May 23, 2019
Designers need powerful and portable laptops with long battery lives to run programs such as Photoshop or Adobe Premiere Pro while running between pitching meetings or working on-the-go. We pick out the best laptops for designers, plus explain the specs and budget you’ll need to consider.
Above all, buying a laptop for design work isn't cheap. If you're going to break the $1,000 mark (or even the $2,000 one) it's essential to know you're buying a laptop that won't let you down. Our best laptops for designers combine powerful specs with attractive looks and thin, portable frames.
The Best Laptops for Graphic Designers 2019
If you're after a slim, powerful laptop that can handle any design task, the models below won't let you down:
- Apple MacBook Pro 15 – Still the best laptop a designer can choose
- Microsoft Surface Book 2 – Microsoft's attempt to best the MacBook Pro, comes very close
- Apple MacBook Pro 13 – A cheaper option for MacBook fans
- Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 – A return to form for Dell: Powerful, compact and good-looking
- Samsung Notebook 9 Pen – Feature-packed, but lacking storage
- Lenovo Yoga 920 – Extremely portable with a unique design makes it a good outside bet
- HP Spectre x360 15 – A great choice, but fails to really knock our socks off compared to the best models
Scroll on mobile for full table
|Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch||Microsoft Surface Book 2||Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch||Dell XPS 2-in-1||Samsung Notebook 9 Pen||Lenovo Yoga 920||HP Spectre X360 15|
|Verdict||The ultimate designer laptop, offering plenty of power and a gorgeous screen. It’s a popular choice for good reason||Portable, and with a sketchable touchscreen, although Surface Pen costs extra. A great option for Microsoft fans||The smart choice for designers on a budget, this Pro ditches the fancy Touch Bar but is still a solid choice.||Excellent 15 hour battery life makes it a great companion, if a little pricey||Compact, but with a handy stylus, multiple ports and an outdoor mode that increases screen brightness.||With its folding screen and three pound weight, not to mention the 15 hour battery life, the Yoga 920 is great for travelling designers||The 1TB hard drive offers loads of storage, and the solid state drive means snappy start up times. It’s chunky, but offers lots of ports and features.|
|Processor||9th gen Intel i7/i9||8th gen Intel i7||7th gen Intel i5||8th gen Intel i7||8th gen Intel i7||8th gen Intel i7||8th gen Intel i7|
|Ram||16GB||16GB||8GB||8GB||8GB||8GB or 16GB||16GB|
|Storage||From 256GB SSD||From 128GB||From 128GB||From 128GB||256GB||From 512GB SSD||1TB HDD & 128GB SSD|
|Buy||Buy Apple MacBook Pro 15||Buy Microsoft Surface Book 2||Buy Apple MacBook Pro 13||Buy Dell XPS 2-in-1||Buy Samsung Notebook 9||Buy Lenovo Yoga 920||Buy HP Spectre X360|
In this guide, we'll also cover some common questions graphic designers have when it comes to buying a laptop:
13-inch MacBook 2.3GHz (no Touch Bar)
- 7th gen i5 processor
- 8GB Ram
- 128GB SSD storage
The entry-level MacBook Pro, perfect for budding designers that want the power and style of a MacBook, but not the expense of one of the Touch Bar models. It may have an older processor, but it will still serve all but the most demanding of designers.
- Lowest-cost MacBook Pro model
- Plenty of power for most designers
- High quality Retina screen
- Who needs a Touch Bar, anyway?
- Smaller 13-inch screen may be limiting for some
13-inch MacBook w/Touch Bar 2.3GHz
- 8th gen i5 processor
- 8GB Ram
- 256GB SSD storage
The ‘cheapest' MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar. The 8th gen processor and extra storage give it a considerable boost over the entry-level model above. It's a good choice for those who need power and have the budget to spare.
- Fantastic Retina screen
- High power processor for demanding work
- Touch Bar gives neat added functions
- Hard to justify the price jump for a Touch Bar alone
- Smaller screen than 15-inch model, below
15-inch MacBook w/Touch Bar 2.3GHz
- 9th gen i9 processor
- 16GB Ram
- 512GB SSD storage
The ultimate, blow-out MacBook Pro, this is the one to go for if money is no object. With a super-fast processor and loads of RAM and storage, the only limit to your designs will be your imagination. Best for designers looking to make a serious impact, or with access to the company credit card.
- Truly the ultimate MacBook model
- Large, ultra-detailed 15-inch Retina screen
- Extra-powerful processor
- Touch Bar along top of keyboard
- The price tag is huge
- Brilliantly detailed screen
- Touchscreen is detachable
- Powerful processor
- Up to 1TB storage available
- As expensive as a MacBook
- Windows 10 may not suit Mac fans
- Entry-level model has little storage
- Surface Pen an extra $99
- Fingerprint scanner and Face ID
- Portable 13.3-inch design
- Excellent ports and connections
- Stylus included
- Screen less detailed than MacBook's
- Screen size may be small for some
- Not generous with storage
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