Graphic design is one job that requires you to have the best tools. This is because the kind of tools you have will determine the output you provide your clients with. And of course, the most important tool you need is a computer as it will help you with conceiving and bringing to life your ideas. Choosing the best laptop for graphic design can be a bit of a problem especially when working among professionals. You’ll likely get different recommendations and be at a loss on which graphic design system is right for you.
Not to worry though; since you found this review, that confusion would be a thing of the past once you read through. You’ll be able to determine the best laptop for graphic design that’s ideal for your budget, ideas, and your workload. We’ve also added a guide to help you know what to look out for when choosing the best laptop for graphic design. So without further ado, let’s get right into it.
TL;DR - 10 Best laptops for Graphic Design :
- 2020 Apple MacBook Pro
- Microsoft Surface Book 2 15″
- Lenovo Flex 14 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop
- Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop
- HP Envy x360 2-in-1 Flip Laptop
- Dell XPS 9310 OLED 4K Touchscreen Screen Laptop
- Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop
- Lenovo Legion 5 Gaming Laptop
- Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop
- Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop
1. 2020 Apple MacBook Pro
Classic Apple Quality
Don't be surprised that the 2020 Apple Macbook Pro is our first pick in this review. Apple is a brand known for its awesome products. While their devices may be on the expensive side, they're usually worth the money you spend for them. This same applies to the Macbook Pro. Sitting in the $1000 price range, this laptop features a 13-inch retina display that offers vivid, crystal clear colors.
You get 8GB of ram to run your programs and a 512GB SSD to store your projects. As if that isn't enough, this excellent laptop for graphic design comes with Apple's new, ultra-powerful M1 chip, which will allow you to render faster and get more done in less time. This computer is truly one of the best for any designer who has the money to spend.
2. Microsoft Surface Book 2 15″
Versatile, Powerful Performance on the Go
Need a 2-in-1 Core i7 laptop to serve as your graphic design powerhouse? Look no further than the Microsoft Surface Book 2. This laptop is one of the best graphic design laptops in the world, with the capability to rival everything that the Apple Macbook Pro stands for. One major reason why graphic designers consider this laptop to be the best, besides the innards it comes with, is the fact that it offers you flexibility. You can use this laptop anywhere as it doubles as a tablet, too. This means that you can use it anywhere, whether you're in a meeting, on the train, at home, or at work. All you need to do is detach the keyboard and you have a tablet ready to go.
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 comes in multiple variants, but the model featured in this review comes with a 15-inch touchscreen display and a surface pen. You get enhanced graphical performance from the NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060 GPU and 6GB of dedicated graphics memory. Just like the Apple Macbook Pro above, this computer also features 16GB RAM and a 512GB solid-state drive. It has a very good battery life as well given the fact that you can get 17 hours of video playback from a single charge. Four versatile modes of use and the inclusion of a USB Type-C provide this laptop with the power and connectivity required to be one of the best for graphic designers who are always on the go. If you've got over $2000 to spend, this is arguably the best machine to go for.
3. Lenovo Flex 14 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop
2-in-1 Flexibility at an Affordable Price
The Lenovo Flex 14 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop is another great 2-in1 computer for graphic designers. This laptop comes with features and specs that will help you produce beautiful and colorful works. With a price tag of around $600, this Lenovo product is certainly a lot cheaper than the first two laptops on our list. While it may not come with quite as awesome specs as the Apple and the Microsoft surface, it still features some of the best specs for its price, thereby qualifying it for our list.
Although the keyboard cannot be detached like on the Microsoft Surface Book above, this Lenovo laptop can still be used as a tablet simply by folding the keyboard backward. The Lenovo Flex comes with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB NVMe SSD. It uses an AMD Ryzen 5 processor to carry out everyday tasks and its Radeon Vega 8 GPU to carry out your graphics work. This Windows 10 laptop comes with a 14-inch screen, which makes it a little more compact than the Microsoft laptop above. You also get up to 8 hours of battery life from this device, a stylus pen, and a camera shutter to help provide additional security and privacy. Available ports include HDMI, USB Type-C, and USB 3.0. This laptop even comes with a fingerprint scanner for enhanced security.
4. Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop
Gaming-Tier Graphical Power
The Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop is one of the best laptops for graphic design you can choose. Although it's mainly marketed as a gaming laptop, this computer is endowed with the power to produce stunning graphical results. It is fast, powerful, and immensely better than many other laptops on the market. So, what specs has Acer packed in to make this laptop one of the best choices for graphic designers? Let's start with the fact that you get the eighth-generation Intel Core i7 processor with the capability to go up to 4.1 GHz. Also included in the package is the NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060 and 6GB of dedicated memory.
