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What’s The Best Processor for Graphic Design?

Processors can be installed on any computer, but not all are made equal. If your computer is just intended for browsing, encoding, or a combination of office tasks, you don’t need a lot of processing power.

For certain tasks such as graphics design, video editing, 3D rendering, and animation, you’ll need a powerful processor to run the different applications. But unlike graphics cards, the processor market is overcrowded so you’re not going to have any difficulty locating any of the processors we list down below.

For this guide, we’re going to help you pick the best processor for graphic design and why we think it’s the best one. Now, don’t be surprised to see only two brands, namely Intel processors and AMD processors, because these are the only brands of processors in the market.

What Makes a Good Processor for Graphic Design?

Graphics design is a semi-intensive task. A graphic design computer doesn’t need to be as tuned out as another computer needed for video editing or animation. But for all intent and purposes of this article, we’ll assume that the person reading this wants to get a graphic design PC that can do more than just do graphic design. We’ll assume that this graphic designer wants to build a powerful computer for graphics design, gaming, and more.

So what makes a good processor for graphics design? We’ll look at three factors:

Processor speed

Processor speed, or clock speed, is a measure of how fast a processor can carry out processing tasks.. The higher the processor speed, the better. This is what brand manufacturers such as AMD Ryzen and Intel CPU consistently advertise.

But there’s a catch.

New generation processors that have lower clock speed may end up outperforming older generations with faster clock speeds. There’s a distinction here though that needs to be brought to attention, but that’s an entirely new article on how that’s actually possible.

When you’re shopping for different processors, you should only compare clock speeds across different CPUs using the same architecture. For example, it’s not a great idea to compare an Intel Pentium processor to an Intel Core processor. That comparison isn’t just going to be logical.

Number of cores

The second spec to look at is the number of cores. Modern processors now come as a block of processing units, instead of being a single processing block. Each of the block is called a CORE, and this allows a CPU to carry out more computational tasks faster and simultaneously.

The more cores a processor has, the more computation tasks it can carry out at one time. For a graphic design PC, you want at least a hexacore processor. If you have the money to spend, you could go for sixteen cores

Thread count

Similar to cores, threads will dictate how many computation tasks a processor can carry out. But unlike cores, threads are virtual.

A processor with multithreading will perform a lot better than the other processor without this feature. But PC builders often discourage buying multithreading processors if the PC setup alraedy has sufficient clock speed and core count. You’re better off with spending money on more RAM or storage.

But enough about this technical talk and let’s get down to brass taxes.

What do you think are the best processors for graphic design and more?

Note that this list is not arranged in any particular order.

Intel Core i7 12700

Intel Core i7-12700KF Processor for Graphic Design

If you just want the best processor for graphic design and more, the Intel Core i7 12700 is a solid choice. The Intel Core i7 12700 is Intel’s 12th generation of Core i7 line of processors, and it just delivers a lot.

12th generation means that this is the latest version of their long line of Intel Core processors. Of course, you now have your Intel Core i9 processors too. However, the Intel Core i7 12700 is at the top of this list for its performance and price.

The Intel Core i7 12700 is priced below $300 and clocks in up to 4.90Ghz with a CPU cache size of 25MB. This simply means that the Intel Core i7 12700 is able to carry out graphic design tasks from any design application without any difficulty and as long as it’s paired with the right GPU and RAM.

At 12 cores, multitasking with the Intel Core i7 12700 is a breeze and the clock speed just guarantees smooth performance all throughout.

AMD Ryzen 7 5800 X

AMD Ryzen 7 5800 X Processor for Graphic Design

Up next we have AMD Ryzen 7 5800 as a strong alternative to the Intel Core i7 12700 processor. The AMD Ryzen 7 5800 easily keeps pace with the Intel Core i7 12700, but it’s a bit behind in core count.

Instead of getting 12 cores, you’re only getting 8 cores with the AMD Ryzen 7 5800. The max clock speed of the AMD Ryzen 7 5800 is 4.60Hz, which is only 0.3 slower than the Intel Core i7. But with those minor differences come major savings. At this time of writing, the AMD Ryzen 7 5800 is priced $100 cheaper than the Intel Core i7.

Will the money you save be worth it? Yes. The AMD Ryzen 7 5800 is still a very powerful processor and it can still handle graphic design apps just as competently as the Intel Core i7. Resource-intensive apps such as Adobe After Effects run smoothly on the AMD Ryzen 7 5800, provided that the RAM and GPU are just as powerful (or close to it).

