On the hunt for one of the best laptops for graphic design? This is the place to be. We’ve carefully selected a range of different laptops, idea for designing. True, you’ll need deep pockets for some of the most powerful, but many of these machines have power without costing the earth. We realise not everyone has a huge budget right now, so we’ve included affordable picks.
Where possible, these laptops have been tested by us. For more on our process, check out our guide to how we test laptops. In our tests, we ran extensive tests and completed projects that helped us to understand exactly how they would handle demanding graphic design projects.
But are you sure of what to look for in a best laptop for graphic design? Well, you need a machine that has a multi-core processor and a minimum of 16GB of RAM. This will enable you to have multiple apps and projects open simultaneously without lag or errors. Display is also key, as you’ll want to be able to view your designs in all their glory, so the ideal device will have a large, high-res screen that supports a wide colour gamut. Nowadays, many laptops come with factory-calibrated screens, which offer crucial colour accuracy to show off your design work to its very best.
We’ve included the best laptops for graphic design for beginners and students as well as professionals, but students may also want to see our guide to the best student laptops for other options. We’ve also have lists of the best laptops for video editing and the best laptops for music production that are worth checking out.
The best laptops for graphic design right now
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It may come as no surprise that a MacBook Pro laptop is our pick for the best laptop for designers. Apple’s MacBook Pros are hugely popular with creatives and graphic designers thanks to their excellent build quality, design and power, and the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the pinnacle of this.
Replacing the Intel-powered model from 2019, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) comes with a choice of Apple’s powerful M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, making it the perfect graphic design laptop as it can handle even the most complex graphic design tasks, as well as a stunning XDR mini-LED screen and a huge battery life.
Apple has increased the screen size slightly and added a great selection of ports, including HDMI and a memory card slot. For our money, that makes this easily the best graphic design laptop out there. It is rather large, however, so if you’re after something more portable, check out the 14-inch model below.
See our full MacBook Pro 16-inch review for more details.
Apple may make most of the best laptops for graphic design, but its old rival Microsoft offers solid competition with the Surface Laptop Studio, which gives the MacBooks above a run for their money. Microsoft was long best known as a software company, but it’s been putting out some great laptops, and this versatile two-in-one with a touch display is a fantastic option for graphic designers.
Not only does it have a gorgeous versatile design, but it has an excellent PixelSense touchscreen that will make your work look its very best. The screen can
also offer a zippy refresh rate of up to 120Hz. That touch screen in particular will be of interest to many designers thanks to its stylus compatibility (although you have to buy the stylus separately).
There’s plenty more to like too. It’s also got an excellent keyboard, powerful specs (including cutting-edge integrated graphics from either Intel or NVIDIA, depending on the configuration you go for) and incredible battery life. All in all, it’s a fantastic showcase for Windows 11. See our Surface Laptop Studio review for full details.
Having a gorgeous, large screen with a high resolution can be a great help for graphic designers, and this means the Dell XPS 17 is a laptop worth considering. It packs a fantastic 17-inch UHD+ screen with HDR, which makes your work look its very best. That larger screen also means working on this laptop feels comfortable, even for long periods of time.
The Dell XPS 17 also proves a large-screen laptop doesn’t have to be big and bulky. This is an impressively thin and light laptop, with the same attractive design found in the smaller Dell XPS 13 and XPS 15 laptops. It also comes with some powerful components as well, including 11th generation Intel Core processors, up to 64GB RAM and an Nvidia RTX GeForce 3060 graphics card. We found this to be more than enough power for even the most intensive graphic design workloads when we tested it out – see our Dell XPS 17 9710 review for more details.
The MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) was a new size from Apple, offering a decent bump in screen real estate over the older 13-inch MacBook Pro. Like the 16-inch model above, this graphic design laptop offers an amazing mini-LED screen that supports 1,600 nits of peak brightness and the P3 wide colour gamut.
It’s also powered by the M1 Pro and M1 Max Apple chip, the same as the 16-inch model, which means it offers a similar level of performance to the bigger laptop. So, if you want an incredibly powerful laptop for graphic design, but want something that’s easily portable, then the 14-inch model may be the best one for you.
The smaller size doesn’t mean it misses out on the new design elements Apple added to the 16-inch model, as it comes with the same amount of ports, including an SD card slot, an HDMI port, and three Thunderbolt 4 ports. When we tested it, we found it coped brilliantly with all the workloads we threw at it. See our full MacBook Pro 14-inch review for the details.
