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Being a graphic designer, you could otherwise be referred to as a visual communicator. Graphic designers should have the necessary skills to pass across information merely by creating aesthetic visual concepts.
To be successful at what you do as a graphic designer, however, possessing these skills isn’t enough. You also need to have the right tools and equipment to help you bring those creative thoughts and ideas to reality in the best quality possible.
As such, having a suitable laptop that not only offers portability but also power, is of utmost importance.
A suitable laptop for graphic designing should also have a solid memory, offer stunning display with accurate color reproduction and one of the best graphic cards to handle intense graphic applications.
This is why we have carefully compiled a list of our top 10 laptop picks — both in MacOS and Windows, for graphic designers in 2020. So whether you are a professional graphic designer, a student or you just have a thing for fonts and color and would love to dabble a bit into the world of graphic designing, be rest assured that you would find a laptop that suits not only your budget, but your specific needs also.
So let’s get to it!
The Apple MacBook Pro has proven to be not only the most powerful, but also the best MacBook Apple has released. Following the controversies that came up when Apple tried to make some upgrades in their production line which resulted in the release of the butterfly switch keyboard, the Apple MacBook Pro certainly corrects that course.
The newly released scissor switches magic keyboard is a joy to type on and offers just the right degree of keyboard-travel, without compromising on the size of the MacBook.
Apple has made several other relevant improvements and one of which is the impressive 16-inch display. One would think that an increase in the size of the display would affect its quality, but Apple has yet once again, pulled an impressive stunt with the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Rather than experiencing a downgrade, the resolution has been bumped up to 3072×1920 which is impressive compared to the previously released 15-inch model at 2880×1800. This makes it perfect for graphic designers as it offers a crisp, vivid display and of course, a wider screen with incredibly slim bezels.
With its base model having a 9th generation Intel Core i7 CPU, the 16-inch MacBook offers solid performance and the AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series graphic cards certainly gives the workstation an outstanding graphical edge.
It doesn’t just stop there — no, it gets better. The MacBook Pro can also be configured with up to 64GB of RAM and 8TB SSD of storage. These two features has enabled the laptop carry out graphics-intensive tasks such as video editing, seamlessly.
Apple has also pulled another impressive stunt with the 16-inch MacBook because you don’t have to compromise battery life for power and a larger display. The laptop prides itself with over 11 hours of battery life and with this upgrade, the Apple MacBook beats all its competitors hands down.
It offers all these and still maintains its sleek, lightweight design topping the scale at 4.3 pounds with a size of 0.64×14.09×9.68 inches.
Moving on to the cons now, the base model Apple MacBook Pro is priced at $2,199. Although it’s quite satisfactory that you can get the 16-inch model (with added features) at the same price as the previously released 15-inch model, the laptop is still a very pricey one.
Also, there is a limitation on the porting system as you are only restricted to four Thunderbolt 3 Type C ports.
This second con however, can be looked upon as negligible considering all the features the MacBook Pro has, which limits the need to plug in external devices.
From all that has been said, the Apple MacBook Pro certainly has a lot to love about it and very few to dislike.
The 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro is yet another stunning release from Apple in 2019. Following the release of the 15-inch model, the 13-inch MacBook is a much smaller workstation and as such offers better portability.
The aforementioned 16-inch model is considered as the best MacBook Apple has released however, the 13-inch MacBook model in our verdict is the best laptop Apple has released for graphic designers yet.
In the past, most of the previous 13-inch models were considered as products of compromises consumers had to make because they couldn’t get the 15-inch MacBook. However, Apple has proven with the release of this version that the 13-inch models would no longer be considered as a compromise but as a solid laptop in its right.
This was made possible by the inclusion of updated system components and more significantly, the addition of the infamous Apple Touch Bar in all the variants.
The 13-inch MacBook is a thin, light device but yet has a quality build. It weighs 3.02 pounds with a size of 11.97×8.36×0.59 inches. The available variants come in the Grey and Silver colors, so you can opt for whichever suits your fancy. With its 8th Generation Intel Core i5 CPU, the base model offers a solid performance with a fast and responsive operating system.
Pairing this solid performance with its Intel Iris Plus 645 graphic cards, the laptop can run pretty much any graphic application with ease.
The 13.3-inch display is simply gorgeous with its 2560×1600 retina resolution. The SSD which can be configured up to 2TB remains one of the best drives you can get in modern laptops.
