What is the Best Mac for UX design? - The Designer's Toolbox (2024)

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Many options are available when looking for a Mac that you will use for UI and UX design work. You can get a MacBook, an iMac, or in some cases, even an iPad. With Apple having that many options available, selecting the best Mac for UX design can be challenging. And that’s where this guide comes in. It will help you pick your next Mac as a UX designer.

  • Updated on August 26, 2022
What is the Best Mac for UX design? - The Designer's Toolbox (1)

Today, you can purchase a brand new Mac, buy a used one, or even rent your new Mac. If you add these options to the increasing number of Macs available, selecting the right Mac for you becomes even more challenging.

This guide takes the specific Mac requirements for UX designers into account. I’ve updated this post to include my recommendations for getting yourself the best Mac for UI and UX design based on Macs available in 2022. Alright. Let’s dive in.

What is the Best Mac for UX design? - The Designer's Toolbox (2)

In a rush? Get the best Mac for UX design today 👇

For UX designers, the best Mac is the latest MacBook Pro. The 14-inch M1 Pro version will get you more than enough performance.

Table of Contents

First, let’s determine what type of computer you need. As a UX and UI designer myself, I’ve had to pick a new computer multiple times. Based on that experience, I recommend you to go for aUX design laptop.

But why a laptop? Why not an iMac or even an iPad for UI and UX design? Here’s why.

As a UX designer, you will be on the road a lot, doing user research and usability testing. Therefore, being able to bring your work with you is essential. That’s why a laptop is a great choice. It is lightweight yet very strong in performance.

As you know, Apple’s laptop is called the MacBook. So the only question that remains is…which one? Which MacBook is best for UI and UX design?

Should I get a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air for UX design?

Apple laptops are called MacBooks. When selecting a MacBook you want to use for design work, you have two options.

  • TheMacBook Prois Apple’s top-of-the-line flagship laptop. One of the best in the world. It is expensive but powerful, making it an ideal laptop for visual or graphic designers, video and motion graphic designers, and UI and UX designers.
  • And then there’s theMacBook Air. Still a great laptop but more focused on lightweight tasks while on the road. The MacBook Air is cheaper than the MacBook Pro and less powerful. Because of this, the MacBook Air is unfit for designers that need to have a powerful Mac, like video and visual designers. This laptop might just do for designers using Sketch and Figma, but not by much.

That is the main difference. The MacBook Air is smaller, lighter, and cheaper. The MacBook Pro is more powerful and bigger, but that comes at a price.

I’ve done my research, asking about 100 UX designers that have been using a Mac of their own. Most of the UX designers I’ve asked (70%) preferred the MacBook Pro. Advocates of the MacBook Air stated that using a second monitor takes away the issue of the smaller screen. In addition, with the latest MacBook Airs featuring the M2 chip, you do your workas a UX designer without trouble.

For the remainder of this guide, I will only include MacBook Pro options for my recommendations. However, if you’re set on getting MacBook Air,you can get one on Amazon right here.

The best Mac for UI and UX design

After using multiple Macs, the best Mac for UI and UX design is the16-inch MacBook Pro with the new M1 Pro chip.

It has excellent performance, a bright and colorful screen, and fantastic battery life. I’d like to highlight the battery life. After 9 hours of video meetings, sharing my screen, and working in Figma, my MacBook Pro still had 21% battery left. All while listening to podcasts in the background. That’s super impressive!

Here’s the list of all MacBook Pro M1 Pro specs from the latest model available in 2022.

  • Screen size:16.2 inches.
  • RAM:16 GB (you can upgrade to 32 or 64 GB).
  • CPU:10-Core M1 Pro.
  • GPU:16-Core M1 Pro.
  • Storage:512 GB (you can upgrade to 1 TB).
  • Battery life:up to 21 hours.
What is the Best Mac for UX design? - The Designer's Toolbox (3)

This MacBook Pro gets you great value for money. With the current price of $2,499, this Mac is cheaper than the M1 Max Macs but more expensive than the M1 Macs.

