Best laptops for graphic design 2021: top picks for graphic designers
If you’re in the market for one of the best laptops for graphic design, you’ll need a powerful machine. Without the necessary horsepower, it won’t keep up with the editing and rendering you need to do, particularly at higher resolutions. So, you’ll need one equipped with one of the best graphics cards and processors to handle your workflow. But, it takes more than excellent performance to make a portable ideal for graphic design.
It needs the storage capacity to store all your projects which tend to take up a lot of space pretty quickly as well as enough RAM to keep up while you’re actively working. The display is just as important, as you’ll need one that won’t give you eye strain after long sessions in front of the computer. On top of that, you need one that will accurately reproduce colors. And, it needs to be easy to carry and durable as well if you plan on taking the laptop on the road.
To help you weed through all the options out there, we’ve gathered the best notebooks for graphic design here, and have included options for both Windows and macOS fans. Don’t forget to check out our included price comparison tool so you can find the best deals on whichever laptop you’re interested in.
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. And yes, that includes graphic designers. It absolutely impresses with breathtaking power and an equally breathtaking 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 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 review: MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)
The Dell XPS 17 (2021) has 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. 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, it is a great machine for a creative professional.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 17 (2021)
One of the most powerful mobile workstations out there, the Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) comes with a lot of power, a gorgeous display, and a whole lotta 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 could use a bit of a boost, for example. But, for how much you’re paying and for the other things you’re getting in return, it’s a miniscule sacrifice.
Read the full review: Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021)
The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) may not have gotten a massive design overhaul, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up for big time in performance and battery life. Thanks to Apple’s groundbreaking M1 chip, the new MacBook Pro 13-inch delivers excellent performance and exceptional battery life. Its performance is so impressive, in fact, that it can easily handle 4K – and even 8K – videos. If you’re looking for a powerful laptop that keeps things small and lightweight, this is easily one of the best MacBooks for graphic design money can buy.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)
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 design.
Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6
Thanks to the revolutionary ARM-based Apple M1 chip that powers the new MacBook Air, this is a stunning achievement: a thin and light laptop that offers great performance, even with 4K video editing, while also offering incredible battery life. Easily managing over 11 hours on a single charge, this is a laptop you can easily carry around with you at work or school, and its price is incredibly competitive compared to Windows 10 rivals like the Dell XPS 15 (below). Running both new and old Mac apps, the new MacBook Air can now also run iOS apps for iPhone and iPads, giving it access to hundreds of brilliant mobile applications and games as well. Even if you’ve only ever used Windows laptops before, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is well worth getting and making the jump to macOS. Yes, it really is that good.
Read the full review: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
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 graphic design. 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.
But, with that beautiful screen and the fantastic battery life that the XPS 15s have always come with, you’ll 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.
For those who think that MacBook Pros are overpriced but still need a powerful mobile workstation, there’s the Acer ConceptD 7. This formidable laptop capable of handling complex and demanding tasks, thanks in part to its Nvidia RTX graphics, 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. Obviously, it’s still pretty pricey, but if you’re looking for a Windows-powered MacBook alternative for creative endeavors, it’s certainly among the best laptops for graphics design.
Read the full review: Acer ConceptD 7
This luxurious thin and light gaming laptop from Razer just oozes class, and is an ideal laptop for people who want a powerful device they can take around with them. It’s one of the nicest looking modern gaming laptops we’ve seen. It isn’t 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’s 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 review: Razer Blade 14
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 wouldn’t 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. This may not be an RTX 3000 Series laptop, but you can get an RTX 2080 Super Max Q under the hood that’s nothing to joke about. Of course, if that’s overkill, there are other configurations on hand as well.
Read the full review: Lenovo Legion 7i (2020)
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