Looking for laptops that also work as graphics tablets?
Or just can’t decide between a Microsoft Surface Laptop or a MacBook Pro?
Then check out my list of the best laptops for artists you shouldn’t miss in 2021. I’ll talk about their unique features, hardware specs, battery, accessories, and even weight!
And if all the jargon and letters confuse you, I’ll explain them all in my detailed buying guide in the second half. Now let’s go find the best laptop for you!
Table of Contents
- Best Laptops for Artists: 7 Excellent Choices
- How to Choose the Best Laptop for Creating Digital Art
Best Laptops for Artists: 7 Excellent Choices
HP Spectre X360 – Best Overall
- Display: 13.3-inch, FHD, touch, UWVA, edge-to-edge glass, micro-edge, BrightView, anti-reflection
- Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics + 16 GB (Onboard) (OLED)
- Processor: Intel Core i7-1065G7 (up to 3.9 GHz, 8 MB L3 cache, 4 cores)
- Memory: 16 GB RAM
- Storage: 512 GB Intel SSD
- Battery: 60-Whr, 4-cell lithium-ion polymer (Up to 17 hours battery life)
- Weight: 2.8 pounds (1.27 kg)
Customize Before Buying
We know how important options are for artists.
It’s difficult to lump you guys into a single, homogeneous group. (And we shouldn’t.) That’s why I saw to it that the top contender for best laptops for artists MUST cater to your different needs.
To save you the trouble or even just to give you a general idea, HP already has recommended configurations on their website.
They have three main categories which you can further modify as you please.
You can get an HP Spectre x360 that’s tailored to the following:
- For BEST VALUE
- For EVERYDAY BUSINESS
- For PERFORMANCE
By the way, I chose that last one. Best foot forward, right?
Just one example of how you can customize this convertible laptop is you can opt to have an external optical drive added to your unit. Laptops these days said goodbye to CDs waaay too soon, don’t you agree?
All in all, you can customize the operating system, processor, graphic, memory, display, storage, and productivity software. PLUS warranty and accessories.
And, of course, you’ve got 3 colors to choose from. The Spectre x360 comes in Natural silver, Nightfall black, and Poseidon blue.
Peace of Mind
Honestly, it should be a crime to sell a touchscreen laptop without including a digital pen in the box.
Don’t worry, HP Spectre x360 comes with its own active pen, a Rechargeable MPP2.0 Tilt Pen.
Other cool features? Webcam kill switch and mic mute. It’s only too easy these days to embarrass yourself with technology. Luckily, HP is smart.
They ADDED a physical switch that cuts the power to your laptop webcam, making it unhackable.
Go crazy and dance like nobody’s watching. Plus, they’ve also thrown in an easy-to-activate mute button to keep all your conversations private.
And last but not the least, batteries.
The Spectre x360 may be a lightweight laptop for artists but it packs a 4-cell, 60 Wh Li-ion polymer so you know it won’t just leave you hanging.
Get anywhere between 17 to 22.5 hours with just one charge. That’s enough power even for a workaholic!
Beautiful on the Outside, Beautiful on the Inside
This powerful laptop is one of the most beautiful-looking ones out there.
No, really. I’m not bluffing.
The all-aluminum body is stunning from every angle. Every angle of the gem cut design was precisely chiseled through aluminum CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining.
But its beauty also comes from within, as a matter of speaking. It ain’t just for show.
OLED with True Black HDR gives you rich contrast, enhanced depth, and crisp and vibrant visuals.
You even get to calibrate the color yourself with their HP Display Control Color calibration! Choose from 3 color space presets for even better true color accuracy when editing photos and videos.
- Newly Launched HP Spectre x360 13T Cutting Edge GEM CUT Design - 10TH GENERATION...
- UNMATCHED AUDIO PERFORMANCE with QUAD Bang & Olufsen speakers: The partnership...
- SUPERIOR SPEED and NETWORKING: Fast Data Access with 512 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD...
