I just did some tests that others here may find interesting — I pushed some design tools to the point where they were lagging a lot on the canvas, to see how they use the hardware. This was an extremely non-scientific test, but it still may provide some value.
Draw lots of rectangles that have a fill and a stroke. Then select all the rectangles and rotate them as a group. How many rectangles? As many as was required to make the tool get very stressed. It was a different number of elements for each tool, so this isn’t a like for like comparison. It’s more about resource usage and what’s important when speccing a Mac for design work.
Why boxes with strokes? Why rotating? It will alter the object data and cause a repaint of all objects. I also wanted to focus on a common operation. The results will vary pretty wildly in a tool like Photoshop, depending on what you’re doing.
For this test, lower usage is bad news, not good news. I pushed them all until the canvas was very laggy. All going well, the app should be pegging the CPU or GPU, making the best use of available resources.
It’s interesting how different the results are. Sketch is almost entirely CPU bound (due to heavy use of Core Graphics). Figma is almost entirely on the GPU. Illustrator predominately uses one thread.
Which Mac should you buy? It’ll depends which design tool you’re using.