Modern graphic design is a complex job that requires some specialized high-quality computing hardware. Currently, there is a large market for laptops due to their size and portability. In today’s world of “digital nomads”, a quality laptop is virtually a necessity for the budding graphic designer (especially if you want to start your own graphic design business).
To this end, we have compiled a list of the best laptops for graphic design. Our selection is based on a few key qualities of good laptops for graphic design; features like performance (RAM and processor), screen size and resolution, input features (keyboard, touchscreen, etc.) and battery life and portability. The best laptops for graphic design have a solid mix of all these qualities. We also have lists of laptops for video editing and laptops for programming.
That being said, the sheer number of products on the market can make narrowing down the choice that much more difficult. So sit back as we go over a list of the best laptops for graphic design.
Last update on 2022-01-09 // The links above are affiliate // Images from Amazon
How to Choose the Best Laptop for Graphic Design
In general, laptop performance can be boiled down to RAM, processor, GPU and storage.
The CPU (central processing unit) is the central unit that performs the most basic computations. Essentially, the processor is the thing that allows your computer to have multiple applications working at the same time. A better processor means faster computations which result in faster performance on all open applications.
GPU is also important but comes into play when you work with animation and 3d modeling.
RAM (random access memory) is part of the hardware that temporarily stores information for processing. Basically, the more RAM you have, the more tasks your processor can handle. Some graphic design applications are heavy and a large amount of RAM makes these applications run smoother.
The storage can be an HDD or SSD. Unlike RAM, data in the storage device is stored permanently (unless manually deleted). An SSD is faster than HDD and can make processing quicker and reduce boot and load times.
Another important feature for graphic design laptops is the screen. A better resolution screen means higher graphical details and a wider range of colors. The size of the screen also determines how easy it is to work on the laptop. In general, a 15-inch screen is considered standard among the graphic design industry. Many laptops for graphic design and multimedia are 2-in-1 laptops that double as a computer or a tablet.
A good graphic design laptop should have enough ports to connect a mouse, keyboard, drawing pad, or even an integrated touch screen.
Touch screens are an increasingly popular addition to graphic design laptops as you can work on your stuff by directly touching the screen, almost like drawing on a piece of paper. Whether or not you should want a touchscreen depends on your personal preferences; some designers love them because of the integrated features and ease of use, others may prefer a more traditional approach to graphic design.
Battery Life and Portability
As much as working in an office is the standard locale, many graphic designers like a change of scenery and take their work with them to different places. That’s why it is important to have a laptop that has a good battery life, so you can work wherever without worrying about a drained battery. Portability ties into this too, as the more compact and transportable your laptop the easier it is to work while enjoying your freedom.
Best Laptops for Graphic Design
Apple MacBook Pro 13.3″
A Perfect Fit for Graphic Designers
Apple MacBook Pro 13.3″ is a practical, all-mighty laptop that offers excellent performance and amazing versatility that makes it an exceptional option for a variety of activities, including graphic design. This machine is fitted with the powerful Apple M1, 8-core chip, as well as a very good Retina display, with True Tone technology and 500 nits brightness. Moreover, there is also the 2560 x 1600 resolution and wide P3 color gamut that is another reason this laptop is a great choice for designers.
Apple MacBook Pro 13.3″ also features 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD for storage, and an 8-core GPU that should give more than enough resources for trouble-free image rendering. In addition, there is also the Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, Magic Keyboard, as well as Touch Bar and Touch ID functions.
This laptop’s battery life is amazing, and it delivers some 13 hours of work, while the limited number of available ports (there are only two Thunderbolt 3 ports and one 3.5mm jack) is the only major downside of this otherwise exquisite device. However, it is somewhat expected from the more affordable Apple devices.
All in all, if you are after the best laptop for graphic designers, you can be more than sure that the Apple MacBook Pro 13.3″ will fulfill your every need.
- Excellent battery life
- Great performance
- Magic Keyboard
- A limited number of ports
Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop
An Affordable Multifunctional Beast
Acer Nitro 5 is a reasonably priced, full-featured laptop that offers a clean look, and more importantly, delivers an excellent performance. Its combination of Intel Core i7-11800H CPU, with 4.6GHz boosting speed and 24MB Intel Smart Cache, and AI and Ray-Tracing ready NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050Ti GPU, is doing miracles. In other words, this laptop will perform every task you confront it with.
Equally importantly, this laptop also comes with a 17.3″ FHD IPS screen, with 144Hz refresh rate, 16GB of RAM, as well as 1TB of NVMe SSD storage that are other welcomed features, and an additional reason for its amazing performance.
Also, this laptop offers exceptional networking capabilities and is fitted with Intel Killer E2600 Ethernet, and Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650i, which allows fast throughput, and easy network optimization.
In other words, there is the whole package needed for trouble-free work. Therefore, if you are seeking an affordable, yet efficient machine for graphics design, Acer Nitro 5 should be more than an acceptable choice.
- Clean looking
- RTX 3050Ti GPU
- Excellent performance
- 144Hz IPS Display
- Reasonable price
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
Everything You Need for a Good-Quality Design
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is a practical and reasonably priced laptop that offers a great 11-hour autonomy and brings high-end performance, ideal for businesspeople, including designers. This is a stylish-looking device, with a comfortable keyboard, yet more importantly, a great 2496 by 1664 pixels 15” IPS screen, perfect for split-screen tasks. On top of that, there is also the Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor, as well as integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD storage. All of this combined delivers more than satisfying results.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 comes along with the Windows 10 Home Operating System and features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Unfortunately, the number of ports is limited to only two USB ports, which is a bit disappointing for this class of device.
On the other hand, there are Omnisonic Speakers, with Dolby Atmos 6 support, 720p HD camera, and dual far-field Studio Mics that are delivering a very good sound and perfect conference call setup.
In other words, Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 brings not only great performance, but also great versatility and usability, offering a whole set of functions, as should be the case with one of the best laptops for design available on the market.
- Good price
- Very good performance
- 11-hour battery life
- Very good keyboard
- Solid audio
- A limited number of ports
ASUS ZenBook 15 Laptop X534FTC-AS77
Powerful GPU And Large Screen For Stunning Visuals
The ZenBook 15 is a very interesting choice for graphic designers looking for an affordable yet performant machine with an UHD screen. This baby comes with a 15.6” UHD 4K NanoEdge display, which is relatively rare in this price bracket, plus a solid Intel Core i7-10510U CPU and a GeForce GTX 1650 GPU under the hood.
As far as graphic design goes, this setup is more than enough to meet and exceed the strictest demands. On top of that, you’ll get 16 GB of RAM (upgradable), a beefy 512 GB SSD and Amazon Alexa compatibility, though it’s not clear why you would need that for.
Anyway, the ZenBook 15 is a great all-rounder and it manages to tick off all the important boxes in our preamble. This is the master of productivity, and it can handle anything you throw at it, even some light gaming due to its dedicated GPU. Also, from a productivity point, the UHD display is one of the best screens available on a 15 incher.
We must also mention its gorgeous design and the cool metallic lid, which looks and feels great to touch, though it’s a literal fingerprint magnet. The ErgoLift hinge is another interesting feature that will delight avid typists, as it allows you to raise the keyboard deck for a more ergonomic typing experience. Finally, the laptop weighs 3.6 pounds and measures 13.9 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches, which makes it a great choice for people on the go.
- Beautiful design
- Solid build quality
- Light and compact
- Super slim bezels
- MIL-SPEC durability
- 8.30 hours autonomy
- Lacks Ethernet port
- Dim display
Razer Blade 15
One of the Best out There
Razer Blade 15 is a premium-quality, high-end machine, ideal for gaming, as well as numerous other activities, such as video rendering, design, and other image-oriented activities. The main reason for that is its 15.6” QHD screen, with 100% sRGB gamut coverage, and 240Hz refresh rate, which is more than respectable.
