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Best Computer for Adobe Creative Cloud

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› Best Computer for Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Published on October 2, 2018

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. If you are looking for the short-list of favorite computers for Creative Cloud, we've included it here as well, listing both desktop computers and laptops.

Best Computers for Creative Cloud 2018, Laptops and Desktops:

  • Microsoft Surface Book 2
  • Apple MacBook Pro
  • Acer Aspire V17 Nitro
  • Lenovo Z70
  • Asus ROG G752VL
  • Microsoft Surface Studio 2
  • Apple iMac

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, 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 Creative Cloud 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 Computers 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. If you are looking to use a laptop computer for Creative Cloud use, these requirements eliminate most low-cost notebooks or laptops. Higher-end laptops, such as the Microsoft Surface Book 2 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, where a computer with a dedicated GPU is helpful.

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 Studio for desktop computers, and the Microsoft Surface Book 2 for laptop computers. The Surface Studio is an all-in-one computer, available with a dedicated graphics processor and also a 28-inch display that supports both touch and pen input. This functionality makes it a great computer for Creative Cloud users. The Surface Book 2 is not to be confused with the Microsoft Surface Pro, which has a slower processor and no graphics card. The difference between the Surface Book 2 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 2 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 2 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. The 15-inch model of the Surface Book 2 is the best notebook computer for Creative Cloud, as it includes a fast processor, a dedicated GPU, a substanital amount of RAM memory and as an added bonus, also uses a solid state hard drive for storage, which is faster than traditional hard drive storage.

Adobe has helped make this possible by expanding the touch and pen controls in Windows 10, but it has been Microsoft who has taken advantage of this opportunity to produce a powerful notebook for creative professionals such as those using the Creative Cloud.

Choosing between a Desktop or Laptop computer for Creative Cloud

As graphics capabilties, memory (RAM) and processor speed are important, these need to be the critical factors to evaluate when buying a computer to use for Creative Cloud use. Laptop computers have made considerable advances in recent years. This means that both laptop and desktop computers are suitable for Creative Cloud use. If portability is important, than a well-equipped laptop will run the Creative Cloud successfully. Beyond our top choices of the Surface Book 2 and MacBook Pro, there are many other fine laptops worth considering, including the Acer Aspire V17 Nitro,  Lenovo Z70, and Asus ROG G752VL. We do find screen size to be important, and suggest considering an external monitor display to use when working on page layouts or video editing projects.

If portability is not critical, we are big fans of both the Apple iMac and also Microsoft Surface Studio 2. Both provide high quality displays, great aesthetics, and well equipped processors, memory, and graphics. The Surface Studio 2 has the added benefit of touch and pen input. The natural interface makes an easy transition to the Surface Studio for users who spend many hours working on phones and tablets each day. The Surface Studio 2 is well-equipped for all levels of Creative Cloud use, including Photoshop, After Effects, and Premiere Pro as it makes use of the latest NVIDIA graphics, with a choice of either the GeForce GTX 1070 that includes 8GB of dedicated graphics memory (GDDR5) or the GTX 1060 with 6GB of graphics memory. The Surface Studio 2 has 2TB SSD storage, offering fast opening and saving of even the largest files, along with either 16 GB or 32 GB of RAM memory. The Surface Studio 2 specifications are more than sufficient for the most demanding Creative Cloud projects.

Overall there are many good choices for computers for Creative Cloud use from a number of manufacturers, and we find the Surface products to be worth a look, even if you are a Mac user.

About the author

Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the publisher and editor of the Digital Classroom book series, which have sold more than one million copies. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HP. An expert on web analytics and digital marketing, he delivers Google Analytics training along with workshops on digital marketing topics. 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.