Laptop Buying Guide for Graphic Designers

Author: Luke Adkins  Date Posted: 30 April 2024 

Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out on your creative journey in the ever-evolving world of design, having the right tools at your fingertips makes all the difference and can really determine the outcome of a project.

Graphic designers can't rely on just any old laptop, either. They need a powerhouse that can keep up with demanding creative tasks, handle intricate design software and render high-resolution graphics, as well as several other key components.

However, this does mean that finding the perfect laptop for graphic design can be a daunting task. That's why we've put together this ultimate guide to the best laptops for graphic design. Here, you'll discover what to look for, outlined in simple terms, and we'll offer a couple of recommendations that could be suitable for your design needs.

What Type of Laptop Do Graphic Designers Use?

A standard consumer laptop doesn't quite cut it for graphic designers, and you'll need a model that strikes a perfect balance between power, portability, and versatility. There are finer details to each of these, which we'll get into further down the page, but for now, here are the basics.

Let's briefly discuss power first. Your laptop for graphic design should have robust processors and ample Random Access Memory (RAM) that can handle resource-intensive design software smoothly, as well as a high-resolution display with accurate colour reproduction.

In terms of portability, a graphic designer's laptop should be made from durable materials that can withstand on-the-go working and be light enough to comfortably carry with you between meetings. Likewise, it should look stylish, matching your brand and reputation as a creative professional.

With versatility, the main thing to look for here is your connectivity options. Graphic designers rely on a plethora of peripherals for work, including drawing tables and external monitors, so a laptop with an array of ports to use is always a good choice.

What Laptop Specs Do I Need for Graphic Design?

Now that you know the basics, let's dive a little deeper into the specifics to help you find the best laptops for graphic design and for your specific working needs.


Since graphic design software is so intensive to run, it would be best to choose a laptop with at least an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor coupled with 8GB of RAM or more. This will ensure excellent responsiveness and multitasking capabilities, which are crucial for handling large design files and running multiple applications simultaneously.

Design and Durability

You should also choose a laptop that is built to withstand the rigours of daily use, especially if you're planning to travel between meetings or hot desk. Laptops made from magnesium alloy or aluminium are the strongest yet remain lightweight enough to comfortably carry all day. Look for features like reinforced hinges and spill-resistant keyboards, too, as this will ensure longevity and reliability in various work environments.

Display and Graphics

A good graphic design laptop should also have a high-resolution display that is at least Full HD or higher, along with accurate colour reproduction, such as IPS or OLED panels. It's also best to choose a laptop with a dedicated graphics card, like NVIDIA GeForce RTX or AMD Radeon, which will enhance the laptop's visual performance for precise editing of graphics-intensive projects.

Software Compatibility

You also need to ensure your chosen laptop for graphic design meets or exceeds the recommended system requirements of your preferred graphic design software, such as Adobe Creative Suite or CorelDRAW. Check the compatibility with specific operating systems and any additional hardware requirements, such as touchscreen functionality or stylus support.

How Powerful Does a Laptop for Graphic Design Need To Be?

As we've mentioned above, a laptop for graphic design needs to be powerful. But what exactly does this mean, and what should you be looking for in terms of power? Let's make this simpler by breaking things down into three categories: processor, memory, and storage space.

Processor (CPU)

The Core Processing Unit (CPU) is the heart of your laptop and is crucial for running powerful graphic design software smoothly. For print graphic designers who primarily work with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, a mid-range processor like, and Intel Core i5 should be powerful enough for your needs.

However, if your work also involves video editing, it would be better to choose a more powerful CPU like the Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7, which will provide seamless editing when running software like Adobe Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve.

Memory (RAM)

Random Access Memory (RAM) is vital for efficient multitasking and smooth performance when working with large design files. For most graphic designers, 16GB of RAM is recommended to handle complex projects without the risk of any slowdowns, meaning that multiple design software and browser tabs can run simultaneously without compromising performance.

When it comes to more demanding creative tasks, like video editing or 3D rendering, it would be better to choose a laptop with at least 32GB or more.

Storage Capacity

This is something many people overlook, but storage capacity is essential for storing large design files, project assets, and installing design software. You'll have two choices here: Solid State Drives (SSDs) and Hard Disk Drives (HDDs).

Many graphic designers prefer HDDs as they offer larger storage capacities at a lower cost, but SSDs are known for their speed and reliability, which are beneficial for faster file access and speed responsiveness.

Ultimately, the choice is up to you, and each one is better for your unique needs. However, whichever you choose, it's recommended to choose a laptop with at least 512GB and up to 1TB for extensive media libraries.

What Kind of Graphics Card Does a Laptop for Graphic Design Need?

Another thing you'll need to choose between when selecting a laptop for graphic design is integrated graphics and dedicated graphics, and each has its own benefits.

