Best Laptops For Drawing 2020 | Digital Artists Guide

Ty Arthur Updated on May 5, 2020
Best laptops For Drawing Artist

Want to transition away from hand drawn to digital art, but don’t know what sort of hardware you really need to get the job done?

There’s no need to scour hundreds of Reddit posts or art blogs to find the perfect laptop. We already did that for you! After analyzing all the options available, we’ve picked the 5 absolute best laptops for artists in 2020.

Different art apps can have widely different minimum and recommended specs. Artists who primarily work in Photoshop, Illustrator, or Sketchbook will need something different than those who work with 3D creations in Maya.

All our contenders below will easily handle any 2D drawing application, and most can handle 3D designs as well.

Each our picks can also double as decent gaming rigs, since many of the hardware requirements are similar for art design and gaming.

In general, a 2-in-1 will always be the way to go, unless you specifically prefer creating your art with a mouse instead.

Ready to take a look at the best laptops for drawing in 2020? Let’s get started!

1. HP Spectre X360 15t – Best 2 in 1 laptop for drawing

HP Spectre x360 15t
  • 4k screen
  • Stylus included
  • Dedicated graphics card
  • Smaller storage capacity
  • No built-in card reader

Check Latest Price

Prefer to freehand draw on a touch screen with a stylus, but still want the power of a laptop over a tablet? The HP Spectre should easily be at the top of your list for a new computer!

If you want a hybrid 2-in-1 device, the Spectre offers a perfect combination of style and substance.

Many different versions of the Spectre are available, however. Make sure you pick a configuration that will work for digital artwork!

With this model, you get a cutting edge processor, more than enough memory to run any art applications, and a dedicated graphics card.

With a stunning 4k display, your art will really pop off the screen as well.

There are only two downsides to this configuration — smaller storage capacity, and lack of a built-in card reader.

The latter is a problem if you work with digital photographs, but it isn’t hard to hook up a USB card reader.

Willing to spend a bit more? You can bump this model up to a whopping 2TB of storage space and still keep the solid state drive!

Hardware specifications for HP Spectre x360 15t

Processor Intel Core i7-8550U (8 MB Cache, 1.8 – 4 GHz), RAM 16GB DDR4 RAM, Storage, 256GB SSD, Graphics Nvidia Geforce MX150 (2GB), Display 15.6-Inch 4K UHD Touch Screen Display, 3840 x 2160 Pixels Resolution, Operating System Windows 10 Home 64 Bit, Battery Life 8 hours, Weight 4.41 lbs

2. Lenovo Yoga Book – Best Budget Laptop For Artists

Lenovo Yoga Book
  • Hybrid hinge
  • Stylus included
  • Android rather than Windows
  • Small storage capacity

Check Latest Price

Want to stay well below $300 and still have a great device for drawing and graphic design? This is an awesome pick if you don’t mind switching from Windows to Android.

We’re going to take a slightly different approach than you may be expecting with our budget option.

The Yoga Book is a tablet that’s meant to replace your notebook. It acts more as a hybrid between a tablet and laptop, and is specifically designed for drawing on the Create Pad.

It may take some getting used to, but you can save a ton of money by going with Android over a Windows 10 machine.

Ditching Windows isn’t as big a sacrifice as you may think, either. Android is loaded with killer art and graphic design apps, from Adobe Illustrator to Medibang Paint.

Prefer to stick with the full size Windows 10 OS instead?

You aren’t going to find a budget option at this price range with a dedicated graphics card. You can get a full 16GB of RAM however by picking up a refurbished HP EliteBook for the same price.

Hardware specifications for Lenovo Yoga Book

Processor Intel Atom x5-Z8550, RAM 4GB DDR3 RAM, Storage 64GB SSD, Graphics Integrated graphics, Display 10.1-Inch FHD Display, 1920 x 1200 Pixels Resolution, Operating System, Android 6.0, Battery Life 12 hours, Weight 1.5 lbs

3. Dell Precision M5510 – Best Windows Option

DELL PRECISION M5510
  • Xeon Processor
  • Dedicated graphics card meant for rendering
  • No touch screen
  • Very high price

Check Latest Price

Need the absolute best, most cutting edge laptop around specifically aimed at design and drawing? If you’ve got the money to spend, you can’t get a better machine than the Dell Precision.

For the best PC laptops aimed specifically at artists and graphic designers, be on the lookout for anything labeled a Workstation.

These models typically feature graphics cards meant for 3D design tools rather than gaming. As a major plus, the Dell Precision uses a Xeon processor.

Why does that matter?

Besides its high end speed, the Xeon line is specifically meant for rendering in 2D and 3D. You won’t find better specs for art or design programs than with this Dell model.

The price is extremely high, however. If you want to knock $1,000 off the price tag, the same Precision model is available with half the RAM and a lower end i7 processor.

At this level of specs, you may not even notice much of a drop in performance by going with the lower end machine.

Hardware specifications for Dell Precision M5510

Processor Intel Xeon E3 1505M v5 (2.8GHz), RAM 32GB DDR4 RAM, Storage 512GB SSD, Graphics Nvidia Quadro M1000M (2GB), Display 15.6-Inch FHD IPS Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution, Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit, Battery Life 5 hours, Weight 5.0 lbs

4. Apple 15.4″ MacBook Pro – Best Apple MacBook For Artists

Apple 15.4 MacBook Pro
  • Excellent processor
  • Plenty of solid state drive storage space
  • No touch screen
  • Very high price

Check Latest Price

Do you use graphic design programs that just aren’t available in Windows? This should be your pick for the top Apple laptop for artists!

While programs like the Adobe suite have made their way onto both platforms, there are still design tools that you can only get on Mac OS.

If you prefer Apple to Microsoft, the 2018 MacBook Pro is the best bet for artists on the go. Between the high processor, 16GB of RAM, and Radeon graphics, you can run pretty much any image editing tool you need.

Two issues should be kept in mind here before making your purchase.

Although you get the cool Touch Bar feature that suggests buttons to use, this isn’t a touch screen model. That’s an odd oversight for the extremely high price.

The MacBook Pro also features three USB-C ports and no card reader. For most external devices, that means you’ll need to buy an adapter.

Hardware specifications for Apple 15.4″ MacBook Pro

Processor 8th-generation Intel Core i7 (6 Cores, Up to 4.3GHz), RAM 16GB DDR3 RAM, Storage 512GB SSD, Graphics Radeon Pro 560X, Display 15-Inch Retina Display, 2880 x 1800 Pixels Resolution, Operating System Mac OS, Battery Life 9.5 hours, Weight 4 lbs

5. Microsoft Surface Book 2 – Best Laptop For Digital Artists

Microsoft Surface Book 2
  • Very lightweight
  • Dedicated graphics card and great specs
  • High price
  • Pen not included

Check Latest Price

Want a full range of options on drawing with a stylus, using a keyboard, or hooking up to an external monitor? For digital artists who can afford it, the Surface Book 2 should be your top pick.

For digital artists, the Surface Book 2 is essentially the ultimate machine to look at right now.

For a hybrid touch screen device, it has very high end specs. You get the versatility of a tablet for freehand drawing, with the hardware of a cutting edge desktop.

Just remember you have to buy the stylus separate — it doesn’t come in the box! That issue aside, if you are a creative type in need of a killer laptop, look no further.

Don’t plan on doing any 3D art at all and just stick to 2D drawing? You can ditch the dedicated graphics card and save some money by going with the Surface Pro instead.

Hardware specifications for Microsoft Surface Book 2

Processor 8th generation Intel Quad Core i7 (Up to 4.2GHz), RAM 16GB DDR3 RAM, Storage 512GB SSD, Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB), Display 13.5-Inch Touch Screen Display, 3000 x 2000 Pixels Resolution, Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit, Battery Life 17 hours, Weight 3.62 lbs

6. Microsoft Surface 3

Microsoft Surface 3 7G6-00001 10.8 Inch 128 GB SSD...
  • Windows 8.1, 10.8 inches Display
  • Quad Core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor (2MB Cache, 1.6GHz with Intel Burst technology up to 2.4GHz)
  • 4 GB RAM Memory, 128 GB Flash Memory (93 GB Available)

With a snappy, satisfying keyboard and solid battery life, Microsoft’s 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 3 is an excellent ultraportable that gets the basics right.

People who need to type all day will appreciate the comfortable keyboard and touchpad, and the expanded range of color and material options will help pretty much everyone find a match.

7. Lenovo Yoga C940

2020 Lenovo - Yoga C940 2-in-1 14" 4K Ultra HD...
  • Processor: 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 (1.30GHz, up to 3.90GHz with Turbo Boost, 8MB Cache)
  • Display: 14.0" UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS, touchscreen, glossy, 500nits; Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • Memory: 16GB LPDDR4X 3733MHz; Hard Drive: 1TB SSD PCIe; Weigh only 2.98 lbs

The Lenovo Yoga C94 features a faster processor and graphics performance with improved display quality and excellent feature set for its price

However, the included pen is a little small for extended use. All ports are on one side, make it difficult to access for artist. 

8. Dell XPS 2 in 1 laptop

Latest Dell XPS 15 9575 2-in-1 15.6in FHD (1920 x...
  • 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8705G Processor (8M Cache, up to 4.1 GHz) | Windows 10 Home
  • 15.6in FHD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge Anti-Reflective Touch Display
  • Radeon RX Vega M GL Graphics with 4GB HMB2 Graphics Memory

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is an all-around improvement in design, features and performance, one of the best in the category. Unfortunately, Dell’s active pen is not included and the white model costs extra, too.

It’s an option worth considering if you have the cash

Picking The Best Laptops For Drawing Artist 2020

What Are The Minimum Specs I Should Accept For Laptop For Artist?

The answer to this question highly depends on what specific programs you intend to use, and whether you are interested in 2D art or 3D rendering.

As we mentioned above in our budget pick, a hybrid Android tablet / notebook can actually work well if you mostly freehand draw digital creations.

If you want a full Windows 10 computer however, don’t settle for any less than 16GB of RAM. Art programs tend to be very memory-intensive, so anything less than that will result in unacceptable lag.

If you are rendering 3D scenes, don’t forget the dedicated graphics card. In most cases, digital artists can get away with a 2GB video card.

What Other Features Do I Need To Look Out For In A Graphic Design Laptop?

Screen resolution should be an important priority for artists. In most cases, budget laptops with 1366 x 768 resolution displays just aren’t worth your time.

Those types of machines are meant for web browsing or typing up word documents, not creating art from scratch.

Keep a close eye on what ports are included, as well. You may want to hook up to an external display, so an HDMI port is critical.

For those who work with digital photography, make sure you’ve either got a built-in card reader or be ready to buy an external card reader.

Using Technology To Create Amazing Art

What sort of digital creations are you planning on making with your new laptop? We’d love to see what you come up with if you picked any of our top contenders for the best artist laptop in 2020!

Ty Arthur
Article by:
After more than a decade of searching for the perfect gaming rig, Ty knows a thing or two about picking the right hardware. He'd like to share that knowledge with all of you through his work at NetbookNews.com, whether you need a business machine, college laptop, or killer gaming computer.

9 thoughts on “Best Laptops For Drawing 2020 | Digital Artists Guide”

  1. What’s up, I log on to your new stuff on a regular basis.
    Your writing style is awesome, keep up the good work!

    Reply
  2. I am looking for a laptop primarily for rendering videos. Portability is not an issue since I won’t be moving it much. Do you suggest I go for a laptop or look for a desktop within the same budget?

    Reply
    • Hi Louiser,

      Desktop option would be cheaper & upgradable in most case. However, obviously, you will not be able to move it around at all. If you are sure about this then desktop is not a bad option.

      Reply
    • Except for the LG Gram 17 which does not have touchscreen and ink support, every other laptop on this roundup supports on-screen drawing.

      Reply
    • This is an important point. Pen support and touch screen are one point. The other is pen pressure and latency and which pen technology is used. Even a powerful laptop can create heavy jitter on straight lines, if the pen support isn’t meant for drawing intuitively and precisely.

      Reply
    • Hi, I currently have a 2018 iPad Pro and Apple Pen. I am an artist and have been using Art rage on my iPad to draw portraits. I am wanting to buy a laptop so that I can draw straight onto it, which would be easier to print off. I am not sure which laptop would be more suitable to buy. It gets very confusing. I am looking for something 16GB with 512 RAM. Could you please recommend a drawing laptop in the medium price range with an excellent stylus.

      Reply

Leave a Comment