- Large internal storage
- Tall aspect ratio
- Long battery life
- Comes with an audio jack
- Sliding cover to hide charging ports
- Fingerprint reader and IR webcam for Windows Hello sign-in
- Only has one USB Type-A port
- Speakers slightly face downward and may muffle sound
- Fans can be loud when it gets hot
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop – Best Value
- Display: 13.4-inch 16:10 FHD Touch Display
- Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
- Processor: 11th Generation Intel Core i7-1065G7 Processor (8MB Cache, up to 3.9 GHz)
- Memory: 16 GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x Memory (Onboard)
- Storage: 512 GB PCIe NVMe x4 SSD (Onboard)
- Battery Life: 51-Whr, 4-Cell battery (Integrated) (Up to 14 hours battery life)
- Weight: 2.9 pounds (1.32 kg)
Power and Performance Worth Every Cent
People usually don’t expect much when it comes to the performance of thin and light laptops. Dell clears that low bar they’ve set with plenty of room to spare.
For one, the Intel Core i7 is a powerhouse when it comes to resource-heavy tasks.
The contrast ratio (1500:1) and color gamut (90% DCI P3) are also some of the highest on this list of the best laptops for creative artists.
We’ll talk more about these things in our buying guide but just so you already know, that means you’ll be able to see the brightest brights and darkest darks even if you work outdoors.
It’s not just about avoiding glare, you see. Your laptop also has to be able to fight ambient light when you can’t be indoors. When it comes to that, the XPS 13 is a good laptop to have on your side.
Convenient to Use
You also get a 360-degree hinge.
That means AT LEAST four, flexible positions: tablet, tent, laptop, or even stand mode. Whichever way you want or need it to be to get your creative juices flowing.
Another cool feature? If you choose to buy the Premium Active Pen, you can easily attach it magnetically to your 2-in-1 when you’re done using it.
Give this pen a chance, though, because it lives up to its name. The Dell Premium Active Pen delivers precise pressure sensitivity (4096).
In the real world, that means you get superior tilt functionality perfect for detail shading while drawing. You’ll also appreciate the low lag, a pet peeve we all have.
Lots of people have fallen in love with the XPS 13 simply by looking at it. It deserves its reputation as one of the most beautiful convertible laptops for artists (and non-artists) out there.
Just like other premium laptops, its chassis is made of aluminum that’s elegant, durable, and at the same time always cool and soft to the touch. All those features explain why it’s the go-to for a lot of PC makers in the market.
Even opening the laptop and seeing the oh-so-pleasing-to-the-eye InfinityEdge touchscreen display has made JAWS drop. But that beauty is also functional.
The virtually borderless viewing experience you get from Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop maximizes the high-resolution display.
You know what that means?
ZERO SPACE wasted on unnecessary (and annoying) thick bezels.
Work for Sustainability
Here’s a little trivia for you. The Dell XPS 13 was recognized by the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in 2018 for its effort to save the seas. All thanks to their innovative black packaging trays.
25% percent of the material came from ocean plastics collected from coastal areas, while the remaining 75% was made up of other recycled plastics. But they didn’t just focus on packaging.
90% of the XPS 13’s parts can be easily recycled or reused. Just…WOW.
And, of course, this laptop for artists is ENERGY STAR CERTIFIED.
So, if supporting environmentally-conscious companies is important to you or you just like doing your part in leaving this world better than how you found it, consider an XPS 13.
- Precision cut from a block of aluminum in two pieces so there is no variability...
- Corning Gorilla Glass 6 is tough, damage resistant, durable, elegant and allows...
- Dual fans separated to spread heat over a larger area, to dual heat pipes to...
- Simple, classic design
- Bright display
- Comes with an audio jack
- Comes with several models you can customize depending on your requirements
- Dell Premium Active Pen is optional
- Only comes with USB Type C ports
- Trackpad and Bluetooth mouse can lag sometimes
- Can overheat
Lenovo Flex 5 – Budget Pick
- Display: 14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS glossy touchscreen, 250 nits, 45% NTSC
- Graphics: AMD Radeon Integrated Graphics
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U (up to 4.0 GHz, 8 MB L3 cache, 6 cores)
- Memory: 8GB DDR4-3200
- Storage: 256GB SSD PCIe M.2
- Battery: 52.5-Whr, 3-cell lithium polymer (Up to 12 hours battery life)
- Weight: 3.6 pounds (1.6 kg)
Balanced Performance for Art Students
Lenovo’s Flex 5 should be the go-to budget laptop for art students who need power but want every cent to count.
Its hardware packs more than enough for drawing, word processing, web surfing, and most other tasks your mentors and professors might ask.
