Looking for the best laptop for graphic design? What computer requirements should it have? Are gaming laptops good for graphic design? Find the answers to all your questions in this article. If you are a designer or artist who prefers mobile laptops in order to be able to work on the go without tying themselves to any one place, my list of 10 models will help you select the best laptop for graphic design.
While choosing the best laptop for graphic design work, you should concentrate on several aspects: tech specs, performance, design, size and weight of the model. Due to their mobility and functionality, laptops are becoming widespread not only in the business sphere and gaming industry; now, you can buy the best laptop for photo editing. Are gaming laptops good for graphic design? The current models are equipped with decent IPS displays and offer sufficient performance for complex work with graphics, which favorably affects the graphics programs’ functioning. But at the same time, these laptops are very heavy and inconvenient. A decent gaming laptop may weigh more than 4 kg, i.e., it won’t be quite mobile and convenient. Thus, difficulties arise, as the designer needs to have both a convenient and lightweight device.
Price: about $2499
Specs: 15.4” (2880 x 1800), 2.6GHz 6 core 8th generation Intel Core i7, Radeon Pro 555X with 4GB, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
When you need a laptop with a suitable screen to work with photos, purchase this one. Retina display features a resolution lower than 4K screens but more precise in color than its competitors. Besides, it reproduces a decent sRGB color gamut and supports DCI/P3. Furthermore, it features the best trackpad we have ever used. Nonetheless, this laptop for graphic design has a shallow keyboard and several ports to connect accessories. Moreover, it's pricey and features a shorter battery life than we would like. There are only four USB-C ports and one headphone port, so you'll need an adapter when you wish to connect an Ethernet cable or legacy hardware. However, it offers a powerful processor and plenty of RAM for complex tasks, which is really important.
Price: about $2498
Specs: 15” (3260 x 2160), 8th Gen. Intel Core i7, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
Speaking about two-in-one hybrid laptops and tablets, there's nothing better than this device. Rotate the screen and it will be conveniently detached from the keyboard, so you can use it as a huge tablet. But, thanks to the Surface Pen stylus, you may get more control using it as a drawing laptop with pen. Learn more about the Surface Book specification; it's impressive in every line. With 3240x2160 resolution, the screen is sharper than the majority of laptops on the market (including all existing MacBooks), and 4K will look exactly as you imagine it. A graphics processor and Nvidia GeForce make it even more powerful in terms of graphics, while RAM and the modern Intel processor turn it into a monster of image processing. If the price tag means more than positive reviews, then you must agree on the 13.5-inch screen.
Price: about $1369
Specs: 13.3” (2560 x 1600), 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Intel UHD Graphics 617, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
This is the best Mac laptop for the majority of people. It's fast enough for basic tasks – browsing the web, working with documents, even easy picture retouching. It also features a superior high-resolution screen, an excellent trackpad, and a battery life that allows most people to work throughout the day. At a (relatively) reasonable price, Apple is selling many laptop models right now, but Air offers the exemplary combination of functions, performance, and price. Is MacBook Air good for graphic design? Yes, but it has some drawbacks common to other modern Apple laptops: a keyboard with low speed, a small number of similar ports (two Thunderbolt3 ports) that could require USB-C hubs or new cables, and a high price in comparison with Windows laptops of identical performance. Nevertheless, a lightweight, sturdy construction and long-lasting battery life make it Apple's best budget graphics laptop.
Price: about $2328
Specs: 15,6” (3840 x 2160), 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti with 4GB, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD
Dell XPS 15 for graphic design with a wide range of configurations may be perplexing: there are currently 10 various specification options. We believe the configuration mentioned above represents an exceptional laptop for drawing and gaming. You're offered the exemplary 4K screen with 100% Adobe RGB coverage together with a 6-core processor including large RAM. The processor is slower than the Core i9 model, but unless you're a very active user, this processor would be sufficient for you. Similarly, 32GB of RAM is also fine, but 16GB is enough for Photoshop unless you deal with giant images. Port selection includes two USB, one USB-C, HDMI and headphones, but there is a full-size SD card slot as well. The screen doesn't match Apple's Retina display; however, for such a price, it gives better opportunities than more expensive Windows computers. Full Adobe RGB coverage is a benefit. Altogether, it's the best laptop for graphic design that you may purchase for now.
