Appropriate Mac for a Graphic Designer

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Jimmy*, May 19, 2008.

  1. Jimmy* macrumors newbie

    Jimmy*

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    #1
    Hi

    I've just read through the 'what set up' thread and thought I'd post here.

    My partner and I are graphic designers who both use mac's at work and at home we have an old G4 that runs CS3 very slowly and needs replacing.

    For the same price we're thinking of getting a MacBook Pro or a MacBook & iMac.

    Not sure which to go for; CS3 on the MBP will be fast, but will the iMac & MacBook be more than sufficient?

    I think I'd prefer the MBP (and eventually a nice big monitor), yet like the idea of having the 2 macs. Is the MBP really necessary for a print designer? Would I be missing out on much having a Macbook + imac instead?

    Thanks, Jimmy
     
  2. JasonElise1983 macrumors 6502a

    JasonElise1983

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    #2
    my set up is a macbook pro and a 20-inch external monitor. It works just fine for me, but really want a desktop now. To me, i don't think the MB or the iMac are really suited for print design any longer because they both only have glossy screens which makes everything appear sharper and more vibrant than it actually will print. I would get the macbook pro and then an external monitor. And later if you have the $$$$$ get a Mac Pro to go with it.

    -je
     
  3. jkaz macrumors 6502

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    #3
    I am a Graphic Comm student and will be incorporating Graphic Design this fall.

    I have both a MacBook and a MBP, I got the MacBook first.

    After getting the MBP, I really don't use my MB for anything other than email and internet.

    I wouldn't recommend anyone in a professional graphics field to be without a pro model.
     
  4. gazfocus macrumors 68000

    gazfocus

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    #4
    I'm a web design student at university and I do a lot of graphic design as a part of that (making banners, page layouts, etc) and I also design flyers and marketing material for my church.

    I currently have a Macbook Pro and although I've thought about selling it a couple of times, I couldn't be without it. I don't think the Macbook would be sufficient enough purely down to the size of the screen.

    I am currently looking for a 2nd mac now to replace my windows PC. (Have just bought a Dell laptop for when I need windows) and as soon as the free ipod offers start, I will be looking to order a Mac Pro.

    Basically, I would advise getting the Macbook Pro, but bear in mind that at some point, you will end up wanting a desktop solution too :)
     
  5. xhambonex macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    I agree. Although having two computers would be nice and all, you will be able to do everything on one MBP. The glossy screens on the mb and iMac really are not to great for someone in the design field. MBP 15.4 or 17 is really what you should decide on. I have 15.4" 2.4ghz 2gr ram and run Abode Design Premium for school all the time and have no problems and am very satisfied. (I'm in industrial design) Matte screen of course.
     
  6. Jimmy* thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jimmy*

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    #6
    Thanks for the replys.

    Sounds like a macbook isn't suitable. Though am I right in thinking an iMac would be fine for CS3 etc, apart from the screen? Wondering why they dont come with matt screens.

    I'm leaning towards a 15" 2.4 2gb Macbook Pro + extra 2gb ram. I'm guessing I'll need a monitor eventually aswell.
     
  7. mrchainsaw5757 macrumors regular

    mrchainsaw5757

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    Sep 6, 2006
    #7
    Yes I agree, the MB just wouldn't be suitable. And the iMac technically would if it weren't for that glossy screen like everyone was saying. I have a MBP, and use it daily with CS3. I love it, and the external monitor thing really does help.
     
  8. xhambonex macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    It has been a hot topic of debate. They used to offer glossy as an option, like they do with the MBP. I tend to feel like the iMac and macbook are consumer use products and the MBP and Mac Pro are the obvious pro models. Unfortunately, the iMacs have the power to do lots of "pro" work, they would just be better suited with a matte screen for the individuals doing more professional type graphics work. (or photo/film editing and all that stuff)
     
  9. mlblacy macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Hi Jimmy, ok... I'll chime in on this one. Since the usual drumbeat almost always says that "if you are a pro... or intend to be one, you need a pro". I run a busy, successful studio and run most of my work on my 24" iMac. I have been working professionally as an art director for 25+ years, and before working for myself (7+ years now) I used to be a Design & Production director for a magazine/contract publishing group. In that capacity I also specc'd & set-up systems for our office and other design hub operations as well. All this is just to provide a bit of background on my 2 cents, lol...

