Just twenty years ago, many people would have been confused when confronted with a person who went around telling people that they are an artist and they work on digital mediums.
Nowadays, it has become a norm to find both professionals as well as hobbyists working on their pieces on a digitized screen.
Photographers edit their photos on software such as Adobe Photoshop, some sculptors will work out initially in 3D programs before bringing their work to life and Animators rarely work on paper anymore.
Even traditional canvas-and-paint artists have started taking advantage of the growing number of applications such as Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro.
Table of Contents
The five best laptops for artists
The best laptop for artists
After some careful consideration, we finally came to the conclusion that the ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW is our #1 Pick for the best laptop for an artist.
The ZenBook met and exceeded many of our factors when it came to selecting an artist laptop.
The 15.6” display hits the previously discussed sweet spot of not-too-big and not-too-small. The size is just right for artists looking to comfortably work on a laptop without the visuals being limited by a small screen.
The display is an amazingly sharp 4K Ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. The screen also has In-plane Switching (IPS) for wide viewing angles up to 178° without the color becoming distorted.
Speaking of colors, the ZenBook also has a color gamut of 72% NTSC, 100% sRGB, and 74% Adobe RGB. The wide spectrum of available colors all helps bring vibrancy to the life of any image shown on the screen.
Between the amazing screen and sleek design, it is hardly any wonder why we ended up choosing the ASUS ZenBook Pro as our #1 Pick.
The ZenBook Pro UX501VW has a 10-point touch screen. Artists that have a preference for touch-based computing or using a stylus would certainly find this to be a great benefit.
Inside, ASUS’s ZenBook Pro comes with a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Skylake Core i7-6700HQ processor and 16 GB DDR4 RAM memory.
In addition to this, the ZenBook also comes with 512 GB PCIe SSD hard drive. Your operating system and applications will be loading up in seconds.
The laptop also has an NVIDIA GTZ 960M graphics card with 2 GB GDDR5 dedicated memory.
The ZenBook Pro UX501VW has an aluminum body and weighs in at 5 pounds.
The four other laptops for artists we tested
Dell’s XPS range of laptops generally receive great reviews, but the XPS 15-9550 is an amazing choice for artists on the lookout for that incredible display.
The XPS 15-9550 is a 15.6” laptop that comes with a 4K Ultrasharp Ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160. The XPS 15 has a 100% minimum Adobe RGB, coming close to true Adobe RGB format for vibrant and accurate displays of the color spectrum. The screen also comes with an IPS panel for wide viewing angles of up to 170°.
The XPS 15 is also a touchscreen, allowing users to interact with the laptop with a touch of the finger or a stylus to draw, sketch, zoom, or click. This is perfect for students who are attending college. IF this one does not do it for you then you can check out our guide on the best laptops for college students here.
Within its casing, the Dell XPS 15 comes with a 6th generation quad-core Intel Skylake Core i7-6700HQ and 16 GB DDR4 RAM. It also has 512 GB SSD hard drive as well as an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M graphics card with 2 GB dedicated memory.
Dell markets this laptop as the world’s smallest 15” laptop with a size that is closer to 14”. That sounds weird at first, but what this means is that they have sized down on the bezels at the side of the screen.
The bezels are just 5.7 mm and certainly gives an incredible minimalist look to the laptop with its super maximized display with minimal empty space at the sides of the screen.
The laptop is a slim 11-17 mm and weighs just 3.9 pounds. The XPS 15 is made from a single block of aluminum for an elegant yet durable chassis.
- Intel Core i7 6700HQ 3.5GHz
- 16GB 2133MHz DDR4
- 512GB NVME SSD
One of the great features about any Apple product is that their commitment to creating devices with beautiful design and fantastic displays. It is no different for the latest Apple MacBook Pro.
This 15.4” laptop comes with 2880 x 1800 resolution and Retina Display. Retina Display is Apple’s word for a display with high pixel density. It is this fantastic resolution that gives the MacBook Pro such clear and sharp pictures.