Price: about $1246
Specs: 14” (1920 x 1080), 8th Gen. Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD
As for the LG Gram screen size, its 14 inches have full HD resolution – less than the majority of competitors, but enough for work on the 14-inch laptop. IPS LCD screen technology provides excellent viewing angles and sharp colors. One of the best laptops for design features 100% coverage of the sRGB color space. Even though it features 79% of Adobe RGB, it won't interfere with the work of amateur photographers. Color accuracy is slightly disturbing; it is worse than other similar laptops have. As for mobility, the 14-inch version features a declared weight of 995 grams. Though the laptop is thin, there is enough space for two USB-A ports including a microSD slot. Despite the relatively fast overall performance, the processor isn’t so powerful. It may take a while to apply more complicated Photoshop effects. LG assures that a single battery charge will last 17.5 hours. Still, we would appreciate more RAM as the installed 8GB is sufficient to work in Photoshop. LG Gram is appreciated for its weight, and it's the best laptop for graphic designers who work on the go and value mobility, not speed.
Price: about $1399
Specs: 14” (1920 x 1080), 8th Gen. Intel Core i5-8350U, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
Among the sixth-generation models, you may choose from several screen options – all 14-inch – but we settled on the superior panel, with remarkable brightness. It isn't a touch screen, but the sufficient resolution, 99% Adobe RGB coverage, and brightness please us, although the uniformity of brightness is average. The same may be said about the speed, which is noticeably inferior to laptops with 6-core processors. Nevertheless, as a compromise, you may increase energy efficiency. Besides, you still get sufficient performance for each task in Photoshop except the most complicated ones. If you’re searching for mobility and decent battery life but don't wish to compromise on screen quality, this configuration could be the best laptop for graphic design and image retouching.
Price: about $1499
Specs: 13.9” (3000 x 2000), 8th Gen. Intel Core i7-8550U, NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
Undoubtedly, you'll be amazed by this laptop’s great design, but the performance impresses even more. You’ll understand you’ve got a powerful laptop that can cope with complicated tasks when you recognize the Intel 8th generation specification, 512GB SSD and up to 16GB RAM. You’ll surely be pleased with its low battery consumption, too. However, this computer is convenient if you intend to edit shots on the go. Your works will look much better on its great display with high resolution. It is not only one of the exemplary models for image editing, we believe it's the best laptop for digital art at the moment.
Price: about $579
Specs: 15.6” (1920 x 1080), 8th Gen. Intel Core i5-8250U, NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
The Acer Aspire E 15 is the best budget graphics laptop for image editing. Despite its low price, it still offers amazing performance with an Intel Core i5-8250U processor. Its 15.6-inch full HD widescreen display provides excellent visual image editing capabilities. Windows 10 Home is included, while 15 hours of battery life allow you to complete long-lasting photo editing sessions.
Price: about $1000
Specs: 13.3” (1920 x 1080), 8th Gen. Intel Core i7-7Y75, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
This is considered to be the best laptop for animation and graphic design. The touchscreen notebook provides high performance thanks to its Intel Core i7 processor that supports Turbo Boost up to 3.60 GHz. Its 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD will ensure a smooth photo editing process. The 13.3-inch Full HD Infinity Edge touchscreen is covered with fourth-generation Gorilla Glass, which makes it more resistant to damage.
Price: about $969
Specs: 13.3” (1920 x 1080), 8th Gen. Intel Core i5-8250U, NVIDIA Geforce MX150, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
Asus Zenbook 13 UX331U is currently being sold as "the thinnest laptop on the planet." With a meager thickness of 13.9 mm, this is certainly one of the smallest models we have tested. Although it is very thin, it offers reliable performance. You will have a choice between 8th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, both of which will have 8GB of RAM. Whichever processor you choose, it will complete most of the graphics tasks. Therefore, it is a remarkable graphic design laptop. Its 13-inch FHD screen is above average for this price. The combination of a stellar keyboard with ZenBook trackpad make the laptop a great choice for any buyer looking for a device that accurately combines portability and performance. The only drawback is that its ultra-thin dimensions mean that you get only integrated graphics, which will be a problem for people who want to edit photos on it.