    I would strongly advise (especially since you are the one dropping the dime), going with the 24" iMac & a lesser powered laptop like the MacBook (for wait for the coming refresh on the laptop, which is likely soonish). I too replaced an older g4, and had the order made out for a new pro (which was hovering frighteningly close to the 7000K mark), but the 24" iMac came out and I took a gamble. Honestly, at that pricepoint I could buy a new one in 2 years and still come out cheaper, and know the new one would be faster than what I had now. At that point the complaint was that the screen was TOO bright, and that folks would never be able to calibrate it due to the excessive screen brightness (not true). Now the newer models have the glossy screen (not my preference), but I think you will be able to calibrate that as well without too many problems. It worked for the glossy high-end CRTs.

    The 24" will be a godsend in terms of workspace. Once you get your palettes/tools and your document itself, you will surprised how little is left. A laptop is really NOT what you will be wanting to work on as a primary workstation as a designer. MAX the ram out at 4gb. I run CS suite, Quark, Aperture etc. with no problems whatsoever. I produce entire publications, advertisements, billboards, do high-end retouching for professional photographers & corporations... all from my iMac. I feel like I made the right choice with few regrets so far. You do not need a "pro" system to be a pro, don't fall for it...

    I just bought an Air as well after much soul-searching. I find that choice as well to be a good one (for me at least). I run all the same programs (well not aperture, as my image archive is tied to my iMac), with few issues. The Air is not intended to be my primary workstation, but it works perfectly well while working on the road, or bringing work to clients. I used to lug around a 5-6lb laptop, and I do not miss it at all!

    One last note on the glossy screen... I would also guess even the macbook pros would be a bit trickier to calibrate. Most laptops suffer from a field of/angle of view issue... meaning, the angle of the screen, or your position l to r, changes how the screen appears dramatically. Which is why I always look like a freak bobbing my head up and down and left to right, and also changing the screen angle on the computers before I buy one. This issue is way larger than the glossy/matte concern (unless you have some sort of rigged headgear that ensures constancy of head/screen positioning, lol).

    Oh... the big thing you will be missing is the money (if you go the pro route). UNLESS you are doing video, in which case I say get a pro...

    If you are worried about the 24" glossy being a dealbreaker, opt for a previous generation refurb white 24". The biggest issue there is the 3gb ram limit, which is about the minimum you would want (4gb gives you a bit more wiggle room).
    cheers & good luck.
    michael
     
  10. jkaz macrumors 6502

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    #10
    A few questions and comments:

    1. How long have you been setting up systems using Apple computers?

    2. With a laptop, an extra screen and extra full keyboard and mouse, it's fairly comparable system to an iMac with an extra screen. (A little less so since the recent iMac update)

    3. If you have a client come to your office and brings his MBP, sees you with a white or even black MacBook, is he going to be impressed? Everyone can have their own opinion on this one- here's mine: The guts of the machine on a Pro are superior, and in an appearances means something occupation, hands down the pro line is what you want.

    4. on getting a white refurb: see #3

    mlblacy, I'm not trying to cut your points down or make a personal attack, I just really disagree with your general opinion and I'm trying to help OP
     
  11. Jimmy* thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jimmy*

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    #11
    Thanks, mlblacy. I had a feeling I couldn't rule out the iMac and it's good to hear a designer more than happy with one. Good price, too. I've no interest in video editing - only design; typography, layouts, layered photoshop files, bridge etc. I use a Mac pro at work, yet couldn't afford one for home.

    The other thing is we plan to travel mid 2009, for a year abroad, and a laptop would be useful. I'm really not sure. Maybe we could get a laptop nearer the time and in the meantime go for the 24" iMac as you suggest . . .
     
  12. jkaz macrumors 6502

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    #12
    i would wait to find out how long he's been working with macs to gauge how his opinion fits in with your needs.

