Last Updated on
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 available in 2018.
Whether you prefer Mac, Windows, 2-in-1, or just need a cheap budget option, we’ve got you covered.
Picking The Best Laptop For An Artist To Use
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 five 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 graphic design and free hand drawing in 2018? Let’s get started!
In A Hurry? Here’s The Winner From Hours Of Research
Dell Precision M5510
Why is it better?
In 2018, the single best laptop computer for artists is easily the Dell Precision M5510. Everything about this machine is built specifically for high end 2D or 3D art applications.
It is an astonishingly expensive machine however, and doesn’t have a touch display. If you prefer a smaller hybrid model at half the price, we recommend going with the HP Spectre instead.
The Lineup At A Glance
In Depth Review
The Contenders For Best Digital Artist Laptop
1. HP Spectre X360 15t – Best 2 In 1 Laptop For Drawing Artists
- 4k screen
- Stylus included
- Dedicated graphics card
- Smaller storage capacity
- No built-in card reader
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|
|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|
2. Lenovo Yoga Book – Best Budget Laptop For Artists
- Hybrid hinge
- Stylus included Pros
- Android rather than Windows
- Small storage capacity
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|
|Display||10.1-Inch FHD Display, 1920 x 1200 Pixels Resolution|
|Operating System||Android 6.0|
|Battery Life||12 hours|
3. Dell Precision M5510 – Best Pc Laptop For Artists
- Xeon Processor
- Dedicated graphics card meant for rendering
- No touch screen
- Very high 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.
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|
|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|
4. Apple 15.4″ MacBook Pro – Best Apple MacBook For Artists
- Excellent processor
- Plenty of solid state drive storage space Pros #1
- No touch screen
- Very high 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|
|Graphics||Radeon Pro 560X|
|Display||15-Inch Retina Display, 2880 x 1800 Pixels Resolution|
|Operating System||Mac OS|
|Battery Life||9.5 hours|
5. Microsoft Surface Book 2 – Best Laptop For Digital Artists
- Very lightweight
- Dedicated graphics card and great specs
- High price
- Pen not included
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|
|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|
What Are The Minimum Specs I Should Accept For An Art Laptop?
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 Computer?
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 5 contenders for the best artist laptop in 2018!
Still Can’t Find What You Are Looking For?
A: Check out these awesome resources:
- How Often Should You Replace Your Laptop? (And Signs That You Need A New One)
- How To Buy A Laptop With Confidence? (A Laptop Buying Guide)
- What To Look For When Buying A Gaming Laptop? (A Trusted Buying Guide)
- Cheapest Laptops To Run Every Major Game (Including Fortnite, Fallout..)
Or Let us know on the comment section below/send us a message here.