The laptop also offers over 9 hours of battery life as such, a full workday requiring no charge is assured. However, with the Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch), Apple took a step back with the inclusion of the butterfly stroke keys again. There is also still a limitation with the porting system as it has only two Thunderbolt 3 ports and an audio jack.
There is also the issue of pricing because although the laptop is the cheapest MacBook Pro you can get, it is one of the most expensive 13-inch laptops priced at $1,949. Notwithstanding, for a laptop its size, the 13-inch MacBook offers satisfactory power, a stunning display and an impressive battery life.
Ever come across a portable workstation that perfectly combines power, a brilliant display and an exquisite design? Well, the Dell XPS 13 offers all of that and so much more. Over the past few years, Dell has succeeded in having most of its recent releases appear in almost every best laptop list and it’s no surprise that the XPS 13 doesn’t fall short of that this time around.
With its 10th Generation Intel Core i5 processor alongside the Intel Iris Plus graphic cards, the Dell XPS 13 is an outstanding performer with an all-day battery life of over 9 hours. The laptop’s 13.3-inch display is absolutely breathtaking with the least model at 1980×1080 resolution.
The bright, colorful display is however not the only feature that makes the display brilliant but significantly, its bezel-less Infinity Edge screen! This makes the Dell XPS 13 even more preferable when compared with other 13-inch laptops, because although it is one, it most definitely doesn’t look like it thanks to the bezel-less design.
This luxurious device is also impressively lightweight at 2.8 pounds and extremely slim with 11.6×7.8×0.58 inches. Having a laptop that is both powerful and portable certainly does feel great and thanks to the satisfactory battery life, you wouldn’t have to bother about carrying the charger with you all the time.
The chassis of the laptop also leaves very little room to waste as the keyboard runs almost all through its surface, and its touchpad is one of the best you would find in a Windows 10 laptop.
Although the display of the Dell XPS 13 is stunning, Dell has once again not met the mark with their audio. The speakers of the XPS 13 don’t sound great and it could be pretty frustrating having to watch a movie in rich display but disappointing audio. You could however use really good headphones to make up for the lack.
Moving on to the porting system, the XPS 13 also greatly compromised its ports for the sake of portability. There are only two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a micro SD card slot and a headphone jack. Nothing more. The lofty price tag of the laptop at $2999.11 could also be a major turn off.
However, unlike most expensive laptops you could get at that price range, the Dell XPS 13 certainly does look and feel expensive.
If you are just starting out as a graphic designer and would prefer a laptop that is functional, budget-friendly, and portable, then the MacBook Air it’s just what you need. Although it isn’t the thinnest/lightest laptop around (the LG Gram is), the MacBook Air still prides itself as Apple’s thinnest/lightest MacBook.
This 2020 model is definitely an impressive bump up from its predecessors as Apple introduced new and more powerful components. The MacBook air also has more storage space and emerged at a lower entry price starting at $949.
The problematic butterfly switches keyboard its predecessors had has also been replaced with the newly released magic keyboard, which was first seen in the MacBook Pro 16-inch model.
Its 10th Generation Quad Core processor, Intel Iris Plus graphic card and configuration of up to 2TB SSD also makes the MacBook Air more desirable and functional than its earlier released variants. More interestingly, Apple improved on its power and overall performance without raising its price or compromising its featherweight design.
The MacBook Air is certainly what you would expect from Apple thinnest/lightest MacBook weighing just about 2.8 pounds with a size of 11.97×8.36×0.63 inches.
However, Apple has still not improved on its porting system as you are limited to only two Thunderbolt 3 ports and an audio jack. Its 13.3-inch LED display offers a 2560×1600 resolution and although the display of the laptop doesn’t also give as much color pop as would have been preferred, it is still quite impressive. The battery life also can simply be classified as average, but you are assured of about 8 working hours.
You can however lengthen this duration by cutting down on the number of apps running concurrently and also reducing the brightness. There is also a Touch ID fingerprint scanner that allows for biometric login and making payments via Apple Pay.
The laptop is available in grey, silver and gold variants and Apple still maintains its appreciated design and build quality. Though the MacBook Air is certainly not as powerful as the more expensive 13-inch MacBook Pro, it is satisfactorily functional and offers great value.
We thought we had seen it all in the prior Dell XPS 13 release, but Dell has yet again stunned the market with an excellent entry in the XPS series, with the release of the XPS 15.
The XPS 15 is currently one of the best Dell laptops till date and it meets almost all standard requirements of graphic designing. If you thought the XPS 13 was the most stunning laptop yet, wait till you lay hands on the XPS 15 which is currently the most stylish Windows 10 laptop on the market.
