It goes without saying that as a digital artist, you need the right hardware configuration in your computer that can smoothly run all the digital art software and tools you use to get your work done. Choosing computer hardware for digital art is significantly simpler than the intricacies involved in choosing art tools such as canvas type, color type, and brush sizes for traditional art. However, that being said, it’s important not to skimp through the hardware details of what will work the best for you.
If you want to choose a laptop over a desktop for your digital artwork, it’s highly likely that you prefer mobility over the stationery design of the latter. But along with mobility, you will want to have the peace of mind of consistent and reliable performance through and through. To help you steer clear from the hassle of going through the overwhelming laptop options available online, we have done extensive research and compiled a list of 10 best laptops for artists. Whether you want to use the laptop as your go-to computer or use it as a workstation for lightweight use while depending on your desktop rig for intensive tasks, we’ve got you covered with a list of varied selections.
Minimum requirement for best laptops for artists
The minimum hardware requirement section that we’ve listed over here will help you better prepare yourself for exploring our laptop selections and making an informed decision.
- CPU – CPU requirement depends on the type of program and work you do/plan to do. A core i5 CPU with 2 or 4 cores is the bare minimum if you have lightweight requirements such as illustrating and working on graphics. If you have intensive requirements such as editing stills and motions in 4K and rendering at higher frame rates, a core i7 CPU with multi-threaded performance (or higher) will help you get the job done.
- RAM – 8 GB is the minimum RAM needed for multiple image layers, doing browser-based web research, running multiple art tools in the background, and other types of multitasking. It’s best to get a 16 GB RAM if you simultaneously run multiple programs.
- GPU – If you use high-end software such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, and Rebelle, it’s best to get a dedicated GPU for high graphics processing performance.
- Storage – It’s a good option to prioritize SSD storage for benefiting from fast booting and loading speeds. 256 GB of SSD is the minimum requirement. You can use 500 GB or 1 TB HDD storage as your secondary storage option.
- Connectivity – If you are one of the digital artists who rely on a dedicated external drawing tablet like Wacom drawing tablet and other accessories, good external connectivity options such as Thunderbolt 3 ports, USB 3 ports, and mini display port will help you customize your laptop to your advantage.
Review of Best Laptops for Artists
Dell XPS 15 – feels like a piece of art, performs like one
Dell has made its point across time and again that the best aesthetic can go hand in hand with a power-packed performance. It’s perfectly clear with the brand’s XPS models that have evolved from chunky form factors to stunning-looking new-generation computing devices. The XPS 15 embodies Dell’s move towards an ultra-modern design language of the likes of Apple and HP. For digital artists, the look, feel, and unfailing performance of this laptop doesn’t fail to ignite the creative spark through and through.
To start the specification rundown, Dell XPS 15 packs a 9th generation Intel i7 6 core CPU. Given the well-calibrated multi-threading performance, this model makes one of the best laptops for artists who use high-end multi-threaded creative software like Adobe Photoshop and archiving programs such as 7Zip and WinRAR. Whether you want to max out the resolution of the stills and motions you’re working on or use multiple tools and programs, a powerful duo of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4 GB DDR5 GPU and 16 GB DDR4 RAM will help you get your work done. The laptop’s 15.6 inch 4K ultra HD display works wonders in complementing the impressive graphics processing performance of the GPU.
Dell XPS 15’s whopping 1 TB SSD storage helps ensure that speedy and efficient performance isn’t compromised. Also, the substantial storage space means you get to store all your work and important tools within quick reach. External connectivity options, including two USB 3 ports, one Thunderbolt 3 port, one HDMI port, one SD card reader, and one headphone/mic jack open up customization options.
- Great CPU and GPU performance
- Stunning display and design
- Not the best battery life
Microsoft Surface Book 2 – the best of versatility and power
2-in-1 laptops have gained good traction in the digital design community over the years. The main reason, as you’d already guess, is the convenience of a tablet that 2-in-1 laptops offer. Many digital artists would argue that the tablet mode doesn’t suffice for meeting high-end digital art/design requirements. However, some of the best 2-in-1 laptops for artists such as the Microsoft Surface Book 2 have super responsive displays that position them as well-suited alternatives for drawing pads/tablets. Together with the Surface Pen and Surface Dial, you can transform Microsoft Surface Book 2 into your creative companion.
Powering the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is an 8th generation Intel i7 4 core CPU that delivers on feeling performance with its 1.9 GHz of power. The dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB DDR5 GPU helps this model lead the pack with its top of the line graphics processing power. Microsoft has included fans in both the tablet and keyboard unit to provide independent cooling to the CPU and GPU. A 16 GB DDR4 RAM helps ensure a smooth and seamless computing experience which is usually reserved for premium price points. With 512 GB SSD storage, you won’t face any problem in quickly accessing all your important programs, files, and documents.