You might be hesitant to pay this much for a laptop. I get that. However, if you look at it for the long term, you will see lower costs on a year-to-year basis since you will not have to replace your MacBook Pro for at least five years.

That’s way cheaper than buying a new cheap laptop every one to three years. In addition, these Macs retain an excellent resell value.

Something else to keep in mind is the cost of using UX and graphic design software. You will have to pay a monthly or yearly fee in most cases.

I wrote a post onhow to graphic design on Macwhich includes a list of (free) graphic design software you can use. It will save you money as well.

Cheap MacBook alternatives for UX design

If getting the brand new MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro chip is beyond your budget, you can choose the following alternative. This alternative is still a great Mac that you can use for almost any UI and UX design job.

2020 MacBook Pro M1

Last year’s 13-inch MacBook Pro is still a valid option for today’s UI and UX designers. It does have the new Apple Silicon M1 chip on board.

Of course, the M1 chip isn’t as powerful as the M1 Pro, but it does feature the great battery life I mentioned earlier. In addition, the 2020 MacBook Pro is future-proof for years to come because of the M1 it has onboard. Take a look at the specs below

  • Screen size:13.3 inches.
  • RAM:8 GB.
  • CPU:8-Core M1.
  • GPU:8-Core M1.
  • Storage:256 GB.
  • Battery life:up to 20 hours.

This MacBook Pro is significantly cheaper than its bigger brother. You could even upgrade this Mac to have more RAM and storage while still saving a lot of money.

Frequently asked questions

You might want to use your new Mac for more than just UX design. If that’s the case, I’m sure you have questions. For example, is the Mac I just recommended for UX design also a good fit for graphic designers? Should I go for Apple Silicon Macs? And if so, which one?

I will answer these and more frequently asked questions below.

Is a MacBook Air good for graphic design?

It will be difficult for a MacBook Air to be a good fit for graphic designers. Graphic design tools from the Adobe Creative Suite, like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, rely heavily on the GPU of your laptop. And that’s where the MacBook Air is lacking. It has less GPU power than its bigger brothers.

Here’s why the MacBook Air could have issues handling these GPU-reliant apps. According toAdobe’s help page, your Mac is recommended to have 16 GBs of RAM and 4 GBs of GPU memory. Unfortunately, Apple does not disclose how much memory the MacBook Air GPU has. Therefore, you’re taking a significant risk in getting a MacBook Air for graphic design without knowing the exact specs.

If you compare the MacBook Air to the bigger MacBook Pro, you’ll see that the MacBook Pro is better suited for the task. The MacBook Air starts at 8 GBs of RAM and is upgradeable to 16 GBs. On the other hand, the MacBook Pro already starts at 16 GBs of RAM and can be upgraded to a whopping 64 GBs of RAM.

I recommend going for a MacBook Pro or even an iMac if you have the budget for such a purchase for your graphic design work. You will have a stronger Mac that is future-proof and ready for your design work.

Should I buy an Apple Silicon Mac?

Yes, you should! In fact, the Macs I recommend for UX and UI in this guide are all Apple Silicon Macs equipped with either the M1, M1 Pro, or M1 Max.

It has been close to two years since Apple released its first three M1-equipped Macs. Since this moment, we’ve seen the release of the M1 Pro and M1 Max, and the software support has become better a lot as well. These Apple Silicon Macs take a big step performance-wise while keeping the power consumption low. You will notice that in battery life, as I mentioned earlier.

However, there’s a slight problem as well. Still, not all software is supported on Apple Silicon. Yes, the support is getting much better, but it isn’t complete just yet.

Check out my post oneverything you need to know about Apple Silicon Macsto find out more. This post includes a list of design software and apps currently (un)supported by Apple Silicon.