Flex 5 can easily run Photoshop, Illustrator, and other creative programs. Need we remind you of the 6-core processor? Hardware-intensive tasks, for example like animation, should be a breeze with such a powerful processor.
Plus, you can even get a decent battery life out of this one. You won’t be tied to your desk.
That’s an integrated Li-Polymer 52.5 Wh battery if you want the numbers by the way. Not too shabby, right? It’s just a couple of Watt-hours under the Best Overall pick’s.
The Flex 5 also has this great feature called Rapid Charge Boost.
Woke up way too late?
And, worse, to a drained laptop?
Get 2 hours of charge in 15 minutes with Rapid Charge Boost. That’s enough time to also eat, shower, and dress before running off to class.
Use in Whatever Mode That Works for You
We can’t go through this review without mentioning Flex’s namesake. It doesn’t take a smart cookie to figure out it all boils down to the 360° hinge. See for yourself and fold the Flex 5 right back over the base.
Thanks to that feature you get a graphics tablet mode and drawing laptop mode.
Work on your project at the angle of your choice. You don’t have to worry about squishing or twisting anything inside because this art laptop was made to flex.
My budget contender for best laptops for artists can support up to 2 independent displays via native display and 1 external monitor via HDMI.
Lenovo Flex 5’s high-speed HDMI can easily handle 4096 x 2160 resolution at 24Hz, or as they like to call it “4k x 2k.”
What’s more? Don’t forget it also carries AMD Radeon Graphics.
Its key feature is the DirectX 12 which promises blazingly fast performance, high frames per second, and reduced latency. Could serve you well for a quick game or two.
- Thin, light, and stylish – This 2-in-1 laptop weighs just 3.64 pounds and is...
- The 10-point, 14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS touchscreen allows the Lenovo Flex 5...
- The 360⁰ hinge lets you use your 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop in whatever mode...
- Boots up quickly
- Privacy shutter for the camera
- Backlit keyboard
- Has two USB Type-A ports
- Decent battery life for its price and size
- Stylus is optional
- Soldered memory is not upgradable
- Not the best at total color accuracy
- Power button is on the right side with the ports and can be prone to accidental pressing
- May be difficult to contact customer service
- Display: 13.3-inch LCD In-plane Switching (IPS) Technology
- Graphics: Intel Iris Xe graphics
- Processor: Intel Core i3-1115G4 3GHz Dual-core
- Memory: 8GB LPDDR4X
- Storage: 256 GB SSD PCIe
- Battery: 4-cell lithium ion (Up to 12 hours battery life)
- Weight: 3.31 pounds (1.5 kg)
Specs That May Surprise You
You might not expect the technical specs for the price of this laptop for artists. For one, it has the latest generation of Intel’s Core i3 microprocessor released only March this year. Yes, that’s a Rocket Lake!
This may be a cheap laptop for artists but it’s definitely not cheap.
Just like other laptops on this list that pack Intel Iris Xe graphics, the Spin 3 can support up to 3 simultaneous 4K HDR displays.
Go multi-task like a pro. This is where productivity meets creativity meets immersive entertainment.
Another Great Laptop for Art Students
Just like Lenovo Flex5, the Acer Spin 3 comes with an attractive price point and competitive performance that’s especially enticing to those on a budget.
But just because this contender for the best laptop for artists is affordable, doesn’t mean it’s not quality. The impressive hardware it has beneath the hood which i talked about earlier should clear away that misconception.
The Spin 3 is also slim and lightweight. Plus, this convertible touchscreen laptop already comes with a built-in Acer Active Stylus with Wacom AES 1.0. It’s a one-stop-shop for digital creatives on the go.
Taller Display, Better Display
Even i can attest that it’s easier to get started drawing and that it’s generally more convenient if you’ve got more room vertically.
Just as well, that’s one of my favorite things about the Acer Spin 3.
Its 16:10 aspect ratio may be close to the standard 16:9 on paper, but it certainly makes a difference in real life.
The taller display gives users an all-around better viewing and even web browsing experience.
Of course, the screen resolution is also worth mentioning. The 1920 x 1200 resolution may not reach ultra high definition (UHD) levels but it goes beyond full HD. (More on that in my buying guide discussion.)
Lastly, there’s also IPS or In-Plane Switching Technology which is the best panel type for LCD screens.
