Is Illustrator worth the price?

$20/month as of right now still feels a little on the expensive side since I haven’t sold anything yet. I intend to make a hobby business out of my glowforging and I’m starting to work on files big enough to benefit from GPU acceleration (inkscape doesn’t have this (yet)). Some questions for people using Illustrator or who have used both.

What makes Illustrator worth it’s price to you.
Does Illustrator bog down on large files?

You can try it for a month for free.

I don’t find it worth $240 a year for my level of use but there are plenty here that do.

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Illustrator is worth what I paid for it because I have an older version that is a stand alone license and still works for my needs. There are some nice updates to it since it went subscription, like the line thickness tapering controls. The issue for me has become that I have done some pro bono work for a few non-profits, and I don’t feel that I should be paying for something when I’m not getting paid. Anyway, I do have Affinity designer and Inkscape set-up to compare. I would have to say that as a vector drawing app, Illustrator has more features and the interface is something that has grown with me. Affinity is lacking in a few areas, and inkscape is a bit rough as well as kind of abstract in the way it defines some tools and functionality, almost as if a physics major were trying to impress upon you some advanced concept related to how wheels and mass and friction are interlarded, which is all very interesting but at times hard to follow if one is not well versed in the discipline. Lastly, I try to keep my options open just in case one tool fails to be developed further or doesn’t support my old computers/workflow.

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I have the full Adobe suite for $30 a month. I hate the subscription model but depend on their products.

Working with designs for the Glowforge I don’t really see where GPU acceleration will buy you all that much unless you have a really old CPU. GF designs typically aren’t all that intense computationally. Give Inkscape a try and see if it works well enough for you and you may as well try the trial of AI.

I’m learning inkscape currently (shoutout and recommendation for Nick Saporito’s youtube lessons: His Channel) and like it fine for normal/small stuff but it is stuttering really bad on large files. I definitely need a new computer and I’m weighing that decision also.


Inkscape allows you to set number of threads it will use, that might help you speed it up slightly?

Here are some other tips.


I don’t think it’s the computer, I think it might be Inkscape. I’ve got a fairly respectable year old i5 with SSDs and enough memory and it’s the only programme that crashes and randomly hangs for a bit, Fusion and Sketchup, even with some of the terribly unreasonable geometry I try to inflict upon them run without issue.

Having said that I’m starting to get to grips with Inkscape and for a free piece of software it’s rather amazing.

How much memory do you have in the computer? If it has to use a scratch disk it is going to impact performance.

My machine is older - second generation core i5 processor (don’t remember if it is Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge) with an older (GT 680?) video card. What I do have is 32 GB RAM and frequently use all that up when editing photos in Photoshop. My next system will be able to handle even more memory. That’s my weak spot in the current system.

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Don’t know what type of system you have, but I’ve been using my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil and using the app graphic (I think It was $8 ish) and I’ve been loving it. Super simple to use, there are definitely some features I wish It had, but while I’m still just playing around with designs a one time $8 was bettter than $20 a month for me.

I don’t have my GF yet but I love Affinity Designer.

I’ve seen other posts where people are using it with the GF.

Much cheaper single licence, cross platform and lightening fast.


If you can find an older copy of Illustrator with a one-time purchase price it may be worth it. It’s a truly great product.


Where does one find such a thing? I use photoshop + illustrator all the time, but the subscription is pretty steep; I’d love to be free of that.

I also like Affinity Designer. It’s easy to use and cheap. :slight_smile:

It’s still missing a lot of features that Illustrator and Inkscape have, but 90% of the time it does what I need. The main problems I run into are that it tends to use the even-odd fill rule for complex shapes (which the Glowforge doesn’t yet support) and a lot of things can only be done easily using clipping paths. Once the Glowforge software supports those things I’ll be able to do 99% of my 2D design work in AD.


You can find old copies of Illustrator on eBay, but watch out because a lot of them may be fake or unusable. (e.g., registration code not valid)

Also, be aware that the last non-subscription version was CS6, released way back in 2012. It can have difficulty running on modern systems. The installers for CS6 sometimes don’t work on Windows 10, although if it’s installed under Windows 7 it usually continues to work after upgrading to Windows 10. (But it can fail with certain graphics cards.) On the Mac it started having problems on El Capitan and Sierra and often fails to run at all on High Sierra.

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Sounds like we’re in the same position - fusion runs pretty well for me too. I’ll put my specs up when I get home from work.

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sigh - that’s kind of what I feared (questionable ebay purchases and/or compatibility issues). Not willing to hassle with either, but I do appreciate the info :slight_smile:

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Looks like $50/month right now (for the bundle) - are there deals around occassionally?

I’ve been using Illustrator commercially since 1988, almost every working day. Personally I love it, even though newer versions seem bloated with all sorts of whizzy extras. Running the full suite of Adobe CC tools is necessary for me and for the £45 monthly fee well worth it.

I take photography classes in the evenings so I was able to get it at the student rate. I see the student rate is now $20 so if you can qualify for that it is worth it. For what I spend taking one or two classes I make up in discounts.

Freehand FTW! :yum: