Best Computer for Adobe Creative Cloud
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Published on July 11, 2016
As the author of the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, and a 20 year user of Adobe’s digital design tools, I’m often asked the question: what’s the best computer for Adobe Creative Cloud? Sometimes the question is phrased slightly differently: Is a Mac or Windows PC better for Adobe Creative Cloud? Regardless of how the question is asked, the answer depends upon a number of factors that are described below.
Mac or PC for Adobe Creative Cloud
Since the advent of the Creative Suite, now known as the Creative Cloud, Adobe has done a good job of making their tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign quite similar in the way they operate across these two platforms. The tools, menus, options, and panels are all located in the same place in both the Mac and Windows versions of Adobe Creative Cloud. You don’t give-up anything when using the Creative Cloud on either the Mac or Windows operating systems. This makes the Mac vs. Windows for the Creative Cloud question much less relevant.
There are more important questions if you are trying to decide between using Creative Cloud on either a Mac or Windows PC. Will you be using Adobe Creative Cloud as part of a corporate computer environment? If so, what does the IT department support both Mac and Windows operating systems? If they only support one, then you’ll save yourself many headaches and the trouble of self-help by selecting the environment that they support. If you are comfortable being your own IT support staff, then you’re free to select the platform of your choice. But because of the similarities between the Creative Cloud on both Mac and Windows, there is no reason to argue strongly for one platform or the other. The other deciding factor in whether you will want to work on Mac or PC is whether you have exceptionally strong skills in one operating system or the other. If you live in the Windows operating system or have a deep love for everything Mac, then you should continue to use these systems.
At American Graphics Institute, both Mac OS and Windows computers are used for the various Adobe courses, even within the same class. Although students pick the platform of their choice, once the Adobe Creative Cloud applications are started, students in Photoshop classes or InDesign courses generally can’t tell the difference between the Mac and Windows versions because Adobe has worked diligently to keep their appearance and functionality so they are identical.
Best Computer for Adobe Creative Cloud
The Adobe Creative Cloud tools tend to be used for more graphics than your typical office app. Creating a brochure using InDesign or editing a photo with Photoshop require certain aspects of your computer to have more capabilities than a spreadsheet or an email app. Any computer, whether a Mac or PC, will need three key components: a fast processor, enough RAM memory, and an adequate video processor. These requirements eliminate most low-cost notebooks. Higher-end notebooks, such as the Microsoft Surface Book or MacBook Pro generally are well equipped in all three areas. If you will be working on photo editing, video editing, or animation, the base configuration for these computers will not be sufficient, and you will want to get a computer with additional RAM memory and the more advanced video card, sometimes labeled as a discrete GPU. If you are buying a desktop computer, the higher-end iMac or advanced systems often sold for gaming by companies such as Dell also include these necessary items. With the most advanced iMacs, the discrete GPU may no longer be needed for most general Creative Cloud tasks as Apple is using the more powerful graphics processor from Intel. The exception to this is for video editing and special effects with the Creative Cloud apps of Premiere Pro and After Effects.
Most Innovative Computer for Adobe Creative Cloud
There is one hands-down winner for the most innovative computer for running Adobe Creative Cloud: the Microsoft Surface Book. This is not to be confused with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, which has a slower processor and no graphics card. The difference between the Surface Book and Surface are similar to the differences between the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Although Microsoft is a relative newcomer in the computer hardware business, they have produced systems that are part computer, part tablet, and perfect for creative professionals. The Surface Book and Surface Pro add both touch and stylus input support for Adobe Creative Cloud users. Previously users that wanted to work with a digital pen needed to attach a separate device to their computer, or buy a highly specialized display. Now the Surface Book and Surface Pro include support for drawing with a stylus in tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator. They also provides touch screen support in the Creative Cloud apps, for tasks such as panning and zooming. When not using the digital pen and touch screen, the Surface Book and Surface Pro run the Adobe Creative Cloud just like any other computer, which you can control with the touch-pad or mouse. Yet these systems provide the option of using both the touch screen or the pen.
Adobe has helped make this possible by expanding the touch and pen controls available in Window 8 and now Windows 10, but it has been Microsoft who has taken advantage of this opportunity to produce a powerful notebook for creative professionals.
About the author
Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the creator and editor of the Digital Classroom book series. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, and Microsoft. He delivers workshops relating to digital marketing, web analytics, SEO, and SEM. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.