Apple has added brighter LED backlight and increased the contrast ratio of their MacBook Pro. The blacks are now deeper and the whites are now brighter. The MacBook also has 25% more colors than sRGB.
In fact, Apple itself claims that this latest MacBook Pro is the brightest, most colorful Mac notebook display ever.
This latest MacBook Pro comes with the new customizable Touch Bar that adapts to always show the most relevant tools. The MacBook Pro has four Thunderbolt 3 ports and can support up to two separate 5K displays using the Thunderbolt 3 ports.
The MacBook Pro comes with 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 and 16 GB LPDDR3 RAM. It also has a 512 GB PCIe-based SSD hard drive. The MacBook Pro makes use of Intel HD Graphics 530.
At just 4 pounds and 15.5 mm in thickness, this all-aluminum encased laptop is easily moved around when needed. Despites Apple’s reputation for products with short battery life, the MacBook Pro is reported to have up to 10 hours of battery life.
- 2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 Processor
- Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
- 512GB Pie-based SSD
This 12.5” ultrabook might just be the perfect laptop for an artist who is looking for a light and highly portable laptop without skimping on the necessities.
The Razer Blade Stealth has a UHD screen resolution of 3840 x 2160 with wide viewing angles of up to 170°. The display has a 100% Adobe RGB color gamut for bright and vibrant images. The screen is also a touchscreen for those artists looking to work with their hands or stylus.
The Stealth has a 7th generation 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-7500U and 16 GB LPDDR3 RAM. The hard drive is a 512 GB PCIe SSD. All of this adds up to a lightning fast laptop experience. The Razer Blade comes with Intel Graphics 620 for its graphics processing.
The Razer Blade Stealth is an incredibly thin laptop at just 0.52” thickness with a CNC aluminum chassis totaling up to just 2.84 pounds in weight. The laptop is expected to have up to 8 hours of battery life.
As far as ultrabooks go, it is incredibly rare to find one with such fantastic display and amazing components.
- Razer Blade Stealth - 12.5" 4k UHD Display (16GB/512 GB SSD)
- Incredibly thin 0.52" CNC aluminum chassis
- 12.5" 4k UHD Touch Display with 3840 x 2160 resolution
There are, of course, artists who work extensively with styluses to draw or paint. For these artists, we would suggest the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.
The Surface Pro 4 has a 12.3” screen with an amazing resolution of 2736 x 1824 resolution. The display is known for its high contrast and low glare, making it the perfect hybrid laptop/tablet for an artist.
The Surface Pro 4 comes with a multi-position kickstand and a stylus. You can also add a keyboard (sold separately) for better usability if a lot of typing is needed. Many artists end up using it as a great way to sketch, draw, and paint.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 comes with Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB RAM, and 256 GB SSD hard drive. Those specs are nothing to scoff at. This hybrid laptop packs a harder punch than many others in its class.
Weighing in at just 1.7 pounds, the Surface Pro 4 is a great option for artists who find that stylus an indispensable tool for their work.
- Surface Pro 4 powers through everything you need to do, while being lighter than...
- The 12.3" PixelSense screen has extremely high contrast and low glare so you can...
- Go from tablet to laptop in a snap with the multi-position Kickstand and...
How we chose the best laptop for artists
Art is a medium of visual impacts. Artists strive to make their artwork emotive. They want to bring out a sense of calm, excitement, mystery, joy or sorrow. They spend years working on their technique and learning how to add layers of depth and subtle complexity to their art.
We collected information about the popular laptops used by artists today. From that, we looked at the features and functions that played a key role in the selection process. From our research, we concluded that the most important considerations when an artist chooses a laptop are:
- Screen Size
- Hard Drive
- Processor & Memory
- Graphics Card
From this, we were able to filter down to our Top Five list of laptops for artists.