Now between the Intel Core i7 and the AMD Ryzen 7 5800, it’s just a matter of personal preference since the difference of performance between both processors is minimal. The Intel Core i7 performs better than the AMD Ryzen 7 5800, but only by a slim margin.

But if you are going heavy on 3D animation, then the AMD Ryzen 7 5800 might struggle to power through 3D design software.

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Processor for Graphic Design

Now if you want something that’s high end and you’re willing to ignore the price tag, the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X will give you the highest performance level possible without breaking your bank.

At 16 cores and 32 threads, the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X brings HEDT-class performance to modern-day motherboards. The AMD Ryzen 9 5950X boasts of higher boost frequencies than its predecessors, making it the perfect processor for graphic design and some heavy gaming. If you have a dual monitor setup, you can easily run a graphic design app in one screen and a video game loaded into another screen without any lag.

The AMD Ryzen 9 5950X is also energy efficient and provides excellent value all throughout. However, the heating is its biggest issue. You’ll need a strong cooling system if you want this processor to perform at its highest level, and by highest level, we mean doing something intensive like 3D rendering or video editing.

AMD Ryzen 5 5600

AMD Ryzen 5 5600 Processor for Graphic Design

Cheap and capable aren’t exactly words that we’d like to pair up together, but that’s just how we’d describe the AMD Ryzen 5 5600. If you’re strapped for cash and want to replace your processor on short notice, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600 is a solid choice. If you’re building your graphic design rig for the first time, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600 is an excellent choice.

You can get the AMD Ryzen 5 5600 for about $150 or so, but don’t let the price tag fool you. The AMD Ryzen 5 5600 gives the best bang for your buck. At this price point, you’re getting 6 cores and 12 threads with a max clock speed of 4.4 GHz. It’s literally 0.2 slower than the Ryzen 7 5800 processor.

If you’re just doing graphic design with no video editing or 3D animation work, this processor is more than enough. If you pair this with decent RAM (16GB at least) and a great GPU, you’ll have a potent workstation for graphic designing.

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X Processor for Graphic Design

If you just want the best CPU possible for graphic design, video editing, gaming, 3D work, and productivity tasks, then the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X is a solid pick. Probably the fastest chip in the market right now, the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X is the perfect partner for high-resolution gaming and video editing. Or if you just want more threads available at your disposal, this is a solid pick too.

The AMD Ryzen 9 5900X is a 12-core and 24-thread processor with a 3.7GHz base clock speed and 4.8GHz max clock speed, so to say that it’s a beast is an understatement.

The AMD Ryzen 9 5900X has overclocking capabilities and has PCIe 4.0 support, but at this point, they’re just bonuses at this point. The good news here is that the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X fits most 500-series and 400-series motherboards, so if you already have that, you don’t need to upgrade your mobo.

But typical of high-end AMD Ryzen 5000 processors, you need a powerful cooling system to prevent overheating.

Intel Core i5-12400

Intel Core i5-12400 Processor for Graphic Design

Last but definitely not least, we have the Intel Core i5-12400 processor, with 6 cores and 12 threads. If the Ryzen 5 line of processors is considered budget-friendly, the Intel Core i5-12400 processor is decent for gaming, graphic design, and more at mid-range pricing.

The Intel Core i5-12400 delivers a strong performance, despite being single threaded. The Intel Core i5-12400 outperforms the Ryzen 5000 processors by a margin. For graphic design computers that don’t need to break the bank, consider the Intel Core i5-12400 as your processor.

Wrap Up!

Now those are the best processors for graphic design. You might be wondering why we didn’t include something like the Intel Core i9 10900k, or any of the 12th generation Intel Core i9 processors.

The reason is that these processors are intended to handle intensive computing tasks and processing from graphic design workflows. You could argue that most graphic designers have a powerful rig with high end processors and GPUs, but that’s probably because they have other needs for their PC outside of just doing graphic design work.

If you’re just starting out as a graphic designer and want to build your own PC, this is a good start as you don’t need to invest a lot of money into expensive processors right at the start. All you need to do is get something that’s capable and invest in other components like RAM, SSD storage, and GPU.

James Stephenson

james stephenson profile picJames is a gaming and tech enthusiast. He has been playing computer games since the Commodore 64 days in the 80s. He has worked as a Broadcast Engineer with BBC News and knows a thing or two about building, fixing, and playing with PCs.