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It is impossible to fit the same sufficiently powerful software, a full-size mechanical keyboard, and other structural elements that are available in desktop computers into a small laptop case. If gamers are interested in performance while playing, they require laptops equipped with a powerful graphics card and a simple but fast TN-matrix. In the business environment, mobility comes to the fore and priority is given to thin and light laptops. When it comes to working in Photoshop and other graphics programs, the key graphic design laptop requirements are the quality of the screen color rendering, the hardware performance, and connectors for accessories and monitors. The look and usability conclude the list.
Screen. The display is an important part of the graphic design laptop, and, in the case of photography, it is the top priority and the most significant aspect. The lion's share of laptops on the market is equipped with budget TN-matrices, optimal for games, but completely unsuitable for graphics work. Artistic photo post-processing requires accurate color rendering, which only an IPS matrix can provide. Let's take a closer look at the characteristics of such technology.
Viewing angles are increased up to 178 degrees both vertically and horizontally with an insignificant drop in contrast. Extended color gamut corresponds to the sRGB and Adobe RGB schemes. The color depth reaches 8 bits per channel and more, which corresponds to 16.7 million colors. High brightness and contrast of the display are also important for best graphic design laptops. The size of the laptop screen to work in Photoshop is selected individually. Models with a diagonal of up to 15.6 inches inclusive are compact and lightweight. But it isn't always convenient to work on a small display; laptops with 17-inch screens look preferable. However, the size of the matrix isn't a critical parameter and does not affect the amount of content that can fit on the screen. More important is the physical resolution that determines the number of displayed items.
Display resolution is the density of pixels (dots) per inch. The higher the index, the more information will be located on the screen. Also, the high resolution provides better image quality, offers smooth color transitions, and contributes to the clear display of graphic elements. These characteristics should be considered while selecting the best laptop for graphic design. Despite the smaller size of the display, the screen with a diagonal of 15.6 inches and a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels can fit a larger image with all the graphic elements than the 17.3-inch model with a resolution ability of 1650×1080.
Processor. To process graphics in Adobe Photoshop CC programs, you will need a 2-core processor—optimally 4-core or more—with a memory clock of no less than 2 Hz. A series of Pentium processors is a budget variant that meets the minimum Photoshop requirements and will be suitable for laptops for graphic design.
AMD are modern chips that have sufficient performance, but are inferior to the competitive Intel analog. Their weak point is energy efficiency.
Intel chips are of the latest generation, created according to a modern technological process. They have decent performance and moderate energy consumption. The range includes the high-performance i3, i5 and i7 chips.
Video card. Design and Photoshop programs are demanding to the GPU core of a laptop. If you use an outdated integrated video chip or have insufficient video memory, some image processing features will not be available in graphics programs. For full-fledged work in Photoshop, a powerful graphics engine compatible with gaming models is required. The perfect variant of the best laptop for designers is a discrete graphics card with 521 MB of memory. In addition, 2GB is recommended for full HD resolution, 4GB for HD and 4K UHD.
Storage space. Before choosing the best laptop for drawing, it is well worth it to clarify the memory type and size. The indicator determines the available space to install graphics programs, plugins, and add-ons.
RAM. RAM is aimed at downloading temporary information when the program runs. To work with graphics programs, a minimum of 4GB is recommended, preferably 8GB or more.
Disk space. HDD and SSD are permanent storage media for applications and photo archives, as well as the installation of the operating system. For Photoshop, it is preferable to choose disks with a volume of at least 256 GB. When choosing the best laptop for graphics, opt for solid-state SSD drives that are reliable and have fast loading speed.
Connection interface. You may make the photo editing process even more interesting and extend the opportunities by connecting a laptop for graphic design to an external monitor. A connection is carried out in several ways. HDMI and VGA are the most common connections, as they are supported by most models. DVI-D is different in its support for high-definition images with a synchronization frequency of up to 240 Hz. DisplayPort is characterized by high-speed data transmission. USB Type-C or USB-C are used to connect both peripheral devices and laptops, replacing various A- and B-type connectors and cables of previous USB standards and providing future expansion opportunities.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.