Best notebook for graphics. A buying guide for graphic designers who want to have a valid tool for their graphic design.
Modern graphic design is complex work that requires specialized, high-quality hardware. Currently, there is a large market for notebooks due to their size and portability. In today’s world of “digital nomads,” a quality laptop is practically a necessity for the budding graphic designer (especially if you want to start your own graphic design business).
To that end, I have decided to compile a list of the best graphics notebooks. This selection is based on some key qualities that are: performance (RAM and processor), size and resolution of the screen, input functions (keyboard, touchscreen, etc.) And the duration of the battery and portability. The best graphics notebooks have a solid mix of all these qualities.
Ranking best notebooks for graphics with offers and prices
Here is a selection of the best laptops to make graphics most requested on the market, valid for graphic designers and designers who want to create multimedia content of graphics, photography, and videos.
1. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
The best graphic computer of the moment.
CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M – Radeon Pro 5500M | RAM: 16GB – 64GB | Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone | Memory: 512GB – 8TB SSD.
- Only 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports
As a replacement for the 15-inch MacBook Pro, the 16-inch MacBook Pro was welcomed with open arms. Not only is it light and thin, but it also features a fantastic display and powerful and latest hardware components (including professional graphics cards from AMD). It is definitely among the best graphics notebooks suitable for content creators, designers, and other creative professionals. It also offers amazing speakers and a significantly improved keyboard.
2. Dell XPS 15 (2020)
The best Dell laptop for graphics.
CPU: 10th Generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Screen: 15.6 inch FHD + (1920 x 1200) IPS – UHD + (3840 x 2400) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD.
- Fast performance
- Attractive design
- GTX 1650 Ti is a bit weak
- The 15-inch screen may be too large
If you are looking for the best Windows 10 laptop for graphic design, we cannot fail to recommend the Dell XPS 15 (2020). It is Dell’s latest top-of-the-range laptop and is very close to perfection. Its slim and lightweight design is beautiful to look at and easy to carry, plus it packs some of the latest and most powerful components.
It comes with a stunning 15.6-inch display, which can be available in a very high-resolution range, making it an excellent choice for graphic designers who are looking for a new laptop. Unusually for such a thin laptop, it also comes with an Nvidia graphics card, ideal for designers who need to leverage this laptop for intense graphic design work.
Another element not to be underestimated is the truly excellent battery life, which means you can use this powerful laptop anywhere.
3. Acer ConceptD 7
A mobile workstation for creatives.
CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core i7 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060-2080 | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.6 “4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 16: 9 IPS | Memory: 1 TB.
- Cheaper than MacBook Pros
- Good selection of ports
- Simple design
- Not thin and light like MacBook Pros
The Acer ConceptD 7 is a great alternative to the MacBook Pro. It offers high performance in a stylish design, and for less money than Apple computers, you can take home a high-end notebook.
The Pantone- validated 4K IPS display, Nvidia RTX graphics card, many ports, and sleek design make it one of the best graphics notebooks. The power level combined with Acer’s build quality makes it a fantastic long-term investment.
4. MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020)
A brilliant laptop with a compact graphic design.
CPU: 8th Generation Intel Core i5 – 10th Generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 | RAM: up to 32GB | Screen: 13-inch Retina display with True Tone | Memory: 256GB – 4TB SSD.
- Improved technical specifications
- Improved SSD
- Improved keyboard
- The entry-level model still has 8th generation Intel CPUs
- It only has Thunderbolt 3 ports
If you are a graphic designer who wants to buy a MacBook Pro but is looking for a smaller model than the 16-inch one, then the 2020 Apple Macbook Pro 13-inch is the ideal notebook for you. You can set it up with the latest Intel processors and powerful RAM, which means you can make this device blazingly fast and capable of handling virtually any graphic design app.
In addition to a beautiful and modern design, a new keyboard has been introduced that is much more functional than the previous one. The GPU is not at the level of the 16-inch model, but it is still a computer capable of any intense graphic design work.
5. Microsoft Surface Book 2
Surface Book 2 is the ideal 2-for-1 notebook for graphic design.
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 | RAM: 16 GB | Screen: 15-inch PixelSense (3240 × 2160) | Memory: 256GB – 1TB SSD.
- Doubles as a tablet
- Fantastic color-accurate screen
- Surface pen not included
Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch) is an incredible 2-in-1 laptop perfect for graphic design and video editing. Thanks to Intel’s Coffee Lake Core i7-8650 quad-core processor and 16GB of RAM, it’s fast and immensely powerful. It boasts incredible battery life, plus a sharp display and exceptional color accuracy.
Being versatile, you can also use it as a graphics, video, or photo editing workstation on the go or as a sketchbook. Just detach the screen and use it as a tablet with the Microsoft Surface Pen, which unfortunately is not included in the box. You can purchase the innovative Microsoft Surface Dial and have a precise tool to support the creative process. Even better, flip the screen, plug it back in, and you can use it to draw at a more natural angle.
Too expensive? If you are looking for a smaller screen, you can go for the Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5 inches); it is cheaper and with overall performance not very far from its big brother.
6. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
Microsoft’s touchscreen is sleek, light, and powerful.
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense (2,256 x 1,504) | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD
- Touch screen
- Great battery life
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is Microsoft‘s latest high-end notebook and is once again a great notebook for college students and professionals in graphic design, photo editing, and video editing. The new Surface Laptop 3 features enhanced hardware for better performance packed into a beautifully designed body.
