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The best laptops for graphic design in 2021

Included in this guide:

Best laptops for graphic design
(Image credit: CottonBro on Pexels)
Top 5 graphic design laptops

Jump straight to the best laptops for graphic design
01. MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021)
02. MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)
03. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
04. Dell XPS 15 (2020)
05. Acer ConceptD 7

If you're after the best laptops for graphic design, then we can help, as we've gathered together some amazing devices that will help power your creative work no matter where you are.

If you're a professional graphic designer, then buying a powerful, yet portable, laptop to work on can be one of the best investments you can make. The laptops on this list offer enough power to easily handle creative applications, cutting the time it takes to perform complex tasks and speeding up your workflow.

This lets you work on more projects, and it can lead to more clients, justifying the sometimes high prices of these graphic design laptops.

Not only are the laptops on this page powerful, they come with gorgeous screens to make your creative work really shine, while thin and light designs, and long battery lives, allows you to be creative no matter where you are.

The best laptops for graphic design on this page aren't just for professionals, either – we've got picks for beginners and students as well (though students should also check our best student laptops roundup). We've also got a very popular list of the best laptops for video editing that's worth checking out.

Because there are so many great laptops out there, we're here to help make picking the best laptop for graphic design as easy as possible, by cutting through the jargon to give you clear buying advice for a range of budgets.

With Black Friday 2021 coming on November 26, we should also see some great price cuts for many of these graphic design laptops, which means now is the ideal time to start looking for your next laptop.

The best laptops for graphic design right now

MacBook Pro 16-Inch (2021) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

The best laptop for graphic design overall

CPU: Apple M1 Pro 10-core – M1 Max 10-core
Graphics: Integrated 16-core – 32-core GPU
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: Up to 8TB
Reasons to buy
+Extremely long battery life+Plenty of ports
Reasons to avoid
-On the bigger side

It may come as no surprise that a MacBook Pro laptop is our pick for the best laptop for graphic designers. Apple's MacBook Pros are hugely popular with creatives and graphic designers thanks to their excellent build quality, design and power, and the brand-new 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, which can handle even the most complex graphical design tasks, as well as a stunning XDR mini-LED screen and a huge battery life.

Apple has also increased the screen size slightly, as well as added a great selection of ports, including HDMI and a memory card slot, 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. 

Also read: MacBook Pro 16-inch review

MacBook Pro 14 against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

The best graphic design laptop with a smaller screen

CPU: Apple M1 Pro 8-core – M1 Max 10-core
Graphics: Integrated 14-core – 32-core GPU
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: Up to 8TB
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant performance+Best screen on a laptop
Reasons to avoid
-Screen may be a bit small for some

The MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) is a brand-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, it offers an amazing mini-LED screen that supports 1,600 nits of peak brightness and the P3 wide color gamut.

It's also powered by the new 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.

Also read: MacBook Pro 14-inch review

Surface Laptop 4 with desktop wallpaper and white background

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The best laptop for graphic design running Windows 10

CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 /AMD Ryzen 5 - 7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe / AMD Radeon
RAM: 8GB – 32GB
Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense (2,256 x 1,504) touch
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable keyboard+Beautiful screen
Reasons to avoid
-Not enough ports-Alcantara fabric might get gross over time

Apple may make excellent laptops for graphic design, but its old rival Microsoft has brought out a brilliant device with the new Surface Laptop 4, which gives the MacBooks above a run for their money.

While Microsoft may be better known as a software company, it's been putting out some great laptops recently, at its most recent device is an ideal laptop for graphic designers. Not only does it have a gorgeous design that's thin and light, but it has an excellent PixelSense touchscreen that will make your work look its very best. It's also got an excellent keyboard, powerful specs (including cutting-edge integrated graphics from either Intel or AMD, depending on the configuration you go for) and incredible battery life.

It's a fantastic showcase for Windows 10, and it's more than capable of running any graphic design app you want. Now that Windows 11 is out, it can also be upgraded for free.

Dell XPS 15 with the screen open and a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

04. Dell XPS 15 (2020)

Dell's best laptop yet

CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics - Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti
RAM: 8GB – 64GB
Screen: 15.6" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS - UHD+ (3840 x 2400)
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Fast performance+Eye-catching design
Reasons to avoid
-GTX 1650 Ti is a little weak-15-inch screen might be too large for some

While our top two picks for the best laptops for graphic design are MacBooks, what if you want to stick with Windows? Thankfully, the Dell XPS 15 (2020) is a brilliant alternative to Apple's laptops.

Packing powerful mobile components in a thin and light design that's stylish and robust, along with a stunning 15.6-inch display and a discrete Nvidia graphics card, this is a laptop that's perfect for graphic designers who are going to be using this laptop for intensive creative work.

Best of all, its battery life is excellent, which means you don't have to be tethered to a desk if you want to use this powerful laptop.

For more Dell laptop deals, see our dedicated best Dell laptop post.

Two Acer ConceptD 7 laptops, one closed, and the other with the screen open

(Image credit: Acer)

A mobile workstation for creatives

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 – 2080
RAM: 16GB – 32GB
Screen: 15.6" 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 16:9 IPS
Storage: 1TB
Reasons to buy
+Cheaper than MacBook Pro+Good selection of ports
Reasons to avoid
-Plain design-Not as thin and light as MacBook Pro

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 the level of power on offer here, 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.

MacBook Pro 13-inch with screen open and showing desktop background

(Image credit: Apple)

Another great laptop from Apple for creative design

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 LED-backlit Retina display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm
Reasons to buy
+Huge battery life+Great performance
Reasons to avoid
-Still lacks ports

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. Last year, Apple 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 very own M1 chip (rather than an Intel processor), and this allows the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) to provide some seriously impressive performance.

So, you can easily edit 4K - and even 8K - content thanks to the power of the M1 chip, and run demanding graphical apps as well. Best of all, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) boasts the longest battery life ever seen in a MacBook. We've tested it ourselves and it's seriously impressive, allowing you to work all day and still have battery life left. For graphic designers who travel a lot, this is easily the best laptop money can buy.

Also read: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) review

A Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020) laptop on a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

07. Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020)

Dell's latest laptop is great for graphic designers

CPU: Up to 11th Generation Intel Core i7-1165G7
Graphics: Up to Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: Up to 32GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x
Screen: 13.4" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 13.4" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display
Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
Reasons to buy
+Stunning design+Gorgeous 16:10 display
Reasons to avoid
-Sound quality is just OK

Dell's XPS 13 range are some of the best laptops for graphic design in the world, 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.

It also features one of the best screens you'll find in a laptop, which means your projects will look their very best. Battery life is also excellent, so you'll be able to work on the new Dell XPS 13 for hours on end without needing to be plugged in.

It's one of the more expensive laptops out there, but we think it's worth every penny for graphic designers who want the very best laptop for their work.

See also: the best 2-in-1 laptops for creatives

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC laptop with the screen open and showing some of the features you can expect

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

A powerful laptop for graphic design

CPU: Intel Core i7-10870H
Graphics: Nvidia Geforce RTX 3070
Screen: 17.3-inches, 3,840 x 2,160 non-touch 60Hz IPS
Storage: 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant screen+Powerful graphics card
Reasons to avoid
-May be too powerful for some people

New for 2021, the Gigabyte AERO 17 HDR XC is a brilliant laptop for graphic design thanks to its cutting-edge components, including a 10th generation Intel processor, and new Nvidia RTX 3070 laptop graphics card. This is one of the best mobile GPUs in the world, and it means the Gigabyte AERO 17 HDR XC can easily handle graphic design tasks and apps without breaking a sweat.

However, its best feature for graphic designers has to be the stunning 4K 17.3-inch screen, which supports 100% of the Adobe RGB colour gamut – essential for anyone who requires colour accuracy in their work, and the display has been Pantone calibrated as well.

It really looks amazing, and it offers a far higher resolution than even the mighty MacBook Pro (16-inch).

It also feels robust and built-to-last, and comes packed with ports, allowing you to plug in all of your must-have peripherals without needing an adaptor. It is expensive, however, so graphic designers on a budget may want to look elsewhere.

Read more in our Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC review.

LG Gram 17 (2021) with the screen open, showing Windows 10 interface

(Image credit: LG)

09. LG Gram 17 (2021)

An amazing 17-inch laptop for graphic design

CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Screen: 17-inch WQXGA (2560 x 1600) IPS LCD
Storage: up to 2TB NVMe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Excellent battery life+Large, high-quality display
Reasons to avoid
-Screen is very reflective

The new LG Gram 17 is a brilliant laptop for graphic design for two major reasons. The first is its large 17-inch display that lets you work in comfort. For anyone who feels that 15-inch or 13-inch screens are too small, the LG Gram 17 is a great alternative that will offer you plenty of workspace for your graphic design work.

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 for long periods of time.

So, for graphic designers who travel around a lot, but want a large screen laptop, this is an ideal choice. It also helps that it's packing some of the best mobile tech you can find right now, including Intel's new 11th generation processors and Iris Xe graphics. Battery life is also extremely impressive, easily lasting around 12 hours on a single charge.

Sure, it's not the most exciting-looking laptop when it comes to design, but the powerful components, light weight and large screen means it's a brilliant graphic design laptop.

MacBook Air (M1, 2020) with the screen open, showing a photo of a person rolling in grass

(Image credit: Apple)

A great affordable alternative

CPU: Apple M1
Graphics: Integrated 7-core /8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch (diagonal) 2,560 x 1,600 LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61cm; W x D x H)
Reasons to buy
+Silent to use+Amazing battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No new design-Fanless design could impact performance

Yep, another MacBook on this list. We're not biased, though – Apple really does make some of the best laptops for graphic design, and its newest MacBook Air is a worthy entry. In the past we wouldn't necessarily recommend a MacBook Air, but the latest model comes with the same ARM-based Apple M1 chip as the more expensive MacBook Pro 13-inch.

This means in many ways it's as powerful as the MacBook Pro, and its fanless design means it can work as hard for as long as the MacBook Pro, but on the other hand, it means it's completely silent in use, and it can still do a lot of heavy workloads without overheating.

Also, for the first time in a MacBook Air, the latest model 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.

Also read: 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.

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