Keep in mind that the 2022 MacBooks with the powerful new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips are for sale but out-of-stock at many of the prominent retailers. In the meantime, to prepare for the restocking of these machines, I wrote anM1 Pro vs M1 Max comparison.Please read it to be ready for when the next shipment of Macs arrives!

Further reading

Now that you’ve read everything you need to know about Macs for UX design, it is time to choose. Do you want to go for the lightweight MacBook Air, or do you want to go all-in and go for a new M1 Pro or M1 Max?

Read our UX equipment guide to learn everything you need to know about picking the right hardware.

Some of the links of this page are affiliate links. I might earn a commission if you order through these links. This doesn’t cost you anything, but it helps me run this website.

Useful resources to boost your UX career 👇

Or check out all UX resources on Gumroad.

What is the Best Mac for UX design? - The Designer's Toolbox (4)

About the author

Hi! I'm Nick Groeneveld, a senior designer from the Netherlands with experience in UX, visual design, and research. I have completed a wide range of projects in finance, tech, and the public sector.

Take a look at my LinkedIn and Medium for more.

What is the Best Mac for UX design? - The Designer's Toolbox (2024)


Which MacBook is the best for UI UX? ›

However, some of the best MacBooks for UI UX design include the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the 15-inch MacBook Pro, and the MacBook Air. Each of these MacBooks has unique features that make them ideal for UI UX design work.

Do UX designers use Mac? ›

In conclusion, you may use either the industry-standard — Mac or Windows — for UX design since both are viable alternatives. As more design tools become more accessible and web-based, it should make little difference whatever operating system you use. It is all about personal choice and mobility.

What kind of computer is best for UX design? ›

You should buy a laptop with an i3 or i5 processor.

An Intel Core i7 processor is the most suitable one for a UX designer, but if you are searching for a more affordable choice, you should go for an i5 or even an i3 processor because you will pay less for a smaller processor.

How much RAM does a UX designer need? ›

Most computers come with 8gbs of RAM standard. This will be fine for word processing, watching Netflix, writing emails, etc. However, for the best performance, I recommend 16gbs as a minimum.

Which MacBook should I buy as a designer? ›

1. Apple MacBook Pro 16″ (2021) (Editor's Choice) If you are in search of new MacBook, then the Apple MacBook Pro 16 with its new version in 2021 is for you. Considering the design of the laptop, the new version of the MacBook is similar to the 2019 version with some changes.

Is MacBook Pro M1 good for UX design? ›

After using multiple Macs, the best Mac for UI and UX design is the 16-inch MacBook Pro with the new M1 Pro chip. It has excellent performance, a bright and colorful screen, and fantastic battery life.

Is Mac or Windows better for UX design? ›

All in all, you can either decide to go with the industry standard — Mac for designing or Windows as both are feasible options. As more design tools become more readily available and web-based, there should not be a difference in which OS you use. It all comes down to aesthetic preference and portability.

Why do UX designers use Apple? ›

They're Consistent and Pretty. Designers tend to appreciate Apple's business model, where they build not only an operating system, but also the hardware that runs it. This allows for a truly seamless experience, where Apple controls what happens to the user from their first interaction to their last.

Do I need a Mac as a designer? ›

Most graphic designers use Mac because it has always been the case. It isn't necessary anymore but yet it still remains the case today. Finally, and this is something you can argue about, Macs are generally seen as slick high-quality machines that are aesthetically pleasing.

What do most UX designers use? ›

Visual design and design software

Both UX designers and UI designers use visual design software, like Figma, Sketch, Photoshop, and Illustrator, to create the visual elements of a product.

What is the most popular UX design tool? ›

What are the most popular UX design tools? Tools from Adobe's Creative Cloud are typically considered industry standards, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and Adobe XD. Other platforms, like Figma and InVision, are also popular UX design tools used across many companies and industries.

Which laptop is best for UI design? ›

The Dell XPS 15 7590 is one of the best laptops for UX/UI designers. It provides a superfast Intel Core i7–8750H processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card.