Integrated Graphics

Integrated graphics are built directly into the laptop's CPU and this means that they share system memory rather than having their own dedicated GPU. While integrated graphics are suitable for handling basic tasks like document editing and web browsing, they aren't so good for handling demanding graphic design software efficiently.

Budget constraints often mean that you may feel integrated graphics could be the right choice, but for complex graphic design work, it would be best to consider laptops with dedicated graphics cards.

Dedicated Graphics 

But why exactly are dedicated graphics preferable to integrated graphics for graphic design work? Put simply, because they have their own dedicated memory and processing unit, they are much better at handling graphical tasks, providing smoother performance and rendering times.

This is essential for graphic designers working with high-resolution images, 3D modelling, video editing, and rendering. Certain software, such as Adobe Creative Suite, Autodesk Maya, and Cinema 4D, also benefit hugely from the added processing power of dedicated graphics.

What Display Should a Laptop for Graphic Design Have?

Your laptop's screen is where your creativity starts to unfold, so it's essential it has everything you need to see your work clearly, delivers accurate colours, and shows you every tiny detail. Here are some of the things you need to look out for when looking at your laptop's display capabilities:

Screen Size and Resolution

Finding the perfect laptop screen size is all about striking a balance between your workspace area and portability. A larger screen space offers more real estate for multitasking and detailed work, while a higher resolution ensures crisp, clear imagery. However, the more screen space you have, the more you compromise on portability, so consider your workflow and mobility needs, and if you're planning to spend a lot of time on the go, a laptop with a smaller screen would be a better choice.

Colour Accuracy and Gamut

Colour accuracy is non-negotiable for graphic designers, requiring displays with precise coverage of colour spaces like sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3. These ensure that what you see on the screen matches the final output, whether it's for print, web, or multimedia. Put simply, you need to look for a laptop with a display that offers wide colour gamut coverage that accurately represents your designs.

Panel Type

IPS panels are preferred for graphic design work because they offer superior viewing angles and colour reproduction, maintaining consistent colours and contrast, which is essential for collaborative work and ensuring your designs look the same across multiple devices.

What Operating System Should I Choose?

When buying a laptop for everyday use, you're likely to choose an operating system that you're familiar with. However, when it comes to graphic design, you need to step outside of this basic familiarity and consider your job requirements along with your personal preference.


Windows is well-known for its versatility, and it offers compatibility with a wide range of software applications, so graphic designers who rely on industry-standard tools like Adobe Creative Cloud or SketchUp could find Windows to be an excellent choice.

Another great thing about Windows laptops is that they are available in a variety of configurations and price points, so they cater to diverse needs and budgets.


MacOS is often favoured by graphic designers for its stability, sleek design, and seamless integration with other Apple devices, offering fluidity along with the robustness of professional software like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro X.

Mac laptops are also renowned for their high-quality displays and build, making them a great choice for mixing aesthetics with durability and portability.


ChromeOS is less common in the graphic design world, as it is heavily web-centric and offers limited availability of professional-grade software. However, for graphic designers whose work revolves around web-based applications or cloud-based workflows, Chromebooks offer a budget-friendly solution paired with a long battery life.

What Software Should I Choose?

Along with choosing the right operating system for your laptop, you'll need to think about what software you need and, importantly, its compatibility with your chosen OS.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud is a cornerstone of graphic design, encompassing software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Premiere Pro. These applications cater to various design needs, from photo editing and vector illustration to layout design and video production, making this software invaluable for graphic designers.

Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 provides essential tools that, while not as specialised as those in Adobe Creative Cloud, are ideal for creating presentations, managing spreadsheets, and communicating with clients. These include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, and Office 365's cloud-based nature means that you're able to collaborate and access files across multiple devices, enhancing your productivity in the process.

Laptop Build Quality and Design

It isn't just the internal components and software compatibility that you need to think about when choosing a graphic design laptop. You also need to consider the overall build quality and design, and there are several features that can affect performance, productivity, and creativity.

Material and Durability

As many graphic designers find themselves on the move throughout the day, attending meetings, giving client presentations, and working in a mixture of environments, durability is essential. Look for a laptop made from aluminium, magnesium alloy, or carbon fibre, as these are highly resistant to wear and tear while you're on the go, but still remain lightweight enough to carry with you comfortably.

Average Battery Duration

As you move between meetings or workspaces, you may also find that you have limited access to power outlets. As such, it's best to choose a laptop that has a long battery life. However, it's also worth remembering that real-world usage may vary, so take the time to look at user reviews in order to gauge the actual battery performance of the laptop.

Charging Options and Speed

Look for a laptop that has a USB C port for charging as well, as this will give you the ability to charge the laptop battery with a wide range of chargers and accessories, including power banks, which will give you the opportunity to charge it while you're on the move. Some laptops are also equipped with fast-charging features, which is ideal if you need to boost your battery life quickly during time-sensitive tasks.