With IPS, they’ve eliminated the only too common washed-out displays typical of other panel types. So, Acer Spin 3 gives high-end OLED displays a run for their money.
How’s that for an artist looking to buy a brand, new laptop.
- 10th Generation Intel Core i5-1035G4 Processor (Up to 3 7GHz) | 8GB LPDDR4...
- 14" Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED-backlit IPS Multi-Touch Display | Intel...
- Intel Wireless Wi-Fi 6 AX201 802 11ax | Backlit Keyboard | Fingerprint Reader |...
- Digital pen included
- Long battery life
- Wide viewing angles
- Not ideal for editing videos or gaming
- Fans can be noisy
- Casing is not that durable
- Display: 15-inch touch screen PixelSense display (3240 x 2160, 260 PPI)
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with Max-Q Design w/6GB GDDR6 graphics memory
- Processor: Quad-core 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 Processor
- Memory: 16GB RAM
- Storage: 256GB SSD
- Battery: Lithium ion (Up to 17.5 hours battery life)
- Weight: 4.20 pounds (1.905 kg)
Detachable Screen Masters Portability
Microsoft Surface Book’s unique selling point needs no introduction. In fact, it’s the only one on this list that can do so, redefining 2-in-1 laptops.
Its screen freely detaches so use it as an entirely separate tablet. Or attach it to the keyboard and use it as any other laptop.
That unparalleled convenience makes this Microsoft Surface laptop one of the best laptops for drawing and creating digital art.
If you get the Surface pen, you’ll also understand why users clamor about how drawing with it on the Surface Book feels very similar to pen and paper.
One downside, though, is that the Surface pen doesn’t come with the box.
Now, let’s talk display.
One thing you’ll notice right away is that the Microsoft Surface Book’s screen is slightly taller than usual. That’s because of the 3:2 aspect ratio which artists find especially easier to use than standard 16:9 screens.
But the more important features you should be noting are the high resolution and stellar contrast ratio.
A full-field white image on the Microsoft Surface Book will be 1600 times brighter than a black one. That’s how high its contrast ratio is. Talk about perfecting color accuracy.
Premium Materials Inside and Out
Microsoft Surface Book is the best laptop to get if you enjoy the feel of premium materials. The Surface Book 3’s casing is made from magnesium, a lightweight but durable metal that feels great to use.
The surface book also contains quality materials inside. You’ll also get competitive hardware that’s suitable for all types of artists.
The Microsoft Surface Book can handle the tasks of pretty much any kind of artist. Sure, they have just a little bit of bias for those who draw. But video editors and artists who work with 3D rendering won’t be disappointed.
The dedicated graphics card can handle hefty graphics and provide stunning visuals without breaking a sweat (or in this case, overheating). It’s great for animation students or those who work a lot with high res art.
That, together with the high-end processor and lots of RAM this Microsoft Surface laptop packs, will make running all sorts of creative software a breeze.
Microsoft Surface Book 3 can even handle immersive gaming. Sometimes you just need a break from pro-grade graphic design or video and social content creation. Its screen size and keen graphics performance have got your back.
All in all, it’s definitely a great contender for the best laptop for digital art as long as you can bear the rather high price tag.
- Most powerful Surface laptop yet, with quad-core powered, 10th Gen Intel Core...
- Power when you need it. Up to 15.5 hours battery life  — plus improved...
- The connections you need, including USB-A, USB-C, and full-size SD card slot.
- Large display
- Stand-alone tablet mode
- Long battery life
- Has both USB-C and USB-A ports
- Microsoft Surface pen and Surface Dial are sold separately
- May be difficult to use with USB docks and multiple monitor setup
- 13.5-inch model is currently of out stock on Microsoft’s website
- Display: 15.6-inch 4K OLED NanoEdge touch screen display
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
- Processor: Intel Core i7-10750H Processor 2.6 GHz (12M Cache, up to 5.0 GHz, 6 cores)
- Memory: 16GB
- Storage: 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 Performance SSD
- Battery: 71-Whr, 4S2P, 8-cell Lithium ion (Up to 7.5 hours battery life)
- Weight: 5.51 pounds (2.50 kg)
Start Making Digital Art Straight Out of the Box
This artist laptop already comes with a stylus, stand, and palmrest. No need to shell out money to buy accessories that are only too often not included in the box of other laptops.