Equally importantly, this laptop features the RTX 3060 graphics card and comes with an Intel i7-11800H, 8-Core CPU, with Intel Turbo Boost Technology capable of providing up to 5.1GHz speed, and special Vapor Chamber Cooling. Moreover, there are also 16GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD storage, as well as both Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth connectivity. Also, there are three USB ports, one HDMI 2.1 port, two Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, and a 3.5 mm Combo Audio jack.
Razer Blade 15 is also fitted with an additional M.2 slot for extra storage capacity, it provides THX Spatial Audio and offers excellent battery life. In addition, there is also the per-key RGB Razer Chroma lighting – in other words, an excellent overall package is there.
Therefore, if you want a powerful and efficient laptop for your designing tasks, Razer Blade 15 is more than a great choice.
- RTX 3060 graphics
- Good battery life
- 240Hz, 1440p screen
HP ZBook Create G7
Excellent for Work and Play
Just like the, the HP Zbook Create is specially designed for gaming, but also for creators, which makes it ideal for graphic design, obviously. According to HP, the Zbook Create is the world’s smallest 15’’ machine for gaming and creation, and considering its metrics, i.e. it weighs 1.9 kg and it’s 17.5 mm thin, this statement is hard to contradict.
If you’re on an unlimited budget, you can configure your ZBook Create G7 to take you to the Moon and back, i.e. this stylish and incredibly thin laptop can house an RTX 2080 Super GPU, as well as the latest Intel Core i9 and Intel Xeon CPUs. The sky is the limit, customization wise, and if that’s not enough for you, there’s even a ZBook Studio alternative that comes with an Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 GPU.
The display is another strong selling point for the ZBook Create G7, and it’s obvious that this is a machine designed for professional creators. To give you a hint, you can get high res and incredibly accurate 4K OLED panel, with 100% DCI-P3 color coverage and 600 nits brightness in the highest-end version.
The unibody chassis is built from machined aluminum, and that confers it exceptional cooling capabilities, due to HP’s gaming-class VaporForce Thermal platform. Even the sound system is tuned by Bang & Olufsen, hence if you can afford it, just go for it.
- Beautiful design
- Supremely configurable
- Fantastic display
- Gaming grade performance
- Stellar audio system
- High-end configs are expensive
Dell XPS 15 9500
The Best Laptop for Graphic Design
The Dell XPS 15 9500 is arguably one of the best (if not the best) 15’’ laptops on the market, and that makes it a prime contender for the title of the best laptop for graphic design. If you’re ready to pay the price for a beefed-up version of the XPS 15 9500, we can say that the ultimate laptop has arrived for you.
Depending on the configuration, the XPS 15 9500 can be extremely powerful (and expensive), but in the same time, light enough to carry around town hassle-free, and, most importantly, stylish and discrete. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this laptop, as it ticks absolutely all of the boxes in the preamble of the article.
First, you’ll get a stunning display, which is highly important for graphic design work, then the keyboard is terrific for typing, comfortable and ergonomically designed, the speakers are pretty good, the trackpad is also big enough and comfy enough to use for extended periods of time, the configuration options are endless, and so on and so forth.
For the starting price of $1,299, you’ll get a 10th gen Intel Core i5 Comet Lake CPU, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. If you’re not married with Apple’s MacOS, the Dell XPS 15 is the best laptop money can buy in 2020: it’s thin, light, well designed, the speakers are on top, the display has small bezels, you get 3 T3 ports, an SD card reader, and even a headphone jack.
The chassis is made from CNC milled aluminum, and features clean edges, while the keyboard deck is carbon fiber, reminding us of sports cars. Finally, we must mention the stellar 3,840 x 2,400 resolution display, with 500 nits of brightness and capable of hitting of 100 percent the Adobe RGB color gamut, and you’ve got yourself a winner for the best laptop for graphic design, especially if you take into consideration the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU.
