Here is a guide to help you choose the best laptop for graphic design. It includes a detailed review of some of the top laptops on the market. Due to the complexity of the design process, you need to choose the best machine.
In this article, we’ll discuss the technical factors that make a laptop a good choice for graphic design and list some of the best options currently available.
How to Choose the Best Laptop for Graphic Design
For heavy tasks like animation and graphic design, you need a powerful computer. The definition of ‘powerful’ is so broad that it is easy to get confused.
You should consider the following factors before choosing a laptop for graphic design and multimedia work.
During regular computer use, RAM is used to run all the necessary tasks. In general, machines with high RAM capacities handle heavy workloads better than those with low RAM capacities.
With 16GB of RAM, you’ll be able to use any graphic design software, such as Illustrator, CorelDraw, Blender, and Photoshop, at the same time.
Your laptop’s CPU determines how fast it can process commands. As a result, graphics design is quite intensive and requires a decent CPU. When possible, we recommend going for i5 or i7 processors.
As a general rule, go for newer generations of processors. Although some older processors may have a higher clock speed, they are usually lacking in innovative features, and in reality are usually slower.
You can even use a GPU as basic as GTX 780 (I know it’s surprising since it has the word ‘graphics’ in it), but we recommend GTX 980 or 1050/1060 since the price difference isn’t that great. If you wish and your budget allows it, you can upgrade to a better GPU.
Top 12 Best Laptops For Graphic Designers
1) Dell XPS 15-9500
The Dell XPS 15 9500 is a great notebook if you want exceptional aesthetics without compromising a bit on processing performance.
The system is powered by a 10th gen Intel Core i7-10750H processor, capable of turbo-clocking up to 5GHz. Therefore, this laptop is capable of handling any kind of graphics design workload. We put Photoshop CC to the test with creative work, photo editing through multiple filters, and other demanding tasks. Based on benchmarking results, the XPS 15 9500 outperformed the XPS 15 7590 and the AERO 15.
If you have highly demanding graphic designing requirements, the CPU will offload some tasks to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU, which comes with 4GB of VRAM. The current graphics process is slightly slower than that of the 1660 Ti, but it is more than adequate for designing at a professional level. However, gaming results were middling compared with some of the more powerful RTX 20-series GPUs (i.e., RTX 2080, 2070, and 2060).
Dell’s laptops support 16GB of RAM, capable of handling multiple workflows and multitasking requirements with ease. The 512GB SSD unit is much faster than a conventional HDD and minimizes boot-up times. Windows 10 Home edition supports all graphic design software.
With 1920 x 1080 pixels, the FHD+ display steals the show. Designers have plenty of screen space to work with thanks to the edge-to-edge paneling. Aside from that, it boasts outstanding color clarity thanks to its 100 percent aRGB color gamut, VESA certification, HDR technology, and 94 percent DCI-P3 gamut for improved wide-angle viewing.
It features a 62 percent bigger touchpad and a class-leading backlit keyboard. The existing speakers are extremely powerful, bolstered further by the 3D acoustic experience. A decent webcam and a serviceable microphone round out the package. In addition to dual fans and stealth heat pipes for increased dissipation, the thermal layout is also commendable.
From a structural perspective, this is one of the sleekest ultrabooks on the market. At almost 4.5 pounds, it also qualifies as a portable laptop. You get 3 USB Type-C ports, including 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports. In addition to that, it provides other legacy slots, Killer Wi-Fi 6, and a variety of wired and wireless connectivity options. The battery lasts 12 hours on a single charge.
The Dell XPS 15 9500 is one of the best laptops for graphic designing due to its powerful processor and top-notch portability. You can counteract the only significant bottleneck – the price – by buying a refurbished Dell XPS 15 7590.
This certified refurbished laptop is probably the most powerful on our list, with 32GB RAM, a touch-enabled 4K display, a 1TB SSD, a comparable GPU without the Titanium option, and a bigger battery.
2) Apple MacBook Pro (14-inch)
Apple’s new MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) offers a decent increase in screen real estate over the 13-inch model. Similarly to the 16-inch model above, it is equipped with an amazing mini-LED screen that offers 1,600 nits of peak brightness and the P3 wide color gamut.