Despite the compact chassis and 2-in-1 form factor, Microsoft Surface Book 2 offers good external connectivity options with two USB 3.1 ports, one USB type C port, two surface connect, one SD card reader, and one audio jack. The lag-free touch experience that the laptop’s display offers helps you get all of your digital art/design work done without breaking a sweat. With its overall weight averaging at 4.2 pounds, Microsoft Surface Book 2 comes as one of the most portable 2-in-1 laptops.
- Powerful performance
- Lightweight and high-quality design
- Add-ons, including Surface Pen and Surface Dial, come separately
HP Spectre x360 – a bang for the buck
HP Spectre x360 is another high-end 2-in-1 laptop that joins Microsoft Surface Book 2’s league of the best laptops for drawing. In fact, HP Spectre x360 excels in several areas where the latter lags, such as display and included add-on accessories. The build quality of this laptop may not come on par with that of Microsoft Surface Book 2, but as a feature-packed and powerful offering, it certainly is a bang for your buck.
It goes without saying that the touch display of this laptop is one of its biggest highlights. Also, HP Spectre x360 is one of the few premium-range offerings to come as a drawing laptop with a pen included in the box. Together with the HP stylus, the 15.6 inch 4K display offers seamless touch experience with unbeatable precision and accuracy. Like most 2-in-1 laptops, this model’s display can be rotated all the way back to get a tablet-like using experience. Under its sleek chassis, HP Spectre x360 houses a 10th generation Intel i7 4 core that runs at a base power of 1.8 GHz and can crank up to 4.9 GHz of overclocking power. The CPU works together with the NVIDIA GeForce MX250 GPU to effortlessly take on high-resolution, multi-layered digital art/design files. And if you are someone who prefers to use multiple tools, programs, open multiple folders, and open multiple tabs in the browser when working, the laptop’s 16 GB DDR4 RAM will not let you down.
HP Spectre x360 packs a punch with storage as well. With its whopping 1 TB SSD storage capacity, the laptop comes as the perfect repository for storing all your digital art/design work essentials. This model also holds a dominating position in the 2-in-1 laptop realm with its myriad connectivity options, including two USB 3.1 Thunderbolt 3 ports, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type A port, one HDMI port, one mini display port, and one headphone/mic jack.
- Power-efficient performance
- High-quality build
- Only one USB Type A port
Lenovo Flex 14 – a perfect digital art/design companion
When it comes to offering deals you can’t bag elsewhere, Lenovo knows best. The Flex 14 2-in-1 laptop is a perfect example of this. The model packs a powerful hardware configuration of the likes of premium laptops in a non-premium price tag. As such, it deserves a good spot among some of the best laptops for art students as well as professionals. In fact, Lenovo Flex 14 is one of the few models to come as a feature-packed and affordable offering in the 2-in-1 laptops realm.
If you are a digital art/design beginner or do lightweight digital artwork, you cannot go wrong with the Lenovo Flex 14 as an affordable pick. The laptop’s AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU doesn’t fail to deliver a consistent and reliable computing performance that will help you get your work done without any hassle. The graphics processing power of this laptop isn’t the highest, but its dedicated Radeon Vega 8 GPU does crush high-end graphics-intensive tasks and help you bring your ideas to life. In the memory department, Lenovo Flex 14 packs a duo of 12 GB DDR4 RAM and 256 GB SSD storage which help you make the most out of your productivity.
The 14 inch full HD touchscreen display of the laptop falls in the mid-range offering segment. From drafting sketches to jotting down all your ideas and client instructions, the display, together with the included active pen, helps you work the way you want. Connectivity options in Lenovo Flex 14 include two USB 3.1 Type A ports, one USB 3.1 Type C port, one ethernet port, one HDMI port, one SD card reader, and one headphone jack.
- Good performance
- Good cooling
- Not the best-quality build
Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581 – the dual-display extraordinaire
Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581 is on a league of its own, its innovative features and powerful performance do the talking. For years, many Asus laptops have defied convention and set new standards for new-generation computing experience. This model steps up in the accessibility and creative work-focused computing experience in ways you never thought would be possible.
The dual display design, called the ScreenPad, is where Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581 gets the most attention. In fact, the feature is what places this model under the category of some of the best touchscreen laptops for artists. You can use the secondary display separately or in conjunction with the primary display to get your creative juices flowing.
Under its innovative chassis, Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581 packs a 9th generation Intel i7 6 core processor that can take on intensive multithreaded tasks such as working on multithreaded design files, using multithreaded art/design software, and rendering at high-resolutions. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU works wonders in augmenting the performance of the CPU and delivering a seamless computing experience. Elevating multitasking and content accessibility experience is the laptop’s 16 GB DDR4 RAM and 1 TB SSD storage capacity.
It is interesting to note that the touch response on both primary and secondary display is seamless and lag-free. And not to forget about the 4K resolution of both that delivers a stunning viewing experience. A stylus, Asus active stylus pen, comes included which works with both the primary and secondary display. For external connectivity, you get one Thunderbolt 3 port, two USB 3 Gen 2 Type A ports, and one HDMI port.
- Powerful performance
- Dual display design
- Weight is on the heavier side
New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inch – the do-it-all creative work companion
MacBooks have done fine in the digital art/designing territory over the years. Right from the overall design and aesthetics to core computing power, they have remained beloved and still will for many creative work-based people. Sure, the new iPad Pro packs powerful hardware and is well-suited for creative work requirements. But it isn’t quite capable with the keyboard unit as full-fledged, lightweight laptops like the MacBook Pro 16 inch.
The durable and fairly lightweight yet aesthetically pleasing chassis of the new MacBook Pro makes it a creative work companion that you can take anywhere with you. And when it comes to performance, the new model leaves most good laptops for art behind, and there are no two ways about it. The peerless computing power of the new MacBook Pro lies in its 9th generation Intel i7 6 core processor. The high-bandwidth 16 GB DDR4 RAM and AMD Radeon Pro 5300M 6 GB GPU work together with the CPU to remove limitations on the level of success you can achieve with your art/design projects.
The laptop’s 512 GB SSD storage helps you have all your work essentials within quick reach. It’s safe to say that the viewing experience on this new MacBook Pro 16 inch is unlike any other, thanks to its Retina display that boasts 3072×1920 native resolution at 226 PPI (pixels per inch). It’s worth mentioning that the Touch Bar of the laptop helps you customize your shortcuts as hotkeys which, in turn, helps you work efficiently. Four Thunderbolt 3 ports and one headphone jack provide external connectivity options on this laptop.
- Powerful performance
- Significant improvements over the predecessor
- Can run a bit noisy at times
HP ZBook 15v G5 – an unfailing workhorse
HP ZBook 15v G5 comes as an unmistakable solution to high-level digital art, design, and illustration requirements with its beefy hardware configuration and myriad utilitarian features. Although the price point of this model touches the premium range, it sure is worth every penny as it features a work-focused setup, right from its ergonomics to core performance.
An 8th generation Intel i7 6 core CPU doesn’t fail to earn HP ZBook 15v G5 a good spot among some of the best laptops for art majors, design freelancers, and independent designers. The 6 core architecture of the CPU makes way for a well-calibrated multithreaded performance needed to work on multilayered designs and rendering designs in high-quality. Coming on par with the computing performance of this laptop is its graphics processing power which its NVIDIA Quadro P600 4GB DDR5 GPU delivers. The GPU doesn’t fail to keep up with even the most graphics-intensive requirements. Completing the ensemble is the laptop’s whopping 32 GB DDR4 RAM that backs you up for all types of multitasking sprees you want to get into.
This particular mid-range HP ZBook 15v G5 model comes with 512 GB SSD storage and 1 TB HDD storage. While the SSD storage comes handly in storing all your primary work essentials for fast access and loading speeds, you can use the available 1 TB HDD storage to keep all your work files with you in a consolidated way. The laptop’s 15.6 inch touchscreen full HD display offers good viewing angles as well as good color accuracy. For external connectivity, you get one Thunderbolt 3 port, three USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A ports, one HDMI port, one SD card reader, and one headphone/mic jack.
- Uncompromised performance and reliability
- Fast booting
- Can run a bit hot under heavy load
Acer TravelMate P6 – heavyweight performance in a lightweight chassis
Another work-focused laptop that has made its way into this list is Acer TravelMate P6. Just like HP ZBook 15v G5, this model packs hardware configuration and features that are well-suited for creative work such as digital arts, design, illustration, and CAD. The specs numbers are a tad lower as compared to that of the HP ZBook 15v G5, and so is the price point of the model. All in all, it’s worth the investment if you are buying your first work laptop or even upgrading to a powerful one.
Acer TravelMate P6 gets its core computing power from an 8th generation Intel i7 4 core processor that can crank up to 4.6 GHz of peak computing power. Whether you are working on a complex design/concept, running multiple tools, or using the most computing-intensive design software, the laptop’s CPU will not let you down. An Intel UHD 620 Graphics unit helps this model deliver an unfailing graphics processing performance that suffices for most digital art/design-related requirements. A combo of 512 GB SSD storage and 16 GB DDR4 RAM, which is included in this laptop, has become a standard offering in the price range that this laptop is available at.