- Superb display
- Premium build quality
- Fantastic design
- Impressive keyboard and trackpad
- Light and stylish
- None really
MSI P65 Creator-1084
Almost Overkill for Graphic Design
This is the MSI alternative to the HP ZBook Create, and as the name suggests, this hardcore machine is focused on content creators, and by that we mean graphic designers, photo editors and so on. The laptop comes loaded with the best components, including a 15.6″ 4K UHD Display, the latest-gen Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, a GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, 32 GB of RAM and a 1TB Teton Glacier SSD.
Everything’s on the up and up with this machine, including the retail price. However, if you’re looking for sheer power, this speedy, powerful and stylish laptop can do anything: 2D/3D design, 4K video editing, gaming, you name it, it got it. MSI is well known for high-end gaming computers, like its Trident desktops or GT series laptops, but this one is will definitely make creative professionals happy.
Even if this is far from cheap, it’s definitely worth your money if you’re looking for high-end performance and top-notch components at a reasonable price. Even the design is pretty sleek and discreet, connectivity is well taken care of, performance is on level with the best in class, and the only compromise we can think of is the built-in speakers which are not great.
- High-end hardware
- Brilliant 4K display
- Sleek design
- Good keyboard
- Plenty of connectivity
- Sub-par speakers
Dell XPS 17 9710
A Designer’s High-End Dream
Dell XPS 17 9710 is a powerful and highly capable laptop that offers nothing but the best. This laptop comes with all the latest hardware and features the Intel Core i9-11900H CPU, with 4.6GHz boost speed and 24MB of cache, as well as the 6GB NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card. It’s a killer combination that is perfect for a variety of activities, including gaming, video rendering, graphic design, and others.
Dell XPS 17 9710 is also fitted with an excellent 17” UHD Touchscreen, with an Anti-Reflective display, 500 nits brightness, and HDR support. Also, it features 32GB of DDR4 RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD storage, and offers and exceptional connectivity that includes Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 and Bluetooth 5.1.
When talking about available ports, you will be more than pleased, since there are four Thunderbolt 3 ports, accompanied by a full-size SD card reader and 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack that should provide more than enough versatility and functionality.
Dell XPS 17 9710 also offers full support for Alexa voice controls, it comes fitted with Windows 10 Pro Operating System, and presents an excellent multifunctional tool for any sort of business or personal use. For that reason, if you want a powerful and highly capable device for a variety of tasks, Dell XPS 17 9710 is a wish coming true for you.
- Four Thunderbolt 4 ports
- 17-inch 4K touch-screen, 60Hz
- GeForce RTX 3060
- Amazing performance
ConceptD 7 Ezel
A Unique and Efficient Designer’s Machine
ConceptD 7 Ezel is a sleek and attractive-looking laptop, with an innovative screen design, which involves two hinges, and allows the screen to rotate outward, letting you position the screen in almost any position, making a unique product on the market.
In addition, this laptop is also packed with good quality hardware that includes Intel i7-10750H CPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and 1TB of NVMe SSD storage. There is also the GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card, with 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM, as well as the 15.6″ 4K UHD IPS, with 60 Hz refresh rate, 350 nits brightness, and 100% Adobe RGB Color Gamut coverage, which is an excellent characteristic for any design work.
ConceptD 7 Ezel comes with four-hour battery life, a flat, yet comfortable keyboard, and also includes a built-in stylus pen (Wacom EMR Pen) that is another huge bonus for its creative nature. In other words, this laptop is designed to be practical and efficient in performing graphics-oriented tasks; therefore, if you are after the best laptop for graphic design, ConceptD 7 Ezel is certainly an exceptional choice.
- Excellent build quality
- Built-in Wacom EMR pen
- Great design
- Not the best battery life
So what is the best laptop for graphic design? As always, the answer will depend on your specific wants and needs. More powerful laptops tend to be bigger and have less of battery life while those that excel in portability and user-friendliness tend to be less powerful. A touch screen can be a great option for a graphic designer who wants an intuitive interface. Regardless of your needs, hopefully, this guide will give you some pointers and put you on the right path to find a suitable laptop for your graphic design needs.