Best Laptops for a Graphic Designer – Buying Guide & Reviews 2019

In this day and age having a laptop is one of the most important things for an individual working in the graphic designing field. In fact, a laptop is just as important for freelance designers as well as students who are currently learning how to be graphic designers. The biggest advantage that the laptop has over desktop computers is its portability. In today’s work culture, it is important for graphic designers to be able to carry their work as they move around. And while it is possible to do some basic tasks on a tablet, a laptop gives the perfect balance between mobility and performance that is required by graphic designers on a daily basis.

And for graphic designers, performance is as much of a factor as is portability when it comes to choosing a laptop. Unlike, say writers, who can get by without needing superior performance as most of their task is not as taxing on the laptop, a graphic designer will need a laptop that can keep up with the strain put on it because of the heavy and taxing application and programs that would be used by a graphic designers.

With that in mind the best laptop for graphic designers will be one with the perfect combination of portability and performance. Unlike earlier times, when weight was directly correlated to the performance capabilities of a laptop, in today’s day and age manufacturers have started putting out laptops which are sleek and lightweight without compromising the performance integrity of the laptop, giving us powerful but lightweight laptops.

With that we have a compiled a list of factors you need to keep in mind when shopping for a laptop especially keeping in mind that the laptop will most likely be used for graphic design. Based on this list of factors then we have established a list of the 6 best laptops for graphic designers. The list is made after hours of research on our part and is as comprehensive as we could have made it. With that, let’s dive into the factors that one should keep in mind when shopping for laptops.

Laptop for Graphic Designers – Buying Guide

Display:

The most important factor when looking for a laptop, in context of graphic design, has to be the display of the laptop. You should be able to clearly see all the minute color differences and small changes in whatever you’re designing to be clearly visible to you.

You want a laptop that accurately reproduces color and offers you the maximum resolution that you can get in that size. The more vividly it reproduces color on its screens, the better the laptop is in term of graphic design. If you can get a laptop with true-HD display or a 4K display then that should be weighing highly in their favor. Accurate color reproduction means that what you see is what you get when you’re going to print whatever you’re designing.
A bigger screen is always welcome but the bigger the screen of the laptop is, the more it’ll weigh. Usually a 15 inch screen is the perfect median between screen size and weight when it comes to laptops for graphic designers. This will lead to less disparity in between what you have been designing and what the final product is.

RAM:

When looking for a laptop that you need to be running heavy software that is meant for designing, for example, vectoring programs like Adobe Illustrator or image editors like Adobe Photoshop, you need to have a laptop which can keep with the strain on its memory processes. RAM is the hardware that temporarily stores data in your computer.

For this, you need a laptop which, at the minimum, has 8 GB RAM. While we would be advising you to go for a laptop with much higher RAM, it is always possible for you to upgrade the RAM capabilities. The process to upgrade your RAM in your laptop is fairly easy and mostly inexpensive, usually dependent on the price of RAM sticks on the market at the time.

You should always know that even while using draining tasks and applications, your laptop should have enough RAM that at least 25% of it is still free to be utilized for something else. If the percentage of free RAM is less than 25%, then you must look for an upgrade. The more RAM you have, the faster your processor will run.

Processor:

When it comes to a processor, don’t just look at the clock speed of a processor since that doesn’t always come much into play. Anything above 1.9-2.0 GHz is a good benchmark for clock speeds. What matters more is how many cores your processor has, and how efficiently these cores can be used for your particular designing software.

While any processor with 4 or more cores is generally a safe choice, a few choice processors are much more efficient when it comes to design related projects, such as the Intel Core i5 (7th Gen and 8th Gen), Intel Core i7 (6th Gen, 7th Gen and 8th Gen), the AMD Ryzen and Intel Xeon. While it is possible in some cases to improve the CPU in your laptop, sometime the laptops will have non-replaceable, soldered in processor units. Even if the CPU is not soldered in, you would need to find a replacement processor that is compatible to the motherboard being used on your laptop. So while it is possible to upgrade the CPU, it is neither cheap nor easy to do.

Graphic Card or Graphic Processor Unit:

In order to take unnecessary load off of your processor unit, most laptops usually come equipped with GPUs to handle most graphic related processing. This includes rendering, shading, 3D modelling amongst other processes that are handled by a GPU.
Since these processes are very important, and sometimes even integral to the work that a graphic designer will be doing, having a good GPU becomes an essential necessity. The better your GPU is in a laptop, the faster your applications will be working, and in tandem with the RAM, and the CPU will increase the speed that your laptop works in general as well.