Already have a trusted stylus? You can choose to use the bundled stylus or stick with your favorite. Whatever lets your creativity flow.
ZenBook Pro Duo’s multitouch displays already come with support for stylus input.
ASUS promises accurate drawing performance on whatever angle and screen.
Superior Screen Size
Let me gush a little about ZenBook Pro Duo’s screen. If the 15.6-inch screen size is not enough for you, then here’s some good news: ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo UX581 comes with ScreenPad Plus.
ScreenPad Plus is the full-width secondary touchscreen that works seamlessly with the main display.
That’s right. You get two touch screens!
You can drag any companion app or in-app toolbar onto the ScreenPad Plus for more room to work.
Join the photographers, programmers, video editors, music artists, 3D animators, and game streamers who’ve discovered ways to use all that extra room.
It also doesn’t hurt that this ZenBook packs a 4K display and an OLED screen. One of the best screens for graphics work.
And yes, that’s guaranteed high color accuracy on their Pantone-validated main and secondary display. All of that in 100% DCI-P3 color gamut!
The only thing their screen doesn’t do is detach or flip round as with traditional 2-in-1 laptops for artists.
The Best Touch Screen Laptop for Artists Who Are Also Gamers
With such a powerful processor, large internal storage, and super-sized high-resolution display, 3D modeling or even editing a feature-length movie in 4K should be a breeze.
Plus, the Turing GPUs of its graphics card is more than capable of efficiently processing the heavy workloads of modern games.
Its unprecedented 5.3 GHz TURBO BOOST FREQUENCY helps the ZenBook Pro Duo effortlessly handle all your apps on the main screen and ScreenPad Plus.
Lags, my friend…are a thing of the past.
You can enjoy REAL-TIME RAY TRACING and high-resolution video editing thanks to the ultrapowerful GPU with the NVIDIA Studio Driver. See for yourself ASUS’s take on ultimate visual realism.
Bottom line? It won’t back down from whatever resource-intensive task you can think of.
Honestly, it’s a good bet to replace a desktop. A dream for some professional artists, really. Or anyone looking for strong (and I mean strong) all-around performance.
- ScreenPad Plus: 14 inch 4K matte touchscreen, giving your endless way to...
- 15.6 inch 4K UHD NanoEdge touchscreen glossy main display
- Latest 9th generation Intel Core i7-9750H Quad Core Processor (12M Cache, up to...
- Large screen size
- Large internal storage and memory
- Digital pen and other accessories already included
- Comes with an audio jack and two USB Type A ports
- Not that portable because of weight and size
- No color options for the laptop (only comes in Celestial Blue)
- May be too expensive for non-professional artists
- Battery life can be lacking
- Display: 13.3-inch Retina display with True Tone (500 nits)
- Processor: Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine
- Memory: 8GB unified memory
- Storage: 256GB SSD storage
- Battery: 58.2-Whr lithium polymer (Up to 20 hours battery life)
- Weight: 3.0 pounds (1.4 kg)
Unique Features for a Unique Operating System
It wouldn’t be fair to create a list of the best laptops for artists that only includes Windows laptops. For starters, this Apple laptop promises you the better picture.
But is the retina display of a MacBook Pro really all that? Well, here’s what you’ll get according to their makers:
- Images with an incredible level of detail and realism
- Sharp, clear text
- Deep blacks and bright whites thanks to bright LED backlighting
- Vibrant greens and reds than sRGB courtesy of P3 wide color
And, yes, MacBook Pro also has True Tone technology that makes the white balance automatically adjust to match the color temperature of the light around you.
A smart screen that adapts to your surroundings translates to a more natural viewing experience.
Unfortunately, Apple’s best artist laptop has NO touch screen model.
But it’s not an unsolvable problem. And it’s really only an issue if you plan on doing a lot of drawing and you don’t have time to research about the best drawing tablet out there.
What else should you know about?
How about the Touch Bar.
If you think ASUS’s ScreenPad Plus is too big, the MacBook’s Touch Bar should do the trick. You’ll get the same easy access to shortcuts and even your favorite emoji, preferred languages, or Siri.
Here’s the gist, a MacBook Pro is the best laptop if you’re not a Windows native but you still want a powerful laptop you can rely on. There’s a reason for all the hardcore MacBook fans out there.