It’s also powered by the new M1 Pro and M1 Max Apple chips, the same as the 16-inch model, so it offers a similar level of performance. Thus, if you want a powerful laptop for graphic design, but still want something that’s portable, the 14-inch model may be the best choice.
Apple didn’t let the smaller model miss out on the new design elements added to the 16-inch model, as it comes with the same amount of ports, including an SD card slot, an HDMI port, and three Thunderbolt 4 ports.
3) HP Envy x360
You should consider the HP Envy x360 if you are a designer looking for a laptop that not only looks but also feels like a premium laptop without the premium price. Due to its compact and sturdy design and excellent performance, this is the best 2-in-1 laptop for creatives on a budget you can find.
It can also support HP’s MPP2.0 pen, which gives you a great way to create beautiful images easily. The most exciting feature of the Envy is what’s inside: AMD’s Ryzen 4000 series powers the laptop, which is capable of handling multitasking with ease, and with AMD’s Integrated Radeon graphics card, the laptop delivers excellent gaming performance.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4700U 2.0GHz Octa-Core (Beats i7-8550U) | Graphics: AMD Radeon Graphics Integrated | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Touchscreen | Storage: 512GB PCle SSD – 2TB PCle SSD | Dimensions: 14.1″ x 9.1″ x 0.7″
4) Microsoft Surface Book 2
Microsoft Surface 2 may be a great choice if you need a laptop for graphic design and money is not an issue.
First and foremost, the laptop has a great PixelSense Display, which produces crisp, clear images. Additionally, it is a 2-in-1 and can be used as a drawing tablet, which is an advantage in graphic design.
With an 8th generation Intel Quad Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, this bad boy can handle just about any task you throw at it. The GPU isn’t as powerful as Helios 300 (2 GB GTX 1050), but it’s sufficient for most games.
5) Razer Blade 15
With its brilliant craftsmanship and more than adequate specs, the Razer Blade 15 is one of Razer’s most sought-after laptops. Although Razer Blade 15 is still primarily considered a gaming laptop, it is also capable of handling graphic designing and more intricate tasks such as video editing and 3D rendering.
It is powered by a powerful Intel Core i7-10750H processor, capable of reaching turbo clock speeds of up to 5GHz. Laptop users need to understand that a powerful CPU is most important. When it comes to running programs like Illustrator, InDesign, or the entire Adobe Creative Suite, single-core processing is more important.
While the H-series chipset outperforms in the given category, it also comes with six cores and 12 threads for more demanding tasks. NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 2060 GPU ensures the quality of images, designs, vector illustrations, and other graphic designing aspects.
However, the memory speed of almost 12Gbps ensures faster representations. When working with complex 3D rendering or connecting multiple 4K monitors for a more cohesive professional workflow, 6GB of VRAM comes into play.
When it comes to handling multiple applications and resources at once, the 16GB of RAM support comes in handy. If you are a regular user of Adobe Photoshop and wish to create motion designs, 3D renders, graphic layouts, web designs, and more, the existing RAM allows you to amalgamate various platforms simultaneously, without stuttering.
The 512GB SSD handles storage requirements. If you want to ensure faster access, you should install more demanding applications like Photoshop, GIMP, Illustrator, and CorelDraw Suite onto the SSD. It comes pre-installed with Windows 10.
With an edge-to-edge panel, 100 percent sRGB color gamut, and the sharpest viewing angles, the 15.6-inch display is a visual treat for graphic designers. The matte screen, however, ensures excellent sunlight visibility. Gamer-friendly, Razer’s 144Hz screen refresh rate contributes to a better gaming experience.
Raser provides productivity-enhancing features like the Chroma backlit keyboard, silky touchpad, class-leading speakers, and a functional webcam-microphone combination. Featuring an aluminum unibody chassis and precision-cut edges, the craftsmanship is exceptional.
It weighs 8.75 pounds, which is quite heavy. Although the port management is pretty straightforward, Razer managed to include Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, and the elusive Thunderbolt 3 port that allows you to pair external resources and transfer data at almost 40Gbps.
As well as that, all the latest wireless standards are supported by a standard battery module that offers a 6-hour backup. The brilliant screen, trendy design accents, and processing power make it an excellent choice for the professional graphic designer in you.
6) Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
The MacBook Pros above may be excellent devices for graphic design, but Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 gives them a run for their money.
