Whether you’re taking your first steps in graphic design, or you’re a seasoned pro looking to upgrade and expand your existing creative kit, this buying guide brings you the essential tools you need to work smarter and more creatively.
Remember, being a good designer isn’t about having the latest hardware or software: ideas and execution are far more important than shiny new equipment. But it’s worth investing in the best kit you can afford. Here are 12 must-have tools to get you started…
The original Surface Book remains an amazingly high-quality 2-in-1 laptop. Sleek, stylish and powerful, it boasts a thin, bright and responsive touchscreen display and an accordion-like hinge that’s a masterpiece of industrial design. It’s still an excellent choice for designers – and even more so now that it’s cheaper, thanks to the release of the Surface Book 2.
However, if you have a bigger budget for a laptop, the new Surface Book 2 is even better. As well as a 13-inch option, there’s now a more designer-friendly 15-inch screen – both of which (like their predecessor) detach to become a slick Windows 10 tablet. This gives designers a uniquely flexible experience: Dell and HP counterparts don’t yet offer fully detachable screens.
Microsoft also wins on the screen, too. Apple’s Retina screens are crisp and stunning, but while you get 2560×1600 at 232ppi with a MacBook Pro, the Surface Book 2’s PixelSense display gives 3240×2160 at 260ppi.
Importantly, apps like Illustrator can be used in Tablet Mode, making the Surface Book 2 the ultimate on-the-fly sketchbook – but it also handles demanding tasks, such as video editing and 3D, with ease. For $3,299/£2,500 you get a 1TB SSD, quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU running at up to 4.2GHz with Turbo Boost, 16GB of RAM and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card with 6GB of VRAM.
Just invest in a decent monitor and keyboard if you’re using it instead of a desktop machine.