How old is the average UX designer? ›

37 years old

Is UX design worth it 2022? ›

UX design was ranked by both Glassdoor and LinkedIn as one of the top 50 jobs to have in 2022 and as one of the top five most in-demand skills for 2020. Investing in UX design teams may have a big impact on revenue and overall business goals, and organizations are beginning to see the value of doing so.

How much coding does UX require? ›

No, most UX Designers are not required to code (at least, not at an advanced level). However, it's still to their advantage to develop an understanding and appreciation for what Developers do.

Why are Macs popular with designers? ›

However a large majority of graphic designers choose Mac over PC because it is widely used across the industry, it's simple operating system, and the amazing build quality Apple produces. These are just a few reasons 99.9% of graphic designers choose Mac over PC.

Is MacBook Pro or Air better for graphic design? ›

The MacBook Air is perfectly capable of running Adobe apps and other design tools, but don't expect it to handle giant and complex work well. And certainly if you need a MacBook for resource-intensive software like 3D software or editing 8K video, it's worth spending the extra $100 on a Pro.

Is a MacBook Pro good for design? ›

It may come as no surprise that a MacBook Pro laptop is our pick for the best laptop for graphic designers. Apple's MacBook Pros are hugely popular with creatives and graphic designers thanks to their excellent build quality, design and power, and the brand-new 16-inch MacBook Pro is the pinnacle of this.

Is M1 better than M2 Mac? ›

The M2 processor is the improved version of the M1 processor. The new processor's cores are slightly more powerful and notably more efficient than the M1's cores. With both the M1 and M2 processors on the MacBook Air, you get eight processing cores, four performance and four efficient.

Is Apple M1 good for Adobe? ›

And after conducting 774 individual benchmark measures, the team found that Creative Cloud is "on average over 80% faster using the M1 system when compared to an identically configured Intel system."

Is the MacBook Pro M1 worth buying? ›

M1: This is the base-level chip of the lineup. It has an eight-core CPU and up to an eight-core GPU with support for up to 16 GB of unified memory (RAM) at an extra cost. It's much faster than any previous Intel-powered MacBook Pro, and it is the practical choice for most people.

Does Apple have good UX? ›

Without any drop-down menus, Apple provides smooth navigation which makes the UX better. Users can find what they are looking for quickly and easily. This is important because internet users are used to getting information fast.

Which is best for UI UX design? ›

Adobe XD is Adobe's offering for UI/UX designers. Adobe XD offers vector-based UI tools that can be used to create prototypes and mockups. The interface is similar to all other Adobe interfaces, so the sense of familiarity kicks in when working on the software.

Do designers at Microsoft use Macs? ›

Yes, Microsoft employees use both Apple hardware and software (and vice-versa, in case you were curious) in various departments. Additionally, some consultants & vendors have a choice as to what platform they work on.

How much does Apple pay UX designer? ›

The average Apple UI/UX Designer earns $155,167 annually, which includes a base salary of $122,667 with a $32,500 bonus. This total compensation is $57,934 more than the US average for a UI/UX Designer. UI/UX Designer salaries at Apple can range from $115,000 - $188,000 with equity ranging from 10-40K.

Is MacBook Air good for designers? ›

Is the MacBook Air good for designers? For everyday 2D design work, a current MacBook Air will be good enough. The new M1 processors are faster than previous chips, and they offer good graphical performance too. However, the fanless design of the MacBook Air is a problem if you work long hours.

Does Adobe run better on PC or Mac? ›

Within the Adobe programs, the interface is virtually the same, and as long as your hardware meets or exceeds the specs Adobe puts out for their programs, it's not likely you'd be able to tell a significant difference simply because you're using a Windows PC. Some designers even use both in their workflows.