The laptop is outstandingly powerful, stylish and yet light enough topping the scale at 4.5 pounds with a size of 13.57×9.06×0.71 inches. It is definitely not the lightest laptop you could get around but considering the hardware it possesses and its great battery life, it is certainly more portable than expected.
Dell was able to pull this off with its incredibly thin bezels and aluminum chassis. Speaking of bezels, the screen is basically all you see and its stunning display is more or less the icing on the cake.
If you wouldn’t go for the XPS 15 for anything, its breathtaking 15.6-inch display should make you want to do so, as its highest model offers a gum-smacking 3840×2400 resolution. This makes it just perfect for all categories of creative professionals.
It offers this much power and functionality without compromising on its over 9 hours of battery life. With a gorgeous display, solid speakers and comfortable keypad, the XPS 15 is certainly an alluring alternative to the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Starting at $1,722, the XPS 15 could be considered as pricey but its 10th Generation Intel Core processor, Iris Plus graphics, up to 64GB of RAM and 1TB SSD buffs up its overall performance a great deal.
Dell has also proven through the XPS 15 that decent speakers are possible in laptops. Unlike its predecessor (Dell XPS 15, 2019) and the XPS 13, the speakers have now been moved to the top of the device and its mechanism is one of the best we have seen so far.
The XPS 15 however lacks in the porting sector as there are only three Thunderbolt 3 ports, an SD card reader (which was an appreciated addition by the way), and a headphone jack. With the XPS 15, Dell has certainly raised the bar so high for all its Windows competitors as the laptop can be looked upon as nearly perfect.
Did I hear somebody say power? That’s exactly what you get and a whole lot more with the Razer Blaze 15 Studio Edition. Razer has always been known to have a thing for ‘gaming’ laptops and when you talk of gaming laptops, power is definitely a must-have, so imagine a laptop with the powerful internal components of a gaming one and yet aimed at digital creatives. This basically explains the functionality of Razer Blade 15 (Studio Edition) in a few words.
Design-wise, this Studio Edition is very similar to the 2019 Razer Blade 15 model. Almost identical even. As such, if you wouldn’t want your creative workstation looking more like a gaming laptop, this might not be the best choice for you because although Razer has toned down some of its gaming-inspired design choices, the external hardware is pretty much the same (with exception to the GPU). The chassis of the laptop is an all-black aluminum case and the design is way more conservative than the 2019 model.
Power however isn’t the only thing to love about the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition, the display is likewise out of this world. Its 15.6-inch OLED screen has a resolution of 3,840×2,160 pixels and offers vibrant color reproduction.
Having combined both power and a stunning 4K screen, the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition is certainly one of the best creative mobile workstations for graphic designers. Needless to say, graphic designers aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit from this model but a host of other creatives including photographers and content creators.
Weighing 4.83 pounds and having a size of 13.98×9.25×0.7 inches, you wouldn’t have any issues carrying the laptop around with you. Over time, the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition has also been justifiably compared with the 2019 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro. However, with the Razer Blade 15, you get a better CPU, GPU, display and more significantly better connectivity, although for a much higher price.
Speaking about the connectivity, on the left side of the laptop, there are two full-sized USB 3.2 ports, a headphone jack and a power connector. While on the right, there is one USB 3.2 port, a display port, an HDMI port and a Thunderbolt 3 port (Type C).
Moving on to the cons, the battery life of over just 5 hours isn’t quite satisfactory, but considering the power and display quality you’d be getting, we can say it’s pretty much expected.
The laptop is also very pricey with its base model starting at $3,439 on Amazon but with an 8th Generation Intel Core i7 CPU, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card and storage configuration up to 32GB RAM/1TB SSD, the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition is certainly one of the smartest investments you could make.
The HP Spectre X360 has been a consistent trailblazer since its release and as such, has made its way to our top 10 picks. If you are constantly on the go and would want a highly portable device and of course wouldn’t mind not utilizing your keyboard, then the HP Spectre X360 is for you.
The laptop currently prides itself as the best convertible for graphic designers on the market today, and that’s not surprising judging by the numerous benefits you stand to enjoy with this state-of-the-art convertible.
Asides being highly portable, the Intel Core i7-9750H CPU allows you handle almost every (if not all) graphic design application that you would normally run on a laptop, seamlessly.
Not just that, the convertible has an impressive 15.6-inch display with a stunning 4K resolution. Thanks to this, the color reproduction is breathtakingly vibrant with just that right amount of pop. This convertible would also come in very handy if you are also willing to indulge in other tasks during your leisure time.