The Acer ConceptD 7 is another great Windows 10 alternative for graphic designers. It packs some serious firepower for creative apps, along with a stylish design, stunning Pantone-validated 4K IPS display and a cheaper price than Apple’s laptops. It also comes with Nvidia RTX graphics, offering it a level of power that many laptops this thin and light cannot compete with.
This is still an expensive laptop, but we think the level of power on offer, combined with Acer’s excellent build quality, makes this a fantastic investment for graphic designers looking for a laptop that will last them for years to come. See our full Acer ConceptD 7 review for more.
If you want a MacBook Pro for your graphic design work, but the 16-inch and the 14-inch models above are too large, then we’ve got some good news. Apple has just launched a new MacBook Pro 13-inch model with a huge hardware overhaul, and it’s definitely one of the best laptops for graphic design. It now comes with Apple’s brand-new M2 chip (replacing the M1 chip in 2020’s model), and this allows the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) to provide some seriously impressive performance.
In our tests, the M2 MacBook Pro 13-inch achieved better performance in both single and multi-core CPU tests than the M1 version, and that leads to excellent graphical design performance, even at very high resolutions. The battery life is also absolutely incredible, and outperforms just about every other laptop in this list.
This means, for graphic designers who travel a lot, this is easily the best laptop money can buy.
Also read: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review
Dell’s XPS 13 range has produced some of the best laptops for graphic design with smaller screens, and its latest model continues that fine tradition. Offering a thin and light design alongside some of the most powerful mobile components, this is a stunning laptop that is easy to carry around, while being powerful enough to handle graphic design tasks without breaking a sweat.
When we reviewed it, we found work looks fantastic on the FHD+ (1920 x 1200) anti-glare screen. We found battery life also to be excellent. It’s one of the more expensive laptops in this size, but we think it’s worth every penny. See our full Dell XPS 13 review for more details. And see our best 2-in-1 laptops for creatives for more options.
The Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED (2022) offers cutting-edge components, including a 12th generation Intel processor and also features an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti 4GB graphics card, which means it’ll handle most graphical design projects you throw at it – and even a little gaming.
The 14-core processor and 32GB of RAM also means this is an absolute beast when it comes to multitasking, which can seriously speed up your workflow. However, the most eye-catching feature of the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED (2022) has two screens – a 14.5-inch 120Hz OLED mains screen, which looks fantastic, and a 12.7-inch IPS screen above the keyboard.
Think of that second screen as a super-charged Touch Bar, allowing you to move apps and tools to the bottom screen, giving you more space to work with on the main one. You can also use a stylus on the second screen, turning it into a great drawing tablet. It’s expensive, and the battery life isn’t the best, but it’s an incredible machine for working on.
Read more in our Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED (2022) review.
The LG Gram 17 has two big strengths for graphic design: it offers a large 17-inch display offering plenty of workspace (like the Gigabyte option above), but it’s also incredibly light, weighing just over 1kg. For a 17-inch laptop, this is pretty remarkable, and it means despite its large size, it’s still pretty comfortable to carry around with you.
Its also helps that it’s packing some of the best mobile tech with Intel’s new 11th generation processors and Iris Xe graphics. We found battery life to be extremely impressive, easily lasting around 12 hours on a single charge. We don’t think it’s the most exciting-looking laptop when it comes to design, but the powerful components, light weight and large screen make it great for graphic design work. See our full LG Gram 17 review for more details.
Yep, another MacBook on this list. We’re not biased, though – Apple really does make some of the best laptops for graphic design, and the 2020 MacBook Air, while more affordable than a MacBook Pro, still stands up to use as a graphic design laptop thanks to its ARM-based Apple M1 chip. While there is a new MacBook Air with the M2 chip, which is also great for graphic design, we actually recommend the older M1 model, which is still on sale, for people on a budget, as the price has dropped further, and you can now get it for under £1,000.
The fanless design makes it silent in use, but we found the laptop could still cope with heavy workloads without overheating. It supports the P3 colour gamut, which means the screen can display accurate colours, a consideration that is incredibly important for creative professionals. Add in amazing battery life and a gorgeous thin and light design, and you have a brilliant graphic design laptop. See our full MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review.
Best laptops for graphic design: what to look for
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.
One is power versus portability: you need something that’s thin and light enough to throw in your backpack, but also powerful enough to run your suite of creative tools. You also need to decide whether macOS or Windows is right for you. The former used to be the staple of creative professionals, but it really doesn’t matter what platform you use these days.
Whatever your preferences, each of the machines here will give you all the power and performance you need to hit the ground running with your latest, greatest project. You might also want to see our guide to the best laptops for photoshop.
What laptop specs do I need for graphic design?
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.