ASK DN: Macbook Pro Intel Iris Pro good enough for graphic design?

over 8 years ago from , Product Designer

Hi guys,

Just wondered if any of you have got a Macbook with no discrete graphics card and just using the new Intel Iris Pro? Is it good enough for Graphic Design, maybe working on Illustrator as well as Photoshop and Sketch?

Any help would be appreciated, thanks again!


  • Chris LeckieChris Leckie, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    13" Retina here and I've never had any issues at all. I had a 15" Retina with a dedicated card before that and I've not noticed a major change.

    2 points
  • Account deleted over 8 years ago

    Yes. I've never used Sketch on it, but for about 3 years I had a 13" Macbook Air with the i7 upgrade and 8GB RAM. Between that and the flash memory... it performed absolutely fine with the full Adobe suite for me. Sure, sometimes the fan got a bit loud, but it never crashed out on me and it worked great.

    I like my 15" Macbook Pro better, but that Macbook Air was a great machine... especially if you travel... it's do darn light.

    Granted, a lot of it will depend not on what software you plan to use, but what you plan to make. Either way, I don't think you need to spend well above your means to have a great working laptop. I feel sometimes people desire a heck of a lot more firepower than that really need - or would utilize.

    That's my 2-cents anyways.

    1 point
    • Elliott ReganElliott Regan, over 8 years ago

      Same here. Same specs in a 11" 2012 MBA.

      I've never had problem running Adobe CS6, or Sketch, or Affinity Design. Sometimes when I have my external screen attached, and I'm running a Node server, and I have Sketch open and several browser tabs up, the fans will spin up.

      I don't know how the Iris GPU works with a retina screen, AND an external, but I'm sure the it is fine. I think that at this point, the dedicated GPU is just for power-photoeditors (going through an entire wedding's worth of photos and editing them quickly), and video editors (I have run Final Cut X on my little Air, I just had to wait a while for encoding).

      0 points
  • Some DesignerSome Designer, over 8 years ago

    Illustrator and Sketch heavily depends on GPU power. Sketch also sucks the CPU and HDD as well. Also you can find your answer in your question as well.

    Don't you think you need a GRAPHIC card for GRAPHIC design?

    -But if can't afford it, just nvm my comment, iris is fine as well :p

    1 point
    • John PJohn P, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )


      Illustrator is almost entirely rendered on the CPU, the GPU acceleration in the latest version isn't really ready for prime time.


      Uses the GPU for blur effects but that's about it and the overall slowness in most use cases appears to be a bottleneck elsewhere in the pipeline not really related to the GPU.

      Don't you think you need a GRAPHIC card for GRAPHIC design?

      You don't actually*, Adobe apps rarely use the thing.

      • 90% of Photoshop is CPU code, GPU is only used in a few places for rotating the canvas and the 3D tools no one uses etc.
      • Illustrator didn't use it at all until the latest version
      • InDesign doesn't use it at all
      • After Effects uses it for some compositing but the difference is negligible and almost all other effects are CPU rendered. CUDA is utilised for encoding, probably the main thing you'll notice.

      * Obviously you need one to run a modern composited OS, I mean you don't need a powerful one.

      6 points
      • Manuela Santos Gonzalez, 5 years ago

        Hi John P

        You seem well rounded about graphic design I am going to study a course in graphic design. Can you please advise which video card is enough for me to run mainly Photoshop, illustrator, InDesign and Sketch?

        1)One of the MacBook Pro I checked, it has Radeon Pro 560x with 4GB. Its 2018 released

        2)Other MacBook Pro. Released May 2015. It has the combination of the following 2GB VRAM AMD RADEON R9 M37OX (games, apps etc) INTEL IRIS PRO 5200 1GB VRAM (reserved for system) 

        I would much appreciate your response

        Kind regards


        0 points
  • Chris KeithChris Keith, over 7 years ago

    The only situation where I notice this chip's limitations is when I have my Macbook connected to my 4k monitor. Photoshop especially is pretty sluggish with zooming and panning. Sketch is much better zooming/panning-wise, but still notice some horizontal tearing. When I'm not connected to the 4k everything runs very smoothly.

    0 points
  • Sorin JurcutSorin Jurcut, over 8 years ago

    Using a 13" at work as we speak which only has Iris. 8 Gb of RAM, 256 SSD and as far as I know, it has a i5. It works good enough for what I'm doing. It starts slowing down when I'm handling large PSDs + work in Illustrator at the same time. But if you're going for a Sketch-centered workflow, you won't have any huge issues. I don't think it's all that great for video editing though. It'll do the job, but not if you're hoping on editing large movie clips. Small ones (max 1-2 minutes) should be fine.

    0 points
  • Brendan McDonaldBrendan McDonald, over 8 years ago

    I design on a MacBook Air. I know--shocking. I travel and work around the world and love the portability. I work with Sketch way more than anything else. I've actually done a tiny bit of screencasting too--the main issue there is just exporting videos takes forever. With Sketch, I'm more likely to divide big projects into separate files to control file size and reduce lagginess in the program. Sometimes the fan is loud but it generally works fine for me. Also, given Sketch's bugginess I tend to attribute more of the fairly rare performance issues to the app architecture rather than my hardware. YMMV.

    0 points