With its backlit keyboard, responsive touchpad and powerful speakers with an array of microphones, you are sure to enjoy every bit of this convertible as it offers the required firepower and portability.
It gets even better. The HP Spectre X360 has an average battery life of 15 hours and this is very impressive, as one would think that there would be a compromise due to the 4K resolution. All these and more have proven that despite being a convertible, there are no significant trade-offs with the X360.
Moving on to connectivity, all the functional ports are available including the USB Type C Thunderbolt 3 and HDMI 2.0. The device weighs 4.79 pounds and is priced on Amazon at $1,699 which could be considered quite pricey for a convertible, but what it offers far exceeds what a convertible ordinarily would anyways, so that’s understandable. Having portability, power, great battery life and of course, its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, the X360 would be worth every penny spent on it.
Still, on convertibles, this is yet another device that creates a perfect balance between power and portability. In terms of portability, the Microsoft Surface Book 3 is even better.
At 3.62 pounds, it is currently one of the lightest detachable notebooks on the market today yet, it doesn’t compromise its durability. The sleek yet compact buildup of the convertible is accredited to its metallic build-up.
If you are however particular about your display as a graphic designer, Book 3 might not exactly suit you as its 13.5-inch screen could be quite restrictive. However, no compromises whatsoever were made on its quality with a resolution of 3000×2000 pixels, and that’s highly satisfactory considering it being a tablet.
The lack in the display size is likewise made up for with its 15.5 hours battery life on a single charge. All functional ports are also available for including the USB 3.1 Type A port and of course, the USB Type C port.
Now onto power, its Quad-Core i7-1065 G7 and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU fits perfectly into the requirements of a graphic-inclined device, as you would have no problems indulging in video editing and other bigger projects. Priced at $1,784, with its efficient backlit keyboard, smooth touchpad, front-facing speakers and decent microphones, this functional convertible would just perfect depending on your preferences.
The Asus Vivobook Pro 17 is yet another laptop that stormed the market with its unique features. When most people look at the Pro 17, what they observe first is its 17.3-inch display (which is stunning in its right), but this workstation offers a whole lot more than just a large display. Its 8th Generation i7-8550U processor coupled with its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU, you can be rest assured that all your graphical applications and tasks would be efficiently catered for.
Its 17.3-inch display also matches up its quality as it offers a vibrant color reproduction and gives you that immersive creative experience. Another very impressive feature of the Pro 17 is its weight.
Unlike most other laptops its size, the Pro 17 at 4.6 pounds is very portable as such, you can get that large screen you desire and still have portability in check.
There is also a standard selection of ports which include three USB-A, one 3.1 Type C, a HDMI 1.4, a card reader and an ethernet port. The Pro 17 also has a storage configuration up to 1TB SSD so you wouldn’t have to bother about space and with a price tag of $1,179, this is certainly a fair deal considering the display size.
However the battery life of the Pro 17 is quite disappointing as it can only run for a little over 4 hours. This is one of the compromises that had to be made for the display size but if you don’t mind this much, the Pro 17 is certainly a well-rounded laptop that would cater for all your needs with regards to graphic designing and a host of other tasks.
Huawei certainly did take the market by surprise with the release of the Matebook X Pro which is a fantastic option for any creative professional. Indeed many creatives out there aren’t aware of the quality products produced by Huawei, one of which is the Matebook X Pro. Having all the features of a top-desk laptop, an Intel i7 processor and UHD Graphics 620, this laptop would certainly change the minds of many.
It doesn’t just stop there. With fast lightning speed, storage of 16GB/512GB SSD, and a 3K 13.9-inch display, the Matebook X Pro is definitely a solid choice of laptop. Priced at $1,809, the X Pro has an edge over most of its competitors which have higher price tags. Topping the scale at 2.93 pounds, portability of this creative workstation is also assured and with over 7 hours of battery life, you can go through a full workday on a single charge.
The laptop’s connectivity is also decent with one Thunderbolt 3 USB-C, one 3.1 USB-C, one USB 3.0 and an audio jack. The keyboard layout is top-notch as well, with responsive keys. All these and more have made the Matebook X Pro beneficial for digital creatives.
With all the innovations being made, graphic designing is certainly becoming less challenging by the day, and laptops with the likes of MSI P65 Creator and ROG Zephyrus S GX 701 that are set to take the market by storm in 2021, we are in for an exciting ride into the world of graphic creativity.