Whether you're an amateur or a professional graphic designer, choosing the best laptop for your needs can be challenging. You can easily overspend on a model with features you never use or a device unsuitable for such tasks, like a laptop with a poor-quality display. There are a couple of things to consider when buying a laptop. First and foremost, you want a high-resolution screen that's large enough to work comfortably, and you also want a screen that can display all the colors in the color space in which you work (sRGB, Adobe RGB, or DCI P3) so that you know your design is color-accurate.
A good CPU will allow for a smoother experience when manipulating images or applying effects, and if you work on more complex 3D designs, a dedicated GPU may be necessary. Naturally, if you travel with your laptop, you want to look for something portable with enough battery life to get you through the day. The quality of the keyboard and touchpad are also important, and depending on your needs, you want to consider the port selection.
We've bought and tested over 95 laptops. Below, you'll find our recommendations for the best laptops for graphic design you can buy. You can also see our picks for the best laptops, the best laptops for video editing, and the best laptops for photo editing.
The best laptop for graphic design we've tested is the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (M2, 2023), a newer version of the M1 Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021). This 2023 model has a few internal upgrades, including a faster M2 Pro/max processor, HDMI 2.1, Wi-Fi 6E, and increased memory support of up to 96GB. It still feels incredibly well-built and provides a great user experience with a gorgeous Mini LED display, a comfortable keyboard, and a gigantic touchpad. Like most Apple products, the display's factory calibration is near-perfect, so you can get right to work without any further calibration. Apple's M2 Pro/Max SoCs have no problem handling even the most complex graphic designs. The only thing that might be a dealbreaker is its lack of full Adobe RGB coverage, so it might not be ideal for those in print graphic design.
The Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2023) is also a good option if you want more screen space; however, know it's more expensive and bulkier. As you may have heard, Apple has released new MacBook Pros with its M3 SoCs. These new chips bring better performance, particularly on the GPU side, which will help provide a smoother experience in applications that benefit from GPU hardware acceleration. Apple no longer sells the M2 models on its website, so it's best to get an M3 model unless you can find the M2 on sale elsewhere. See the M3 models on Amazon.
Our recommendation for Windows users is the Dell XPS 15 (2023). It's also a premium laptop that provides a great user experience. It's available with powerful Intel 13th Gen H-series CPUs and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 40-series GPUs, up to an RTX 4070. You can choose between an FHD+ display with full sRGB coverage or a 3.5k OLED panel with full DCI P3; both get bright enough to combat glare in well-lit settings. Performance is excellent, though the keyboard gets quite hot under load. Unfortunately, its 720p webcam is disappointing for such a high-end device, and it only has three USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports and an SD card reader.
If you don't need all the processing power of the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (M2, 2023), get the Apple MacBook Air 15 (2023). It has a larger display with the same 100% DCI P3 coverage and superb factory calibration; it just isn't a Mini LED display, which likely won't affect your work. Its base M2 chip is still very fast and can handle most workloads, though you may experience some slowdowns when manipulating complex designs. The main downside is its limited port selection, as it only has two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports with support for a single external display. If you plan to use an external monitor with the laptop closed, you can get the 13-inch model instead. It's cheaper, but the speakers don't sound as good.
The ASUS Zenbook 14 Flip OLED (2023) is also a good choice if you prefer Windows. You can get this 14-inch 2-in-1 convertible with an Intel 13th Gen Core i5 or i7 P-series CPU and up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. It has a gorgeous 100% Adobe RGB display with stylus support; however, it doesn't get as bright as the MacBook Air 15's display, and its factory calibration isn't as good, so you'll have to calibrate it before doing any work. Its port selection is better, though, as it has two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s and an HDMI port. Battery life is about the same as the MacBook Air 15 at around eight to nine hours of light use.