Camera Quality

Virtual meetings and remote working are more popular than ever, and this means that your laptop should also have a high-quality camera that ensures clear video calls and allows you to showcase your work effectively during online presentations or client meetings.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is often overlooked, but it is essential for graphic designers who are going to be hosting or joining online meetings on a regular basis. Likewise, laptops with high-quality speakers deliver an immersive audio experience, which is ideal if you're the kind of graphic designer who works best with music or sounds in the background.

Touchscreen and Stylus Support

Touchscreen functionality and stylus support offer graphic designers greater flexibility and precision, particularly for drawing, sketching, or annotating designs directly on the screen. You're also offered a lot more creativity with these features and they can help to develop more of a natural workflow, so they're definitely worth considering as you look for that perfect laptop.

Keyboard and Touchpad

When it comes to the keyboard and touchpad, there are two main things a graphic designer should look for: comfort and accuracy. A comfortable keypad with well-spaced keys and sufficient key travel ensures that extended typing sessions remain organic and fatigue-free, while a responsive touchpad with precise tracking enhances navigation and efficiency with fine-tuning designs.

What Laptop is the Best for Graphic Design

The first thing to note here is that there isn't a set "best" laptop for graphic design, and the laptop that suits you best will be based on your needs, such as individual preferences and budget. However, there are several laptops that are consistently recommended by creative professionals for their performance, display quality, and reliability.

Here are some of the top contenders for best laptops for graphic design:

Apple MacBook Pro

The Apple Macbook Pro is a favourite laptop for many graphic designers for its sleek design, high-resolution Retina display, and robust performance. But that's not all! It also boasts powerful processors, ample RAM options, and dedicated graphics cards, making it well-suited for resource-intensive tasks, while the MacOS ecosystem and inclusion of professional-grade software like Adobe Creative Cloud further enhance its appeal.

Dell XPS 15

The Dell XPS 15 is renowned for its stunning InfinityEdge display, which offers colour accuracy and sharpness that is essential for graphic design work. You're also given various options over high-performance processors, dedicated graphics cards, and RAM, meaning you're guaranteed the horsepower needed to handle demanding design software with ease.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio stands out as a great laptop for graphic design with its versatile display that can be adjusted into various modes, including a "Studio Mode" for drawing and design work. Its vibrant PixelSense display also offers exceptional colour accuracy and supports touch and stylus input, while its compatibility with Surface Pen and Surface Dial means it can cater well to most graphic design needs.

HP Spectre x360

The HP Spectre x360 is another popular choice with graphic designers as it features a convertible design, stunning OLED display options, and robust performance capabilities. It's also equipped with high-end processors, dedicated graphics options, and generous RAM configurations that come together to handle graphics design tasks with minimal effort.

Best Budget Laptop for Graphic Design

For some people, budget constraints may limit your options, especially compared to higher-end laptops. However, this doesn't mean there aren't some great laptops for graphic design out there that still offer excellent performance without breaking the bank.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Series

The Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Series is a good budget laptop option that offers decent performance for graphic design work. With configurations available with mid-range processors like Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5, along with integrated graphics and upgradable RAM options, it can handle basic design tasks effectively, while the 15.6-inch display provides ample workspace. The only downside is that colour accuracy may not be as high as it is in more premium models.

Acer Aspire 5

The Acer Aspire is also equipped with mid-range processors, integrated graphics, and options for upgradable RAM, providing sufficient power for graphic design tasks for an affordable price. It also boasts slightly better colour reproduction than the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Series, making it a good choice if you're looking for a vibrant display at a lower cost.

Best Windows Laptop for Graphic Design

With their familiar operating systems and ability to install and power a plethora of design software essential for graphic design work, Windows laptops are often the most popular choice with graphic designers. There are several great models to choose from, too, including those we've detailed above (Dell XPS 15, Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, and HP Spectre x360).

However, if you're looking for something else, here are a couple of other great options.

Asus Zenbook Pro Duo

The Asus Zenbook Pro Duo features an innovative ScreenPad Plus secondary display, which provides an additional workspace for multitasking and creative workflow, along with a high-quality primary display with amazing colour accuracy and brightness levels, making it ideal for graphic design tasks. With powerful Intel Core processors, dedicated NVIDIA graphics options, and loads of RAM, it also delivers the performance needed for running design software, while the premium build quality gives peace of mind over durability.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a powerful laptop designed specifically for professional users, including graphic designers. It offers high-performance processors and dedicated graphics, along with a 4K display option that provides stunning visuals and unparalleled colour accuracy. You'll also find robust security features and a comfortable keypad that further solidifies this laptop's position as a top choice for graphic designers.

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