12 Best Laptops for Graphic Design in 2017

Graphic designers are responsible for some of the coolest designs we see on a daily basis. From T-Shirts and business card logos to print ads – they cover a lot of ground. On that note, if you are a graphic designer that tends to be on the move, you probably want a laptop for your creations, not necessarily a desktop.

Our best laptop for graphic design list is filled with laptops that can handle even the toughest tasks from your clients. Photoshop and other high-end graphical programs can be run with ease, which means we are going to focus on a few key areas to help narrow your decision going forward.

Top 12 Laptops for Graphic Design Ultimate Table

DesignNameResolutionRAMRating (1-5)
  1. Thinkpad Yoga 14 2-in-1 20FY0002US FHD 8GB 4.5
  2. Microsoft Surface Pro 4 QHD 16GB 4.4
  3. Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Series 13.3-Inch Full HD Touchscreen Laptop FHD 16GB 4.3
  4. Apple MacBook Pro MLW82LL/A 15.4-inch Laptop Retina 16GB 4.3
  5. Microsoft Surface Book QHD Varies 4.3
6. VAIO Z Canvas 12.3″ Laptop QHD16GB 4.2
7. HP Spectre x360 15.6 Inch Convertible Laptop UHD 16GB 4.1
8. Dell Inspiron 5000 Touchscreen 17.3″ FHD Laptop FHD 16GB 4.0
  9. HP Envy 15.6″ x360 2-in-1 Convertible Full HD IPS Touchscreen Laptop FHD 12GB 4.0
  10. Dell Inspiron i7559-7512GRY 15.6 Inch UHD Touchscreen Laptop UHD Varies 4.0
  11. Lenovo Flex 4 – 2-in-1 Laptop/Tablet FHD 8GB 3.9
  12. ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW-US71 15.6-Inch 4K Touchscreen Laptop UHD 16GB3.8

Buying Info for Designers

If you’re going to spend hours working on a graphic design project, you need to have the right setup. The sections below will help you narrow the field so you can spend more time working and less time shopping.

Display

A laptop’s display or desktop monitor is more than just glass or plastic panel. In other words, you can just go off size alone if you truly want the best laptop for graphic design. Most of the models on our list will have fixed display or be convertible. Once you’ve figured out which way you want to roll, think about these things next.

  • Resolution – This is how sharp objects will appear on your screen and the more resolution, the better. FHD is 1,920 x 1,080, while QHD roughly doubles that at around 2,560 x 1,440. The highest resolution would be UHD which is 4K at 3,840 x 2,160.
  • Color Accuracy – We’re not going to spend too much time here, but color accuracy should be on the top of your list. While high resolution is great to have, those colors need to have depth and be “accurate” so Blues are Blue – not Aqua or Turquoise.

Horsepower

For any computer, this comes down to the processor and memory. When dealing with laptops for graphic designers, the latter is actually more important than the former although they both need to be solid. That means you can get by with an Intel i5 processor and don’t have to have the newest i7-7700 chip under the hood.

On the other hand, having 4GB of RAM with that i7 processor isn’t going to help you with multitasking. There is no magic number as it depends on your needs, but 8GB should be the minimum and 16GB is what you should shoot for. Some laptops will let you upgrade RAM as well, but it’s rare and may not be something you can do yourself.

Graphics Card

This ties into your display, resolution and color depth to a degree. Graphics cards aren’t just for gaming late into the wee hours of the morning. They also have a direct effect on how things come across on your display. While you don’t have to have a top-tier graphics card to do graphic design (oddly enough), you do need to consider what programs you plan to use along with their requirements.

Top 5 Best Laptop for Graphic Design Reviews

1. Thinkpad Yoga 2-in-1 20FY0002US

The Thinkpad Yoga 20FY0002US is not the fastest laptop on our list nor is it the largest. It’s also a little underwhelming when it comes to the memory although it has more than enough for most consumers. This particular PC is the perfect choice for graphic designers that don’t need a beast but do want something convertible and extremely portable.

This laptop has a rotating screen that can flip all the way backward so that it can be used in tablet mode. The screen doesn’t detach, but its flexible nature allows you to use it like a traditional pad of paper if you’re drawing. As for the display, it’s 14-inches with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 and is of the touchscreen variety. The RAM is listed at 8GB while the storage clocks in at a cool 256GB. That may not sound like much but it is a solid state drive and can be expanded through the usual means.

