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Best Wacom alternatives: From Huion to XP-Pen for beginners and pros

Best Wacom alternatives
(Image credit: Klaus Vedfelt on Getty Images)

Looking for a drawing tablet that’s one of the best Wacom alternatives? You’re not alone! While Wacom is known for making great drawing tablets, such as its class-leading Cintiq range, that kind of quality does come at a cost. And do you need the top of the range? You may well find that another brand is better for your art as well as your budget.

You can check out the best cheap Wacom tablet deals in our guide, but if you’re sick of looking at Wacom tablets you can’t afford or don’t want, we’ve got you covered with this guide to the best Wacom alternatives. These tend to have less of the polish of Wacom, but also come at a much more reasonable price. It’s up to you to define your priorities.

While many of the models on our list are very affordable, we recommend any and all of them as worthwhile purchases. We’ve factored in design, size, quality and price when making our picks, so you can be confident you’ll be getting a worthy tablet that isn’t overpriced.

Some people shop for Wacom alternatives because they’re buying for a child – if that’s you, we’d recommend also taking a look at our guide to the best drawing tablets for kids. Or, if you want more affordable options, check out our list of the best tablets for under $200, or if you just want the finest, here's our best drawing tablets guide.

The best Wacom alternatives

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(Image credit: Huion)

1. Huion Kamvas Pro 24

The best Cintiq alternative, a pro-spec tablet for serious artists

Specifications
Active drawing area: 525 x 294mm
Stylus: Battery-free Pen PW517 (supplied)
Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
Connections: HDMI/DP/VGA
Reasons to buy
+Superb display quality+Excellent drawing performance
Reasons to avoid
-Still quite pricey-Some users report lag issues

The Huion Kamvas is pretty openly pitched as a Cintiq alternative, so it’s going to have to do something pretty special to match up. Does it succeed? We have to say yes – this is a very credible and cheaper alternative to the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24! Its 2K display is simply gorgeous, with 120% sRGB colour space coverage that renders things simply beautifully. The drawing experience is solid as well, thanks to the battery-free PW517 pen that has ±60° tilt support. 

Some users have reported minor lag and tracking issues with the stylus on the Kamvas – nothing deal-breaking, but worth being aware of. The bottom line is that if you want a budget alternative to a Wacom Cintiq Pro 24, this is a really good choice.

Read more: The best Huion drawing tablets in 2021 

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(Image credit: Huion)

2. Huion H430P

This highly affordable tablet is the best cheap Wacom alternative

Specifications
Active drawing area: 121 x 76mm
Stylus: Battery-free pen PW201 (included)
Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels
Connections: USB
Reasons to buy
+Massively affordable+Extremely light
Reasons to avoid
-No display-Small drawing area

At the very other end of the scale, but from the same company, comes the Huion H430P. This tiny tablet is so no-frills that it doesn’t even have to display, and needs to be hooked up to a smartphone, laptop or other tablet to allow you to see what you’re drawing. However, it barely weighs more than a phone and barely costs more than a meal for two at Nando’s. So there are advantages to be had!

The drawing experience is surprisingly decent for a tablet at this price point, with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and a snappy 233PPS response rate. Design-wise it evokes the Wacom Intuos range, and though it definitely is one of the best Wacom alternatives, if you’re looking for a real alternative to those, you’d be better off with our next pick...

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(Image credit: XP-Pen)

3. XP-Pen Deco Pro

The best Intuos alternative, this take-everywhere tablet works for most budgets

Specifications
Active drawing area: 279 x 152mm
Stylus: Battery-free PA1 stylus
Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
Connections: USB-C
Reasons to buy
+Great price+Simple plug-and-play setup
Reasons to avoid
-Pen taper-Some software issues

This sleekly designed tablet is comparable in form and function to a Wacom Intuos Pro, but can be had for about a third of the price. So does it make for a credible rival? We think it definitely merits consideration. The drawing experience is smooth and tactile, and it matches Wacom in terms of technical specs, with pressure sensitivity of 8,192 levels. The issues come in the software, which is a little buggier than Wacom’s, especially on Mac. The tablet is also missing a few luxury extras like Bluetooth connectivity. Still, it does the basics it needs to, and does so at an extremely tempting price. A good first tablet for someone who’s serious about improving their art.

Best Wacom alternatives

(Image credit: Gaomon)

4. Gaomon PD1560

Another strong Wacom Cintiq rival, we rate this quality budget tablet

Specifications
Active drawing area: 344 x 193mm
Stylus: Active Smart Wireless Digital Pen (included)
Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
Connections: USB
Reasons to buy
+Very good value+Useful shortcut keys
Reasons to avoid
-Not the brightest-Noticeable parallax

Some tablet-makers wear the Wacom influence on their sleeve a little more blatantly than others. The shortcut keys on the Gaomon PD1560 are even referred to as “ExpressKeys” in the marketing material, just in case you had any doubts as to where the inspiration came from. Still, as an alternative to a Cintiq, the Gaomon PD1560 is really rather credible. It offers a sophisticated and smooth drawing experience, and the luxurious 15.6-inch display really lets you get lost in the act of creation. The included stylus is also a good example of the genre, and a reason why we consider this one of the best Wacom alternatives – while you do need to charge it regularly, you can use it while it’s plugged in, so it’s not a huge inconvenience. 

Best Wacom alternatives

(Image credit: XP-Pen)

5. XP-Pen Artist 15.6

A generously sized tablet, great for Photoshop and similar applications

Specifications
Active drawing area: 344 x 193mm
Stylus: Battery-free P05 stylus (included)
Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
Connections: USB
Reasons to buy
+Once again, great price+Pleasingly large screen
Reasons to avoid
-Needs adapter for USB-C-No stand included

For this price, it’s pretty impressive to get a screen of this size to draw on! The XP-Pen Artist 15.6 ticks a lot of boxes for anyone looking for a decent do-everything pen display. It’s broadly compatible, and will likely appeal to fashion designers, animators, photo editors, retouchers and a whole host of other professionals. Once you get past the slightly fiddly setup, anyway. 

Drawing on the matte surface of the tablets feels just as it should, with the generous size giving you the freedom to make expansive strokes. The lack of an included stand might annoy some, but it’s still great value and a solid choice of Wacom alternative. 

Best Wacom alternatives

(Image credit: Apple)

6. iPad Pro 12.9 (2020)

Drawing on an iPad Pro is a game-changer, but it comes at a cost

Specifications
Active drawing area: 262 x 196mm
Stylus: Apple Pencil (not included)
Pen pressure sensitivity: Not specified (most users guess it's around 4,096 levels)
Connections: Lightning, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Reasons to buy
+Sublime drawing experience+Multi-functional
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive-And pen costs extra

Just when you thought that all the best Wacom alternatives were graphic tablets, here comes something a little bit more portable. If you’ve never tried drawing on an iPad Pro, then, well, you’ve in for a treat. Hook up the Apple Pencil and you’ll be blown away by how smooth and intuitive the drawing experience is. With all your favourite apps at your fingertips, it’s easy to set the iPad Pro up as a station for all your drawing needs, no matter what discipline you’re in. And while it’s undeniably expensive, you do also get the advantage that an iPad can be many things as well as a drawing tablet, which isn’t the case for others. Once you’re done drawing on a Wacom Cintiq, you can’t then use it to video call your parents or watch Netflix! If you’ve got the budget, this is a superior choice.

Best Wacom alternatives

(Image credit: Huion)

7. Huion Kamvas 22 Plus

A gorgeous display, for those who can live without shortcut keys

Specifications
Active drawing area: 476 x 268mm
Stylus: Battery-free pen PW51 (included)
Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
Connections: USB-C
Reasons to buy
+Excellent colours and contrast+Improved pen stability
Reasons to avoid
-No shortcut buttons-And KeyDial costs extra

One of Huion’s newer tablets, this is obviously gunning for the Wacom Cintiq 22, and once again it does a wonderful job. The display itself is seriously impressive, with a 1200:1 contrast ratio and 140% sRGB colour gamut coverage. It looks simply gorgeous, and wipes away any concerns you might have about Wacom alternatives looking or feeling cheap.

The Huion Kamvas 22 Plus does keep its costs down in a number of ways, the most noticeable of which is the fact that it doesn’t have any physical shortcut buttons. It’s likely this will either bother you a lot or not bother you at all, depending on how you prefer to work. There is a Mini Keydial accessory you can buy to give yourself some buttons, though this will of course incur extra cost. 

Best Wacom alternatives

(Image credit: Microsoft)

8. Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Windows’ flagship tablet is a beefy, powerful Wacom alternative

Specifications
Active drawing area: Not specified (12.3-inch screen)
Stylus: Surface Pen (not included)
Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096
Connections: USB-C, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
+Windows 10 included+Solid performance
Reasons to avoid
-Some battery issues-Minimal improvement from predecessor

Another portable tablet to join the list of the best Wacom alternatives is the Surface Pro 7. Having a Windows-equipped drawing tablet confers loads of advantages, and makes for a great choice of Wacom alternative. The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 has plenty to recommend it, with new processors that mean it should perform better than the previous Surface Pro 6, especially with graphics-intensive tasks. This has unfortunately come with trade-offs – the battery is a little poor for a tablet of this class (and price). Best not stray too far from your charger. Also be aware that you will need to scrounge up some extra budget for the Surface Pen, which is not included in the box. Still, if you’re looking for a Windows-based Wacom alternative, this is your best bet. 

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Jon Stapley

Jon is a freelance writer and journalist who covers photography, art, technology, and the intersection of all three. Interests include old film cameras, new digital gadgets, and pounding the pavements of London looking for fresh photo opportunities. If he finds any, he will let you know.