Which Mac is best for Adobe? ›

The MacBook Pro is a great choice for Photoshop users. It has a large Retina display, making it perfect for editing photos. Plus, the MacBook Pro is powerful enough to handle even the most demanding Photoshop tasks. If you can afford it, the MacBook Pro is a great choice for photographers.

Is Apple really better for graphic design? ›

As far as graphic design is concerned, there is no significant difference in the software available for the Mac or PC. All the major applications, including Adobe Creative Cloud applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are developed for both platforms.

Who is the highest paid UX Designer? ›

The top 5 highest paying jobs as Ux Ui Designer with reported salaries are:
  • user experience ui designer - ₹33lakhs per year.
  • principal user experience designer - ₹30lakhs per year.
  • staff user experience designer - ₹29lakhs per year.
  • lead user experience designer - ₹22lakhs per year.

What type of UX Designer makes the most money? ›

High Paying UX Designer Jobs
  • Product Architect. Salary range: $134,000-$156,000 per year. ...
  • Digital Solution Architect. Salary range: $121,500-$156,000 per year. ...
  • Information Architect. Salary range: $100,500-$151,500 per year. ...
  • Usability Engineer. ...
  • UX Architect. ...
  • UX Visual Designer. ...
  • Workflow Developer. ...
  • Content Architect.

Can UX designers make 300k? ›

I make more than $300,000 working as a UX designer for 3 different companies.

What design UX trends will be popular in 2022? ›

10 UX design trends in 2022
  • Advanced cursor interactions.
  • Personalized experiences.
  • Data visualization.
  • Dark mode.
  • Micro-interactions.
  • New 3D design tools.
  • Clean user interfaces (with a twist)
  • Augmented and virtual reality.
27 Dec 2021

What is the next big trend in UX design? ›

Virtual reality (VR)

Although virtual reality (VR) is a new frontier in UX design, it's rapidly evolving. Virtual reality is a simulated environment in which designers can mimic real-life experiences. The move into the world of 3D will completely change the way users interact with products.

Do UX designers make more than UI Designers? ›

According to Glassdoor, the average base salary of a UI designer in the United States is $80,450/yr, while the average base salary of a UX designer is $90,697. For more information, here is a study of UI/UX designer salaries from around the world.

Do you need a laptop for UI UX design? ›

UI UX designers need a powerful laptop to create high-quality user interfaces. A good laptop for UI UX design should have a large screen and a fast processor. It is also important for the laptop to have a good graphics card so that the user interfaces can be seen clearly.

Do UX designers need a drawing tablet? ›

A drawing tablet is also extremely useful for fast layout explanation if you work remotely. In my experience, people with no experience in drawing do not need drawing tablets with a screen, while experienced drawers feel a lot of frustration without the feel of directly looking at the point of their pencil.

Is 40 too old to become a UX designer? ›

While you may face different obstacles than your younger colleagues, becoming a UX designer (and succeeding!) in your 30s, 40s, 50s (and beyond) is totally doable. In fact there are even advantages and perks that you'll experience that your younger colleagues won't (at least not for a while).

Is UX design stressful? ›

UX design is a field that can be very stressful. Many times, there are tight deadlines, and the designer must create a product that meets the needs of the client while also meeting their own personal standards.

How many hours a day do UX designers work? ›

Generally, UX designers work 8-10 hours per day, but this can vary depending on the size and complexity of the project. They may also work evenings or weekends as needed. UX designers typically have a degree in graphic design or another related field and have experience designing user interfaces.

Where will UX be in 5 years? ›

In the next five years, AI will be a standard for many products, so it's time to adapt your design solutions. I already work with an AI-based company myself and create the whole marketing tool based on AI. The first thing you need to know is how to explain your user's interaction between them and the product.

Can I become a UX designer in 3 months? ›

On average, it takes between two to six years to become a UX designer, but it can take as little as three months.

