102 Spring Meadow Lane Washington Boro, PA 17582



I was lecturing at Pennsylvania College of Technology years ago and I ask the student audience what they expected to do for a living.  I head them say Illustration, Photography, Prepress and many other things. I told them that I had been in graphics for many years and what I did for a living was MAKE MONEY!

What Works for Me and how I got there.

I'm a technician by profession and I care about 4 things equally, profit, quality, low cost of ownership (which includes reliability) and compatibility. MAC or PC makes no difference to me, I can only be an observer and make decisions based on what I see.  However I've been doing this in a profitable manner and observing the changes for 45 years, if the process is difficult, if it is not profitable in my world it goes away.

A brief history of graphics in South Central Pennsylvania over may career.

I started in graphics in 1975, the computerized graphic world started in my area in or around 1985, then you had to have a MAC, period.  Within 5 years the MAC RIP servers started to dissapear from the service bureaus. Within another 5 years, around 1995 the MAC work stations were losing dominance in terms of the number of installed seats at the service bureaus, by 1996 I stopped buying the MAC.  By 1998 there were no MAC RIP servers at any service bureaus or print shops I frequented.

By 1999 in my area as the consumer use of graphics changed, the PC started it's dominance in the local graphic industry, many service bureaus started to close, the number of PC's in the print industry increased as the number of printers declined. In 1991 there were 141 printers in a 20 mile radius of my shop, today there are less than 10, by 2013 the last service bureau in my area closed its doors. The number of  large design firms in 1991 was 42 all with 30 employees or more, today in my area there are 3 with 30 employees. Of those 3 only 1 uses MAC computers. There work is more web based data handling then graphics they use Windows Servers.

The design industry is suffering the same fate as print did in the 90's and what started happening to photography about a decade ago. The largest B to B design shop in my area 2 years ago was #14 in gross sales in the United States, that's a big shop, the next year they were #11 but their sales had declined 45% from the previous year. That says it all!

Today most graphics are created by small houses with under 5 employees or in house with design teams. All my architecture clients have internal design teams larger than most graphic design houses and all of them use only the PC.

This is the water we swim in.

When you critically analyze most discussions about operating systems or applications you'll find it's more of an emotional attachment then anything else or in rare cases because of the operating systems hardware is tied to the software to a core extent.

Some times there is a feature in an application that has to be run on a MAC because the application is only published in one platform but usually it's the other way around because many aplications that run on PC aren't written for the MAC.

If you are in love with your PC or your MAC so be it, both platforms will cause the user to pay the price some where. The PC and MAC produce identical quality and durability is equal, however the MAC significantly lacks compatibility with non MAC clients and has a significantly larger total cost of ownership.  You can get a monster PC for 50% the cost of an equally configured MAC and a vast amount of your clients will have zero font issues as they are for the most part on PC systems.

If you do a great deal of work with design shops in larger metropolitan areas and use the PC you might want to just be quiet about being a PC shop and resolve any issues with MAC compatibility on your end. Outside of a software or the occassional font you must have not being available on the PC the aforementioned issue is the only issue with having a PC.  I suggest open type true type outlines only.

With that said there are hardware choices that affect quality, hardware for the MAC is extreamly limited . This can be a blessing as much as a problem, limited choices can be a good thing for the less technical user.

The only unforutnate aspect is that the MAC user thinks the MAC specifications and quality are better than they are.  MAC Laptop performance is just awful when comparing MAC desktops with what should be the same specifications. The MAC monitor is not the pinnacle of display performance, they are good displays but they are significantly over priced.

On the PC side it's more of a free for all, quality not only can be, but is all over the place, just like the MAC the PC laptop performance is not as good as a PC desktop with identical specifications.

The hardware for the PC desktop or laptop is second to none IF YOU KNOW what to buy. If you compare performance per dollar the PC is the hands down performance winner in the graphics world. The key many times is finding a PC technician that thinks 2D graphics, many are gamers and those systems fair poorly in 2D graphics, some are data thinkers and those systems fair poorly in 2D graphics.

What I think and do. I think commercial graphics, signs and web graphics.

Buy a decent monitor, budget $1,000 U.S. minimum to $4,000, ViewSonic, Asus, BenQ and Eizo names come to mind, no the Apply displays are not better.

Get a color calibration system for your display, some displays ship with the calibration system included in their price. Xrite Spyder X comes to mind for stand alone color calibration systems. Budget $150 U.S. to $500.

Control the working environment, light it properly, a diffused 5,000 kelvin lighting, 6,500 if all you do is web work and use thick curtains on the windows. Down load my color management books from the color management page for detailed instructions.

Place a high speed corporate internet connection in your work environment, I have a corporate cable connection with no TV. Budget $125 a month in my area.  This has enough bandwidth for about 10 workstations easily.

Use a server with a backup system, you WILL NEED IT,  I have a 9 terabyte server with 12 terabyte backup system and a gigabyte networking capability for my client file storage, running Windows 10 Pro.  Budget around $1,900 U.S..

Work stations in my experience return every additional invested dollar ten fold. 

My work station is a Windows 10 pro system that consists of a ViewSonic 27" display, an Asus main board, an Intel i9 9600 with 64 GB DDR4, 3400 RAM, an 8GB NVidia graphics card, a 1terabyt Samsung solid state drive and a 3 terabyte Western Digital seconday drive. I have a multi card reader a CD/DVD read, writer, thunder bolt and fire wire support and 8 USB 3 connections. This station has a 3 terabyte external backup system.  With display, color calibration, external back up and a 3 year warranty the cost was $2,185 U.S..

Uninterruptable power supplies that provide enough power for 30 minutes for the server, work station and the ISP hardware are a nice add in feature, budget $450. I have no preference on brand.

Unfortunately with computer hardware and software you don't always get what you pay for but the above are tried and true tested components.

Some thought on basic configurations for you needs.

I tested my system with 8GB of RAM and then 16 GB, there was an great improvement in speed and stability with 16 GB of RAM I find it to be the minimum anount of RAM I would recommend.  I then tested with 16 GB and then 32 and again there was a marked improvement but not as much as previously seen. I see this 32 GB as the dollar value sweet spot for RAM.

I then tested the 32 and 64 GB of RAM I did not see a significant improvement in speed only about 5% or 10%.  However when I have CorelDRAW open with a large file (I call a large file 1GB or more), AfterShot Pro open, Photo-PAINT and PaintShop Pro open with multiple files open in each program there is a significant improvement in stability with 64 GB of RAM,enough to make this my choice.  Judge your RAM needs accordingly

A thought on Video Cards.

Many software packages today rely heavily on the GPU (the graphics processor unit) great gaming display cards are often not very good at standard 2D graphics like CorelDRAW or Illustrator.  However I've seen improvements with 6 GB and 8GB NVidia cards. If you're working hard with images and rendered effects like complex fills and tansparency the additional $100 has paid good dividends for me. If you have a laptop with an on mainboard graphics card and an additional perfromance card idsable thge on mainborad graphics card.

This is what I use and it's just the choices I've made, I put the information out there for you to digest.

I don't use AMD devices simply because my observation is that they require more effort to get them running and to keep them running than I'm willing to invest. Especially since I do very large CorelDRAW files and CorelDRAW many times seems to have issues with AMD as reported on their public forum. I don't use Xeon processors for the same reasons.

I do not use laptops for production, color management is an issue as is system performance, regardless of what you pay, (at one time I had a $4,000 laptop and it still was not as good as a desktop 1/2 its price),.  I use laptops to show mockups on site to clients only.  That is moving to a web based process within a month.