Buyer's Guide to the Best Laptop for Graphic Design
Last Updated: July 26, 2017
In order to be an excellent graphic designer, there are certain tools and programs which you need on your side. Perhaps the most important tool for a graphic designer to have at his or her disposal is a laptop. But not all laptops are created equally. Some laptops accommodate the many expansive software of graphic design better than others.
There are so many different laptop on the market today, that it can be difficult to find one that’s right for your specific purposes. This guide is designed to show you exactly what to look for when searching for a graphic design laptop. It will also contains a compilation and reviews of the 5 best laptops for graphic design on the market today.
At a Glance: Our Top 5 Graphic Design Laptop Picks
What Type of Hardware Does a Graphic Design Laptop Have?
Each laptop possesses certain different components called hardware. Each different piece of hardware serves a different purpose in the overall operation of the laptop. The three primary components of a good laptop are the CPU, RAM, and the graphics card.
The best laptop for graphic design will have the CPU, RAM, and a graphics card which allow for maximum design software functionality.
There is nothing more important in any computer than the CPU, or central processing unit. A computer’s processor is the hardware which has the biggest influence over the speed of the computer.
There are CPUs that operate at all performance levels; some of which are great for graphic design purposes, and others of which are only designed for basic functions such as surfing the web. It should come as no surprise that faster processors are more expensive.
The most popular graphic design software put quite a bit of stress on the processor. So, it stands to reason that a good laptop for graphic design would possess a superb processor.
Typically, any processor that runs at 1 Ghz or faster is powerful enough to handle graphic design software. Of course, ideally, you would buy a laptop with the absolute fastest processor you can find. There really isn’t such thing as too much processing speed.
If you’re just into basic graphic design, you can opt for a processor that runs at around 1 Ghz. However, if you use a bevy of graphic design software at once, a 2 or 3 Ghz laptop is more appropriate for you.
RAM, or random access memory, is also a necessary component of each and every laptop. This form of memory is a sort of short term memory which serves to operate different programs and software. It’s different than storage memory, which serves to save your programs and software in the long run.
Again, just like with the CPU, the more RAM you have, the faster and more smoothly your programs will operate. So, if you’re looking for a great graphic design laptop, you need to find a laptop with a sufficient amount of RAM.
At the very least, graphic designers should be purchasing laptops with a minimum of 8Gb of RAM. Anything lower is going to struggle to handle any graphic design software you may want to use. Of course, as with the processor, you should find a laptop with as much RAM as possible. It will be more expensive, but will be worth it in the long run.
Graphic designers who are hoping to run several programs at once need at least 16Gb of RAM, and preferably 32Gb of RAM. If you can get a computer with this much RAM, your software will move at lightning speed.
A good graphic designer is seasoned in the nuance and detail of design. In order to work with nuance and detail on a laptop, it needs to have a top-notch graphics card. While the CPU may be the heart of the computer, the graphics card is the personality and character of the computer.
There are graphics cards of all functionality levels on the market today. For graphic design purposes, you can make due with a graphics card with 8Gb of memory. However, it’s recommended that you find a graphics card with as much memory as possible.
The fastest graphics cards around typically possess around 11Gb of memory. If you’ve got the money, by all means, purchase a graphics card of this caliber. But if you don’t have the money, you’ll have no problem working to the best of your abilities with an 8Gb graphics card.
The best graphics cards on the market today are made by companies such as Intel, AMD, and Nvidia. In most cases, the laptops you’re looking at will possess either AMD or Nvidia graphics cards. If the graphics card is made by any one of these three companies, it’s legit.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Graphic Design Laptop
Apart from the three primary components (CPU, RAM, and graphics card), there are a few things which you must consider when purchasing the best laptop for graphic design for you. Each of these things makes a big difference in the overall performance and functionality of the laptop. They include ease of use, durability, size, battery life, picture quality, and touchpad quality.
Ease of Use
As with any piece of technology you purchase, you need to consider your potential laptop’s overall ease of use. There are a number of different things which constitute its overall ease of use, from the placement of its keys, to its operating system, to a variety of other things.
You are going to be spending a lot of time with this computer. The last thing you want is for it to be difficult to operate. If possible, it’s recommended that you test your desired laptop out before making a final purchase. That way, you’ll suffer no buyer’s remorse.
When you think about it, computers are pretty amazing. However, despite the fact that computers can run complex programs and connect with people 4,000 miles away, they can’t seem to withstand much wear and tear. For this reason, it’s important that you find a laptop that’s as durable as possible.
You carry your laptop around with you everywhere. It only stands to reason that it’s going to suffer some dings and collisions. Make sure to read some online user reviews in order to get an idea as to a laptop’s overall durability and toughness.
