Best Laptop & Software for Web Design & Graphic Design

As a Web & Graphic Design Instructor, I hear this question from students all the time:
“What kind of computer do you recommend I get?”

So, I finally decided to put together a list of my favorite hardware / software…

Recommended Computer

Without a doubt, I recommend Apple computers over PCs. There are many reasons for this recommendation, but rather than rehash the whole “mac vs pc” debate, I’ll give you the one reason that convinced my Administration to furnish my entire lab with 27″ iMacs:

“Industry Professionals Prefer Macs”

I have four design agencies on the Advisory Board fom my Digital Media Design program and all of their CEOs confirmed to my Administration that their studios were wall-to-wall Apple and that was sufficient justification.

When it comes to getting a laptop (Macbook Pro) vs a desktop (iMac), that is all about personal preference. You will get a more for your money from an iMac, but you will lose the portability. For those who want both a large screen and portability, I recommend getting a Macbook and simply hooking it up to an external monitory when your not on the go… Best of Both Worlds.

Regarding the specs for both the iMac and the Macbook Pro, my suggestion is always the same: “Get the absolute best configuration that you can afford.” Because these systems are so advanced and so small / thin, all of the internal components are soldered to the motherboard, so it’s not really possible to upgrade them later (like was possible in the past). As such, whatever configuration you buy now is going to have to last you for the life of the computer.

As of today, here is (the minimum) I recommend with what I’m actually using in the ():

13″ MacBook Pro or 21″ iMac

Processor: Intel i5 (Intel i7)
Memory (ram): 16gb
Hard disk: 500gb (1TB SSD)

For your convenience, here is a link to the Apple Education Store where you will save a couple hundred dollars for being a student (just enough to cover some of the taxes): (don’t use the top menu as it will take you out of the education store, instead scroll down and click the products)

And while you’re at it, you should get an external hard drive so you can take advantage of the backup software (called Time Machine) in macOS. This is the one I use: External Drive (4TB)


Recommended Software

Here is a list of software that I regularly use and endorse. Most will work on both Mac and PC, but some are Mac only.

Adobe CC (with Student Discount) →
MS Office →
Atom (ide) →
Codekit (preprocessing) →
Transmit (ftp) →
Mamp →
WP Migrate DB Pro →
Clear (iOS) → | Clear (macOS) →