Work is buying me a new iMac....what specs do I ask for? (graphic designer using Adobe CC)

Hi all Mac people smarter than me!
PLEASE HELP! My work is getting me a new computer (current 2015 iMac going to new intern) and I don’t know what specifications to request. I checked Adobe’s website for their specs recommendations, but they only list each app separately and I’d be running multiple apps at once, ideally.

[ About me: ]

  • I am a Graphic Designer
  • I work remote and use VPN to connect to the office (high security financial business)
  • I’m the only Mac user in the company (currently)

[ What I need from my computer: ]

  • I run multiple Adobe CC apps at once (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver)
  • I want to get into video editing and creation, animation, etc.
  • I do a lot of large-file photo editing

Any help, guidance, or direction for answers would be beyond appreciated. :slight_smile:

Sounds to me like you’ve got a pretty good case for an iMac Pro.

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I’d have to make a really good case for it, and this is where I’m at a loss for what to ask for specifically. I just don’t understand hardware specs. Any advice?

Do what I do… request all the upgrades and let them come back and say no. You can pare it back from there… :sunglasses:

Seriously, you should upgrade the GPU and CPU if you are going to do photo or video editing along with the Adobe stuff. I have an up-speced 2017 iMac and it’s great on that stuff. Of course, the iMac Pro would be better, and even the base configuration should be outstanding for your needs.

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I might read your report this way.

  • I am the only Mac user in the company
    –> The computer must also run Windows in addition to macOS. This translates generally to more cores + more RAM + larger hard drive.

  • I run multiple copies of …
    –> The computer must be able to run full bore on all possible cores with all possible threads.

  • I want to get into video …
    –> The RAM must be as large as possible. The graphics hardware must be as fast as possible.

  • I do a lot of large-file photo …
    –> Ditto for RAM and graphics hardware. This also says fast hard drive.

The definitives are:

  • more cores are required to run multiple copies of apps and for the (occasional) need to run Windows in a Virtual machine
  • must be hyper-thread capable

–> this translates to a requirement for an i7 processor rather than an i5 processor

  • max out the video speed

–> this will be one choice to help you select between different models of iMac or iMac Pro

  • max out the RAM

–> this will be an option after you pick the iMac or iMac Pro

  • max out the size + speed of the hard drive

–> this might suggest that you get a standard 1TB fusion drive (for on-board speed + moderate storage) and then add an external hard drive as needed for archival + backup + additional (slower) storage

I cannot suggest whether an iMac Pro is required instead of an iMac. I can suggest that an iMac with an i7 processor at the highest speed + 1TB fusion drive + maximum RAM could do what you need.

As to whether you get a 21.5in or a 27in or even argue for a second monitor … that is yet another decision tree.



I’d go for a 1TB or larger SSD, rather than the fusion.
The fusion has to pick and choose which files to make fast, the SSD is just fast throughout.

When you start getting into higher-end iMacs, the base model Pro is about $1300 more. Definitely worth consideration.


Never buy the 1tb Fusion drive. It has a much smaller SSD so you lose a lot of the performance advantage when using large files.

Your use case sounds exactly what the iMac Pro was designed for. Justifying the expense will be the hard part.

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Everything in life is a tradeoff. Fusion drives give most people a full SSD experience most of the time because of smart caching, while giving them much more affordable, and larger, internal storage. I wanted to keep my 36k+ iTunes Music Library intact on my internal drive so the Fusion Drive was the better option for me given my overall storage needs.


I sure wasn’t going to pay Apple an extra $600 for 1Tb SSD (instead of the stock 2Tb Fusion Drive), let alone $1400 for a 2Tb internal SSD. So never say never. :wink:

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Get the most RAM possible and the fastest Hard Drive (time is money!) to increase productivity. I am assuming a 27" iMac for the ability to have room for multiple windows and tool pallets which in turn make you more productive. Going with the iMac Pro vs a standard iMac isn’t just about the original cost but the Return on Investment. Since your current iMac is almost 4 years old, your company understands the need to keep up to date technology-wise.

You could also explain the need for an iMac Pro by stating one model is designed for consumers and the other is for Professionals (again, time is money).

Dear Kinney, this is the tool of your trade and you can definitely learn more about hardware specs. I am just moving from a 2010 iMac to a MacBook Pro. Here are some quick suggestions.

Avoid fusion drives and HDDs. I have a fusion drive in my iMac, it appears to be on its last legs and everything I try to get the machine to do results in a beachball. I’m going SSD from now on.

Get the very best GPU you can. I looked at a 3d benchmark site and here’s what I found. Larger number is better.