- Quad-core 8th-Generation Intel Core i5 Processor
- Brilliant Retina Display with True Tone technology
- Touch Bar and Touch ID
- Bright display
- Long battery life
- Configurable processor, memory, and internal storage
- Small storage space
- Only comes with Two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports
How to Choose the Best Laptop for Creating Digital Art
It’s easy to get lost in all the specs and features when looking for the best laptop for artists. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it.
I simplified it so you only need to think about 5 things: display, hardware, accessories, portability and battery, and budget.
Sounds simple enough? Let’s get to them.
Compared with other artists, a digital artist relies on display the most. I broke it down into resolution, color reproduction, brightness, and screen size. Don’t worry, this won’t be a lecture.
Full HD resolution (or FHD) means 1920 x 1080. Ultra HD (or UHD) 4K means 3840 x 2160. UHD 8K means a staggering 7680 x 4320. Here’s a diagram to help you visualize that.
It probably goes without saying that a high-resolution screen offers greater detail.
But the best laptops for artists also factor in contrast so colors and details are as vibrant and crisp as possible. Speaking of colors, the resolution is not all there is.
Accurate Color Reproduction
One way to determine color accuracy in the best laptops for artists is with color gamut, or the measure of how many colors can be represented on a display.
Here’s the rule of thumb you should remember: the higher the color gamut, the more colors are represented. If more colors are represented, the richer and more saturated colors you’ll get.
A 100% color gamut panel is the best available in PC display. It comes closest to what our eyes can see on their own.
And just so you know, they also describe color gamut in terms of Adobe RGB. A display with less than 100% RGB coverage will be limited in color transitions. For example, you might notice unsatisfactory shades of green.
Brightness is straightforward.
If you’re going to be working mostly outdoors, you’re going to need an art computer with high brightness. This is where nits come in place. A 500-nit panel will be brighter than a typical 200-nit laptop panel.
Artists who do a lot of drawing feel more comfortable with a big screen. They prefer it because it lets them see the full design.
Larger screens are also easier to draw on. But of course, you pay more to get more (space). They’re also often heavier. So, that’s another thing to think about.
Luckily, the best laptops for artists come in a variety of screen sizes with otherwise identical specs. That way, you can find your laptop first, then choose the screen size later.
I also saw to it that everything on this list of the best laptops for artists has at least one other size available.
#2 Hardware Specs
This part is slightly long but it tackles all the big ones you need to know when choosing the best laptop for artists: processor, memory, graphics, and storage. Don’t worry, I framed it so it fits the context of digital artists.
Think of the processor as the engine behind your computer that’s processing information and instructions.
How does that translate in real life? To name a few, you see it as how fast your laptop runs programs, loads, and downloads files.
Look at these when assessing processor performance:
- Clock speed
- Number of cores
Take the Intel Core processor family, for example.
This family has 3 levels of processors they call i3, i5, i7, and i9. These levels differ in features or amount of a particular feature, e.g., amount of cache.
Basically, the higher the number, the more feature-rich the processor.
Now, not everyone needs the most expensive and most powerful processor with the most advanced features out there. You’re probably sick of hearing it by now but it really depends on what you need.
Since we’re talking about artists, though, it’s a given you NEED the power to back you. Especially if you’re in the arena of video editing and high-end content creation and development.
That being said, an amateur/hobbyist could make do with less features compared with a professional who makes art for a living.
In practical terms, getting a “slower processor” might really only mean you have to wait for a few extra seconds for your project to save.
Processing speed and power are particularly relevant for animation in Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop. But it’s probably less important for simple line art you might make in, say, Corel Painter.
Memory is the next thing people look into because it’s another component that affects performance. It’s used from startup to storing information and history in your operating system and art program.
If you’re wondering how much RAM you need for digital art, 8GB RAM is the bare minimum for graphics work. You’ll have a better experience with more but 8GB is enough for basic edits in Adobe Lightroom.
If you’re running the latest Creative Cloud applications, it’s even better if you go for 16GB. If you’re editing 4K videos day in and day out, even this might not be enough.
Imagine RAM as the executive assistant of your processor.
A spacious RAM, even if it’s not the fastest, can give your processor easy access to the information it needs to access and make your programs run.
Its architecture and amount factor into how many programs can be executed at one time and how much data can be readily available to a program.
