Laptops have become an essential tool for graphic designers who need to work on-the-go or in different locations. With the increasing demand for high-quality visuals, designers need a laptop that can keep up with their demanding workloads. A laptop for graphic design needs to have a powerful processor, a dedicated graphics card, ample storage, and a high-resolution display to accurately showcase the design work. In this article, we’ll explore the features and considerations to keep in mind when choosing a laptop for graphic design.
Our Handpicked List of The Best Laptops for Graphic Design
Graphics designers who make money using their laptop won’t regret purchasing any one of our handpicked laptops for graphic design. Whether you want a Windows laptop or an Apple Macbook, you’ll find one that’ll meet your needs.
MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021)
An Overall Great Choice for Macbook Fans
- CPU: Apple M1 Pro 10-core – M1 Max 10-core
- Graphics: Integrated 16-core – 32-core GPU
- RAM: Up to 64GB
- Screen: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
- Storage: Up to 8TB
- Long battery life
- Plenty of ports available
- Larger than your typical Macbook
- Still expensive after two years
One of the most solid investments you can ever make is to get yourself an Apple Macbook Pro 2021. Recent versions are even better.
Unlike your Macbook Air, the Apple Macbook Pro does not shy away from hiding its power. And like all of the Apple products, you can get full customization of the specs. You can go for 8TB SSD and up to 64GB of RAM. Combined with its powerful M1 chip and a 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display, the Apple Macbook Pro is a must-have for graphic designers.
And like most Apple products, the Apple Macbook Pro is on the expensive side. It’s still a whopping $2,100+ or so, and for a good reason.
MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)
A Smaller Macbook Pro Alternative
- CPU: Apple M1 Pro 8-core – M1 Max 10-core
- Graphics: Integrated 14-core – 32-core GPU
- RAM: Up to 64GB
- Screen: 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
- Storage: Up to 8TB
- Small and powerful
- Screen may be too small for graphic designers
- Just priced $200 cheaper than the larger Macbook Pro, which is still expensive
The 14-inch Macbook Pro is something new that Apple offered recently. The 14-inch Macbook Pro is an improvement over the older 13-inch variants, and is just as powerful as the 16-inch version above.
The 14-inch Macbook Pro also has the same specs as the 16-inch version, so there’s not much difference here aside from the screen size. If you’re particular about bringing around a heavy or large laptop, then the 14-inch Macbook Pro is something to consider.
But don’t hold out just yet as we have other smaller laptops on this list.
Dell XPS 17 (2021)
Possibly The Best Big-Screen Laptop for Graphic Designers
- CPU: Up to 11th Generation Intel Core i9-11980HK
- Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6
- RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4-3200MHz
- Screen: 17.0″ FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 17.0″ UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit
- Storage: Up to 4TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
- Large screen size
- Not as thick as other 17-inch laptops
- Cheaper than Macbook Pro
- Mediocre battery life
As a graphic designer, you want a lot of screen real estate even for a laptop. And we have just that: the Dell XPS 17. The Dell XPS 17 comes with a 17-inch UHD screen with HDR resolution, so graphic designing or video editing on this beast.
The Dell XPS 17 comes with an Intel Core i9 processor (upgradeable to 11th generation) and various choices for:
- up to 64GB of RAM
- up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
- up to 4TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
The Dell XPS 17 could be confused for a gaming laptop, given that it’s powered by an Intel Core i9 processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, which is insane. It’s $100 cheaper than the Macbook Pro 14-inch and about $300 cheaper than the Macbook Pro 16-inch variant. If you want a lightweight laptop but don’t want to spend money on an Apple Macbook, then the Dell XPS 17 is your go-to graphic design laptop.
And with power like this, you’d assume that the Dell XPS 17 would end up big and bulky like a typical gaming laptop but that’s not the case here. It’s slimmer and lighter than the XPS 13 and XPS 15 laptops. Ultimately, the best choice for graphic design for its sheer power, size, and utility.
The downside here is its battery life. We’re just not impressed with a 2-hour run time on battery, which could be lower if you’re doing graphic design work. However, no one ever does graphic design work on an unplugged laptop because the dedicated GPU won’t work. You’re getting graphics processing power from the integrated graphics, which is slower than your dedicated GPU.
Acer Concept D7
A Decent Alternative For Creatives On The Move
- CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 – 2080
- RAM: 16GB – 32GB
- Screen: 15.6″ 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 16:9 IPS
- Storage: 1TB
- Cheaper than the Macbook Pro but just as powerful
- Decent number of ports
- Bulkier than the Macbook Pro or Dell XPS 17
The Acer Concept D7 is another alternative to either the Dell XPS 17 or the Macbook Pro. This 15-inch laptop packs a 4K UHD resolution at 16:9 IPS, so everything just looks so good on the screen.
Underneath this simplistic laptop, you get a 9th generation Intel Core i7 processor, up to 32GB of RAM, and choice between Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 or 2080. Needless to say, the graphics performance alone on the Acer Concept D7 is impressive. It’s not the best laptop for graphic design for everyone, but someone somewhere will probably need this more than any of the laptops mentioned above.