Our best mid-range pick is the Lenovo Yoga 7i 16 (2023). It has a large 16-inch display, so you get plenty of room to work comfortably. You can choose between an FHD+ or QHD+ panel; we recommend the latter because it looks sharper, has full sRGB coverage, and gets brighter to combat glare. It's a 2-in-1 convertible with stylus support, though you may have to buy the pen separately, as it isn't always bundled with the laptop. Port selection is excellent; you get two USB-As, two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s, a MicroSD card reader, and an HDMI port. It's available with Intel 13th Gen U- and P-series CPUs, which perform well; however, it only has integrated graphics, so it isn't ideal for 3D graphics requiring lots of GPU processing power. You can get this laptop directly from Lenovo if you have trouble finding it elsewhere.
The best laptop for designers we've tested in the budget tier is the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020). It's an older model from 2020, so the price has decreased considerably, making it a great budget-friendly option. You can configure it with an Intel 11th Gen Core i5 or i7 CPU; these CPUs are a few years old but still adequate for graphic design, so long as the material isn't overly complex. As for the display, it has a 1080p IPS panel with full sRGB coverage, which is fine for digital media, though not ideal for print graphics. The battery lasts over 13 hours of light use and charges over USB-C. You can only get up to 512GB of storage, which might not be enough if you store your work on the internal drive, but on the upside, it's user-replaceable, so you can swap it for a larger one later.
If you're a digital artist or often work with a stylus, get the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021), a 13-inch tablet PC. You can detach the keyboard when you need to draw, and the kickstand allows you to tilt the screen to nearly any angle you want. Its 3:2 IPS panel is incredibly sharp, bright enough to combat glare, and has a 120Hz refresh rate to make pen input more responsive. You can use Microsoft's Slim Pen 2 or any Microsoft Pen Protocol styluses; the Slim Pen 2 is just more convenient because there's a slot on the type cover keyboard to charge and store the pen. Unfortunately, you need to buy the stylus and the keyboard separately, adding to the overall cost of the device. Another downside is that it only has two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s for peripherals and external displays.
As you may already know, Microsoft has released the Surface Pro 9. It's essentially the same device, mainly an internal upgrade to faster Intel 12th Gen processors. The only design change is the removal of the headphone jack, which means you'll need a USB-C audio adapter if you want to use wired headphones, and unfortunately, there isn't one included in the box.
There's also a Surface Pro 9 with an ARM processor and LTE connectivity, but it doesn't perform as well as the Intel models and lacks Thunderbolt 4 support. Price-wise, the Surface Pro 9 is more expensive, not just because it's a newer model, but because the Surface Pro 8 is discontinued and often on sale, so if you don't need the upgrades, you can save some money with the older model. See the Surface Pro 9 on Amazon here.
Dec 08, 2023: Minor text changes to add information about the M3 MacBook Pros. Replaced the ASUS ZenBook Flip 14 OLED (2023) with the Apple MacBook Air 15 (2023) because the MacBook Air has a bigger, brighter, and more color-accurate display and better GPU performance.
Nov 10, 2023: Replaced the Acer Swift 3 14 (2022) with the Lenovo Yoga 7i 16 (2023) because the Acer is more expensive. Replaced the ASUS VivoBook 15 OLED K513 (2020) with the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020) because the ASUS has increased in price. Added the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) and the Lenovo Slim Pro 7 14 (2023) as Notable Mentions.
Sep 13, 2023: Small text changes to include the Lenovo Slim Pro 7 14 (2023) as a cheaper alternative to the Apple MacBook Pro 14. Added the Acer Swift 3 14 (2022) as the 'Best Mid-Range' pick and moved the ASUS Zenbook 14 Flip OLED to the 'Best Upper Mid-Range' category.
Jul 19, 2023: Replaced the MSI WS76 (2021) with the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021) because the MacBook Pro is more portable, has longer battery life, and provides a better user experience overall. Replaced the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) with the ASUS Zenbook 14 Flip OLED (2023) because the Zenbook has full Adobe RGB coverage and is cheaper. Removed the ASUS TUF Dash 15 (2022) because it's nearly the same price as the Zenbook, and its battery life is very short.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best laptops for graphic design you can get. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you prefer to make your own decision, here's the list of all of our laptop reviews. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it's best to see the full review for information about other variants.