Designing attractive website and social media assets, plus high-quality printed marketing materials, requires a skilful designer and a powerful PC. But you don’t need a desktop system to do it. In fact, the latest mini PCs can be configured to act as image-editing workstations.
First impressions count as much in the business world as they do in our personal lives. It’s why the biggest companies spend so much time and money developing their brand identities. You might remember the famous case of BP Amoco (the oil company), which spent £4.6M1 just on redesigning its logo, with the overall cost of the rebrand estimated at a staggering £132M.
Obviously, few brands can or would spend this much money. But clearly, the importance of graphic design cannot be overstated when it comes to making your business stand out from the crowd.
Drawing up a list of key specs
Professional image-editing applications, such as Adobe Photoshop, typically need powerful PCs to run at their best. This is especially true when you’re dealing with large files, such as HDR photos, website mock-ups or layout projects such as posters. An insufficient amount of main memory will cause significant slowdowns when working with these large files. But with up to 32GB of super-fast DDR4 supported in the latest 8th-gen mini PCs, lag is something you won’t need to worry about.
Similarly, because file sizes can easily run into hundreds of megabytes, fast storage is crucial. An image-editing PC should ideally have a dedicated, high-performance ‘scratch drive’ for temporary storage, ensuring that the most important data can be fed into RAM as quickly as possible.
Thankfully, the latest mini PCs support a 2.5-inch drive and M.2 2280 PCIe SSD internally. This means you can run the OS and image editing software from a high-capacity SSD (capacities up to 4TB are available!) and use the faster M.2 drive as a dedicated scratch disk. If your budget can’t stretch to the largest 2.5-inch SSDs then you can offload bulk storage on to an external USB-C drive. These offers speeds2 of up to 540MB/sec, which is still more than twice as fast as traditional internal hard disk drives.
The power to manipulate
Storing and accessing data is only part of the equation, because manipulating images and applying the vast selection of filters requires significant multi-core CPU horsepower, normally the preserve of desktop PCs. However, the latest mini PCs give desktops a run for their money, especially when it comes to the ASUS PA90-series, which supports up to a 9th-gen Intel Core i9 9900K, which packs in a full 8-cores and 16-threads, making it ideal for the demands of any content creation work. Even the energy-efficient Core i7 8700T CPU found in mini PCs such as the ASUS PB60G-series offer 6-cores and 12-threads, making them more than capable of professional image editing tasks.
Modern image-editing tools also rely on the processing grunt of the GPU too, but workstation-class graphics with their ISV-certified drivers and full 10-bit pipelines have traditionally only been found in desktop PCs. This is no longer the case because the next-generation of mini PCs based on Intel’s Z390 and B360 chipsets can also come equipped with NVIDIA Quadro graphics, ranging from the entry-level Quadro P620 up to the powerful Quadro P4000 with 8GB of memory and 1,792 CUDA cores, as seen in the ASUS PA90-M9019ZN.
And while a dedicated, workstation-class card will offer the most performance, especially for 3D work, the Intel UHD 630 GPU is highly capable too, offering OpenCL support and GPU-acceleration of many features and filters. Also, as of Windows 10 version 1809, the UHD 630 GPU will support a 10-bit HDR workflow, which makes it a great option for a photo-editing mini PC at an affordable price.
Creating compelling brand assets and websites is a crucial component of business success and thanks to the powerful performance and features of the latest mini PCs, it’s a capability that you can add to your business without the compromise of a bulky, power-hungry and costly desktop workstation.