Preferred Design, Web & Photo machine?


macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 2, 2011
The question that I would like to ask is: What is the preferred machine for users of Adobe CS web, photo & graphics software (not video) and has that preferred machine changed over the last five or so years? And, what size firm do you work/design for?


macrumors 603
Dec 31, 2002
Green and pleasant land
Firstly, I'll confess that I don't wrangle design software for a living (I have a programming background)... but I have owned Macs since 1992, and I've owned and used Photoshop since version 3 (that's version 3 in 1994, not CS3!). I've also used Dreamweaver and Flash on a range of machines.

In my experience, what Dreamweaver and Flash need is lots of screen real estate.

Photoshop needs processor speed, memory and fast disk access.

In the last 5 years, increases in processor speed on laptops has more than outstripped the processing requirements of Photoshop. Additionally, now that we have SSD drives, it's no longer necessary to use fast desktop drives/striped disks to make Photoshop really sing.

If you pay for a desktop (and I'm thinking specifically of the Mac Pro), you're paying a lot for it's ability to run lots of CPU cores - and Photoshop is poor at multi-core processing. The straight-line speed of Apple's consumer machines is often faster than the Mac Pro Xeon chips... so the Pro desktop gives you little (if any speed advantage).

So, in summary I'd say that while 5 years ago a good desktop would have blown away a laptop when running Photoshop, nowadays there's really little reason to choose the desktop unless you need to house lots of drives.

Personally, when I upgrade my current machine (a 2008 8 core Mac pro), I'm considering 'downsizing' to a 15 inch MBP - which I think will be plenty fast enough.


macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 2, 2011
Thanks, that was a great reply.

- David

P.S. - my question about the firm you work for was in case your firm dictated your machine choice.


macrumors newbie
Dec 3, 2011
Well I would do graphic design as a small side hobby I would use my iMac late 2009 27 inch 2.66ghz i5 with 8gb ram but my friend who's dad is a designer uses a 27 inch 2011 imac quad core i7 with 8 gb ram

Apple Key

macrumors 6502a
Jan 4, 2012
I need the portability of a laptop, so I use a MacBook Pro 17". I have an additional external display I can plug into at work.


macrumors 6502a
Oct 13, 2008
Wellington, New Zealand
for a desktop I have a hexacore MacPro... the hexacore appears to be the best balance of speed and cores because, as rightly noted above, Adobe products do not respond to multi-processing as well as we would like.

I also run a 15-inch macbook and an 11-inch macbook air. I use the air more than you would think. As an interaction designer, most of my work is screen resolution but it handles photoshop, etc. use fine.


macrumors regular
Jun 6, 2007
Louisiana, United States
Since I've moved up to the 27" screen of my iMac, I never looked back. For some reason I convinced myself for a few years that a notebook was sufficient as my main webdesign machine, but the 27" iMac improves my efficiency and work experience so much that I could never go back.

If you're usually on a small team (or alone / freelance) like myself, you'll probably want to have a decent amount of RAM (8GB+, I use 16 which is probably more than I actually "need" most of the time) to accommodate having to deal with the design side of thing at the same time as coding.

I think that the 27" iMac is the webdesigner's sweetspot, with the MacPro + ACD not offering much more in the way of usefulness vs. cost effectiveness. I could see the case for a MBP + external display, perhaps.