Are you looking for the best laptop for graphic design and photography and don’t know which one to choose? A graphic designer needs a computer that adapts to programs like Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, and more.
Also, almost every business requires the services of a graphic designer, regardless of the industry.
People around the world are learning how to be a designer to fit this need into record numbers. If they are not yet professional, graphic design students and freelance graphic designers enter this market.
Most designers will tell you it’s a fantastic job – if ‘work’ is the right word, and real money has been made and then thrown away again at the new piece of equipment you need to master the latest techniques.
Brands are willing to pay significant sums in exchange for a unique logo design or marketing material. If the brand is attractive, there is a higher chance of increasing sales.
But like other industries, specific tools and hardware are required to do the job. A graphic designer should have a good laptop that can support the intensive software used in the design.
Since most design software is loaded with features, they are undoubtedly heavier than other apps.
Obviously, the laptop’s graphics card must be good enough to support high-quality designs, such as multi-layered, 500MB + PSDs.
This doesn’t mean you have to be rich to become a graphic designer. There are a variety of graphic design laptops, new or used, that you can buy at relatively affordable prices.
However, you need to be careful about which design laptop you’re going to work with and see if it can handle all the features you think you need.
Amazon, for example, is a great place to look for laptops for graphic design students and professionals alike, as it is a reliable source.
The best laptop for graphic design and photography
Apple Macbook Pro 16 – Our choice and best high end.
After several hours of research, and the in-depth examination of fifteen models, we have determined that the Apple Macbook Pro 16 is the best laptop for graphic designers at the moment.
Indeed, with its components worthy of a gaming PC, it is capable of running any video editing program, all with precise image rendering. As a bonus, it is light, enduring, and of good quality.
Taking up the excellent Touchbar and the classic design of Macbooks, this new model improves the many advantages of its predecessor but does not however manage to overcome its drawbacks. Thus, the battery is revised upwards and practicality is still there, but the absence of faceID and the lack of diversity in connectivity are still felt.
In terms of performance, we are entitled to a 2.6 GHz Core i7-9750H, a Radeon Pro 5300M graphics card, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB SSD. It is therefore capable of running the most demanding software. Note that an even better version is available and that certain options can be added, but only via the Apple website.
On the keyboard side, it takes the Magic Keyboard (an adapted version of the iMac model) and corrects its main ergonomic defect. Touchpad’s side is sufficiently extensive, intuitive, and very efficient. The Touch Bar is still there.
It takes up the foundations of its ancestors while modernizing the whole, finally offering refined screen borders. The Retina 3072 x 1920 panel is fitted with TrueTone technology. It is adorned with a diagonal of 16 ”, which allows a more interesting working comfort.
With its excellent contrasts (1310: 1) and it’s very high brightness, it only admits a few reflections despite its brilliant finish. The colorimetry, among the most faithful (delta E of 1.1), makes it the ideal model for precise retouching tasks. The black point rather comes from the afterglow (30ms) which can create confused streaks during rapid movements on the screen.
Connectivity side, it includes four USB-C ports and a 3.5 mm jack and … That’s it. Therefore, purchasing adapters will be essential.
This Macbook is, like the previous versions, a champion of mobility. With a weight of 2 kg and a record autonomy of around 15 hours (!), It holds without problem throughout your working day. Despite its larger screen, it offers, in addition, a space barely higher than the old variant (in 15 ”).
In summary, it is obviously an excellent laptop: qualitative, enduring, light, and efficient, it is entirely intended for those looking for a computer for visual editing.
2. Acer Swift 5 SF514-54 – Best Cheap Graphic Designer Laptop
The new Swift 5 incorporates very good components that allow it to take advantage of welcome power for your various tasks. As a bonus, it benefits from a fairly qualitative and well-calibrated screen to the benefit of display fidelity. Unfortunately, the brand has not integrated a GPU, which limits its graphics power and makes it a little usable for 3D, for example.
Indeed, in terms of its components, without being the most powerful, it is already not badly equipped: Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor with 4 cores, 8 GB of RAM, Intel Graphics Plus Iris graphics card, and 512 GB of SSD ( NVMe). This obviously makes it unusable with 3D but will be suitable for software-based mainly on the processor.
What really sets it apart from its immediate competition is the quality of its display, ideal for retouching images.
It is a model with a 14 ”Full HD touch screen with impeccable colorimetry. The colors are faithful (delta E of 2.6), sufficiently warm, and the contrasts allow a great level of detail. As a bonus, it covers most of the sRGB (99%) and 77% of the Adobe RGB. The only criticism that could be made at this level is its maximum brightness located in the low average.
Its design is fairly standard, but it has the merit of being thin (1.4 cm), light (990 g), while offering, in standard use, a pleasant autonomy of 11 hours. It also benefits from the fast charge which allows it to recover 4:30 hours of autonomy in half an hour.