    Sure, an iMac would work, but so would a Mac Mini.

    If you are serious about being a Pro Designer, get the pro machine.
     
  13. JasonElise1983 macrumors 6502a

    JasonElise1983

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    #13
    ok..i disagree with the mentality that a pro uses a pro machine. A "pro" can make beautiful work on an iMac G3, it's just easier on a newer computer. Honestly spec wise, they are all great computers. As i said earlier, the screen turns me off on the iMac, and ANYONE in the print field professionally can't argue that it makes things too sharp and more vibrant. It's a great computer, and will work great. Honestly, get it and an external color accurate matte screen and it would be the perfect set up. But...i love my MBP + Display set up...because i use the 15.4" MBP screen as a palette space and the external as work space. It's a beautiful thing really. And no...i didn't buy an Apple monitor because the cost too much. Am i worried if a client comes in my office and is impressed? no...i want them to be impressed with my work, not how big my *screen* is.

    -je
     
  14. theLastBeatle macrumors member

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    Oct 25, 2007
    #14

    its important to state what type of graphic design you expect to do with the system. is it basic one to four page documents or is it multi page brochures with tons of high rez imagery. are you building trade show graphics. do you work with large photoshop files?

    this is important, if your doing complex illustrations in illustrator, or retouching large (over a gig) photoshop files, or are using indesign with pages and pages of hirez imagery than i would not get a laptop. you would need more of a work station. i would say a laptop (even the pro laptops) can leave you wanting more power with complex documents. these days you need a graphics card that can process all the data that even indesign demands. I would go for a high end iMac at the very least if your doing anything heavy.

    if your doing an occasional four page brochures or maybe dvd covers than a laptop would be alright. just know that being an artist myself who works in the industry of advertising, i would not use anything less than a high end iMac and would prefer a tower. a laptop i wouldn't even consider because i cant afford to be in a position of needing more power to get a job done.

    i know people will say a macbookpro would be fine for photoshop work but what people dont realize is that some photoshop graphic files can be 2gigs or more and you need a tower for that large of a file. also illustrator will bog down and so will indesign on complex files so the better the graphics card the better the performance and laptops arent known for their robust graphics cards.
     
  15. DesignerOnMac macrumors 6502a

    DesignerOnMac

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    #15
    All this is good advise. The glossy screen is NOT hard to calibrate. I actually prefer it over the matt. (In the old days, CRT's were glossy also, so I do not know what the beef is about glossy LCDs.)

    The 24" screen real estate is super also.

    Since you can not do any upgrading except for the RAM, I would suggest a good external HD for back up.
     
  16. Jimmy* thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jimmy*

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    #16
    Thanks for all the help.

    I work in publishing, designing book covers and insides. The indesign files can have 10, 20, 30 spreads all linked with many psd, ai, PDF. On top of that I like to have bridge open, Linotype font explorer. My psd's can get up to 200mb, but never in the 2gb area.

    Interesting to hear different views on the imac and Mbp. Sounds like they're both great and would do the job.
     
  17. jkaz macrumors 6502

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    #17
    other questions:

    When did you buy your last computer?

    How experienced are you with laptops?

    Have you ever owned or had at your disposal a MBP?

    How long does this current purchase need to last you?

    How many other machines are you going to have available to you and how many people need to work on them?
     
  18. mlblacy macrumors 6502

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    #18
    how long...

    Hi, no offense taken, well... not too much, lol. How long have I been designing systems with Apple... well, the magazine I worked with was probably among the first dozen to switch over to a mac based D&P. Before that we had in-house verityper typesetting, and BEFORE that we used a type-house to generate columns of text that we used to cut apart and paste up with hot waxer (sorry, didn't want to show my age here, lol). Also, I have a LONG track record of being creative in seeking solutions that offer cost-savings in different ways (I was probably the first Art Director who used photo-cd scans for smaller and incidental artwork. I worked with a division of Kodak out of Rochester who helped me overcome some of the issues with the technology. This was a move my separation/scanning house poo pooed and ridiculous and told me that the quality would NEVER past muster. They by the way were selling scans for 100-1000. However when I agreed to run a challenge test, they failed to discern which was which. End of story I probably saved 250k on seps using that technology alone. When scanners got better I pushed the envelope and started scanning more and more images in house, and saved even more money.). I interned at Esquire in the design department (one of the very few interns they have had, I am told) and was trained by an elder fellow in the art of using a Typositor for setting headline type. The point is this (in case I lost ya), I am a grey-beard in the design world, not some newbie with no street cred. I have a more than a few design awards. (and even some production awards).