Like its predecessors, the lower-end model is also powerful enough to run Photoshop and Illustrator on a daily basis, and the fact that you can use the optional Surface Pen to draw directly on the screen makes it even more attractive. Leveraging the full experience of the Windows 10 operating system, you can also easily install Creative Cloud apps and other programs.
7. Apple MacBook Air (2020)
A brilliant notebook for graphic design and video editing.
CPU: 10th Generation Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display 2,560 x 1,600 with IPS technology | Memory: 256GB – 2TB SSD.
The latest Apple MacBook Air has had some interesting updates to make it a great choice for graphic design work as well. While not as powerful as the MacBook Pro (or high-end Windows notebooks), it features a bright Retina display, perfect for working with graphics software, and new 10th Gen Intel processors that are much faster for working better with Photoshop, Illustrator, and so on.
The lightweight design of the MacBook Air ensures graphics work on the go, even if the entry-level model does not ship with the new 10th generation Intel processors.
8. Lenovo ThinkPad P1
Best graphics notebook with great performance.
CPU: Intel Core i5, Core i7, Core i9 or Xeon | Graphics: Nvidia Quadro P1000 / P2000 | RAM: 8GB-64GB | Screen: 15.6 “Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) | Memory: 256-4TB SSD.
- Fantastic screen
- Slim design
- A great deal of performance
The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is one of the best, most powerful Windows notebooks around and is aimed directly at high-level content creators. It offers an Intel Xeon processor-based device and a professional-grade Nvidia Quadro P2000 graphics card, up to 64GB of memory, and has all the ports you could possibly need (two USB 3, two USB-C Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort, and SD card reader).
This machine sports an elegant design, with a slim chassis and a 4K display with 100% AdobeRGB coverage. The screen alone makes it a joy for creative work, and with all the performance it offers, it is definitely a perfect computer for graphic designers and designers.
9. Huawei MateBook X Pro
Design and performance that rival the MacBook Pros.
CPU: 8th Generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620, Nvidia GeForce MX150 2GB GDDR5 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.9-inch 3K (3,000 x 2,080) | Memory: 512GB SSD.
- Fantastic display
- Extraordinary battery life
- No SD card slot
- Not great webcam
Huawei may not be the first name that comes to mind when looking for the best notebook for photography, graphics, and video editing. Still, with the Huawei MateBook X Pro, the Chinese company has proven that it has what it takes to work on the better with a professional notebook.
It is a beautifully designed laptop with an extraordinary screen and state-of-the-art components. The long battery life will allow you to work anywhere and run Windows 10 to install all the graphics apps you need. Overall the design and performance of this Huawei model can easily rival the mighty MacBook Pro.
10. HP ZBook X2
A removable screen capable of creating unlimited graphics applications.
- The detachable 4K screen is bright and easy to work with
- Adobe Creative Cloud has tons of graphics apps
- The Bluetooth keyboard must never be charged
- Quite expensive
- Not incredibly versatile, mainly focused on graphic design.
The most prominent feature of the HP ZBook X2 is the detachable 4k touchscreen. The 14-inch display is totally detachable so you can easily switch between laptop and tablet. The included Wacom EMR stylus has over 4,000 distinct pressure levels and zero latency for maximum detail when drawing. The outer bezel of the screen has 18 pre-configured shortcuts for Adobe applications. Basically, this laptop/tablet combo is the perfect option for the graphic artist on the go, a great 2-in-1 convertible for animation and graphic design.
The included Abode Creative Cloud applications offer virtually endless options for graphic design. Several connection ports ensure good multimedia compatibility, with Thunderbolt 3 / USB 3.0 charging, HDMI, and SD reader.
How to choose the best graphics notebook
Let’s see the details of the elements to consider when choosing the best graphics notebook.
In general, the performance of a notebook is analyzed on the basis of 4 elements: RAM, processor, GPU, and memory.
The CPU (central processing unit) is the central unit that performs the most basic calculations. Basically, the processor is the thing that allows your computer to have multiple applications simultaneously. Having the best processor means faster computations which result in faster performance on all open applications.
The GPU is also important, but it comes into play when working with animation and 3d modeling.
The RAM (random access memory) is part of the hardware and temporarily stores it for processing information. 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 more smoothly.
The memory can be an HDD or SSD. Unlike RAM, the data on the storage device is stored permanently (unless deleted manually). An SSD is faster than HDD and can speed up processing and reduce boot and load times.
Another important feature for graphic design laptops is the screen. Better screen resolution means more graphic 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 in the graphic design industry. Many graphics and multimedia notebooks are 2-in-1 convertibles that function as both a computer and a tablet.
A good graphic design notebook should have enough ports to connect a mouse, keyboard, drawing pad, or even an integrated touchscreen.
The touchscreen is an addition to the increasingly popular notebook for graphics as you work on your things by touching the screen directly, almost like drawing on a piece of paper. Whether or not you need a touchscreen depends on personal preference; some designers love them for built-in 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 place, many graphic designers love a change of scenery and take their work to different places. That’s why it’s important to have a laptop with good battery life, so you can work anywhere without worrying about a dead battery. Portability ties into this too as the more compact and portable your laptop is, the easier it is to work while enjoying your freedom.