Despite its finesse, it does not overlook basic connectivity, since it incorporates two USB ports (a 2.0 and a 3.0), a USB-C port (Thunderbolt 3), an HDMI port, and a jack 3, 5 mm. An SD reader would nevertheless have been welcome, especially if you are working on photo editing. It is also Wi-Fi 6 compatible.
In the end, it is a PC that we recommend for any task based on the power of the CPU, but it is especially at the level of the display quality that the charm will work with them.
3. Acer ConceptD 3 – The best mid-range graphic designer laptop
With its ConceptDs, Acer intends to use its expertise in the world of gaming laptops to develop a specific range dedicated to creative people. The ConceptD 3 is the entry point. The only criticisms that we can formulate are at the level of the portable aspect which suffers from the debauchery of power with for consequence a more imposing size and limited autonomy.
The configuration is therefore quite muscular with an Intel Core i7-9750H, 16 GB of RAM, and an Nvidia Quadro T1000, more efficient than a GTX 1650 on professional applications. This set allows its many tasks, greedy both in raw power (processor) and graphics. The only defect at this level is rather at the level of heat management with a ventilation source of noise pollution.
The screen is not to be outdone with a Pantone certified 16.5 ”IPS FHD panel. Consequently, the color fidelity is at the rendezvous with a delta E of 1.5. The contrast of 1423: 1 is another very good surprise, especially for IPS. Color spaces are well covered with 99.4% of sRGB, 97% of DCI-P3, and 84% of Adobe RGB.
The ergonomics can be improved with a plastic touchpad which requires some optimizations via the parameters to be pleasant to use and a backlit keyboard too cramped because of a Numpad not very relevant for the intended use. On the other hand, the keys themselves are very reactive even if they remain light.
Portability is another defect due to a larger chassis, a weight of 2.35 kg, and limited autonomy (about 6 hours). On the other hand, the ConceptD series benefits from a specific treatment on its shell which allows it to be resistant to stains and splashes. As a bonus, the chassis benefits from the micro-arc process, improving the hardness and resistance to corrosion and oxidation of metal surfaces.
The connection takes advantage of this thicker format with a USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, a USB-C, an HDMI, and an ethernet port. Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth are also part of the game.
In summary, if you are looking for a high-performance laptop and you do not plan to spend your day on the road, then the ConceptD 3 is the best solution.
4. Dell XPS 15-7590 – A mid-range alternative
High performance combined with high autonomy and a premium chassis makes it one of the mid-range benchmarks. In addition, it is available in various versions (including an OLED ), which allows you to adapt it to your needs. We only regret its slightly aging design but, given its capabilities, it is really only secondary. It tilts in front of the Acer because of its inferior performance, but it remains an excellent solution.
The model chosen is, in our eyes, the best compromise. It contains a Core i7-9750H and an Nvidia GTX1650. The RAM of 16 GB of RAM and an SSD of 512 GB is more than enough. These components make it a good workstation and even give it the possibility of gaming.
Available in OLED or IPS, its 15 ”screen is of exceptional quality. It offers UHD (on more expensive models) or FHD resolution which gives you a sharp image. The calibration gives you an almost perfect quality: the colorimetry can be improved.
The OLED version adds two advantages: higher brightness and an infinite contrast ratio (specific to this technology). The version chosen here is fitted with an IPS FHD panel.
The weight is correct (2 kg) and the template remains compact thanks to the very thin screen borders. These characteristics combined with a high autonomy of 8 to 9 hours guarantee it very good mobility.
The singularity of this PC is that it exists in 12 different versions (half of which have a touch screen). So you can choose the one that suits your needs and your budget.
Connectivity side, you will find two USB-A 3.1 ports, a USB-C port, an HDMI, and a 3.5mm jack. For photographers, an SD port is required.
Dell is actively interested in ecology, an important topic today. The XPS 15 is an eco-responsible PC: recyclable up to 90% of its weight and its packaging is made of recycled plastic.
In the end, you choose the versatility of the XPS 15 or the professional orientation of the ConceptD 3.
5. Acer conceptD 7 – High-end alternative
The ConceptD7 rules out all its adversaries in the field of graphic power. Its supremacy in the field is reinforced by its screen which covers 100% of the Adobe RGB space. However, at the same time, it sacrifices access to the Intel Core i9, the current powerhouse. Therefore, the choice between Macbook Pro and ConceptD 7 is essentially based on the use you are targeting: computing power or graphics power?
To manage your various tasks, it uses the excellent Intel Core i7-9750H coupled here with 32 GB of RAM and an RTX 2060 Max-Q. This combo allows its very high performance which places it at the level of gaming laptops. The GPU is also very well exploited thanks to the participation of Nvidia in the design of the device in order to impose the RTX range on designer laptops. Unlike ConceptD 3, the heating is very well managed here.
