iMac 2019 doing video and audio editing

The iMac is Apple's professional-level desktop computer that is often used in the creative community because it's great for graphic design, music creation, podcasting, writing, video editing, and much more. It's one of the best options for graphic design, whether you're just a beginner or a pro, and while it's a bit on the pricey side (not as much as the iMac Pro though), it'll be a worthwhile investment for your graphic designing career.

Our pick

27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display 2019

The iMac for everyone

The 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display provides the best picture and color quality you can get for a Mac, and this is incredibly important when it comes to graphic design. Plus, having at least 16GB of RAM means the iMac should be able to handle anything you need to run, and a 512GB SSD is a good amount of storage to start with (you can choose more if need be), and it's super fast.

Who should buy the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display

Anyone looking to do graphic design, whether as a beginner, a student, or even a professional, should definitely be looking at the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display with at least 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD storage. This is also the computer for those who want an extremely powerful machine that is capable of tackling anything and don't mind losing portability, as this is designed to be permanently at a desk.

Is it a good time to buy this iMac?

Absolutely! Apple just refreshed the entire iMac line (sans the iMac Pro) in early 2019, so you're getting the latest and greatest specs for the 27-inch iMac right now.

Reasons to buy

  • Loaded with Intel's new Coffee Lake processor and AMD graphics
  • Large 27-inch display
  • Retina 5K means you get the best picture and color quality
  • Starts off at 3.0Ghz, 6-core, Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz
  • Customize it to suit your needs (at least 16GB RAM recommended)

Reasons not to buy

  • Options with more power
  • Not portable
  • You don't need the newest hardware
  • You're on a budget

The 27-inch iMac is perfect for graphic designers

iMac 2019 in home office

If you're looking for a machine that will be a permanent fixture in your home office for basic graphic designing, then you really can't go wrong with the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display. In fact, it might even be more than you need for most tasks, but it should be able to handle whatever you manage to throw at it beautifully and without any issue.

Apple silently updated the iMac line in early 2019 with brand new Intel Coffee Lake processors and fresh AMD graphics, so you are getting the latest and greatest right now with these iMac offerings. In fact, these new specs are so good that the iMac is just slightly less fast than the 2017 iMac Pro.

The 27-inch line starts off with a 3.0GHz 6-core 8th gen Intel Core i5 processor that can be turbo boosted to 4.1GHz, so this is definitely a workhorse. Whether you are just doing some basic graphic design work in Adobe Creative Suite or even some video editing in Final Cut Pro, the new iMac should be able to handle it flawlessly.

The 2019 27-inch iMac is just slightly less fast than the iMac Pro, so it should be able to handle anything you throw at it flawlessly.

While it's up to you on picking out which processor and graphics card for your iMac, we do highly recommend going with at least 16GB of RAM. The base model 27-inch iMac is upgradeable up to 32GB, whereas the mid-level and top-tier models are upgradeable to 64GB RAM. We like to go with 16GB as the minimum for all-around performance, and you can configure the RAM higher to fit with your graphic designing needs. If you're doing more basic stuff, then perhaps 32GB would be fine. But if you plan on working with more resource-intensive programs, then you should go with a model that is capable of 64GB of RAM.

As for storage, we'd also recommend at least a 512GB SSD. Flash storage means your computer will be up and running faster, and data transfer speeds are quicker than with traditional hard drives. With 512GB of space, it should be enough for the minimum, considering how cheap external hard drives are these days. But if you prefer to keep all of your files around locally versus in cloud storage or external hard drives, then you should look into getting a 1TB drive, either Fusion (traditional hard disk and SSD) or just SSD (this will be pricey).

When it comes to the display, the Retina 5K display from Apple is one of the best in the market. It has 5120x2880 screen resolution, provides one billion colors and 500 nits of brightness. It also uses the wider P3 color gamut for better color accuracy. This is because it uses red-green phosphor LEDs that equally represent red, green, and blue rather than white LEDs. This means images on the screen appear even more vivid and reveal greater detail with balance and precision. You just don't get the same effect with other displays, making this perfect for those working with graphic design.

Whether you're just a student looking to get into graphic design, or if you're doing graphic design work at the beginner or professional level, a 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display will be more than enough for most in the industry.

Alternatives to the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display

Is the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display not quite what you were looking for? Here are some other alternatives to consider.

Runner-up

iMac Pro

More power, more power!

If you need even more power than what the regular iMacs currently offer, then you should get an iMac Pro. You can get up to 18 cores in the iMac Pro, Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz, 128GB RAM, 4TB SSD storage, and more. However, such powerful performance does not come cheap.

The iMac Pro is definitely the best iMac for graphic designing (and pretty much everything else, including VR), but it's a bit out of reach for many people due to the price. Even though it's a little over a year old (late 2017 release), it still beats out the new iMacs just slightly. If you're looking for the Mac that can do it all, and you have the cash to spare, then the iMac Pro is a great choice.

Portable pick

15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

Graphic design on the go

The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar comes with an i7 or i9 processor, as well as 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD, and 16GB RAM. It should be more than enough for all of your graphic designing needs while you're out-and-about. Plus, the Touch Bar is a cool, useful feature.

If you need a machine that's portable to take with you for your graphic design work, then you can't go wrong with the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. The 15-inch screen is a decent size to work with, and it's Retina with True Tone technology. The MacBook Pro should be able to handle most of your tasks without issue, and it comes with 16GB of RAM.

Bottom line

The 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display is still our top pick for most graphic designers for a few reasons. The best reason is that it has just been updated, so you are getting the latest and greatest processors and specs. If you go with at least 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, you should have a machine that is lightning fast and handles programs like Adobe Creative Suite seamlessly. The display is one of the best around with precise and accurate color depiction and image detail, making it perfect for graphic design work.

It also starts off at a reasonable price for what it does, and if you don't have space for a 27-inch display, there is also a 21.5-inch model that also costs less. If you need even more power and have the money, then go with the iMac Pro. For portability, pick up a 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Our pick

27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display 2019

The iMac for everyone

The 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display provides the best picture and color quality you can get for a Mac, and this is incredibly important when it comes to graphic design. Plus, having at least 16GB of RAM means the iMac should be able to handle anything you need to run, and a 512GB SSD is a good amount of storage to start with (you can choose more if need be), and it's super fast.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Christine Chan is a Windows-turned-Mac fan for over a decade now. Her first Mac was a white polycarbonate MacBook back in 2008, and she's been using Macs ever since. She knows a thing or two about the Mac and what they're used for.

Rene Ritchie Rene Ritchie has been covering the personal technology industry for a decade. An outspoken analyst and critic, he writes at iMore.com/vector, podcasts at applepodcasts.com/vector, and you can find his show at youtube.com/vectorshow. Follow him @reneritchie on Twitter and Instagram.

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