Best Laptops for Graphic Design – 2022 [Editors Choice]

After several hours of research, and the in-depth examination of fifteen models, we have selected the 5 best laptops for graphic use, among which the Microsoft Surface Book 2 remains the undisputed champion.

Display quality, power, transportability, good autonomy, impeccable finishes… It will be up to any task that you entrust to it.

Why trust us

The Geek Sip editorial team spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and comparing products in order to find those that offer the best value for money.

None of our articles are sponsored. We sometimes receive a commission when you buy a product through our links, which allows us to finance our work while remaining completely impartial.

How did we choose?

If you are a student or graphic design professional, you need a computer that can support your creative work optimally, quickly and efficiently.

The main difficulty will be to find a portable PC bringing the right balance between components adapted to your needs (they will not be the same for 2D or 3D work, for example) and a material quality allowing you to work with confidence.

Here are the criteria to which you must be particularly attentive before purchasing a laptop dedicated to graphics:

  • The Processor (CPU): depending on your needs, it can be one of the most important components of your computer. So, for someone using Photoshop, only a 2 GHz processor is required. But if you are working with 3D software, a Core i7 HQ processor or higher is highly recommended, with a minimum of 2.5 GHz. Similarly, it is necessary, in this case, to prefer a quad-core processor (or more) to a dual-core processor, quickly limited to manage 3D applications.
  • RAM: This is the storage space where files are loaded when you work on them. The larger this RAM, the better it processes information. Currently, it is very unusual to find a computer with less than 4 GB of RAM. However, for graphics work, a minimum of 8 GB is required, and even 16 GB for modeling and 3D rendering work.
  • The graphics card (GPU): It will be requested differently depending on your uses. More and more manufacturers also offer a graphics card with a dedicated RAM: it does not share its RAM with the rest of the components. This is optimal for running the most demanding 3D games and programs.
  • The hard drive: SSD hard drives are faster than HDDs, and are slowly becoming the standard for most laptops and desktop computers. A good compromise, when it comes to a laptop dedicated to graphics, is to opt for a model comprising an HDD and an SSD. An SSD is in any case highly recommended for all 3D work.
  • Screen size: The ideal size depends of course on your needs. If you are working with a secondary screen, a 13 ”screen may be more than enough. On the other hand, if you have to show the results of your work to clients on your own PC, a 15 ”and even 17” screen can be useful (but portability takes a hit). It is generally the 15 “that is the most invested by manufacturers interested in the graphic vocation.
  • The display quality: it depends first of all on the resolution. In graphics, a Full HD display is recommended (some manufacturers are starting to invest in 4K, but this is superfluous unless you work in video editing). It then depends on the precision of the colors: these must be as faithful as possible (with a Delta E – the measurement of the difference between a color and its rendering – less than 3) and the gamut (the set of colors that the ‘screen reproduced) sufficiently wide.
  • The tactile: it seems gradual to gain its letters of nobility with the graphic designers because it makes it possible to work only on one support, rather than to work on a dedicated graphics tablet connected itself to a computer. However, this feature is far from winning all the votes, on the one hand in that this touch is often less precise than on a graphics tablet, and in that it drains the battery life.
  • Battery: If this may seem harmless, it is a key point to address if you have to use your computer as a support for a professional presentation, for example. However, do not trust the autonomy announced by the manufacturer, often optimistic and in any case calculated in “standard” conditions (office, surfing, etc.). Some graphics programs are very heavy and drain your battery.

There are not many computers specifically known for graphics work on the market. Initial research enabled us to quickly isolate around fifteen models deserving of in-depth analysis, due to their popularity with users and their reliability.

By examining each of the criteria mentioned above thanks to expert tests in the field, we were able to isolate a dozen, which we then decided by examining the feedback from Internet users.

The following 5 laptops happen to be, in our opinion, the best option for graphic designers.

Note that each one is presented to you in its most popular version with professionals in the field, but that they are generally available in several variants in terms of their components (and sometimes even their screen size).

The best cheap laptops for graphic designers

The first computer of our selection, without being the most powerful in its field, is distinguished by the quality of display that it offers to its user and the resources that it makes available while being offered at a contained price.

Acer Swift 5 (SF515-51T): the best cheap

Let us not lie: this laptop will not be the best option for everything that is intended for graphics. However, it is certainly the best option below the 1000$ mark.

Indeed, in terms of its components, without being the most powerful, it is already not badly equipped: Intel Core i7 8565U processor with 4 cores, 8 GB of RAM, Intel UHD Graphics 620 graphics card, and 256 GB of SSD. This will obviously be unusable with 3D but will be suitable for 2D software not too greedy (provided you boost its frequency to turbo mode, the base frequency being only 1.8 GHz).

But above all, what sets it apart from its immediate competition is the quality of its display, which is ideal for retouching images.

