Graphic designers have specific needs when it comes to laptops. Laptops for designers are second only to gaming laptops in terms of processing power and graphics capability.
There’s a good reason for that. Trying to do graphic design on a system that’s not powerful enough is a major pain. Graphic design software is notoriously heavy and resource-intensive.
A graphic design laptop needs state-of-the-art video processing, for one thing. You’ll want plenty of RAM, too, to make sure you can run all the graphic design software your workflow requires.
To help you if you’re buying a laptop for a graphic designer, we’ve put together some of the most popular models currently on the market.
MacBook Pro 16″
MacBook Pros are legendary for their graphic design capabilities, and for a good reason. It should come as little shock that the MacBook Pro 16″ would start our list, as it’s the jewel of MacBook’s crown.
MacBook Pros have a reputation for fantastic design, with some of the thinnest and lightest bevelings on any laptop currently available. This is augmented with staggeringly impressive battery life at over 15 hours on a single charge. And that’s editing HD video!
Which will look stunning on the MacBook Pro, by the way. The 2021 MacBook Pro 16″ updates the series’ graphics card and chipset, which are upgraded to either an M1 Pro or M1 Max. This is rendered even more lavish with an XDR mini-LED display.
A smorgasbord of ports and connectivity options rounds things out and makes the MacBook Pro truly one of the great graphic design laptops. You’ll be able to connect your MacBook to pretty much anything you could ever care to. Importing and exporting graphics is a snap, as well, with a memory card slot built-in.
These enhancements do make the MacBook Pro 16″ a bit bulkier than some of the other graphic design laptops on our list. This is due to the larger display and battery. If you’re looking for a slightly more compact model, you might go with the MacBook Pro 14″.
MacBook Pro 14″
The MacBook Pro 14″ is a notable graphic design laptop for Mac lovers. First of all, it’s slightly upgraded over the traditional MacBook, which only had a 13″ display. It also boasts the same mini-LED display that makes the 16″ MacBook Pro so enticing.
The MacBook Pro 14″ also supports a P3 wide color range and a peak brightness of 1,600 nits. It comes with either the M1 Pro or M1 Max chipset used by the 16″ model. This truly means the MacBook Pro is virtually identical to the 16″ version but slightly smaller.
It’s ever-so-slightly more portable, which makes it a good choice for students getting into graphic design as it can easily be transported.
It’s also a good choice for anyone who does much working in public, thanks to its equally impressive battery life. You won’t have to worry about not being able to find an outlet when your laptop can hold a charge for up to 14 hours!
This makes the MacBook Pro 14″ a top-tier choice for a work laptop. It truly excels in any area you could want it to.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
Yes, MacBooks are notorious for their graphic design capabilities. But what’s a PC lover supposed to do? There are numerous reasons why someone might prefer a PC for graphic design over a MacBook.
Microsoft may be best known for creating Windows, but they’ve been branching out into hardware in recent years. The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is particularly well-suited for graphic designers for a number of reasons. Some are similar to why MacBooks are so great – sharp graphics and a fast processor, most notably.
Some aspects of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 make it even better than a MacBook. First and most notably is the PixelSense touchscreen, which makes the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 worth a look alone. It’s beyond liberating to be able to manually interact with your graphic design without having to haul around an extra tablet.
Its lightweight and portable design is its other main strength, which gives it a slight advantage over the MacBook Pro 16″ for those looking for a light, minimal laptop.
It’s got everything else you could need or want in a graphic design laptop, as well. Integrated graphics cards are the first and most notable standard feature necessary for graphic designers. Both the Intel Iris Xe and the AMD Radeon are top-notch for graphic designers.
The Microsoft Surface also comes with plenty of RAM, so your graphic design software can run quickly and efficiently. If you’ve ever attempted to render computer graphics or animation without enough RAM, you’ll know why this is important. The Microsoft Surface 4 can come with between 8GB and 32GB of RAM.
It also comes equipped with a solid-state hard drive between 256GB and 1TB. This is more than enough storage space even for graphic design, which is notorious for its large files.
Dell XPS 15
The Dell XPS 15 is another PC that holds its own against MacBooks for graphic design. It’s nearly as sleek and stylish as a MacBook, for instance. It’s only .7″ thick, for example. Its CNC machined aluminum chassis is also particularly classy.
It only weighs a scant 4 pounds, as well.
This is particularly impressive considering it’s got a 15.6″ screen. Graphics look especially beautiful on this display, as well, thanks to a dedicated Nvidia graphics card.
The InfinityEdge display makes the most of the 15.6″ display, also showcasing HD graphics all the way to the edge of the screen. This makes the display appear even larger. They’ll appear extra vivid, too, thanks to a 3.5k display that also creates unprecedented contrasts.
You’ll get the deepest blacks you’ll ever see with the Dell XPS 15.
The Acer ConceptD7 is another PC that holds its own against the MacBooks. Like the Microsoft Surface, the Acer ConceptD7 also boasts a sleek, satisfying design.
It features a larger-than-average display, like the InfinityEdge. Your graphic design will look stunning on the Acer ConceptD7’s 15.6″ monitor. Especially since it’s driven by an Nvidia RTX graphics card and a Pantone-certified 4K IPS display.
The Acer ConceptD7 is also a bit faster than some of the graphic design laptops on our list. It comes with a minimum of 16GB of RAM and can be upgraded to 32GB, so it’s more than powerful enough to handle even the most taxing video rendering and processing!
Lenovo ThinkPads have long had a reputation as one of the most reliable work laptops you can find. They’re world-famous for their exceptional design, which combines ruggedness with responsiveness. They’ve got some of the best keyboard action you’re likely to find this side of a gaming laptop.
You could also drop them down a flight of concrete stairs, and there’d likely be little less than a scratch on the ThinkPad’s durable exterior.
Combine that with one of the best laptop batteries you can find, and it means you get fast, reliable performance for long, long periods of time. It’s just what a graphic designer needs!
Things got really interesting after the Lenovo ThinkPad integrated the Intel Evo system, which upgraded the ThinkPad from one of the best work laptops to the best laptops, period.
The Intel Evo system offers unparalleled performance at far smaller, lighter proportions than most other laptops. The main components are an Intel Core processor and an Iris X graphics card. Now you can have lightning-fast graphic design performance absolutely anywhere you go for however long you need it!
If you want to know more about the Intel Evo platform, check out this page.
Graphic design is one of the most exciting careers available. It’s the perfect blend of creativity and technicality. Whether you’re a programmer, a visual artist, or maybe you’re just passionate about shopping, a career in graphic design will play to your strengths.
The right graphic design laptop ensures that you’ll be able to thrive in your graphic design practice, no matter what discipline you’re working in! Whether you’re a computer animator or an industrial designer, the right graphic design laptop is the most important tool in your toolkit.
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