A full Intel HD graphics display further pushes the package forward with its 300 nits brightness and 144Hz refresh rate. Up to 7 hours of battery life allows you to work for longer hours and the Aeroblade 3D fan cooling system ensures that your laptop doesn't overheat, helping to reduce lag in turn. This Acer computer also features 16GB RAM, a backlit keyboard, and a 256 SSD. And the fact that you get an extra slot for an extra SSD or hard drive makes this worthwhile. If you're looking to grab one of the best laptops for graphic design in 2021, the Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop is one of the best choices you can make.
5. HP Envy x360 2-in-1 Flip Laptop
A Capable 2-in-1 Powerhouse
Hewlett Packard (HP) is another company that's just as big as Apple in the computing industry. Their high-end laptops are packed with amazing features, designs, and specs. This rings true for the HP Envy x360. Not only is this laptop a beauty to behold, but it's also a beauty when it starts running Photoshop, Lightroom, and other graphic software. This hardware will help you remain at the top of your game what with all the features and specs it offers.
This beautiful laptop comes with a Full HD WLED display that every Photoshop professional is surely going to appreciate. The AMD Ryzen 7 CPU may be a little lighter than some of the processors offered by other options on our list, but that allows the versatile 2-in-1 design to operate at its best without cutting corners. A battery life of up to 11 hours ensures that you are able to produce your maximum output without getting worried about constantly needing a power outlet nearby. And a whopping 1TB SSD ensures you'll be able to store all your projects and access them at a moment's notice.
6. Dell XPS 9310 OLED 4K Touchscreen Screen Laptop
Looking for a lightweight yet ultra-powerful computer for your graphic design works? The Dell XPS 9310 is one of the best laptops for graphic design you can go with. You won't know what you're missing until you start using this laptop. It comes with nothing but the best specs. Unlike the other computers we've reviewed so far, the Dell XPS 9310 comes with a whopping 2TB SSD storage instead of 512GB or 256GB. The almost bezel-less 4K OLED display means you'll be able to get the very best out of your graphic design projects.
It also features 32GB RAM to back up its powerful 11th-gen Intel i7 CPU. As a whole, this laptop is lightweight, compact, fast, and beautiful. This laptop comes two Thunderbolt 3 ports to keep it ahead of the game and ensure you get fast charging and transfer speeds at all times. Though with a battery life of up to 10 hours, you aren't likely to be relying on that fast charging too often.
7. Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop
Razer is a name best known for its quality gaming-oriented devices, and the Razer Blade 15 is no exception to this quality. While it's primarily a gaming laptop, the specs it carries to that end make it an exceptional companion for graphic design. Housing a powerful 10th-gen Intel i7 processor and a mighty NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 GPU, this is a level of performance not to be taken lightly.
While the design may be very basic, particularly for a Razer product, this certainly isn't a laptop basic in its components. A capable 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD will ensure you have all the memory and storage necessary to work on your projects without disruption, and the 4K OLED display will allow you to glean the absolute most from every pixel. A host of USB Type-A, Type-C, Thunderbolt 3, and HDMI ports allow for the utmost connectivity and offer a desktop-class experience should you opt to pair this laptop with an additional monitor.
8. Lenovo Legion 5 Gaming Laptop
Following the trend of the previous entry, the Lenovo Legion 5 is another gaming powerhouse. And once again, the specs that make this laptop great for gaming also make it incredible for graphic design. A very capable AMD Ryzen 7 processor is paired with a very much sought-after NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050Ti to deliver almost unparalleled graphical performance.
As is more or less the standard for this list, the specs on the Legion 5 are backed by 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD, which are more than sufficient for all of your graphic design needs. Its Full HD IPS display runs at an impressive refresh rate of 165Hz, making for impressive gaming visuals but also an ideal display for animations, video editing, and other such motion-heavy media.
9. Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop
A lot of the laptops on our list have a pretty hefty asking price due to their heavy-duty specs. But creativity shouldn't just be reserved for those who can afford the best of the best products. The Acer Aspire 5 serves as proof that graphic designers and other such creators can benefit from very capable specs without needing to take out a second mortgage. The model featured here boasts an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU backed by 8GB RAM and a 512GB SSD, but those working on a tighter budget can get models up to twice as cheap by sacrificing only a slight bit of performance.
This 15.6" laptop is very slim, making it ideal for taking with you on the go. And a battery life of up to 11 hours means you can work the whole day without needing to rely on always having a power outlet handy. A whole slew of ports including USB Type-A, Type-C, and HDMI offer extensive connectivity so you can use all of your peripherals with ease and even hook this laptop up to an external monitor. With a price tag of less than $800, this is a steal for graphic designers not yet willing to drop thousands on top-of-the-line devices.
10. Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop
Closing off our list is yet another gaming laptop, this time following in the footsteps of the Acer Aspire above in its budget approach. For a lower cost than most of the devices on this list, you get impressive high-level gaming specs packed into a sleek and stylish body. A 10th-gen Intel i5 processor is matched with a formidable NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 GPU for very capable gaming performance and an even more capable creative workflow.