It is a model with a 14 inch Full HD screen with impeccable colorimetry. The colors are faithful, sufficiently warm, and the contrasts allow a great level of detail. The only criticism that we could make of it at this level is its strong shine.

But it is also tactile, proving to be very practical for presentations or performing some work with a stylus.

Its design is fairly standard, but it has the merit of being thin (1.4 cm), light (barely 1 kg) while offering, in standard use, a pleasant autonomy of 8 hours.

And despite its finesse, it does not overlook the basic connectivity, since it incorporates two USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C port, an HDMI port, and a 3.5 mm jack. An SD reader would nevertheless have been welcome, especially if you are working on photo editing.

In the end, it is a PC that we recommend to those who carry out image editing work or use 2D software that is not too greedy and that does not have a big budget. It is especially in terms of display quality that the charm will work with them.

The best mid-range laptops for designers

In this section, we have selected two computers which this time has been specifically designed for graphical use.

While presenting components capable of running most software (some dedicated to 3D except), the emphasis was put by manufacturers on-screen quality, color fidelity, and ergonomics.

Dell XPS 15: the best mid-range

Dell has always been known for its good quality affordable machines. Often cited as a benchmark, the Dell XPS 15 is the best compromise today for any buyer looking for a quality, enduring and versatile PC for graphic designers.

The model we have chosen allows a great balance between power and price. It contains an Intel Core i7-9750H and an Nvidia GTX1650 graphics card. This configuration makes it a good workstation. You can ask him to handle heavier tasks without fear of bringing him to his knees.

Available in IPS, like the model presented, or in OLED, its screen is of excellent quality. It offers an FHD or UHD resolution (on more expensive models) which guarantees a clear image. Well calibrated at the factory, it offers almost perfect quality. Its only small defect is its colorimetry which is slightly too high.

The OLED version will delight the most demanding of you. It has two significant qualities for image processing: infinite contrast and higher brightness.

Robust and qualitative, its chassis mixes aluminum and carbon fiber in a premium design. If its weight is a little high (2 kg), its size remains compact thanks to the very thin screen borders.

These characteristics combined with a high autonomy make it very practical to take it with you during your working day.

The special thing about this computer is that there are a total of 12 different versions (half of which have a touch screen). So you can choose the one that best suits your needs and your budget.

Connectivity is provided by two USB-A 3.1 ports, a USB-C port, an HDMI, an SD port and a 3.5mm jack.

Since ecology is a hot topic, Dell is actively interested in it. The XPS 15 is eco-responsible: it is recyclable up to 90% of its weight and its packaging is made of recycled plastic.

In the end, the Dell XPS 15 is a computer that has almost everything of the biggest: ease of transport, stunning display quality, power, For a lower price! The only real criticism that we can make of it for use dedicated to graphics is that it tends to make a little noise when asked for more.

Asus Zenbook Pro 15 (UX534FT): the mid-range alternative

The Asus Zenbook Pro 15 was much talked about when it was released due to a particular innovation: it is the first laptop to offer a second screen (called “screen pad”) as a touchpad.

This PC has an Intel Core i7 8565U processor, 16 GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX1650 graphics card with 4 GB, and a 1 TB SSD.

The general design is what Asus has accustomed us to neat, sober, elegant, with its midnight blue cover in brushed metal and its robust aluminum chassis with impeccable finishes.

By cons, if the side edges are small enough, the lower edge is rather wide, which is a bit of a shame. But the size and weight do not suffer, since, with its 1.8 kg, it is very easily transportable.

It has a Full HD screen, with a matte IPS panel with effective anti-reflection. Its colorimetry is excellent, but its brightness, quite low compared to the competing average, means that it is no match, at this level, compared to the Dell XPS 15.

And what does this famous screen pad bring? Three modes are currently configurable (Asus has announced that it will always provide more features, so maybe this range will expand in the future): classic touchpad mode (in this case the screen goes blank), screen pad mode (on which you can find a whole series of shortcuts… welcome since this computer does not have a numeric keyboard) and extension display mode (which allows you, roughly speaking, to get a second desktop: it’s pretty impressive but in the facts, it lacks ergonomics).

Connectivity side, it is rather well-supplied: an HDMI port, three USB 3.1 ports, a Micro-SD reader and a 3.5 mm jack.

The basic autonomy is quite short: around 5 hours can be reached in “normal” use, quickly drained by the screen pad, if you use it in extension display mode (it then decreases by about half).

In the end, the Asus Zenbook Pro is an excellent laptop for graphic designers, with very good performance and the addition of a screen pad which is very promising if the manufacturer actually continues to develop it. However, it lost first place because of its lower display quality (particularly because of its somewhat disappointing brightness), and its autonomy quickly drained by its screen pad.

The best high-end laptops for graphic designers

In this section, no concessions have been made by the manufacturers: quality of materials, quality of screen, ergonomics, autonomy… However, you have to get your hands on the wallet.

Microsoft Surface Book 2: the best high-end

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is close to perfection in terms of graphics laptop.

In terms of components, we have selected the version with an Intel Core i7 8650U, 16 GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6 GB of dedicated memory, and a 256 GB SSD. Already on this point, it has nothing to envy to the MacBook Pro. Especially since it hardly heats up (but it is, on the other hand, a little noisier).

In terms of design, there is a sober and elegant magnesium chassis, with a detachable screen. Note on this subject that the processor is in the tablet but the graphics card in the keyboard. You will be unable to run all of your software on one tablet.

The whole thing weighs 1.9 kg, so it is easily transportable. The hinge specific to Microsoft Surface Books leaves a slight crack between the screen and the keyboard once the PC is closed, which increases its thickness a little but does not in any way hamper its compactness.

It has a touch screen with an IPS panel in 3240 x 2160 px definition, a higher resolution than that of the MacBook Pro. Excellent contrast, faithful colorimetry, impeccable brightness, this screen has something to satisfy the most demanding.

Connectivity side, there are two USB-C port, two USB 3.1 ports, a 3.5 mm Jack port and an SD card reader. No HDMI port is a bit of a shame (but since its main competitor does not offer either, this is not an argument against it, and it is always easy to solve with a hub ).

The autonomy is simply stunning for a Windows laptop: with its two batteries (one in the tablet and the other in the keyboard), it can reach 15 hours in “normal” use.

We think we are not going too far in saying that this is one of the best laptops for graphic designers. But let’s not forget its main flaw: its audio quality, which can be described as mediocre given the price range. However, in general, it is not the primary purpose of purchasing a graphic designer laptop.

Apple Macbook Pro (2019): the premium alternative

It’s hard to talk about the best 15 ’laptops leaving out Apple’s benchmark, the 2019 MacBook Pro.

Its 6-core 9th generation Intel Core i7 processor coupled with its Radeon Pro 555X graphics card and its 16 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD make it perfectly capable of running the most demanding programs. The latest version of macOS, better optimized, adds even more speed and fluidity than with previous models.

Its unibody chassis, iconic from Apple, is still as good. However, the design is starting to age with its thick screen borders.

Its Retina screen is equipped with TrueTone technology which adapts the display according to the colorimetry and ambient light. If you choose this device, be sure to turn it off for better color fidelity.

With its very high brightness and excellent management of contrasts, this slab is not too subject to reflections despite its glossy finish. The colorimetry is among the most faithful, which makes it undoubtedly the most acclaimed model by graphic designers. It is one of the best screens on the market.

This Macbook is, as always, a champion of mobility. With its weight of 1.8 kg and its autonomy of 9 hours, it will last without problems during your entire working day. This endurance may seem low in comparison with data from Windows models, but Apple is well known for its battery management.

The autonomy will be 7 to 9 hours there or a Windows PC will cut its capacity in half as soon as you give it a more demanding task.

Its Touch Bar is still useful and includes customizable shortcuts while containing the TouchID for user identification, which makes it easier to use your favorite software.

Connectivity side, it integrates four USB-C ports and a 3.5 mm jack and… that’s it. Purchasing adapters will be essential if you wish to extend its possibilities.

In the end, it is obviously an excellent laptop: qualitative, light, enduring and efficient, it is all intended for those looking for a computer for visual editing. It bowed to its Windows competitor, more mobile and versatile, but remains a model to be reckoned with.

Honorable Mentions

MSI P65 Creator 8SF-250FR:

This computer is a compendium of the best to run any graphics software: 15 inches Full HD screen, Intel Core i7 9750H with 6 cores, RTX 2070 Max-Q with 8 GB dedicated, 16 GB of RAM and 1TB SSD. It is also very elegant and well supplied with connectors.

HP ZBook X2 G4:

It’s probably one of the biggest PC competitors in our selection right now. Like the Microsoft Surface, its screen is detachable and the touchscreen is well exploited. Its 4K screen is also very appreciable for all those involved in video editing. However, it was slightly less connected and less autonomy that prevented it from reaching our main selection.

In conclusion, which laptop for a graphic designer to choose?

In terms of graphics laptop, nothing beats the Microsoft Surface Book 2, the champion in all categories between its display quality, its hardware quality, its power, and its great transportability.

Nevertheless, it is certain that it is not within the reach of any wallet. So, if you don’t need to use software that is too heavy, the economical alternative is on the side of the Acer Swift 5 (SF515-51T). Its display quality is simply stunning for a laptop offered at this price.

As for the Dell XPS 15, it is an excellent intermediary, with good display quality, a compact and light design, and a good autonomy. However, you must be careful with more demanding software, because it then tends to heat up.

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