One factor above all makes laptops stand out for many designers: mobility. That said, no artist should compromise quality for convenience. Much depends on how a laptop for graphic designers can manage RAM intensive programs like Photoshop, Corel and Illustrator. So here are a few time-saving pointers to bear in mind before making that vital investment.
Together with visuals, processing specs top the list in terms of performance requirements. In most cases, graphic designers simply need a laptop that can do plenty of robust photoshop work as well as some lightweight video editing. A rule of thumb: don’t settle for anything less than 8 gigs. This is considered the bare minimum for graphic design computers. Two to four processing threads are usually sufficient as far as core numbers go. This is also a bare minimum requirement, and if you’re in the market for a quad-core or octo-core for instance make use of the opportunity. Anything to take processing pressure off your PC.
One of the great misconceptions surrounding processing speed is that Photoshop requires a high-speed graphics card or GPU (also known as a video card) for professional use. The truth is, the on-board video card will work perfectly fine for most Photoshop features. As far as Intel is concerned, an i5 or higher will handle the job. So unless you’re making use of Photoshop or Corel’s most advanced functions like the liquify tool, or happen to rely on Premiere Pro for heavy duty video-editing, there’s no real need to rush out and by a high-speed card from Nvidia or AMD just yet.
Professional software like Photoshop and faster graphics cards can push your working memory to it’s limit. Fortunately you can always upgrade your graphics card, but reasonably, you don’t want to settle for under 4GB RAM with less than a DDR3 1600. Also, make sure your laptop can accommodate extra RAM. Having room to grow will save you money in the longer term. That said, a graphic design laptop should last you five years or more without having to resort to RAM upgrades.
Storage space is vital for maximizing speed. No graphic designer worth their salt can stand to wait for an app to complete a few tasks. At the very least, two drives are usually necessary to keep things running smoothly. One drive will take care of running your apps while another will handle your data and source materials. The less moving parts there are, the better. So if you find a powerful laptop with an HDD, you can always swap it out for a solid state SDD.
For crisp and responsive performance, many graphic designers make use of more than two drives. Four or six drives will provide an effortless working experience.
All told, a 120 Gig drive should be able to handle your apps and operating system. Data will require more room than that, so anything between a 520 Gig and a terabyte will be a good place to start.
Supposing you do want a high-end graphics card, there are two key take-aways. Firstly, don’t focus on RAM alone. Specs like clock-speed and memory interface are the points that really matter. Secondly, if you’re in the market for a graphics card, don’t compromise on quality for a better price. Buy the best you can possibly afford.
Screen Size and Resolution
Even on a budget, anything under 15 inches seems tiny. Your design experience benefits from a larger canvas. Check out the various options in the resolution stakes, and if you’re working remotely from clients, bear in mind the webcam quality too.