It is recommended that you take a laptop with GPU which has at least 2GB of dedicated memory service. While a GPU might not be needed as much if your laptop has a lot of RAM and a great processor, it is not at all possible to install or upgrade the GPU in your laptop. Which means that if the need ever arises for you to have a GPU then you might be kicking yourself if you got yourself a laptop without one. The best laptop will come with a dedicated GPU from Nvidea or AMD but most will come with an integrated graphic card that comes along with your CPU.

Hard Drive:

Your hard drive is where your laptop stores all the information permanently. It is what determines your start-up, or boot, speed of the laptop. There are generally two types of hard drives currently available for use; the Solid State Drive (SSD) and the Hard Disk Drive (HDD).

The HDD relies on moving parts inside it to write data on its disk while the SSD has no moving parts and has a memory similar to one found in USB flash drives. SSD are much more expensive than HDD but are faster, more efficient and much less likely to break down.

However, even though SSDs are much better than HDDs, their price is exorbitantly expensive to have a laptop that completely uses SDDs. Usually a good laptop might have both SDD and HDD, with the SDD being used for boot-up and essential operating software files.

Additional Features:

Keep in mind that any additional features that the laptop might be providing to you and whether it is something that will be pertinent to your work or not. Such features could include a touch screen or a fingerprint recognition system or many other features that manufacturers introduce into their products. Or it could be something like the quality of the keyboard, and how easy or hard it is to use the keys provided and how reliable they are.

Battery life is another important factor that one must keep an eye on. And finally the weight of the laptop matters as well, for if the laptop is too heavy then it won’t really be portable and easy to travel with. All these additional features can make a laptop more suited for you than its competition when it comes to the particular use that you would have for that laptop and your particular line of work.

These are all the important factors that one has to keep in mind while shopping for laptops. On the basis of these factors we’ve made a list of all the best laptops for graphic designers that are currently in the market.

Best Laptops for Graphic Designers

#1 Apple Macbook Pro:

Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, Touch Bar, 2.9GHz 6-Core Intel Core i9, 16GB RAM, 1TBB SSD Storage) Space Gray (Previous Model)
  • 6-Core 8th-Generation Intel Core i7 Processor
  • Brilliant Retina Display with true Tone technology
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID

The Macbook Pro remains the number choice for graphic designers when it comes to laptop. With it sleek and stylish design, the Macbook Pro is a relatively lightweight laptop with incredibly powerful specs. The Macbook Pro comes in two main varieties, one with the Intel Core i9 (8th gen) and the other with the Intel Core i7 (8th gen) processor. Both of these processors are among the best in market currently have with the i7 having 8 cores and the i9 having an incredible 18 cores.

It also has 18 GB of RAM to make sure that its incredible processor doesn’t get bottlenecked by memory writing functions. In terms of hard disk space, it comes with options of having a 256GB, a 512GB or a 1TB SSD leading to extremely fast boot up speeds and general overall fast performance of the laptop. The famous Macbook display comes with incredible retina display and True Tone Technology which replicates colors vividly and accurately. In terms of its GPU, you can get either the Radeon Pro 555x or the 560x with 4GB of dedicated video memory.

The Macbook pro also comes with a touch bar and Touch ID system. The touch bar itself comes with the Intel UHD Graphics 630. With battery life up to 10 hours, it is not going to immediately die out either, letting you carry it around without worrying too much about its battery. Finally it also has four Thunderbolt 3 USB ports, which might be an issue for its size. All in all, the Macbook Pro is an amazing device that has all the specs one would want in a laptop for graphic designing and is probably one of the best laptops out in the market currently. A great choice for anyone who can afford it.