We’re pleased to say this 2-in-1 is also a winner in the port department. It has a couple of 3.0 ports, a mini display port, HDMI out, and a 4-in-1 media reader to handle everything else. The usual connectivity options are included like dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth although the latter is just 4.0. There is no optical drive which isn’t unusual but there is a 720p webcam and a solid graphics card in the GeForce 940M.

The Thinkpad Yoga comes with a stylus and runs Windows 10 out of the box. While great for light duty, it is not the best choice for hardcore graphics applications due to the memory and the fact it has an i5 -6200U under the hood.

2. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

There have been plenty of stories in the media talking about the death of the laptop due to tablets… or the death of tablets due to massive smartphones. Well, neither of those are true and the Surface brand from Microsoft is right behind Apple when it comes to slates. They are second to none however when it comes to powerful convertibles that work as a laptop.

It’s tough to pick a good place to start with the Surface Pro 4 as there really isn’t a weak point in our eyes. That’s because we went with the cream of the crop which features an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD to hold all your files. Those are flagship laptop specifications but crammed into body measuring a little over 12-inches. That’s impressive, and so is the display itself. This model has a 12.3-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 2,736 x 1,824 otherwise known as QHD+.

Do you like to write on your tablet display or draw your creations instead of using tools in Photoshop? If so, you will be thrilled to know the Surface 4 Pro comes with a smart stylus of sorts that works in conjunction with the PixelSense display. The pen has 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity and may not quite feel like a pencil, but it will work like one complete with an eraser on one end.

The Surface Pro 4 is the only way to roll if you want something small, but powerful to do graphic design on the go. We chose the top-tier model with a keyboard, but other models are available with lower specifications if you don’t need as much horsepower but still like this 2-in-1.

3. Dell Inspiron 7000 Series Touchscreen

Dell’s entry onto our list of the best laptop for graphic design is the Inspiron 13 from the 7000 series. It’s another touchscreen laptop, but this one doesn’t come with a pen out of the box so you will need to supply your own. At 13.3-inches it’s of average size for this range but has far more storage than most with a whopping 1TB of space under the hood.

The decked out specs continue with 16GB of RAM and the Intel i7-6500U processor. This display is only listed at FHD or 1,920 x 1,080 but is a “TrueLife” display with great color depth and a wide viewing angle to boot. The backlit keyboard is a nice perk as is the nature of the hard drive. We told you it was 1TB, but we saved the best for last. It’s a solid state drive, so the speed will be outstanding and it’s rare to find a drive of this size in a laptop this small.

The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 is only available in one configuration and size at 13-inches. It’s not advertised as a “convertible” although it does transform into a slate when the screen is folded back.

4. Apple MacBook Pro MLW82LL

If you are a fan of Apple, you can go ahead and click the link. The company has a massive fan base that will scoop up anything they produce including their MacBook lineup. Thankfully, the MacBook Pro MLW82LL is one of the best models they have produced in recent memory so you are in for a treat.

We’re just going to hit you with the specs on this one or at least the ones we know about as Apple does a lot of work under the hood to make sure things perform well. We chose the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro which has a Retina display with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,800. It’s powered by the Intel Core i7 and 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM while a 512GB SSD handles the storage. Graphics duty is taken care of by the AMD Radeon Pro 455 which also has 2GB of GDDR5 RAM.

From speedy Lightning ports to the mouth-watering display, the MacBook Pro brings a lot to the table for graphic designers to love. On the downside, it is expensive and the battery life is just average depending on your usage. There is a 13.3-inch model available as well and you can opt for the Touch Bar if you want something a little different from the typical touchpad or mouse.

5. Microsoft Surface Book

Microsoft has plenty of fans, and while we wait for a new generation of Surface to be released, we have the Surface Book with Performance base to play with. As the name implies, it shares some similarities with the Surface 4 Pro as both have the i7 processor and come with up to 16GB of RAM. The differences start with the storage as you can get a 1TB hard drive with the Performance Base model.

The display on the Surface Book is listed at 13.5-inches and has the same PixelSense display with a resolution of 3,000 x 2,000 which is slightly sharper than the slate. Other areas of interest include two USB 3.0 ports, the Surface Pen, and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M which sports 2GB of GDD5 VRAM. You can purchase this one with or without a Surface Dock or dumb down the specs to 8GB and 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of storage.