMac and is really only suitable for professional desktop based graphic designers that need an incredibly powerful workstation.

The iMac Pro is actually now discontinued by Apple as it moves focus to the Mac Studio and it still has an Intel chip but yet it still incredibly powerful.

However, you can still get them refurbished from Apple and on Amazon.

The iMac Pro is supercharged with a 28-core Intel Xeon W CPU (3.5 GHz), an AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics card with 8GB of HBM2 memory, up to 1.5TB of DDR4 RAM and support for either two 5k or two Pro Display XDRs.

In terms of connectivity, it doesn’t get much better than the iMac Pro either with four Thunderbolt 4 ports that only the Mac Studio can match.

The amazing thing is that even when performing at its limits, the iMac Pro is incredibly cool and quiet and this is all without an M1 chip which isn’t available in the iMac Pro yet.

Plus of course, it has a much bigger display for comfort when graphic designing.

The iMac Pro is definitely more than most graphic designers need but for those with a big unlimited budget that still prefer the old Intel models, it’s the ultimate iMac.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • Unbelievably fast and powerful with 28 core processing power
  • All the advantages of the regular iMac and more
  • Silent performance
  • Lots of ports for connecting external devices
  • Can be connected to an eGPU

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Still uses an Intel processor
  • Discontinued by Apple

Best Macs For Graphic Design Compared

If you’re still unsure which Mac is best for you, here’s how the best Macs for graphic design compare.

2021 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) - Silver
Apple BTO Mac Mini Desktop Computer, M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU, 16GB Memory, 1TB SSD, Gigabit Ethernet, Late 2020
2021 Apple iMac with Apple M1 chip (24 inch, 8GB RAM, 512GB) Silver (Renewed)
Apple iMac Pro 27in All-in-One Desktop, Space Gray (MQ2Y2LL/A) (Renewed)
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) - Silver
Apple BTO Mac Mini Desktop Computer, M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU, 16GB Memory, 1TB SSD, Gigabit Ethernet, Late 2020
2021 Apple iMac with Apple M1 chip (24 inch, 8GB RAM, 512GB) Silver (Renewed)
Apple iMac Pro 27in All-in-One Desktop, Space Gray (MQ2Y2LL/A) (Renewed)
$2,199.00
$1,249.91
Price not available
$1,599.00
-
-
-
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) - Silver
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) - Silver
$2,199.00
Apple BTO Mac Mini Desktop Computer, M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU, 16GB Memory, 1TB SSD, Gigabit Ethernet, Late 2020
Apple BTO Mac Mini Desktop Computer, M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU, 16GB Memory, 1TB SSD, Gigabit Ethernet, Late 2020
$1,249.91
-
2021 Apple iMac with Apple M1 chip (24 inch, 8GB RAM, 512GB) Silver (Renewed)
2021 Apple iMac with Apple M1 chip (24 inch, 8GB RAM, 512GB) Silver (Renewed)
Price not available
-
Apple iMac Pro 27in All-in-One Desktop, Space Gray (MQ2Y2LL/A) (Renewed)
Apple iMac Pro 27in All-in-One Desktop, Space Gray (MQ2Y2LL/A) (Renewed)
$1,599.00
-

About The Author

Author

MacHow2 is devoted to helping you get the most of of your Mac. We're passionate about all things Mac whether it's helping users with software recommendations or solving technical problems. If you've got any comments about this article, get involved by leaving a comment below. You can also contact us directly using the contact form at the top of the site. Please note that in the interests of transparency, MacHow2 may sometimes receive compensation from link clicks or vendors.

2 Responses

  1. AllFather

    This article is kind of lame and useless by saying that Windows PC is prone to virus and lack in design, really? We all know that if you want to see innovation in laptop space one can only find that in Windows world.

    Look at Surface Laptop Studio or Dell XPS 13 Plus or Lenovo Yoga 9i or Lenovo Thinkpad x1 fold they don’t tacky design and stupid notch which is an eyesore to designers. It lack facial authentication while windows counterpart have it for decades.

    Mac and iPhone are prone to virus read your the news dude. Dell XPS line has better 4k and color accuracy display than all the Mac’s mentioned above.

    I came to for you to help make a choice not to say trash about another platform. Let’s be real Windows 11 is much better design os than Mac OS Ventura. Windows 11 is modern unlike Mac that uses old preferences panel and some control is archaic and hasn’t been touched for decades. Next time focus on the article and don’t say trash about another platform we don’t want hear it when making choice for MacBook

    Reply
    • MacHow2

      Thanks for your thoughts. Most professional graphic designers choose Macs mainly for the reasons made in the article and although Windows 11 has come a long way both in terms of design and security, Macs are likely to continue being the computer of choice for graphic designers.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to MacHow2!

Sign up to get reviews, tutorials and special offers on Mac software!

error:

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close