The specs of the Acer Concept D7 competes with gaming laptops of the same make and price tag, minus the RGB lighting and other fancy aesthetics. While we say that this is bulkier than the Macbook Pro, it’s still considered by many creative professionals as a lightweight laptop.
Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED (2022)
Compact Dual-Screen Laptop for Graphic Design
- CPU: Intel Core i9-12900H (14-core)
- Graphics: Intel Iris Xe or Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti 4GB
- RAM: 32GB DDR5
- Screen: 14.5-inch 2880 x 1800 120Hz OLED, 12.7-inch 2880 x 864 IPS
- Storage: 1TB SSD
- Dual screen laptop. Enough said.
- Decent specs
- Screen size is mediocre
- Battery life is also mediocre
Where do we even begin with the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED?
Oh right. The dual screen feature. The main screen is 14.5-inches at 2880×1800 resolution with 120Hz refresh rate while you’re getting a secondary screen at 2880×864 IPS. Goes without saying that this might be one of the best laptops for graphic design solely because of the dual screen feature.
The second screen is a Touch Bar on steroids, so you can freely move apps and tools to and from the bottom screen. The screen is also compatible with a stylus, so you can turn it into a makeshift tablet too.
The power underneath the chassis is also just as impressive as the screens themselves. You’re getting a 12th generation Intel Core processor, 32GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD storage, and choice between an Intel Iris XE graphics card or an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti graphics card. The Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED is more than capable of running any graphic design software. With its gorgeous display, colors are vibrant and with better contrast. Just perfect for graphic designers and other creative professionals.
The price tag of the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED is close to the Apple Macbook Pro, but it definitely has better features. It’s a powerful laptop despite its size and can guarantee at least an impressive performance for gaming and creative work.
Choosing The Best Laptop For Graphic Design
So how do you pick the which of the best laptops for graphic design is right for your work? Clearly you’ll be guided by what you can afford, which is why we have the best options for all budgets here. But there are a few other things to consider too.
That said, here are some factors to consider when selecting a laptop for graphic design:
- Processor: A powerful processor is essential for graphic design work. Intel Core i7 or i9, or AMD Ryzen 7 or 9 are good options to consider.
- Graphics card: Look for a laptop with a dedicated graphics card, such as an NVIDIA GeForce or AMD Radeon. These cards can handle the demands of graphic design software and help improve performance.
- Display: A high-quality display is crucial for graphic design work. Look for a laptop with an IPS or OLED display, as these offer better color accuracy and viewing angles.
- RAM: The more RAM you have, the better your laptop will perform when working on complex graphic design projects. Look for a laptop with at least 16GB of RAM.
- Storage: You’ll need plenty of storage space to store your design files and software. Consider a laptop with a fast SSD, which can improve the speed of opening and saving files.
- Portability: If you plan on using your laptop for work on the go, consider a lightweight and compact design. However, keep in mind that more powerful laptops may be heavier and bulkier.
- Battery life: Look for a laptop with long battery life, especially if you’ll be using it for extended periods without access to a power outlet.
- Brand and customer support: Choose a laptop from a reputable brand with good customer support. This will help ensure that you can get help if you encounter any issues with your laptop.
What Specs Should Go Into Graphic Design Laptops?
When buying a laptop for graphic design, you’ll need to take into account the specifications of the models you’re researching, but what are the kind of specs you need?
For a good graphic design laptop, you’ll want a modern processor from either Intel or AMD. When it comes to MacBooks, Apple has its own chip – the M1 – which performs brilliantly as well. We recommend an 11th gen Intel or AMD Ryzen 4000 mobile processor if you want to future-proof the laptop.
When it comes to RAM, the more you have, the better, especially if you want to multitask. We suggest a minimum of 8GB RAM, but ideally 16GB if your budget can stretch to it.
A dedicated graphics card is also worth thinking about, especially for graphically intensive workloads. However, these can up the price of a laptop considerably, and modern integrated GPUs are good enough for day-to-day graphic design use.
What’s Our Pick For The Best Laptop for Graphic Design?
From this list of the best laptops for graphic designers, we’re inclined to go with the Dell XPS 17 and Acer Concept D7.
For the price you’re paying, the performance of either laptop is up there and competes with modern gaming laptops even. You can do graphic design work and video editing on these laptops, possibly even 3D animation and modeling. If you can live with its mediocre battery life, the Dell XPS or Acer Concept D7 is a solid pick.
If you want a laptop with amazing battery life, then the Macbook Pro is your go-to laptops for graphic design.
The Wrap Up!
In conclusion, finding the right laptop for graphic design can make a significant impact on your workflow and productivity. With the right combination of performance, display, and portability, a laptop can help you bring your design ideas to life no matter where you are. Remember to consider your specific needs and preferences when selecting a laptop, such as the size, weight, battery life, and connectivity options. With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the best laptop for graphic design, but by keeping these factors in mind, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect laptop to meet your design needs. So whether you’re a professional graphic designer or a creative hobbyist, invest in a quality laptop that will enable you to showcase your design skills to the fullest.