In this guide to the best laptops for graphic design, we’ve carefully picked the top mobile computers that can help you with your design work.
When looking for the best laptops for graphic design work, you’ll want to make sure you have a laptop that offers enough power to run graphically-intensive applications. This means the best laptops for graphic design work will come with powerful modern processors (such as Intel’s 8th generation CPUs), and preferably a discrete graphics card as well.
You’ll also want something that comes with an impressive screen for helping you to work, while the best laptops for graphic design will also be thin and light to enable you to take them with you while you travel.
So, whether you want a macOS device or a Windows machine, read on for our pick of the best laptops for graphic design.
1. Apple Macbook Pro with Touch Bar 13-inch 2018
The best Macbook Pro ever is the best laptop for graphic design
CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, (2,560 x 1,600) IPS | Storage: 128GB – 2TB PCIe 3.0 SSD
The best Macbook Pro ever
Super fast performance
Not a huge generational leap
Apple is renowned for making excellent products for creative professionals, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar 2018 is the best laptop for graphic design. It’s also the best MacBook Pro that Apple has ever made. It comes with the Touch Bar, which is a thin OLED display at the top of the keyboard which can be used to scan your fingerprint to log in, or offering up app-specific shortcuts. It’s got a stunning screen and powerful innards that will run pretty much any graphic design application with ease.
Read the full review: Apple Macbook with Touch Bar 13-inch (2018)
2. Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)
The most powerful 2-in-1 laptop in the world
CPU: Intel Core i5-7300U – Intel Core i7-8650U 1.9GHz | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620; Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB GDDR5 VRAM) | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 3,000 x 2,000 (267 ppi) PixelSense display, 3:2 aspect ratio | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Very good battery life
No Surface Pen included
With the Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch), Microsoft has crafted one of the most powerful 2-in-1 laptops in the world, and a device that rivals Apple’s best when it comes to laptops for graphic design. The Surface Book 2 has some powerful enough components to handle most day-to-day tasks, and if you go for a model with a dedicated graphics card, then you’ll easily be able to run your graphic design apps on it. The keyboard detaches from the screen, so you can use it as a tablet, and it runs a full version of Windows 10, which makes it an excellent alternative to the MacBook Pro above if you want to stick with Microsoft’s operating system.
3. Dell XPS 13
New and improved for 2019
CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – 4k (3840 x 2160) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Battery life better than ever
Beautiful optional 4K display
2019 update isn’t huge
The Dell XPS 13 (2019) is one of the best laptops ever made, and it’s an ideal laptop for graphics design. It comes with a stunning 4K display and 8th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors. Meanwhile, the bezel-less ‘Infinity Edge’ display means your digital designs remain the focus of attention.There’s also a wide range of customization options, so you can really make the Dell XPS 13 the best laptop for your needs.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
4. 13-inch MacBook Air (2018)
Thinner, lighter, more productive
CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 617 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina display (backlit LED, IPS) | Storage: 128GB – 1.5TB PCIe 3.0 SSD | Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56cm; W x D x H)
Small, lighter design
Beautiful Retina display
A bit underpowered
Yet another Apple laptop has made it onto our list of the best laptops for graphic design. This time it’s the latest version of the MacBook Air. Now thinner, lighter and with a Retina display for the first time, it’s easily the best MacBook Air we’ve ever used for graphical design. That new Retina display, with wide color gamut and high resolution, makes your graphical work absolutely shine, and with 8th-generation processors, more RAM and faster SSDs and an affordable price, this really is one of the best laptops money can buy right now for digital artists and graphical designers. We just wish that these were full-fat U-series quad core chips, rather than the Y-series dual-core fanless processors. Still, this means that you’re going to easily get all-day battery out of this thing, which makes it one of the best Macs for travel.
Read the full review: MacBook Air 2018
5. Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
CPU: Intel Core i5-i7 | Graphics: Radeon RX Vega M GL Graphics with 4GB HMB2 Graphics Memory | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
Kind of expensive
Last year’s Dell XPS 15 was already one of the best laptops you could buy for graphic design, but with 2018’s convertible Dell XPS 15 2-in-1, it has just got even better. Not only can it switch between tablet and laptop modes, it also packs a new Intel Kaby Lake G-series CPU featuring ‘discrete-class’ Radeon graphics. This means that this laptop packs serious power when it comes to graphic design.
6. Apple MacBook 12-inch (2017)
Last year’s MacBook is another winner
CPU: Intel Core M3 1.2GHz – Intel Core i7 1.4GHz | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 12-inch, (2,304 x 1,440) IPS 16:10 | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
Long battery life
Still only one USB-C port
Last year’s MacBook is yet another tempting offering from Apple for graphic designers, with another gorgeous design that the company is know for. Apple has updated the processors with Intel’s 7th-generation Kaby Lake range, which means you get improved performance and longer battery life without sacrificing the thin and light design of previous MacBooks. While the MacBook 2017 is not designed as a pure productivity machine, like the more powerful and versatile MacBook Pro it’s still one of the best laptops for graphic design in the world right now thanks to being a super slim and light MacBook that you can take anywhere without even noticing the weight, and being a powerful showcase for macOS High Sierra.