    BUT even if I was a newb, and worked as a designer/artist, my points and opinion would be valid. Fair enough?

    Yes indeed a pro laptop with an extra screen & keyboard would works as well (probably at a higher price point though).

    I don't need a computer to impress anyone, hopefully my work speaks for itself. Its not what you use, but how you use it that matters.

    I did purchase an Air, and most clients almost moan orgasmically when they fondle it. But I purchased it for the small & light factor, not for the fan-boy appeal. I pondered the decision for awhile, and was almost turned off by the anti-air backlash. Like the iMac the decision proved to be a good one for me.

    I do not dispute that the Pro is superior, however I just question if it is needed in all situations. Most folks only work so fast, and a faster computer likely won't get that much more accomplished (sad but true). Honestly I do not spend a lot of wasted time watching spinning beachballs, if I did I would say buy a pro...

    If it was my money I would say go iMac, no question about it. If I was working for someone else I would say sure I needed a 7-10k machine to do my work...

    Working for yourself every dollar saved is pure profit (write-offs or not). Keeping your fixed costs and expenses low means the difference between a businesses success and failure.

    cheers, hope I didn't come off as too snarky or cocky... I really did not intend to.

    michael
     
  19. theLastBeatle macrumors member

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    #19
    20 to 30 spreads with PSDs at 200mb being the norm...hmm. depends on how much imagery. i would definitly say a minimum system requirement would be the top of the line iMac (MINIMUM). this is all subjective but im trying to do my best. you see if you are using transparency effects and photoshop files with a transparent background, indesign will bog down a bit. sometimes the screen wont redraw so you have to zoom in then out to force the computer to redraw.

    if its a question of money than the iMac maxed out would be good since you get a monitor with the system. If your deadlines are tight (im sure they are) you'll be pulling your hair and bitting your nails with anything less. i just shake my head when i hear people saying to buy a laptop for graphic design. sure maybe a very small group of graphics professionals can get by doing small jobs with a laptop and the occasional big job but for pushing artwork of large pubs or brochures with photoshop, illustrator, indesign, entourage, and word all running at once to meet a deadline thats fast approaching? i just cant see a laptop fitting the need. laptops are great for web work though.

    video card, ram, system bus and a fast hard drive.
     
  20. xhambonex macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    I would agree, a desktop would be much more efficient. However, I wouldn't recommend an iMac, then talk about professional print deadlines. That glossy screen would cause some color issues for professional work.
     
  21. nick9191 macrumors 68040

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    #21
    Just to point out that the iMac is faster than the Macbook Pro.

    To be honest their isn't a single system in the current lineup that fits your needs. The iMac is glossy (go to an Apple store, check it out, and see if you can live with it). Alternatively buy another display for your iMac, and have dual display, and use the new display for all your graphics work.

    The Mac Mini is likely not powerful enough, and the Mac Pro is too powerful (you can drop down to the single CPU but its still 2300 dollars).

    So all you can do is buy the Macbook Pro + external screen, but by the time you've done that, the single CPU mac pro + screen is only a couple hundred more, and will be a hell of a lot faster.
     
  22. jkaz macrumors 6502

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    #22
    Maybe we are to the point where the OP can give us the specs on the models he is considering?
     
  23. macintosh tech macrumors member

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    Apr 28, 2008
    #23
    This argument is used a lot, "CRTs were glossy!" That does not make them any better, or imply that glossy LCDs are fine in light of this information. There really is not a logical connection.

    First, CRTs were pretty much the only option at the time. Meaning you had to use one and thus you had to use a glossy display. We also found that glossy is bad for the eyes.