The 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD may not be anything to call home about, but they should still offer plenty of memory and storage for all of your creative works. If you're careful about ensuring you don't run too many RAM-intensive programs at once and make sure to back up your data every few months, you should be golden. The Full HD 15.6" LED-backlit display offers a refresh rate of 144Hz, which means it can work very comfortably with motion graphics.
Laptop for Graphic Design Buyer’s Guide
There are tons of laptops on the market for creatives. Whether you’re a Photoshop expert, an active Gimp user, a PicPick lover, or Lightroom enthusiast, getting one of the best laptops for creative design can easily be the difference between you and your competitors. You don’t necessarily need to spend tons of cash on an Apple product. There are many other options on the market you can choose your best laptop for graphic design from.
We’ve outlined ten of the best laptops for graphic design in our review above. If you’ve got the cash to spend or if you’re already used to the Apple ecosystem, we recommend that you go with the Apple Macbook Pro in our review. However, if you are looking for a great option for less, then you should consider going with the many other options on our list. In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at the important factors to consider when choosing the best laptops for graphic design.
What Laptop Should I Buy for Graphic Design?
Like we noted earlier, there are many different laptop brands on the market. However, it usually boils down to simply getting a MacBook or a PC. Most graphic design software is built for both systems. But it’s important to ensure that you are familiar with the interface and your files are compatible with the OS and applications you are working with.
Macbooks used to be the kings of graphic design. This is because they used to have the best color accuracy and picture quality around. However, many modern PCs now feature some of the best displays on the market. PCs are also more upgradable than Macs as they can be custom-configured and upgraded with more components. This ensures that when a computer component becomes faulty, you’re able to repair or replace the component without changing the entire PC.
So, if you are already into the Apple ecosystem and don’t want to change, you can choose to go with the MacBook Pro in our review. However, if you don’t have enough to get an Apple product, but would still love to have a great creative design computer, you can choose from the other products in our review.
What Computer Specs Do I Need For Graphic Design?
Central Processing Unit
One of the most important specs to check when choosing a computer for graphic design is the central processing unit, otherwise known as the CPU. The CPU controls every function the computer carries out. As a creative, you want to ensure that the processor of the computer you want to purchase is very fast. The higher the processor, the better your system would be able to run complex software.
If you run heavy programs, you’ll want to go for computers with at least an Intel Core i5 or an AMD Ryzen processor. Computers with high-end specs typically have the latest generation of an Intel i7 or Core i9 processor. But most of them tend to be on the expensive side. While a typical core i5 might not be as fast as a typical Core i7 or Core i9 processor, it will surely do the job of ensuring that your design software runs smoothly with no complications.
Memory, otherwise known as RAM helps hold the information needed for your computer to run. If you run complex programs or you usually open multiple programs or browser tabs, you’ll want to go for a computer with at least 8GB ram. The higher the RAM, the better, smoother, and faster your computer will run. There are a number of laptops that come with as much as 16GB ram and 32GB ram straight out of the box. However, laptops with 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB RAM usually have extra slots so you can upgrade your system’s memory further. Note that there’s a limit to how much RAM you can upgrade to.
There are mainly two types of storage drives; solid-state drive (SSD) and Hard disk drive (HDD). HDDs are cheaper and usually offer more capacity. They’re heavier than SSDs but can be problematic to laptops. Solid-state drives, on the other hand, are very expensive, but they are lighter, more durable, and faster than HDDs. This is one of the reasons why computers with SSDs are usually more expensive than those with HDDs.
For your creative works, go with a computer that has at least a 256GB or 512GB SSD. If you can afford it, you can also opt for a 1TB SSD computer. Just know that the greater the storage, the higher the price.
A computer for creative design won’t be complete without the best display. This part is a tricky subject for many graphic designers. While you may want to buy a fairly affordable device, you also want to ensure that the computer comes with the best monitor for your creative works. Always go for a monitor that has at least an HD display. The higher the number of pixels your monitor can display, the better. The minimum screen resolution for creative design should be 1920 x 1080 pixels. Always go for displays with a higher pixel count if you’re aiming to get the best colors.
Laptops come in many different sizes, but everybody has their own preferences. Currently, designers tend to prefer between 13-inch and 17-inch laptops. Your choice will depend on the weight and portability. If you want a lightweight and portable laptop, 13 inches is obviously the best option. However, if you prefer bigger screens and would like to see every inch and pixel of your work, then a 15- or 17-inch laptop will do you a lot of good.
Are Touch Screen Laptops Good for Graphic Design?
Yes, they are. Although they tend to be glossy and usually collect prints when you slide your fingers on their displays, they are simply awesome for graphic design. Many of them come with stylus pens that can make using software such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom a breeze.
As a creative designer, getting the best tools will surely help your cause. While the best software can help you create the perfect images and graphics, the right computer will help you run that software without you pulling out your hair because of things like lag, blur, insufficient colors, and slow speeds.If you liked our article on laptops for graphic design, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.