It’s worth mentioning that Acer TravelMate P6 excels in the power efficiency department – an area where even some of the best laptops for artists fall behind. According to the brand, this model’s battery provides 20 hours of backup while including the support for fast charging. During heavy usage, the battery lasts up to 5 to 6 hours which is quite impressive. The 14 inch full HD display of this model has a thin bezels design which doesn’t make it look outdated. Two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, one Thunderbolt 3 port, one HDMI port, and one headphone jack provide connectivity options on this laptop. Also, with its overall weight totaling at 2.57 pounds, this model is undoubtedly one of the most portable powerhouses available.
- Good overall performance
- Lightweight chassis
- Can run a bit hot at times
Acer Swift 5 – premium computing experience in a budget
Getting your hands on a powerful hardware configuration doesn’t always mean you have to burn a hole in your pocket. Alternatives to premium offerings always exist, with one of the unmistakable ones being the Acer Swift 5. To be clear up front, you don’t get the best-in-class hardware configuration on this laptop. What you do get is a mid-range assembly that does more than suffice for most digital art/design requirements. And that seems totally fair considering the price tag that it comes with.
Acer Swift 5 gets its consistent computing power from an 8th generation Intel i5 4 core processor. The CPU is capable of delivering an overclocking performance of up to 3.9 GHz, should you need it for rendering and multi-layered designs. In the graphics processing department, this laptop packs a decent Intel UHD Graphics 620 unit. If you are a lightweight multitasker, the 8 GB DDR4 RAM of this model will suffice for your requirements. Also, a 256 GB SSD storage helps you store your work essentials as well as speed up booting and loading times.
Acer Swift 5’s 15.6 inch full HD touch display gives even some of the best touchscreen laptop for drawing and design a run for the money in terms of thin bezels design. Like other Acer laptops, this model includes an ergonomic keyboard that eases typing experience. For external connectivity options, this laptop includes two USB 3.0 ports, one USB Type C port, one HDMI port, one SD card reader, and one headphone/mic jack.
- Powerful performance in an affordable price range
- Lightweight build
- Not the best GPU
MSI P65 Creator – work hard, play harder
If you are someone who prefers a powerful laptop for work that can also perform double duty as an entertainment gadget, you cannot go wrong with MSI P65 Creator. To categorize this model among some of the best laptops for gaming and drawing digital art, designing graphics, illustrating, and for other versatile requirements would be justifiable given the sheer powerhouse it is. From core computing power to additional features, this model packs a punch in every department.
MSI P65 Creator comes with a 9th generation i7 CPU that operates at a base power of 2.6 GHz and can rev up to 4.5 GHz of overclocking power. The high-level graphics processing performance that the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU delivers helps this laptop gain a competitive advantage over several others. This model also garners attention with its 32 GB DDR4 RAM that makes even the most intensive multitasking a breeze. Further complementing the laptop’s computing performance is 1 TB SSD storage which helps users benefit from quick loading speeds as well as sufficient storage space.
The viewing experience that MSI P65 Creator offers is simply one of the best, thanks to its 15.6 inch 4K display that has a wide view angle. The color accuracy of the display helps you bring your concepts and ideas to life. Further improving your work experience is the laptop’s inbuilt resource management program called Creator Center that helps you manually optimize performance to best address your requirements. External connectivity options in this laptop include three USB Type A ports, one Thunderbolt 3 port, one HDMI port, one display port, one ethernet port, one HDMI port, and one headphone and mic jack.
- Top of the line performance
- High-quality build
- Weight is on the heavier side
1) Which laptop is the best for artists?
As discussed in the introduction, the best laptop for any artist is one that packs a hardware configuration that matches his/her requirements. However, from a general point of view, digital art/designing isn’t as resource-intensive as gaming, CAD, or other such tasks. As such, mid-range hardware configuration that includes a core i5/i7 CPU, 16 GB RAM, a dedicated GPU, and SSD storage will be a good fit for the bill.
2) Are touchscreen laptops good for drawing?
That depends on the accuracy of the display’s touch. High-end touchscreen laptops, such as the Microsoft Surface Book 2 and HP Spectre x360 have a lag-free and accurate touch which helps you gain and maintain articulation in your designs.
3) Are non-touch laptops good for artists?
Yes, for artists who prefer to use an external drawing tablet, such as the Wacom tablet, non-touch laptops with a powerful performance are a good choice. If you fall into this category of artists, make sure to look for a good number of port selections as you may want to connect more external devices.
To wrap up, it’s worth saying that the laptop you choose should work to augment your digital art/designing skills and help you efficiently execute your ideas and concepts. One important factor that often gets left out is upgradability. If you plan on using your laptop for a long period of time, the best option is to keep your budget a bit high invest in a future-proof laptop that offers RAM and storage upgradability. On the other hand, if you plan to upgrade to a new laptop every couple of years, you can go for a non-premium model with mid-range specs. If you do take this approach, using cloud storage for storing all your work essentials will help you make the transition to a new device easier and hassle-free.