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Pros
  • Incredible processor for incredible speeds
  • 18 GB of RAM
  • SSD memory which leads to faster boot up and functioning
  • Incredible retina display with True tone technology with 25% more colors than sRGB
  • Touch ID for added protection for your laptop
  • Touch Bar for easier use and greater functionality
  • Amazing graphics with 4 GB of dedicated video memory
  • 10 hours of battery life
  • Lightweight design for its power

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Cons
  • It is expensive
  • 4 USB ports might be too few for its size
  • Can’t upgrade any of the hardware
  • Mac OS is not favoured by many individual who are new to it

#2 HP ZBook:

HP ZBook 15v G5 (Core i7-8750H, 32GB RAM, 2TB HDD + 2TB PCIe SSD, 15.6" FHD 1920x1080, NVIDIA Quadro P600, Win10 Pro)
  • 8th Generation Intel i7-8750H 6-Core (2.20 GHz up to 4.10GHz, 9 MB Cache), NVIDIA Quadro P600 with 4 GB GDDR5 VRAM
  • 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) Touchscreen Glossy Display, 1 x 10/100/1000 Mb/s Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45), Wi-Fi 5; Dual-Band (2.4 & 5 GHz), 2 x 2,...
  • 32GB DDR4 SDRAM Memory, Standard Backlight notebook keyboard with numeric keypad, Kensington Lock Slot, Fingerprint Reader

The ZBook comes equipped with 32GB RAM and a 6 core 8th Gen Intel i7 which clocks in at 2.20 GHz but can be overclocked at 4.10GHz as well. With its 2TB HDD which comes in addition to a 2TB PCie SSD, the ZBook runs incredibly fast. With its specifications, it is one the most powerful laptops out currently. It is a monster of a machine capable of handling everything that you can throw at it with its incredible specs and hardware. It comes in a 15” screen size with full HD display (1920 x 1080).

The screen itself is a glossy display touchscreen for added functionality. As for its safety features, it comes with Kensington Lock Slot and Fingerprint Reader. The keyboard on the laptop is the standard keyboard with numeric keypad with backlight. It has multiple USB slots along with HDMI and Ethernet ports as well.

It comes pre-installed with the 64-bit Windows 10 Professional series. The graphic card on the ZBook is the powerful and capable Nvidia Quadro P600 with 4GB dedicated video memory, and the GDDR5 system which is designed for use in high-performance visual computing. It also comes with a year long warranty. The ZBook has a few other varieties with lower specs for slightly cheaper prices.

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Pros
  • Incredible 32GB RAM for superior performance
  • Powerful 8th Gen Intel i7 with impressive 6 cores and 2.20 GHz clock speed
  • 2TB HDD +2 TB SDD for amazing boot speeds and general speed for the laptop
  • Full HD 15” display with glossy touchscreen
  • Comes with Kensington Lock Slot and Fingerprint reader for added protection
  • Multiple USB, HDMI, and Ethernet slots
  • Superior GDDR5 graphic card with 4GB dedicated visual memory and designed for high-end visual computing.

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Cons
  • Heating problems with HP laptops
  • Not very lightweight at 4.72 lbs

#3 Microsoft Surface Book 2:

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Microsoft Surface Book 2 15"(Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1 TB, RAM)
  • Microsoft Surface Book 2 Features a 8th generation Intel Quad Core i7 Processor, 1 TB of storage, 16 GB RAM, and up to 17 hours of video playback
  • Enhanced Graphics performance with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 discrete GPU w/6GB GDDR5 Graphics Memory
  • The fastest Surface Book yet, with 4x more power. Battery type : 4-cell Lithium-ion

The original Surface Book was marketed by Microsoft as the “Mac-Killer”, and while it didn’t succeed in killing the Macbook, the Surface book was well received on its own merits and is now in its second iteration.

The big point of the Surface 2 is definitely its graphic card. Outfitted with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 lets the Surface 2 have 6GB of GDDR5 graphic memory. The GTX 1060 is one of the best graphics card in the market currently and the inclusion of it inside the Surface 2 lets the laptop give incredibly superior visual performance. The other selling point for the Surface Book 2, is its superior battery life. Powered by 4-cell lithium ion battery, it provides 4 times as much power as the original Surface Book for 17 hours of battery life.

Its vibrant display 15” screen outfitted for touch and pen inputs has incredible resolution of 3260 x 2160 pixels. It comes with a 1TB SSD flash memory which lets it boot up and run at incredible speeds. The main thing that makes the Surface 2 one of the best laptops for graphic designers is the fact that the Surface Book 2 has 4 different usability modes. These modes can let the Surface Book 2 be used as a laptop, a tablet, a studio mode for drawing in a natural and comfortable positions or a simple viewing mode to share content and presentations.

The Surface Book 2 also has Surface compatible accessory that can be bought separately for even for complete and intuitive experience.