Microsoft may be better known as a software company, but it has been making some great laptops recently, including one that is ideal for graphic designers.
The device not only has a gorgeous design that’s thin and light, but also an excellent PixelSense touchscreen that will present your work in its best light. Additionally, it has an excellent keyboard, powerful specs (including cutting-edge integrated graphics from either Intel or AMD, depending on your configuration) and incredible battery life.
It’s a terrific showcase for Windows 10 and can run any graphic design program you want. With Windows 11, you can also upgrade for free.
7) ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo
Artists and programmers appreciate the dual-screen layout of the ZenBook Pro Duo. The device has a 15.6-inch 4K UHD OLED primary screen and a 14-inch IPS secondary touchscreen. By using this secondary display, users can easily access tools and features in their respective apps.
With the included stylus, it can also be used as a built-in writing tablet. All of this is powered by an Intel Core i7-10750H processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 video card.
ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo has one USB-C and two USB-A ports, as well as an HDMI port. To make typing on its unique keyboard deck layout easier, you also get a detachable palm rest in the box.
8) MSI GF63 Thin 9SC-066
You may find that this is an excellent choice if you are looking for a product that offers both portability and power. Due to its thin design and powerful components, it can handle even the most complex tasks. The crimson red backlit keyboard adds even more elegance to this great gadget.
If you are working on a demanding project that requires the device to be on for hours and hours, you need not worry about overheating. A wild card for cooling comes in the form of 2 fans as well as 7 pipes and 4 exhausts, ensuring the product will remain cool (and so will you).
A thin bezel and improved screen-to-body ratio deliver immersive visuals of the highest quality. The excellent graphics of NVIDIA GeForce GTX will make you enchant and offer you a unique experience while playing games, performing tasks, watching movies, and so on.
9) Lenovo Legion Y540
The Lenovo Legion Y540 is one of the few laptops that can deliver desktop-grade performance to graphic designers.
The Intel Core i7-9750H chipset features HyperThreading technology at its core. The Legion Y540’s turbo clock speed of up to 4.5GHz can easily handle almost any graphic design task, but its HyperThreading capability also makes it a great choice for multi-core rendering and gaming tasks.
With a GPU featuring the Turing Architecture and equipped with 4GB of Video RAM, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU is capable of handling and encoding some of the more intricate 2D and 3D designs.
Lenovo emphasizes multitasking and parallel workflows and offers 24GB RAM for lag-free performance. Regarding storage, the dual setup of 512GB SSD and 1TB HDD works like a charm. While the SSD speeds up Windows 10, games, and demanding applications like Photoshop and Illustrator, the 1TB hard drive offers ample storage for data, workflows, projects, and other bulky files.
Display-wise, you get a 15.6-inch wide-angle screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Lenovo offers an anti-glare panel to protect your eyes. Furthermore, LED backlighting technology is extremely energy-efficient.
Lenovo also provides a white backlit keyboard, a responsive trackpad, Harman speakers powered by Dolby Atmos technology, a decent webcam, and a mic-headphone combo for maximizing laptop productivity.
The laptop weighs 5.1 pounds. Legion Y540 features USB 3.1, HDMI, Type-C, Mini DisplayPort, and a few other wired and wireless connectivity slots and standards. On moderate to heavy usage, the battery provides a 5-hour backup.
Lenovo’s Legion Y540, a class-leading device, boasts massive storage and plenty of RAM to prevent laptop sluggishness.
10) Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC
For 2021, the Gigabyte AERO 17 HDR XC is a brilliant laptop for graphic design thanks to its cutting-edge components, such as a 10th generation Intel processor and a new Nvidia RTX 3070 laptop graphics card.
The Gigabyte AERO 17 HDR XC has one of the best mobile GPUs in the world, which means it can easily handle graphic design tasks and apps without a problem.
Graphic designers will appreciate the stunning 4K 17.3-inch screen that supports 100% of the Adobe RGB colour gamut, essential for anyone who requires colour accuracy in their work, and has been Pantone calibrated as well.
I think it looks great, and it has a much higher resolution than even the mighty MacBook Pro (16-inch).
In addition to its robustness, it’s packed with ports, so you can connect all your must-have peripherals without an adapter. It is, however, quite expensive, so graphic designers on a budget may want to look elsewhere.
11) ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro 15
ProArt StudioBook is a powerful laptop designed for professionals. You can get all the power you need when you’re on the road with the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 Max Q graphics card. Powered by an Intel Core i7 CPU, the graphics card ensures that you always have processing power when you need it.
As you work, it provides you with sharp and crisp images on a 15.6-inch screen with a 4K UHD display. Also included are three USB-A outlets, one USB-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 3.5mm microphone jack, an RJ45 ethernet port, and a dedicated charging port.
All of this comes with 2TB SSD storage and 48GB RAM. As a result, you won’t run out of space or memory. With all that power, the laptop weighs less than five pounds or two kilograms, making it truly portable.
12) HP Spectre x360
Spectre x360 15t is the laptop to invest in if you are a graphic designer looking for a portable convertible that outperforms the competition.
Processing performance of the Intel Core i7-10510U CPU allows you to run every graphic design app, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and more, without any issues. This laptop features excellent single-core performance, as well as a multi-threaded architecture that makes it ideal for rendering and modeling CAD. The existing chipset turbo clocks at 4.9GHz and is complemented by the NVIDIA GeForce MX330 GPU and 2GB of VRAM.
With the existing processing conglomerate, you can work with 3D designs and even edit 4K videos. The 16GB of RAM is an excellent addition to the system memory. The ultra-fast 1TB SSD with NVMe support handles storage preferences. The existing storage drive is large enough to boot up the Windows 10 Pro edition OS, which came with the laptop.
The existing 15.6-inch touch panel is as vivid as a laptop display can be thanks to the 4K resolution. Spectre x360 15t features a cumulative pixel spread of 3840 x 2160, a micro-edge screen layout, Corning Gorilla Glass, and BrightView technology for enhanced power efficiency.
Additionally, you can use this laptop for leisure tasks like surfing, business meetings, and content creation, given the presence of a backlit keyboard, smooth and silky touchpad, B&O speakers, a HD webcam, and a number of powerful microphones.
A gem-cut design and a manageable weight of 4.82 pounds further enhance the aesthetics of this powerful machine. Despite being a convertible, HP packs in a USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support, HDMI 2.0, and other useful slots.
In addition to wireless and wired connectivity specs, HP also includes a powerful 84wh battery, enabling a battery backup of almost 8 hours. So, the HP Spectre x360 15t is an excellent laptop for graphic design, offering plenty of power and top-of-the-line device portability.
Frequently Asked Questions
As graphic designing is a single-core process, the best CPUs for the task will have higher clock speeds for the single-core and even support overclocking. An 8 core processor might not be the most cost-effective choice for a graphic designer and would not offer any additional benefits as compared to a Hexa-Core i7 processor.
When it comes to graphic design, the CPU is the one doing most of the heavy lifting. Multitasking, however, may deplete the system’s memory if you are using several programs at the same time, such as Photoshop and Illustrator. To ensure the system doesn’t lag or freeze, additional RAM is always recommended for a more professional setup.
You can understand the color contrast and saturation levels of the design using a good display. Although a Full HD panel is a bare minimum for checking the brightness of vector and raster designs, it is essential to have at least 72 percent NTSC color gamut or 100 percent sRGB color gamut for better outputs.
The sRGB and Adobe RGB color standards are used by laptops to ensure that color differences between the design color and the print color are kept to a minimum. National Television Standards Committee, or NTSC, is more of a standardized unit, and most of them feature 72 percent of the NTSC color gamut, which is the equivalent of 99 percent sRGB. The NTSC color gamut is typically comparable to the Adobe color gamut.
A good laptop for graphic design needs a fast solid-state drive, although you can also use a hard drive. SSD, especially those featuring NVMe technology, load data, files, and applications faster than conventional hard drives. If you’re constantly on the move and want to save loading times, then this feature is ideal.
Graphic designing isn’t a very demanding process and can be pursued professionally if the laptop has a powerful processor. You can always zero in on the best possible notebook by carefully examining the aforementioned laptops, depending on your aligned preferences, additional skills, and budget.
This post aims to ensure that one gets the best graphic design experience. Which device are you getting? Our editorial team regularly moderates and updates the guides if there is another machine that deserves to be included.