In English? It means how quickly your applications can perform and how many applications you can juggle at the same time.
A competitive graphics card is essential for artists. Skimp on anything else, just not this.
Don’t get me wrong. The best laptop for artists doesn’t necessarily need a dedicated graphics card. Graphics performance is more important for graphic design.
But I’ll say this. Some creative programs work better when you use a DEDICATED GRAPHICS PROCESSING UNIT (GPU).
Specifically, those you use for animation, video rendering, and other high res digital art. A GPU is also helpful when applying certain filters in Photoshop, e.g., warp.
Unless you’re completely sold into cloud storage and the internet in your workplace is 100% reliable, you’re also gonna want to look into internal storage.
Lots of people get hung up over-processing and memory, they end up choosing a portable laptop that sacrifices storage. Don’t forget, art files aren’t small. Even more so for things like animation.
If you noticed, most, if not all, the best laptops for artists have transitioned to solid-state drives (SSDs).
SSDs are smaller, faster, and more durable.
The downside is that they’re more expensive and the cost is higher per gigabyte (GB) compared with hard disk drives (HDDs).
Ideally (and if you can afford it), you’ll go no lower than 512GB SSD. But a lot of artists can work 256GB as long as they regularly back up their files in the cloud or some other external drive.
Do You Really Need a Touch Screen Laptop?
Before I answer the million-dollar question, let’s get this bit out of the way.
One obvious downside of touch screen laptops is they’re fingerprint magnets that need constant cleaning. It’s surprising how many people overlook that fact and still complain about it.
That said, you don’t need a touch screen laptop for drawing and for art in general. But they do make the whole drawing experience much easier.
For one, you don’t have to go out and do your research for the best drawing tablet in the market. (Unless the best laptop for you runs on the MacOS operating system.)
Aside from the added expense, drawing tablets also affect portability. If you want a truly portable laptop, you might want to shy away from one that needs this accessory.
Don’t Forget to Check If Digital Pens Are Included
All the best laptops for artists that run on the Windows operating system in this list are touch screen.
But not all come with a pen in the box. So, be sure to be on the lookout for that stylus, active pen, surface pen, or what have you.
#4 Portability and Battery Life
Size and battery life go hand in hand. That’s true for all devices. I already touched on this in the screen size section way back in #1 but let’s go over it again.
Will you be carrying your laptop most of the time? Traveling and moving workspaces a lot?
The best laptop for artists should give you at least 10 hours on a full charge.
The Watt-hours (Whr or Wh) can be a rough estimate of how much charge your battery can hold.
But you also have to factor in how power-hungry the other components of your laptop are. (These were the ones in #2.)
And don’t forget this hard truth, the maximum capacity of the battery will naturally decrease as you use it over time.
A good laptop doesn’t have to be expensive. Budget laptops can meet the needs of most art students.
But if you can handle the additional cost for high resolution and more advanced features, then the sky’s the limit.
To give you an idea, the lower-end models in this list for best laptops for artists cost around 700 to 900 bucks.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are laptops that go over 2 grand for premium hardware and features.
Since you probably don’t want to scroll up through that long (but hopefully useful) buying guide, here again are my winners for the best laptop for artists and art students.
Best Overall – HP Spectre X360
Look no further for a premium laptop that ticks all your boxes with no unnecessary additional cost. The Spectre 360 lets you customize and modify hardware and software before buying.
It already comes with a rechargeable pen so you can get drawing right away, and also a webcam kill switch and mic mute just as added treats.
Plus, it’s beautiful inside and outside. It’s got an all-aluminum body with a standout gem-cut design.
Best Value – Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop
XPS 13 2-in1 is the best laptop when it comes to what you get for each cent. You also get a beautiful but useful design down to the InfinityEdge touchscreen display.
Even cooler? The Dell XPS 13 is also proudly Eco-Wise making it the best laptop for those who want to make a difference even if it’s just in their laptop choices.
Almost all parts of the XPS 13 can be easily reused or recycled.
Budget Pick – Lenovo Flex 5
Flex 5 offers balanced performance that’s especially catered for art students. This convertible laptop comes with a very attractive price point. But not at the expense of features, and, of course, display.
For one, it packs AMD Radeon Graphics whose DirectX 12 promises impressive performance. It also has a lot of ports for all your peripherals, as well as decent battery life for its price and size.