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Pros
  • Outfitted with GeForce GTX 1060, one of the most powerful graphics card which gives incredible 6GB of GDDR5 dedicated visual memory
  • 17 hours of video playback due its powerful 4-cell lithium ion batteries
  • Vibrant touchscreen 15” display with 3260 x 2160 resolution for an amazing viewing experience
  • 1TB SSD memory for great boot and general laptop speed
  • 4 different usability modes, depending on what you need
  • Intel Core i7 processor with 4.2 processor speed

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Cons
  • The pen accessory doesn’t come with the Surface Book and needs to be bought separately
  • Not very lightweight at 4.2 lbs
  • Entry level models have too little storage for most work

#4 Samsung Notebook 9 Pro:

Samsung Notebook 9 Pro NP940X3M-K01US 13.3" Touch Screen Laptop, Intel Core i7-7500U Up To 3.5GHz, 8GB DDR4, 256GB SSD, Backlit Keyboard, Windows 10, Titan Silver
  • 13.3" 1920x1080 Full HD touch screen for hands-on control
  • 7th Gen(Newest) Intel Core i7-7500U mobile processor
  • 8GB DDR4 memory; 256GB SSD; Intel HD Graphics 620

The Notebook 9 Pro is one of the smallest and lightest laptops on this list, weighing in at just 2.8 lbs and a 13.3” touchscreen display which also supports a stylus input. Its display, however, comes in at a full HD resolution of 1980 x 1080 pixels. It also has an outdoor mode that increases its brightness by almost 50% when outside (from 350 nits to 500 nits) which lets you easily carry around the Notebook 9 and work on it outside.

Despite its small size, the Notebook 9 Pro still has two USB-C ports, an HDMI port and a USB-A port for added connectivity. It also includes a fingerprint scanner, a facial recognition ID login. It is a fitted with an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 which lets the Notebook 9 Pro reach processor speeds up to 1.8 GHz. In terms of its RAM, it comes fitted with an 8GB RAM. However, in terms of a GPU it only has an Intel HD Graphics 620 card, which isn’t as capable as most of the other dedicated graphics card.

And for its storage, the Notebook 9 Pro is fitted with a 256 GB SSD, which while fast is a very small amount of storage space for a laptop that will be used for graphic designing. This lack of storage means that you would need to either look for an external storage device or maybe a cloud storage service.

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Pros
  • Stylus included for easy use on full HD display
  • Easy to use outdoors with its sleek and portable design and outdoor mode to increase brightness
  • Fingerprint scanner and Face ID for added safety
  • Excellent connectivity options for its size

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Cons
  • Screen size might take a while to get used to
  • Screen isn’t as highly detailed as few of the other options
  • Incredible stingy storage options

#5 Dell XPS 15 9570:

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Dell XPS 15 9570-8th Generation Intel Core i7-8750H Processor, 4k Touchscreen display, 16GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM, 512GB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti, Windows 10 Home, Gaming Capable
  • The virtually border less display maximizes screen space by accommodating a 15.6 Inches Display inside a laptop closer to the size of a 14 inches,...
  • Beautiful from any angle: The anti reflective screen combined with superior 400 nit brightness frees you to enjoy your entertainment outdoors. Plus,...
  • With the UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD display (3840 x 2160), you can see each detail of every pixel without needing to zoom in. You can edit images with...

Dell has only recently started to make laptops with a focus on the graphic design space. The XPS 15 comes with a 15.6” display which looks much bigger due to an extremely slim bezel. Its 4K Ultra HD display comes with UltraSharp technology. The display has an anti-reflective screen and has 400 nit brightness which lets it be easily enjoyed outdoors. This along with the IPS panel provides an incredibly wide viewing angle. The amazing display has a resolution of 3840 x 2160, and has 6 million more pixels than Full HD and CinemaColor technology to faithfully recreate colors as they’re meant to be.

The selling point of the XPS 15 definitely is its amazing display. It comes with 100% Adobe RGB color which produces shades of color not covered in conventional panels and can easily reproduce 16 million colors. The display itself is touch friendly and is amazingly intuitive.
In order to help its incredible display, the XPS 15 is fitted with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, which is a dedicated graphic card with 4 GB of dedicated video memory. It lets your laptop easily render and process all that you can imagine to do. It is just slightly less powerful than the GTX 1060 that comes in the Surface Book 2.

