Need the best laptops for graphic design? We’ve tested, reviewed, and rated the portables you need to create stunning designs without impacting performance.
When you’re running graphic design software, photo editors, and 3D modeling and rendering software, performance is critical. These resource-intensive creative apps can put a serious strain on your computer or laptop and stop your creative flow right in its tracks. So, keeping the design process on time and on track demands a laptop with real horsepower to run your software smoothly.
The best laptops for designers should be loaded with decent RAM, a quick CPU, and a powerful GPU. The hi-res screen should display a wide color gamut that accurately reflects the color spectrum. You’ll also want plenty of storage space – pairing an SSD with the best photo cloud storage is ideal for keeping your work secure offline and online.
To get your digital art software running perfectly, we’re diving into the best laptops for graphic design. We’ve compared these laptops across various factors, like their CPU, GPU, screen quality, connectivity ports, and overall performance. We also evaluated their battery lives, storage, and pricing, among other things.
Best laptops for graphic design of 2023
Thanks to the launch of the M1 Pro- or M1 Max-armed MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021), the MacBook Pro has truly made its complete transformation as a laptop for creative professionals.
It absolutely impresses with breath-taking power and an equally breath-taking battery life. Apple then adds its XDR display with 1600 nits of peak brightness and a wide color gamut to the mix, which is ideal for graphics design. The battery life is around 16 to 17 hours, and the screen is stunning, with a huge 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
The SD card slot, an HDMI port, and three Thunderbolt 4 ports (all of which can stay available thanks to MagSafe charging being back) are all there to make sure you also have access to all the peripherals you’ll need.
Read the full MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) review
The Dell XPS 17 (2021) is a laptop with the kind of power to handle just about any graphic design work.
With specs of up to an Intel Core i9 CPU, 64GB of RAM, and an Nvidia RTX GeForce 3060 means you can even tackle some 4K video editing, especially if you upgrade to a UHD display. The dedicated Nvidia GPU ensures a smooth gaming experience, even for demanding games. In our testing, the laptop averaged around 52 fps in Metro Exodus at 1080p with everything set to Ultra.
Somehow, all this performance fits in a 0.77 inch thick machine for a surprisingly portable workstation. While the XPS 17 does come at a premium and could come with a few more ports, overall it’s a great laptop for designers on the go.
Read the full Dell XPS 17 (2021) review
One of the most powerful mobile workstations out there, the Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) comes with a lot of power, a gorgeous display, and plenty of ports.
Best yet, it’s priced well below its less-powerful rivals, making it a better proposition even if you have a more flexible budget. It isn’t by any means perfect. The battery life is around four to six hours and could use a bit of a boost. If you’re doing creative, resource-intensive work, you’re going to need to plug this laptop in within a few hours.
You’ll also want to avoid doing intensive work with the laptop while it’s sitting on your lap. Rendering 3D scenes or playing games on it makes it run very hot on the underside. But, for how much you’re paying and for the other things you’re getting in return, it feels like a fair trade.
Read the full Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) review
With the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) achieving better performance in both single and multi-core CPU tests than its M1 predecessor during our test, Apple’s smallest MacBook Pro is most powerful than ever, especially for intensive tasks like video editing and graphics design.
It also scored around twice as much as the Intel Core i7-1185G7-powered Surface Laptop 4, and lasted almost two hours longer than the M1 MacBook Pro 13-inch in our battery life test. What’s more, we found that it stays quiet under pressure, which should minimize distractions from your creative process.
It might not come with a new design update, which may somewhat be disappointing folks who’ve been craving an external overhaul, but the boost in performance more than makes up for it. Well, that and the fact that it keeps the same price tag as before.
Read our in-depth MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 might be pricey but it’s well worth the cost. Not only do you get a fantastic screen with a wider 16:10 aspect ratio but excellent performance thanks to the latest generation Intel processors, Intel Xe graphics, and Evo certification.
It will also last quite a while on a single charge if you need to work on the road or in the field. Its design is not the most awe-inspiring and an SD card slot would have been appreciated, but the X1 is an otherwise stellar machine for graphic designers.
The connectivity options on this device aren’t lacking: there are two USB Type-A ports in addition to the two Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-Cs, as well as an HDMI 2.0.
Read the full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 review
The MacBook Pro 16-Inch (2021) is an extraordinary machine, partially due to that incredibly powerful M1 Pro chip (or M1 Max if you choose to upgrade). But, it offers much more.
It comes with a gorgeous XDR screen that’s a joy to work on and a battery life that will keep you going on the road without slowing down performance when unplugged. You’ll find a good selection of ports for your peripherals too: 3x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), HDMI, SDXC card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a MagSafe 3.
The screen is bright and beautiful with 1,600 nits of peak brightness and a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
This graphic design laptop doesn’t come cheap, and it’s not as portable as its 14-inch brother but you do get extra screen real estate to help you with your workflow.