2010 iMac Radeon HD 5750 1,443
2018 Mac Mini Intel UHD 630
2018 MBA Intel UHD 617
2018 MBP 13 Iris Plus 655 1,962
2018 MBP 15 Radeon Pro 560x 3,553
2018 MBP 15 Radeon Pro Vega 20 5,861
2017 iMac Radeon Pro 580 7,753
2017 iMac Pro Radeon Pro Vega 56 11,897
2017 iMac Pro Radeon Pro Vega 64 11,933
eGPU Radeon Pro 580 7,753
eGPU pro RX Vega 56 11,405
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I don’t have a problem with the larger fusion drives, just the 1tb version. My wife’s iMac has a 3tb Fusion and it performs very well due to the 128gb SSD as opposed to the 32gb SSD in the 1tb version. She needed over 1tb of space and the Apple SSD prices for that size was just too high.

This depends on who you are justifying to at your company. If it’s the IT department, just mention the types of work you do - e.g. super hi res photo and video editing, large professional applications running simultaneously, super large photo/graphic/video storage. Likely there are much fewer people at the company with these types of requirements and they will understand the need for the highest end. Use some of the other replies here to suggest the iMac Pro for those reasons. If you are justifying to your business management, tell them for a few $K extra you can do your job twice as fast. How long will it take for that to pay off the investment? How much is your labor cost to them? And how much more work can you get done and quicker to make design changes and multiple tries of innovative design choices for them to choose in the same amount of time? Whether I was in IT or your business manager, it would be no sweat for me to defend up the chain the need for our graphics designer to have the highest end computing resources. The quality, speed, and creativity you produce will be invaluable in comparison to an IT decision like this.

I put in all my specs and IT is counter-proposing dropping it down to a 21" iMac or getting a PC setup. I feel like I’m moving backwards. This is the email I got from my Top Boss (direct boss is on vacation for the next 1.5 weeks) working with IT:

[IT] gave [Top Boss] the options associated to the requested hardware. {Top Boss] is reaching out to [Direct Boss] to understand the 27" iMac Requirement. 27" limits the options to meet the software requirements.

27" iMac

  • Cost of a 27" imac will cost $3,099.

Other IOS options include:

  • 2 - 24" samsung 4k monitors and a souped up Mac Mini, for $2,400.

Windows options include:

  • 28" Surface Studio All-in-one (ranked best computer for graphic designers) for $3,600
  • HP Envy 34" curved all-in-one Windows OS for $2,100
  • Dell XPS Tower with 2 - 24" Samsung 4k Monitors for $2,600

I’ve only ever worked on Macs so I don’t want to switch to a PC. I also don’t understand how a 27" iMac won’t be able to meet software requirements but a Mac Mini or a 21" iMac will…??

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21" iMac will be comparatively costly for the price because you are stuck with the RAM it comes with (and Apple overcharges for larger RAM configs) as well as lower-specced processors. The 27" iMac has a pop-off door on the back that allows for user-installs of 3rd-party RAM for a fraction of what Apple charges. (Plus you get the bigger screen and better processor, etc.)

The Mac mini isn’t a bad choice if properly configured. Unfortunately, this model eschews the old model’s easy RAM install. But the price-performance is very good, and you can choose from a huge variety of affordable monitors in different sizes. The IT deptartment’s recommendation of a 24" Samsung monitor is laughable when excellent CHEAP 27" models abound.

Not sure what specs you needed (or just wanted) for your 27" iMac, but did you look up what the price would be for an equivalently-equipped Mini?

Sorry haven’t been on here in a while. Probably it’s all set for you by now. It still sounds like they are quibbling to me. They seem to recognize the power and are now talking about Mac vs PC. Hopefully you were able to defend the use of Mac vs PC for your work. You could throw in the extra costs of relearning software for the PC and disruption of the workflows you’ve developed. As to the size of the monitor - it’s the same argument. You work isn’t about text editing and email - its graphic/image/video work. Need the ability to see the details and the context of the whole picture at once.

Another thing you can do in these cases is to give some “benchmarks” on what other companies do and why, what the professionals in your industry do and recommend (you are a professional and in a profession of which most of them have limited to no knowledge so you’ll need to educate them). They’ve hired a race car driver to win a race — and now they want to give you a typical car off the lot because that’s the fleet they’ve bought. You have to help them understand — and appreciate the why. Still, I can’t fathom why they are quibbling unless they view your work the same as any other person. Compare what you do to that of Engineering. Probably they understand the needs for Engineering vs administrative or accounting pretty well.

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In this day and age the PC/MAC argument should be laid to rest once and for all. I just finished this same process with our IT department. Of course it helped that I am moving from a Mac Pro that has been in service since they day they bought it for me 10 years ago. That alone was enough to sway them to getting me a Mac again. (This time its an iMacPro, 14-core)

That guy telling you that you shouldn’t be asking for a 27inch screen spends his whole day on email and web reading his PC-biased content and telling employees what they can and can’t have. Id like to see him use Illustrator and Photoshop together with multiple palettes open on his little screen.

It really ticks me off when IT people play god by telling people how to do their jobs when they have no clue. Stick to your guns or tell them where to go!

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