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The best laptops for graphic designers: Expert tested

We tested the best laptops for graphic design from Apple, Microsoft, Dell, MSI, and more, to help you choose the right one for you.
Written by Cesar Cadenas, Contributing Writer

Why you can trust ZDNET

ZDNET's reviewers spend weeks to months testing each laptop on this list, using it for both everyday tasks like browsing, streaming, and gaming, to more performance-intensive work like photo and video editing. We aim to give you a view into how each laptop could actually fit into your life and workflow, and the pros and cons of their various features like performance, display, and battery life.

What to Consider

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Design

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Performance

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Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch | Best laptop for graphic design overall
MacBook Pro (M3 Max) with new MacOS Sonoma lock screen
Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch
Best laptop for graphic design overall
View now View at Amazon
MacBook Air M3 | Best MacBook alternative for graphic design
M3 MacBook Air on desk
MacBook Air M3
Best MacBook alternative for graphic design
View now View at Amazon
Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1 | Best 2-in-1 laptop for graphic design
lenovo-yoga-9i-2-in-1-main
Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1
Best 2-in-1 laptop for graphic design
View now View at Best Buy
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 | Best drawing laptop for graphic design
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2
Best drawing laptop for graphic design
View now View at B&H Photo-Video
Dell XPS 16 | Best Windows laptop for graphic design
dell-xps-16-main
Dell XPS 16
Best Windows laptop for graphic design
View now View at Dell
MSI Creator Z16 HX Studio | Best graphic design laptop for content creators
Razer Blade 18
MSI Creator Z16 HX Studio
Best graphic design laptop for content creators
View now View at Newegg
Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra | Best graphic design laptop for Samsung users
Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra
Best graphic design laptop for Samsung users
View now View at Target
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 | Best gaming laptop for graphic design
asus-rog-zephyrus-14-on-table
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
Best gaming laptop for graphic design
View now View at Best Buy
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Many PC manufacturers offer laptops for multiple use cases, from everyday work to gaming and even graphic design. Finding the right machine for graphic design can be tricky, as a good graphic design laptop needs to have peak performance, a beautiful display, and a robust array of features. 

Also: Best laptop deals

There are a ton of great laptops for graphic design to choose from, and it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which is the best for you. We conducted thorough testing of the best laptops for creative professionals on the market while considering specific factors to help you make the best decision.

What is the best laptop for graphic design right now? 

We tested many excellent laptops to create this list, but our pick for the best laptop for graphic design is Apple's 14-inch MacBook Pro (2023). It has a stunning display and excellent M3 chip performance. However, the list includes a variety of other top-tier options from Asus, Dell, and MSI, so there's an option for everyone.

The best laptops for graphic designers in 2024

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch

Best laptop for graphic design overall

Taking the top stop as our best graphic design laptop is Apple's 14-inch MacBook Pro from 2023. This entry probably comes as no surprise, as MacBooks are lauded for their hardware performance, and this model is no different. It boasts the latest rendition of Apple silicon in the form of the M3 chip. The hardware allows the MacBook to multitask across various apps, handle resource-heavy software like games, and allow users to edit 4K resolution videos without missing a beat. 

Review: MacBook Pro (M3 Max)

Its high performance level is apparent thanks to the stunning 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display, which outputs content at 4K resolution. Moreover, it has a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio for bright, vivid colors and support for ProMotion tech, enabling an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. To top it all off, the M3 MacBook has a maximum battery life of 22 hours, enough to last an entire day.

There are two versions of the 2023 MacBook: the 14-inch model we just described and the 16-inch option. We recommend the former for its more compact design and lower price point. However, if you want the best of what the MacBook Pro can deliver, go with the 16-inch laptop. Keep in mind that both are still expensive.

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch specs: CPU: Apple M3 | GPU: M3 integrated graphics | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | Display: 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR Display 

MacBook Pro (M3 Max) with new MacOS Sonoma lock screen
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MacBook Air M3

Best MacBook alternative for graphic design

If you want Apple hardware that's easier on your wallet, we recommend the M3 MacBook from 2022. Although the model isn't as powerful as its sibling laptop, the device is still capable of meeting all of your graphic design needs. The M3 chipset is a force to be reckoned with, even on the lightweight option. It's able to clean up noisy photographs faster than the M2 MacBook Air. Our benchmarking tests show the hardware is able to render images much more quickly than the previous generation. A big part of the M3 MacBook Air's fast rendering is owed to the neural engine. 

macOS Sequoia is the next OS upgrade for Apple computers and it's heralding the arrival of the company's first set of generative AI features; some of which include image generation. We have no doubt that the neural engine will play a big role in supporting Apple Intelligence and every feature it's bringing.