    Second, why would we go from CRTs, which in your argument are assumed to be at least ok due to their necessary prominence, to matte screens? If indeed CRTs were fine, why would we move away from their superbness? Could it be that glossy is bad for the eyes?

    That is the problem with your argument, it leaves out the fact that CRTs were essentially the only thing one could use at the time. From this the conclusion is drawn that they must have been just fine.

    It is similar to this claim: "The new iMacs are selling very well, people must love the glossy screens!"

    Can you spot the problem? Well, just in case, the problem is that the iMacs only come in glossy and thus if a person wants one they must buy them, and hence they get a glossy screen. From this, the a conclusion of people buying them as a positive proof for their likability is fallacious. Just as using the prominence of CRTs as a positive argument for glossy displays will not work.

    This of course does not show that glossy displays are bad, and it is not meant to. Each type has their negative qualities. Reflective displays are indeed bad for the eyes. I am sure people can list off some negative they find in regard to matte displays.

    I think you get the point, so I will leave it at that. This is not in direct response to you, more indirect as many people use this fallacious argument.
     
  24. mlblacy macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Hi Jimmy, if you have the need for a machine now get the iMac. IF you can hold off on the laptop DO... there is another refresh coming (isn't there always, lol). Chances are pretty good the new machine will be faster, more powerful, and maybe even cheaper. The fact that you have a pro at work, yet realize you might not be able to swing the coin on your home system, is a pretty good indicator that you should lean towards the imac. Like I said before I was just about to push the "buy" button on the pro when the 24"s came out. I couldn't swing the 30" screen, and the pro screens were only 23", so I figure I gained a bit there.

    Like you I replaced an aging g4. Honestly the speed difference between the iMac and the old g4 was pretty staggering, especially since the g4 was still running OS9. Most folks who are happy don't really take the time to say so, yet the disgruntled ones usually do. I also know I am not the only "pro" who choose an iMac over a pro system. Furthermore the iMac was replacing a so-called "pro" system (yet it still kicked its butt, and offered the added benefit of some extra wiggle room by my feet... I know my trusty office assistant appreciates it too, as he curls up on my feet while I work).

    On the CRT glossiness, I am not saying I liked them that way... they just were (much like the iMacs are now). If I had my druthers I would prefer matte, and would probably pay an extra 200-250 for the option. But that too is not currently an option. I don't know why Apple only has the glossy screens, but I am guessing it is that they are perceived as sexier or higher quality to the average joe. I do know that often the glossy screens have an increased contrast ratio and richer blacks (at least with with HDTVs). The glossiness can be distracting in some environments, I can only say though I really don't get bothered by the glossy screen on my air, even outdoors. But I do have to say the field of view issue is there, as it is with most laptop screens.

    Regarding horsepower sufficient to meet looming print deadlines... the imac maxed out would be more than fine. I routinely produce entire publications on mine, producing press ready high res PDFs. I also work on large large pshop files 1-2gb in size...

    Free advice is often worth what you pay... but you have quite a bit to think about given the various positions some of us have shared. I am guessing you can look up what positions folks have taken in the past (useful for spotting the trolls I would bet). I have occasionally stumbled across a similar thread and offered my experiences with choosing the iMac over the pro. Furthermore, when the iMac comes in a 30" version I will snap it up that day (even if it only comes with the dreaded glossy screen).
    cheers,
    michael
     
  25. popcornjuice macrumors newbie

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    May 5, 2008
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    earth
    #25
    hi, i am a graphic designer / illustrator. coming from using an imac g3 to a flat panel imac g4 to a mac pro octo, i love the power upgrade. not to mention dual 20.1 monitors are well suited for cs3 & brushes.

    there are quite a few designers that rave about the new 24" imac & if i was not already satisfied with my MP purchase that would be something i would eyeball due to the screen size & processor upgrades from the fatboy style imac.

    it really depends on what your needs are & if you need the extra horsepower so to say. i went with the MP because i wanted to choose what extras i wanted to customize my palette.

    i still use my macbook when i need to tote stuff along, but wish i could get the mac tablet axiotron modbook.

    anyone want to chime in on a used g5 tower?
     

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