Designing user experience and user interfaces (UI UX design) can all be done today with computer-aided visualisation. If you’re working from home as a UX designer or part of the management team shopping for machines your development team can use, it’s always good to know what devices can help you become most productive. In technology-driven countries such as Singapore, many companies often choose top-of-the-line computers for their teams – will the same work for you?
The truth is, there are many alternatives. But first, let’s discuss the primary needs of a UX designer. Singapore digital solutions firms often use specific criteria for selecting what machines their teams should use. These areas are: Processor and Memory capabilities, Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) performance and Mobility vs Power.
The processor and memory are the core components that will do most of the job. A good combination of these two can ensure your design software will perform as expected or even better. In partnership with the processor and memory units is the GPU, which handles the rendering of visual elements – a valuable aspect of UI design. A powerful GPU to go with a good processor can also allow you to use more than one display or monitor at the same time, giving the designer more screen real estate to organise his/her tasks. Lastly, it’s a question of mobility vs power – as some would prefer to have a rig that can practically work anything, or choose a less-powerful but balanced and mobile device such as a laptop, especially for a UI UX designer who’s always on the go.
Here’s a list of high-performance devices you can add to your shopping list to help you decide what computers will suit your design needs best.
Apple’s flagship laptop for design professionals is a dream notebook for any user interface and user experience designer. The Macbook Pro M1 is kind of overkill for UI/UX design, but if you can afford it, having more processing power is always better.
Processor/Memory: Option between 8-core chip, configurable up to the 10-core M1 Max, 16GB memory configurable up to 64GB (M1 Max only)
GPU: 14-core built-in GPU (paired with the processor) configurable to 32-core GPU (M1 Max), with 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display (3024 x 1964 native resolution)
Mobility vs. Power: The Macbook Pro M1 is, as mentioned earlier, mostly above and beyond the usual requirements for UI UX design apps. On top of this, the Apple laptop is sleek and light for its computing power – measuring 31.26cm x 22.12cm x 1.55cm and weighing only 1.6kg.
The Macbook Pro M1 can go beyond UX and UI design at any configuration, although it comes at quite a steep price.
Following the footsteps of its successful Zenbook predecessors, the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED brings designer-friendly innovations in its array of features. This includes a second screen mounted right above the keyboard and touchscreen capability for some configurations.
Processor/Memory: Options from 12th-generation Intel i7 to i9 chips with base speeds of 2.3 to 2.5GHz, and 8-32GB of LPDDR5 RAM
GPU: Intel ® Xe Graphics, configurable to carry NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX™ 3050 Ti Laptop GPU with 14.5-inch (2880×1800) main screen + 12.7-inch (2880×864) secondary screen
Mobility vs. Power: Just like the Mac laptop, the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED is a fantastic choice for UX UI designers, especially for its neat option of a second screen built-in, which is useful for customised shortcuts and other functions. As a laptop, this ASUS notebook is highly mobile, coming at 1.7 to 1.75kg and measures 32.35 x 22.47 x 1.79 ~ 1.96 cm.
One of the leading tech companies with a long history in hardware, HP is offering user experience and interface designers a fine laptop for their task: the HP ZBook Fury 15 G8 notebook. As a mobile workstation, the Zbook Fury 15 G8 boasts enterprise-level quality that unfortunately, also comes at a steep price, at around US $5,600.
Processor/Memory: Intel 11th-generation Core i5 to Xeon W vPro chips, up to 32GB DDR4-3200 RAM
GPU: Integrated graphics to NVIDIA® Quadro RTX® A3000/A5000 at full 4K resolution (configurable also to equip AMD Radeon ® Pro W660M, 15.6-inch 4K IPS display
Mobility vs. Power: Despite its impressive computing power that can surely satisfy any UI/UX and even graphic design needs, the Zbook Fury 15 G8 sits at the edge of notebook mobility and power. It measures 36.1 x 24.25 x 2.6cm, and starts at a hefty 2.35kg, making it the largest and heaviest of our recommended laptops.
When it comes to innovation, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X13 Yoga G2 (“2nd generation”) takes the game to another level. Combining magnesium with carbon-fibre/glass-fibre parts for its chassis with a hinge that allows it to be pulled back far enough to act like a tablet, this Lenovo notebook offers business users and designers more mobility and usage options.
Processor/Memory: Intel 11th-generation Core i5 to i7 chips, with 8 or 16GB of LPDDR4X-4266 RAM upgradeable to 32GB
GPU: Intel ® Iris Xe graphics built-in, comes with 13.3-inch IPS LCD screen with multitouch support (2500×1600 native resolution)
Mobility vs. Power: The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga goes head-to-head with the lightest business-class notebooks in the market, coming in at 30.5 x 21.39 x 1.539 cm and weighing only 1.2kg. It might not be the most power-packed, but it can enable a UI UX designer to work comfortably just about anywhere.
For office-based designers or those who have a dedicated space to work in, desktop computers are by far the best choice. Here are two great and compact options from popular brands – Apple and Dell. The Apple Mac Studio is a dream setup paired with Apple’s signature displays, with plenty of power but comes with a caveat – it can’t be upgraded. On the other hand, the Dell Precision 3240 Compact is, as its name suggests, a tiny but budget-friendly powerhouse. Both workstation units can be lugged around if needed like taking an online UX design course, for example, provided you can pack in the rest of the equipment that goes with them.
Apple Mac Studio – US $1,999 to $4,999 (M1 Max), $3,999 to $7,999 (M1 Ultra)
Processor/Memory: Configurable to equip the M1 Max or M1 Ultra, with unified memory of up to 128GB
GPU: Built-in 48- or 64-GPU cores
Mobility vs Power: The Apple Mac Studio measures 19.7 x 19.7 x 9.5cm and weighs 2.7kg to 3.6kg (M1 Ultra)
Dell Precision 3240 Compact – starts at US $889
Processor/Memory: 10th-generation Intel ® Core i3 to i9 chips or Xeon W processors and 8 to 64GB of DDR4 memory
GPU: Built-in Intel UHD Graphics, NVIDIA® Quadro P1000 to RTX3000 models
Mobility vs. Power: The Dell Precision 3240 Compact workstation measures 18.81 x 17.865 x 70.2cm, and weighs 1.71kg at base configuration. Due to its diminutive size, however, Dell opted to pair it with an external AC adapter, like a laptop, for its power supply.
Providing a reliable workstation for your team is a must for any company with its own UX design division. However, if you want to save more on equipment expenses while getting the best out of the UX design talent, it’s best to outsource your design needs to a competitive UI UX design agency. If you’re looking for a talented UX designer, Singapore UX company Frontline Mobile Pte. Ltd. (FRONTLINE) is one of the best choices to work with. Our teams of designers are fully equipped with more than just the right equipment – they’re also backed by years of experience in the UX industry. For more information, you may reach out to us through our contact page at https://www.frontline.com.sg/contact/.