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5 awesome reasons why design pros need a smart workstation

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5 awesome reasons why design pros need a smart workstation


PCs and dedicated design work do not make good bedfellows. Here are 5 reasons why a dedicated workstation is a much better fit.

1. Capability to handle large files

A basic requirement – but one that a PC can struggle with. Files used by designers are not small – and cannot be made small without losing image quality. It is an imperative that the chosen workstation can load and work with very large files.

A dedicated workstation can have large amounts of working memory in place alongside multiple CPUs, and may also accommodate PCIe/M.2 solid state storage providing far faster file loading and handling capabilities than a PC.

2. High definition, fast graphics

5 awesome reasons why design pros need a smart workstationWhereas most PC users are happy with screen definitions of 72/96dpi, workstation 4k/5k screens can operate at up to 250dpi. This enables working at the levels of detail demanded for high definition print and broadcast publishing. Editing images can be done at full print level: even zooming in on parts of an image will not result in over-pixelisation of the content.

3D graphics need the mix of fast memory to deal with large files alongside suitable graphics cards and monitors to provide smooth movement. It may be tempting to regard high-end gaming PCs as options; however, these are tuned to different needs around graphics rendering of game-based content. There remains a gulf of difference between a games-focused graphics card and a design-focused one.

3. Not just touch-enabled

Touch-enabled screens are becoming more ubiquitous. People are used to them on tablets and smartphones, and are increasingly using them on laptops. However, PCs and workstations have not been at the forefront of touch-enablement – but this is changing.

The use of multitouch-enabled screens enables designers to be able to pinch and pull work to zoom in and out; to use a pressure-sensitive stylus to draw and edit; to markup copy directly within a composite directly on screen.

New capabilities are also coming through – dedicated ‘pucks’ or ‘dials’ are adding greater flexibility and functionality to how designers can interact with workstations without the need to reach for a keyboard or mouse.

 4. Multiple screens

Designers work against composites that consist of text and images.  There is a need to edit the graphics and edit the text while avoiding ‘alt-tabbing’ between windows to do this.

Support for multiple screens means that not only can several items be worked on and seen at the same time, but that the impact of a change can be observed directly in the composite as changes are made.

However, 4k/5k screens and touch-enablement do not always work well together. Some newer workstation designs are looking at combining a 4k/5k screens with a lower definition digital work surface used as an advanced touch-enabled environment allowing for content control while still viewing the result in high definition.

 5.  Tuned to your applications

PCs are not really tuned – they have to be general workhorses that can run anything that is installed on them as best they can.

A workstation can be tuned to run a specific application – whether this is Adobe Creative Suite, Autodesk, PTC or whatever. As such, you will get the best possible performance that can be squeezed out of the application – at the CPU, storage, memory and interconnect levels.

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Clive Longbottom

Clive Longbottom

Clive Longbottom has been an industry analyst for around 25 years. Having trained as a chemical engineer, he sees everything in terms of process. Clive has worked in several positions across medium and large sized organisations, giving him a strong understanding of what an organisation needs – which isn’t an unquenchable thirst for technology. Clive looks at everything from the point of “What could this do for me, my team, my department, my organisation, the value chain?”, which enables him to weed out the very important, often quite basic, technologies from the more elegant, yet less useful ones.

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