Storage is still ensured by an NVMe SSD with an inflated capacity of 1 TB.
The screen is chosen by Acer still consists of a Pantone certified 15.6 ”IPS panel. The resolution reaches 4K this time for exceptional precision. However, it may be necessary to adapt the size of the elements on the screen in order to benefit from better user comfort. In terms of other features, nothing to complain about with a very correct maximum brightness and a contrast of 1400: 1, excellent for IPS.
The colorimetry is just as good with a delta E of 1.9 and exceptional coverage of the color spaces (100% of sRGB and Adobe RGB).
The ergonomics are better than on its little brother with a backlit keyboard whose keys are reactive although not very deep and the touchpad much more pleasant with a good feeling of gliding which does not alter its precision in any way.
Its size has also been improved with an average size and a weight limited to 2.1 kg. The specific coating and the micro-arc process were used again to guarantee excellent durability. The autonomy here amounts to a maximum of around 8 hours.
Its format does not prevent you from enjoying a well-supplied connection (unlike the Macbook) with a USB-C port (Thunderbolt 3), HDMI, an Ethernet port, a Mini DisplayPort 1.4 and 3 USB 3.1. Unfortunately, we only find here Wi-Fi 5, accompanied by Bluetooth 5.0.
Buyers Guide – best laptop for graphic design and photography
If you are a student or graphic design professional, you need a computer that can support your creative work optimally, quickly, and efficiently.
The main difficulty will be to find a portable PC bringing the right balance between components adapted to your needs (they will not be the same for 2D or 3D work, for example) and a material quality allowing you to work with confidence.
Here are the criteria to which you must be particularly attentive before purchasing a laptop dedicated to graphics:
- The Processor (CPU): depending on your needs, it can be one of the most important components of your computer. So, for someone using Photoshop, only a 2 GHz processor is required. But if you are working with 3D software, a Core i7 HQ processor or higher is highly recommended, with a minimum of 2.5 GHz. Similarly, it is necessary, in this case, to prefer a quad-core processor (or more) to a dual-core processor, quickly limited to manage 3D applications.
- RAM: this is the storage space in which the files are loaded when you work on them. The larger this RAM, the better it processes information. Currently, it is very unusual to find a computer with less than 4 GB of RAM. However, for graphics work, a minimum of 8 GB is required, and even 16 GB for modeling and 3D rendering work.
- The graphics card (GPU): it will be requested differently depending on your uses. More and more manufacturers also offer a graphics card with a dedicated RAM: it does not share its RAM with the rest of the components. This is optimal for running the most demanding 3D games and programs.
- The hard drive: SSD hard drives are faster than HDDs, and are slowly becoming the standard for most laptops and desktop computers. A good compromise, in terms of laptop dedicated to graphics, is to opt for a model comprising an HDD and an SSD. An SSD is in any case highly recommended for all 3D work.
- Screen size: the ideal size depends of course on your needs. If you are working with a secondary screen, a 13 ”screen may be more than enough. On the other hand, if you have to show the results of your work to clients on your own PC, a 15 ”screen and see 17” can be useful (but it is portability that takes a hit). It is generally the 15 ”that are the most invested by the manufacturers interested in the graphic vocation.
- The display quality: it depends first of all on the resolution. In graphics, a Full HD display is recommended (some manufacturers are starting to invest in 4K, but this is superfluous unless you work in video editing). It then depends on the precision of the colors: these must be as faithful as possible (with a Delta E – the measurement of the difference between a color and its rendering – less than 3) and the gamut (the set of colors that the ‘screen reproduced) sufficiently wide.
- The tactile: it seems gradual to gain its letters of nobility with the graphic designers because it makes it possible to work only on one support, rather than to work on a dedicated graphic tablet connected itself to a computer. However, this feature is far from winning all the votes, on the one hand in that this touch is often less precise than on a graphics tablet, and in that it drains the duration of the battery.
- Autonomy: if this may seem more trivial, it is an essential point to address if you have to use your computer as a support for a professional presentation, for example. However, do not trust the autonomy announced by the manufacturer, often optimistic, and in any case calculated in “standard” conditions (office automation, surfing, etc.). Some graphics programs are very heavy and drain your battery.
There are not many computers specifically known for graphics work on the market. Initial research, therefore, enabled us to quickly isolate fifteen models deserving of in-depth analysis, due to their popularity with users and their reliability.
By examining each of the criteria mentioned above thanks to tests by experts in the field, we were able to isolate a dozen, which we then decided by examining the feedback from Internet users, collected both on the French and English speaking sides.
The 5 laptops are, therefore, in our opinion, the best option for graphic designers. Note that each one is presented to you in its most popular version with professionals in the field, but that they are generally available in several variants in terms of their components (and sometimes even their screen size). I hope this best laptop for graphic design and photography helps you out! Now start making your decisions.