One of the things you must strongly consider when purchasing a graphic design laptop is its size. You want your screen to be large enough so that you can see all of your work easily, but you also want your computer to be small enough so that it’s fairly simple to store and carry around.
The best laptops for graphic design typically have screens of around 15 or 17 inches. This is a decent balance of size which makes it large enough to clearly display your work, while not being too bulky to carry.
Something that often gets overlooked when people choose a laptop is its overall battery life. You’re likely not always going to be in a situation where an electrical outlet is nearby. You want to be sure that your computer is capable of running for a reasonably long time on its battery alone.
Your best hope for battery life with a graphic design laptop is about 3 hours. Of course, the majority of laptops which are running complex design software will last only around 2 hours without charging.
Just like when choosing a laptop for photo editing, picture quality is a big thing to be aware of. Different computers possess different displays. As a graphic designer, you need a computer with fairly excellent screen resolution. As with most features you get with laptops, in order to get high resolutions, you need to spend a little more money.
There are laptops of all resolutions, from 1366 x 768, to 1600 x 900, to 1920 x 1080, and more. At the very least, the laptop you purchase should possess a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080. Certain laptops, like the Macbook Pro, possess resolutions of 2880 x 1800.
There are few things more annoying than using a laptop with a faulty touchpad. A faulty touchpad destroys your ability to perform functions quickly, disturbing your progress, and ultimately negatively affecting your work.
The vast majority of laptops today possess touchpads which are of very high quality. Unless you only spend $200.00 on a laptop, you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Of course, to be safe, you should read online user reviews in order to get an idea as to how effective a specific touchpad is. That . . . or buy a mouse.
Our Top 5 Choices for the Best Laptops for Graphic Designers
1. Apple MacBook Pro MLH42LL/A 15" Laptop
- Thin, Lightweight, Easy to Carry
- Very Fast 2.7 Ghz Processor
- Excellent 2880 x 1800 Screen Resolution
- 16GB of RAM
- 10 Hour Battery Life
- Bit Expensive
- Few Durability Concerns
For many graphic designers, the Apple Macbook Pro is the laptop of all laptops. Designers love it for its ability to handle graphic design software, and also for how smooth and consistent its processor is. Knowing this, it’s no surprise that the Macbook Pro is on our list of best graphic design laptops.
Possessing a 15-inch screen, this laptop is big enough to display programs interfaces of all kinds, but small enough to store and carry around with ease. A very thin laptop, it weighs in at a scant 4 pounds. You won’t find too many laptops that are as portable as the Macbook Pro.
It comes equipped with 16Gb of RAM, and with an Intel Core i7 processor that moves at speeds of 2.7 Ghz. This makes it easily fast enough to handle a number of different design programs at the same time. It also comes equipped with a ridiculous 512Gb of storage space.
As far as graphics go, this computer is at the top of the line. Featuring Intel Iris graphics, it displays detailed, nuanced, and sharp picture which seems to jump right off the screen. At its max, it possesses a spectacular 2880 x 1800 resolution.
Though it’s definitely on the expensive side, the Apple Macbook Pro offers functionality and performance that’s well worth its price. If you’re looking for the absolute best graphic design computer around, you can’t go wrong with the Macbook Pro.
2. Acer Predator 17 Gaming Laptop
- Huge 1,000GB Hard Drive
- Excellent 1920 x 1080 Resolution
- Fast 2.7Ghz Processor
- 16GB of RAM
- Equipped with Windows 10
- A Little Bulky and Big
- Mediocre Battery Life
Acer is responsible for some of the best laptops on the market today. In particular, the company makes terrific gaming laptops. Because of their excellent graphic capabilities, gaming laptops are excellent for graphic design. So, what’s Acer’s best graphic design computer on the market today? The answer is the Acer Predator 17 Gaming Laptop.
Equipped with a huge 17-inch screen, this laptop can easily and clearly fit any graphic design program you choose to use. Of course, because its screen is so large, it’s a little on the bulky side. A little on the thicker side, and weighing in at 9.26 pounds, it’s not the easiest laptop to transport and carry.
It sports a ridiculously huge 1,000Gb hard drive, ensuring that you have more than enough storage space. Like the Macbook Pro, it possesses 16Gb of RAM with an Intel Core i7 processor that moves at speeds of up to 2.7 Ghz. With a Windows 10 operating system, it’s exceedingly easy to operate and use.
As far as graphics and picture go, it’s not quite on par with the Macbook Pro. However, it possesses a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, giving it a picture which is still very detailed and nuanced.
Available for about half the price of the Macbook Pro, the Acer Predator 17 Gaming Laptop is a great computer for those who need high-end functionality at a more reasonable price. Users love this laptop for its overall functionality as well as the responsiveness of its touchpad.
