Skip to main content

The best laptops for graphic design in 2021

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 (2019)
02. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)
03. Dell XPS 15 (2020)
04. Acer ConceptD 7
05. Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

If you're on the hunt for the best laptops for graphic design, then you've come to the right place, as we've gathered together the top laptops of 2021 that are ideal for graphic designers, no matter your budget.

Every laptop on this list is powerful enough to handle demanding graphic design programs. Thanks to their powerful components, they can drastically reduce the time it takes to perform intensive tasks, and that can have a big effect on your workflow.

After all, the faster the laptop can complete tasks, the faster you can finish your project. If you're a professional graphic designer, that then means you can take on more clients. The best laptops for graphic design on this page aren't just for professionals, however – we've got picks for beginners and students as well (though students should also check our best student laptops roundup or our list of best Walmart laptops if you're situated Stateside).

With all the options out there, it's understandable if you feel unsure of where to start. If that's the case, scroll to the bottom of this article and you'll find handy pointers on what to look for when choosing a laptop for graphic design.

The best laptops for graphic design right now

Image 1 of 4

MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

(Image credit: Apple)
Image 2 of 4

MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

(Image credit: Apple)
Image 3 of 4

MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

(Image credit: Apple)
Image 4 of 4

MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

01. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

The best laptop for graphic design overall

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M – Radeon Pro 5500M | RAM: 16GB – 64GB | Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone | Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD

Stunning 16-inch screen
New and improved keyboard
Expensive
Limited to four Thunderbolt 3 ports

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 16-inch MacBook Pro is the pinnacle of this.

It comes with a larger screen than previous 15-inch models, which gives you more space to work with, and the increased resolution means your work will look its absolute best. Even better, Apple has been able to increase the screen size while keeping the slim and light design that we've come to love about MacBooks.

Not only did Apple give this MacBook a larger screen, but it also updated the hardware inside as well, fitting it with powerful Intel processors and professional graphics cards from AMD, which again makes this an excellent purchase for graphic designers. Even though this model came out in 2019, it's still a brilliant laptop that performs extremely well, and that's why even in 2021, this is the best laptop for content creators, designers and other creative professionals. With amazing (and loud) speakers and a much, much better keyboard to boot.

Also read: MacBook Pro 16-inch review

Best laptops for graphic design: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

02. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

The best graphic design laptop with a smaller screen

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

Huge battery life
Great performance
Can run iOS apps
Still lacks ports

If you want a MacBook Pro for your graphic design work, but the 16-inch model above is 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 is 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

Image 1 of 2

Dell XPS 15

(Image credit: Dell)
Image 2 of 2

Dell XPS 15

(Image credit: Dell)

03. 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

Fast performance
Eye-catching design
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 10? 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.

Best laptops for graphic design: Acer ConceptD 7

(Image credit: Acer)

04. Acer ConceptD 7

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

Cheaper than MacBook Pro
Good selection of ports
Expensive
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.

Best laptops for graphic design: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

05. Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

The best laptop of 2021

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)

Silent to use
Amazing battery life
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 worthy of a spot on this list of the best laptops for graphic design. 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 it's a great choice as a graphic design laptop. 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: Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020)

(Image credit: Dell)

06. 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

Stunning design
Gorgeous 16:10 display
Excellent battery life
Sound quality is just OK
Pricey

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

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

07. Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC

A powerful laptop for graphic design

CPU: ntel Core i7-10870H | Graphics: Nvidia Geforce RTX 3070 | RAM: 32GB DDR4 | Screen: 17.3-inches, 3,840 x 2,160 non-touch 60Hz IPS | Storage: 1TB SSD

Brilliant screen
Powerful graphics card
Expensive
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.

Best laptops for graphic design: Lenovo ThinkPad P1

08. Lenovo ThinkPad P1

This amazing laptop is well worth the hefty pricetag

CPU: Intel Core i5, Core i7, Core i9 or Xeon | Graphics: Nvidia Quadro P1000 / P2000 | RAM: 8GB-64GB | Screen: 15.6" Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 256-4TB SSD

Fantastic screen
Slim design
Oodles of performance
Expensive

The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is a brilliant graphic design workstation for high-level content creators. With options for Intel Xeon processors and pro-grade Nvidia Quadro P2000 graphics, along with up to 64GB of RAM, this is an extremely powerful laptop.

In fact, if offers the kind of performance you'd usually expect from a desktop workstation, but in a portable package that allows you to work on the road, or travel between studios. This machine sports a slick design, with a slim chassis and a 4K display with 100% AdobeRGB coverage. The screen alone makes it a joy for creative work, but with all the performance it offers too, the ThinkPad P1 is a seriously good laptop for graphic designers.

It also offers plenty of ports as well, including two USB 3.0, two USB-C Thunderbolt 3, an HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort and SD card reader. It's very expensive, but for demanding workloads, it's definitely a great investment. 

Best laptops for graphic design: Huawei MateBook X Pro

09. Huawei MateBook X Pro

Design and performance to rival the mighty MacBook Pro

CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 , Nvidia GeForce MX150 2GB GDDR5 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.9-inch 3K (3,000 x 2,080) | Storage: 512GB SSD

Fantastic display
Terrific battery life
No SD card slot
Webcam not great

The Huawei MateBook X Pro is an excellent graphic design laptop from a brand you may not usually consider. Huawei is perhaps best known for smartphones in the  West, but the Chinese company has also been making some brilliant laptops recently which can go toe-to-toe with more established brands like Dell and Apple.

For less money than its competitors, you get a gorgeously designed laptop with an excellent screen that puts many more expensive laptops to shame. Huawei has also fitted this entry into our list of best laptops for graphic design with some excellent mobile components, which means Windows 10, and any creative apps you rely on, will run brilliantly.

For more info, read our sister site TechRadar’s Huawei MateBook X Pro review

Best laptops for graphic design: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

(Image credit: Microsoft)

10. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

Microsoft’s touchscreen is sleek, light and powerful

CPU: Intel Core i5 - i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB - 16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense (2,256 x 1,504) | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD

Touchscreen sketching
Great battery life
Too few ports
Pricey

The Surface Laptop 3 is Microsoft's latest high-end laptop, and it's once again a great device for graphic design students and professionals. The new Surface Laptop 3 comes with boosted hardware for better performance, and it's all wrapped up in a gorgeously-designed body.

As with its predecessors, even the lowest-end model is powerful enough to run Photoshop and Illustrator on a daily basis, and the fact you can use the optional Surface Pen to draw directly on screen makes it even more appealing. You get the full Windows 10 experience, which means you can install Creative Cloud apps and other programs easily.

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. 

Related articles: