Graphic design professionals and students of the subject need the right tools to do their job effectively – and to get the best results. A laptop is a great piece of kit because it allows you to work on the move, but which is the right laptop for you? We have identified the 5 best laptops for graphic design, based on expert reviews and user feedback.
The right laptop for graphic design
Communication design requires an eye for detail, lots of innovation skills and plenty of creative ability. However, the right equipment is also crucial. Design software is vital for digital design work, and you need a computer capable of running these programs. Having a laptop is more practical than a PC if you spend a lot of time in meetings and pitches, or out with your clients. It can travel with you wherever you go and you can work in almost any location. Modern laptops are powerful enough to run sophisticated software without problems and many include design-specific features to make your job a little easier.
Our 5 top graphic design computers
#1. Dell XPS XPS9350-5341SLV 13.3 Inch QHD Touchscreen Laptop
- Size: 12 x 7.9 x 0.6 inches; 2.8 pounds
- Display: 13.3 inch screen; 3200 x 1800 pixel resolution; Intel Iris graphics
- Power: 2.2 GHz Core i7-6560U processor; 8 GB RAM; 256 GB internal drive
More powerful than a tablet but with the same touchscreen features, this Dell computer is ideal for busy professionals who need to take their work with them. It is extremely lightweight and compact, but the trade-off is a smaller screen. Despite its size, the 3200x1800p display is impressive. Images look clear and are easy to interact with, the zoom feature is great and the overall graphical abilities are excellent.
The responsive touchscreen gives fingertip control over your designs and if you load in your editing and design software, you can carry out almost any PC function to the same high level. Storage does let this machine down a little: you might want to upgrade the drive in order to store all your designs and files. However, this is a top little computer for the price and would be a valuable addition to any designer’s standard set-up.
#2. HP Pavilion 15.6″ Flagship Laptop
- Size: 12 x 1 x 12 inches; 5 pounds
- Display: 15.6 inch screen; 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution; Intel Integrated Graphics
- Power: 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7 processor; 8 GB RAM; 1TB internal drive
Not only is this new HP Pavilion a sharp piece of graphic design hardware, but it is also a top budget choice at less than $750. The Intel HD graphics plus shared graphics memory make a noticeable difference to Dell’s old display output, and they have included great new touch control features on the 15.6″ screen that help you get hands on with your work.
The inner workings give over 1 TB of space which should be more than sufficient for medium to heavy use, but you can always upgrade for further space if needed. It will cope comfortably with any design software you upload, with no noticeable lag in response times. The design of the computer itself may seem a little dated, but what this model lacks in looks is made up for in power and performance.
#3. ASUS ROG G752VS OC Edition 17.3″ G-SYNC VR Ready Gaming Laptop
- Size: 12.7 x 16.4 x 1.9 inches; 9.5 pounds
- Display: 17.3″ screen; 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution; VR ready; NVIDIA GTX graphics
- Power: Overclocked Intel Core i7-6820HK 2.7 GHz processor; 32GB RAM; 1256 GB drive
You might not think to look at gaming computers when searching for a work laptop, but the high quality graphics capabilities of these machines makes them perfect for design work. One of the best laptops on the market for graphics capabilities is this ASUS ‘Republic of Gamers’ overclocked device. VR ready and powered by the NVIDIA GTX 1070 8GB graphics card, the awesome display is crystal clear and features stunning color quality.
Stand-out features include the cooling chamber technology which prevent overheating, even when the overclocked processor is at high capacity. You can multi-task effectively and quickly with no problems. Connect with your other devices such as cell phones and tablets. As for storage, the 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD drive was designed to give you all the space and speed you need, no matter how much heavy use your laptop faces.
#4. Lenovo Y50 15.6-Inch Gaming Laptop
- Size: 10.37 x 0.94 x 15.24 inches; 5.3 pounds
- Display: 15.6 inch screen; 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution; NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics
- Power: 2.6 GHz Core i7-4720HQ processor; 8 GB RAM; 1 TB internal drive
Another gaming-specific laptop with the graphics and performance to suit your design needs, this Lenovo laptop is a cheaper alternative to the ASUS RoG model. It is still not a cheap choice, but it does offer plenty of value for your investment. It will run all of your design programs with no problems, and has the space and processing power to cope with a number of tasks at once. Upload your images and download your work files without concern.
The NVIDIA graphics make the 15.6 inch HD display bold and bright. See the images you are working on clearly and in highly accurate color. The comfortable keyboard and touchpad design are great for long periods of work and the interface is simple to use. This is a great choice for graphic design students who need a laptop for school or college.
#5. Apple MacBook Pro MC226LL/A 17-Inch Laptop
- Size: 15.47 x 10.51 x 0.98 inches; 6.6 pounds
- Display: 17 inch screen; 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution; NVIDIA GeForce 9600M graphics
- Power: 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor; 4 GB RAM; 500 GB internal drive
Apple is the brand for professionals and has many fans across the creative sectors. Graphic designers often rate this laptop as the best on the market. Though newer models have been released, the Apple MacBook Pro is still one of the most respected computers available. MacBook’s are not a cheap option, but f you can afford to make an investment in an Apple laptop you will be rewarded with a long lifespan and great performance.
The Mac-specific software built in to the computer includes dedicated design programs, but you can also download software that meets your specific work requirement. One thing to note is the size of this laptop – is is larger, heavier and therefore slightly less portable than other models. However, the case contains plenty of power so it is worth putting up with a little extra carry weight.