Read the full MacBook Pro 16-Inch (2021) review
The Dell XPS 15 (2021) keeps everything that’s made this mid-size flagship model special, but with some updated internals. While the XPS 15 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it makes a great laptop for designers. With up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, you should be able to handle most image and video editing without breaking a sweat.
It can even handle some gaming, though it is admittedly a bit underpowered compared to some of the competition and will run hot during extended gaming sessions.
But, with that beautiful screen and the fantastic battery life that the XPS 15s have always come with, you will forget about any shortcomings of this computer. And, considering its beautiful design, it’s no wonder that the XPS 15 models consistently rank among the best Dell laptops out there.
Read the full Dell XPS 15 (2020) review
For those who think that MacBook Pros are overpriced but still need one of the best laptops for graphic design, there’s the Acer ConceptD 7.
Although it’s not as light as a MacBook Pro, this formidable laptop’s capable of handling complex and demanding tasks, thanks in part to its Nvidia RTX graphics, and was designed specifically with creative professionals in mind.
Beyond that sheer power it delivers, it also offers decent port selection, a minimalist solid white design, and that stunning Pantone-validated 4K IPS display. The connectivity ports include 1 x USB-C, 3 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x HDMI, a headset jack, and an Ethernet port.
It’s not a budget choice, but if you’re looking for a Windows-powered MacBook alternative for creative endeavors, it’s certainly among the best laptops for graphics designers.
Read the full Acer ConceptD 7 review
This luxurious thin and light gaming laptop from Razer just oozes class, and is one of the best graphic design laptops for designers who want a powerful fusion of performance and portability.
It is also one of the nicest looking modern gaming laptops we have seen. It is not just for gaming, however. The Razer Blade 14 comes with cutting edge components as well, including the awesome AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor and up to an RTX 3080 graphics card – just the ticket for all your graphics design demands.
This means it is able to see you through the most intensive graphics design processes without breaking a sweat… while keeping things portable and solidly built, so you won’t worry about it getting damaged when out in the field.
Read the full Razer Blade 14 review
The Lenovo Legion 7i may be first and foremost a gaming laptop, but that stunner of an aluminum design and seriously impressive performance make it a boon to creative professionals like graphic designers as well.
This will not look out of place in an office, especially if you turn off those blinding RGB lights. Plus, it stays cool under pressure, thanks to its fantastic thermals. The connectivity ports include USB-C 3.1 (Gen 1), USB-A 3.1 (Gen 2), HDMI 2.0, RJ45 Ethernet, and a 3.5mm audio port.
This may not be an RTX 3000 Series laptop, but you can get an RTX 2080 Super Max Q under the hood that is nothing to joke about. If that’s overkill, there are other configurations on hand as well.
Read the full Lenovo Legion 7i (2020) review
Best laptops for graphic designers: Frequently Asked Questions
How to choose the best laptops for graphic design for you
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When choosing which laptop is best for graphic design, there’s no one answer. With so many makes and models on the market, the trick is to first identify how you’re planning to use the device.
There’s no one graphic design laptop – it all depends on the work you’ll be doing. As a baseline, however, we recommend minimum specs of 16GB RAM and 1TB of SSD storage – paired with one of the best photo cloud storage services for backups. Ideally, choose a display that features DCI-P3 for the most accurate on-screen colors.
Alternatively, a screen with a very high-percentage sRGB coverage will suffice. A machine with this power will keep you in the zone.
Professionals and power-users will want to opt for portables that ramp up the power and performance as high and as hard as they go. Graphic design apps like Adobe Illustrator can take their toll on hardware, so it’s important to select one that can manage running them smoothly without any lag.
Look for good RAM, CPU, and GPU specs – and consider a device that offers plenty of storage space, too.
Budget is another factor when selecting the right laptop for your creative workflow. You can really spend out on the very best graphic design laptops, but it’s not always necessary – especially if you’re more of a casual user or you’re designing using less resource-intensive tools like free logo makers or online design apps like Canva.
Check the screen specs. As a graphic designer, particularly if you’re working with print assets, what you create on the screen should be as accurate to the finished article as possible. Look for those with a wide color gamut, ideally hitting 100% DCI-P3, although a high-percentage sRGB coverage will be fine for more general use.
As the recommended specs are similar, it’s also worth exploring the best monitors for graphic design and the best monitors for photo editing if you need a second display.
How we test the best laptops for graphic design
We test hardware built for a range of industries and professions, including laptops for writers, laptops for engineering, and laptops for video editing.
When it comes to best laptops for designers, we rigorously test each device against a list of features, with special focus on screen quality and performance. These are two of the most important assets when running creative apps like graphic design software, photo editors, VFX software, and 3D modeling and rendering software.
Generally, we opt for laptops with at least 16GB of RAM – although 32GB is preferred – with internal SSD storage of 1TB and above. They also feature the latest-generation CPUs from AMD, Intel and Apple.
Some of the devices we’ve assessed are often marketed as business laptops or gaming laptops – perhaps that’s no surprise, since these also need to be able to handle hardware-hogging applications without missing a beat.