The most important consideration when choosing the best laptop for artists
With such a heavy reliance on making visual impacts, artists need to work on a laptop that have fantastic resolution.
A computer’s resolution is the number of pixels that the screen can display. The more pixels on display, the sharper the image. In addition to sharp images, a high pixel count is also important for differentiating tiny nuances in the color, contrast, and shape.
At the very least, an artist’s laptop should come with Full High Definition (FHD) resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. If their work involves minute details, that artist may need a laptop with even better resolution.
Screens with Quad High Definition (QHD) resolution have 2560 x 1440 pixels or 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) resolution show an amazingly sharp and clear picture of 3840 x 2160 pixels.
High resolutions are also important for artists who work on laptops but will eventually bring their work to life in the form of canvas or photography.
A picture with a resolution of 1280 x 800 might look sharp on a 13” screen, but there will be a decidedly blurry quality once it is converted to a 24” print. A high-resolution laptop will give the artist a better idea of what a picture might look like in larger scale.
Other considerations when choosing the best laptop for artists
Many artists do not want to work on laptops that have too-small screens. On the other hand, artists that decide to go with a laptop do not want a laptop that is too big and bulky either.
We have found that a 15” laptop is a sweet spot for popular artist laptops. This provides the artist with mobility without sacrificing too much on screen size.
Some artists are also looking for smaller laptops that provide more flexibility, like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 that can convert from tablet to laptop and has a stylus for precision drawing.
Solid state drives (SSD) are generally more expensive that hard disk drives (HDD), but the benefits that SSD hard drives provide with speedy loading times and smooth-running programs are hard to say no to.
An artist will generally work with files that require many layers and tweaks. A computer that can process these changes in a zip is definitely a major benefit.
Processor & Memory
When working on digital art, artists can make do with an Intel Core i5 processor quite well. For the laptop’s memory, we found a minimum 8 GB RAM is recommended.
A laptop with an Intel Core i7 processor and 16 GB RAM would, of course, be better; but it is not a crucial necessity for most artistic programs.
Basically, they need a computer that can help run their software for 3D rendering, sketching, drawing, editing, or other digital art applications.
Despite having the word “graphics” in its name, there is some debate on how much benefit an artist will get from having a dedicated graphics card.
More advanced graphics cards were originally developed to handle the sophisticated graphics used in computer games. A graphics card helps process the graphics and video faster, delivering smoother gameplay.
Some graphics cards have dedicated RAM. This helps to process video data without using too much of the laptop’s RAM.
Some argue that, unless the artist works with video editing a lot, a normal graphics card is sufficient.
While different artists have different needs when it comes to screen size and portability as well as speed and performance, all agree that the display is an essential component.
The ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW certainly came in as our #1 Pick thanks to its ability to meet the considerations. It has a great 4K UHD display and can show an amazing array of the color spectrum.
The Dell XPS 15-9550 came in at a very close second. It is lighter and has a slightly higher color gamut, but lost out mainly due to its higher price.
The Apple MacBook Pro is also a close contender. Like many of Apple’s latest products, it comes with high resolution Retina Display, but it just can’t beat the 4K resolutions of the ZenBook Pro and Dell XPS 15-9550.
However, if you enjoy working on the Mac OS and on a very nicely designed laptop, then the latest MacBook Pro is certainly worth considering.
The Razer Blade Stealth and Microsoft Surface Pro laptops are excellent choices if looking for a smaller laptop.
The Razer Blade Stealth has a slightly leading edge thanks to its 4K UHD display for vivid colors and a great combination of internal components. However, these is something to be said for the Surface Pro hybrid tablet-laptop with its versatility.
- 15.6" Touch IPS 4K Ultra-HD display, 3840 x 2160 resolution
- Powerful Intel Skylake Core i7-6700HQ 2.6 GHz Quadcore CPU (turbo to...
- 512GB SSD with transfer speeds of 1400MB/s and 16GB DDR4 RAM