3. MSI GL62M 7RD-056 Laptop
- Very Fast 3.8 GHz Intel i7 Processor
- NVIDIA GTX Graphics Card
- Lightweight & Easy to Carry
- Comes with 16 GB of RAM
- Screen Susceptible to Glare
- Mediocre Battery Life
MSI is known for making excellent gaming laptops. One of their best gaming laptops is the MSI GL62M 7RD-056. While it’s terrific for gaming, it’s also very well-equipped for graphic design work. Many graphic designers use it without any complaints or major grievances.
This computer possesses an Intel Core i7 processor which moves at speeds of up to 3.8 GHz, allowing it to accommodate tons of design programs at the same time. Equipped with a Windows 10 operating system, this laptop is extremely user-friendly. Like the Macbook Pro and Acer Predator 17, this laptop sports 16Gb of RAM.
Measuring in with a 15.6-inch screen, it’s fairly easy to store and carry around. It’s a little thicker than the Macbook Pro, but will still fit easily into most bags and carrying cases. The plus side is that it’s very light, weighing in at just 5.29 pounds.
Graphically-speaking, this laptop is very sharp. Coming equipped with a NVIDIA GTX 1050 2G GDDR5, it displays detailed and nuanced picture at all times. It possesses a fairly standard screen resolution of 1920 x 1080.
While this computer is a little expensive, it’s not nearly as expensive as either the Acer Predator 17 or Macbook Pro. Users love it for the excellent value it provides at its price point. They note that it loads smoothly, consistently, and with little disturbance, allowing them to get work done in a calm and relaxing manner.
4. Lenovo Z70 17.3" Laptop
- 2.2 GHz Intel i7 Processor
- 16GB of RAM
- 17.3" Screen
- Reasonably Priced
- Big and Bulky
- Touchpad Very Sensitive
If you’re looking for a high-quality graphic design laptop at a reasonable price, you might very well be interested in the Lenovo Z70. While it’s not quite on par with the Macbook Pro or Acer Predator 17, it still offers superb value for its price.
Equipped with a huge 17.3-inch screen, it possess far more than enough space to display any graphic design software you may need. Of course, because it’s so big, it’s a little more difficult to store and carry. However, weighing in at just 6.6 pounds, it shouldn’t put too much strain on you.
It sports an Intel Core i7 processor which can move at speeds of up to 2.2 Ghz. While this isn’t as fast as the previous three laptops on our list, it’s still plenty fast enough to run several design programs simultaneously. To help programs run smoothly, it possesses 16GB of RAM.
Possessing a NVIDIA GeForce graphics coprocessor, this computer provides a nuanced and detailed display. Its screen has a max resolution of 1920 x 1080. While this isn’t as high as you’ll find in the Macbook Pro, it’s still more than high enough for all graphic design purposes.
Overall, for its price, this is a very solid laptop for graphic design. Users love how fast and responsive it is, noting that it can easily run several programs at once. The one common complaint about this laptop is that its touchpad is very touchy, zooming in at inopportune times.
5. Asus ROG Strix GL702VM-DB71
- NVIDIA GeForce Graphics Card
- 2.6GHz Intel Core i7 Processor
- 16GB of RAM
- Comfortable Keyboard
- Little on the Large Size
- Fairly Short Battery Life
- Tendency to Get Hot
The last laptop we’ll review is the Asus ROG Strix. A high-end laptop with a mid-level price, it has everything a graphic designer needs to accomplish his or her many tasks.
This laptop comes equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor which runs at speeds of 2.6 Ghz, allowing it to run graphic design programs smoothly and consistently. Like with all of the other laptops on our list, this laptop possesses 16Gb of RAM.
Available with screens of both 15 inches and 17 inches, this computer possesses more than enough room to display various design programs. Weighing in at around 6 pounds, it’s fairly lightweight and easy to carry around from place to place.
This computer is stocked with a NVIDIA GeForce graphics coprocessor which delivers detailed and nuanced picture at all times. Like the majority of the laptops on our list, it possesses a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080.
All in all, the Asus Rog Strix is a very solid laptop for graphic design. Users laud it for its excellent picture as well as for its comfortable keyboard. A common complaint about this laptop is that it’s battery does not last all that long.
In order to do excellent work, graphic designers need the absolute best of tools and equipment. Perhaps the most important thing for a graphic designer to have at his or her disposal is a laptop. A quality laptop will accommodate graphic design programs of all kinds, allowing designers to finish work in a quick and convenient manner.
The best laptop for graphic designers on the market today is the Apple Macbook Pro. Possessing a lightning-quick CPU, tons of RAM, and a top-notch picture, this laptop has everything necessary to allow graphic designers to thrive. If you’re a graphic designer who wants to do top-tier work, this is the laptop for you.