The processor that the XPS 15 comes is the 8th Gen Intel Core i7, making this laptop one of the most powerful that Dell has made up to now and the most powerful in the XPS series. This incredible processor along with the GTX 1050 Ti lets you easily breeze through tasks even other high end laptops would struggle with. The speed is only improved with the PCIe SSDs that the XPS 15 comes with.

As for smaller quality of life features, the keyboard on the XPS 15 is backlit to make easier to work in a low-lit environment. The touchpad itself comes with Accidental Activation Prevention and stops unintentional clicks when you accidentally touch the touchpad with your palm. It comes with a fingerprint reader and is made out environmentally responsible material, while still being strong and durable like the display screen being fitted with Corning Gorilla Glass 2.

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Pros
  • One of the best display screens of any laptops with 4K Ultra HD
  • CinemaColor, UltraSharp technologies, IPS panel, slim bezel, and anti-reflective screen all work for an incredible viewing experience.
  • Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti provides 4 GB GDDR5 visual memory to complement the incredible display
  • Powerful Intel core 8th Gen i7 processor which can reach speeds up to 4.1 GHz

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Cons
  • 512 GB might prove to be a little less memory for a few individuals
  • The look of the laptop is incredibly plain
  • Dell is infamous for poor customer support

#6 Lenovo Thinkpad P1:

Lenovo ThinkPad P1, 15-15.99"
  • 15.6" Fhd (1920x1080) IPS
  • OS : Windows 10

Lenovo is one of the most reputed names when it comes to laptop manufacturers in the market. The sleek and lightweight Thinkpad P1 is Lenovo’s answer to laptops needed for graphic designers. At just 0.72”, the Thinkpad is extremely sleek and thin. And weighing in at just 3.76 lbs it is one the best laptops to carry around easily without compromising on performance.

It is powered by Intel core i7, which with its 6 cores lets the CPU reach speeds of up 2.6 GHz.
Though the system can easily be overclocked to 4.3 GHz using Intel Turbo Boost Technology. The 2400 MHz DDR4 16 GB RAM, provides fast and accurate writing and allows the processor to function without getting bogged down by the standard processes of the laptop.

Coming in full HD display with 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, the Thinkpad P1 is supported by the Nvidia Quadro P1000 to help it create incredible rendering of images with its 4 GB dedicated visual memory.

As for storage, the Thinkpad is outfitted with a 512 GB SSD that lets the Thinkpad easily optimize its resources for a fast and efficient working of the laptop.

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Pros
  • Lightweight at just 3.76 lbs
  • Sleek and slim design for easier portability
  • Intel Core i7 processor for faster application speeds
  • 4 GB dedicated memory for visual processes
  • Full HD display
  • Full Solid State Disk Memory

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Cons
  • No touch capability for easier functionality
  • 512 GB memory might not be enough for a few users

With that, we come to the end of our list for the 6 best laptops for graphic designers in 2019. We have spent time to make a comprehensive list of competitive products so that you don’t have to be worrying about which laptop to buy as a graphic designer. And even if you don’t choose one of the products from our list, our buyers guide should help be cognizant of the factors to keep in mind while shopping for a laptop for graphic designers, ensuring that you can make an informed decision keeping your needs in mind.

A final note

While it is possible to use a gaming laptop for purposes of graphic design, as most of the requirements are similar if not same, the issue that crops up while using gaming laptops is that they are usually much bulkier than laptops meant for graphic design use. With that bulky weight and often extremely garish design, it’s not always possible, nor recommended, that you would be able to carry around your laptop for meetings with clients or such. Their extra weight is usually caused from extra fans and more comprehensive cooling systems to prevent the laptop from overheating. But if you do choose a high end gaming laptop then it will certainly function well in terms of its use for graphic design.

However, the converse isn’t always true. These laptops we have listed combine the best in terms of performance and portability, usually sacrificing their cooling system to be much lighter than other traditional gaming laptops. Consequently, while these laptops might have the necessary specifications to run most high end AAA video games, their cooling systems are not going to hold up and may cause heating problems. This can be alleviated with laptop bases, and heat sinks that you can plop the laptop on and then continue to play but the laptops themselves were intended to be gaming heavy.

With that, we hope that this Buyer Guide and Review for the Best Laptops for Graphics Design has been useful for you and you will be able to choose and select a laptop that you are happy with and which satisfies your needs and requirements properly.

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