Is UX design becoming oversaturated? ›

That doesn't mean that UI design is a bad profession. On the contrary, there are plenty of opportunities for talented designers to find jobs in the industry. PRO TIP: There is no doubt that UI UX design is oversaturated. There are too many designers vying for attention and not enough work to go around.

What computer does a UX designer need? ›

I recommend a laptop with at least a Full HD (1920×1080) resolution for UX and UI design work. However, go for a 1440p or 4K screen if you have the budget. If you work on a second screen, you can pick a 13 or 14-inch screen size for your laptop to save some money.

Is there a lot of math in UX design? ›

However, math skills are not essential for becoming a successful UI UX designer. PRO TIP: No, UI UX design does not require math. However, a basic understanding of mathematical concepts may be helpful for some aspects of designing user interfaces and user experiences.

Do UX designers make a lot of money? ›

What is an average UX designer salary? The average base salary for UX designers in the US is $109,776 as of May 2022, according to job listing site Glassdoor [1]. The role was also included in Glassdoor's list of 25 Highest Paying Entry Level Jobs, coming in at number six [2].

Which laptop is best for UI UX designer? ›

The best laptop for UX design is without a doubt the new 14-inch MacBook Pro. With the new M1 Pro on board, it is blazing fast and the battery will last the entire day.

Which laptop is best for UI developer? ›

The best laptops for programming available now
  1. MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) The best laptop for programming in 2022. ...
  2. Razer Blade 17 (2022) ...
  3. MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) ...
  4. Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) ...
  5. LG Gram 17 (2021) ...
  6. Asus ROG Flow Z13. ...
  7. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) ...
  8. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4.
9 Nov 2022

Is MacBook good for AI? ›

Apple MacBook Pro

This can be a great choice for the AI and ML engineers that comes with 256GB SSD storage, 8-Core GPU, M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU, and 8GB unified memory.

Is Mac better for coding? ›

If you're learning to code or have some experience programming, you've probably wondered whether a Mac or a PC is better for programming. Overall, a PC is a good option for gaming and offers a great variety of programs developed exclusively for Windows, while a Mac offers a better user experience and security.

Do I need laptop for UI UX design? ›

UI UX designers need a powerful laptop to create high-quality user interfaces. A good laptop for UI UX design should have a large screen and a fast processor. It is also important for the laptop to have a good graphics card so that the user interfaces can be seen clearly.

Is 8GB RAM enough for UX design? ›

Anything with intel i3 (or equivalent), 256GB of storage, and 8GB of RAM would be enough to give you a headstart.

Who gets paid more UX or UI? ›

The average salary of a UX Designer in the US is $115,743 per year. This can increase to over $134,395 for more experienced designers. Entry-level UI Designers make an average of approximately $73,040 a year and $100,559 at mid-level. When you gain more experience, you can earn as much as $103,026 a year.

Does UX pay more than UI? ›

According to Glassdoor, the average base salary of a UI designer in the United States is $80,450/yr, while the average base salary of a UX designer is $90,697.

Which is harder UI or UX? ›

UI Design Is Arguably Easier Than Learning UX Design.

What should you not put on a MacBook? ›

MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air

Then use a damp, soft, lint-free cloth to clean the computer's exterior. Avoid getting moisture in any openings. Don't spray liquid directly on the computer. Don't use aerosol sprays, solvents, abrasives, or cleaners containing hydrogen peroxide that might damage the finish.

Is Mac M1 good for deep learning? ›

The M1 Pro with 16 cores GPU is an upgrade to the M1 chip. It has double the GPU cores and more than double the memory bandwidth. You have access to tons of memory, as the memory is shared by the CPU and GPU, which is optimal for deep learning pipelines, as the tensors don't need to be moved from one device to another.

Is Apple M1 good for deep learning? ›

Sure, there's around 2x improvement in M1 than my other Intel-based Mac, but these still aren't machines made for deep learning. Don't get me wrong, you can use the MBP for any basic deep learning tasks, but there are better machines in the same price range if you'll do deep learning daily.

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