Review: M3 MacBook Air review: Apple's AI computer for the masses has arrived

Of course, there are other great aspects to the M3 MacBook Air, too. It can output up to two different external monitors at the same time, so you can do your work on a bigger screen. And the lightweight body makes it easy to carry. Also, it's a great time to buy a M3 MacBook Air because Apple recently cut its price tag. Now it costs less than $1,000

MacBook Air M2 specs: CPU: Apple M3 | GPU: M3 integrated graphics | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB SSD | Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display

M3 MacBook Air on desk
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Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1

Best 2-in-1 laptop for graphic design

Earning its place as the best 2-in-1 graphic design laptop is Lenovo's recent Yoga 9i 2-in-1 refresh. These types of devices lend themselves very well to this line of work. You can write up a document while the machine is in laptop mode and immediately flip the screen to place it into tablet mode. What's great about this particular model is it houses a stunning 2.8K OLED display. Vibrant colors practically leap from the screen, showing off various shades. Our review referred to it as the "shining jewel" of the Yoga 9i.

Review: Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1

Lenovo also made some great design choices. The speakers are housed on the hinge, allowing users to hear the full breadth of the Yoga 9i's audio system. Media, from music to movies, sound great coming out of the model, complete with subwoofers giving it that extra punch. Each key has a travel distance of 1.5mm, ensuring comfortable typing. A light touch is all you need to register an input. It's easy on the hands and allows you to work fast. If that wasn't enough, the Yoga 9i looks lovely in its Cosmic Blue color scheme and polished metal on the sides. Also, you get a free stylus when you purchase.

If you buy this laptop, keep the charger close by because Lenovo's Yoga 9i quickly drains its battery. On a single charge, it will last around 7.5 hours.

Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1 OLED specs: CPU: Intel Core Ultra 7 155H  | GPU: Integrated Intel graphics card | RAM: 16 GB | Storage: 512 GB | Display: 14-inch 2.8K resolution OLED

lenovo-yoga-9i-2-in-1-main
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Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2

Best drawing laptop for graphic design

We lauded the original Surface Laptop Studio for its focus on graphic design work, and the same can be said for its follow-up: the Surface Laptop Studio 2. Like its predecessor, the revamped model is a 2-in-1 computer with a screen that can be folded flat to serve as a tablet or upright as a traditional laptop. Also, an extra hinge allows users to tilt the screen like an easel, which is ideal for drawing with the Surface Slim Pen 2 (although you must buy it because it doesn't come with a stylus).

It's not all the same array of features. The Surface Laptop Studio 2 makes multiple improvements to the original. The most impactful is the more powerful hardware. In addition to having a better processor, the model offers the option for a Nvidia GeForce RTX 40-series graphics card. With this graphics card, the device can handle intensive workloads better than the older machine.

Review: Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2

Speaking of the previous laptop, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 also sports a sharp, touch-sensitive display, but this time, it outputs a much higher resolution of 4,500 x 3,000 pixels. Overall, it's superior to the old in almost every way except that it is expensive.

Acer Swift X 14 specs: CPU: 13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700H | GPU: Intel Iris Xe, 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060, 8GB Nvidia RTX 2000 Ada | RAM: 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB LPDDR5 | Storage: 512 GB, 1 TB, or 2 TB SSD | Display: 14.4-inch PixelSense Flow DIsplay, 120Hz

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2
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Dell XPS 16

Best Windows laptop for graphic design

Dell started 2024 off strong with the launch of the XPS 16. It is a fantastic laptop that'll make any graphic designer smile from ear to ear because it has so much going for it. For starters, the 4K display is stunning. Colors leap out of the screen. Shadows look as dark as the abyss, and the 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio will allow you to see a high level of detail. I called it the crown jewel of the model in the review. It's that good. And it's made even by the thin bezels around the glass, making the display more prominent than it is. Dell's machine takes full advantage of the real estate it's given.

Of course, not everything is skin deep, as the XPS 16 boasts impressive hardware. At its best, the laptop houses an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card and an Intel Core Ultra 9 processor, supported by 64GB of RAM alongside a 4TB SSD. Hardware at this level is overkill for scenarios. The model's base configuration is still quite powerful. However, creative professionals who want a machine that can handle their work, like rendering large video files, will need all the strength they can get. And that can get it in the 2024 XPS 16.

Review: Dell XPS 16 (2024)

Don't just take my word for it. User reviews on Dell's website are filled with glowing praise from people who love the performance, speed, and output of the OLED display.

Now, the laptop is tricky to travel with. It's bulky and relatively heavy, so carrying this device around won't be easy. Something else you should know is that the laptop is expensive. Start saving those pennies.

Dell XPS 16 specs: CPU: Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, Intel Core Ultra 9 185H | GPU: Intel Arc, 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, 8GB GeForce RTX 4060, 8GB GeForce RTX 4070  | RAM: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB | Storage: 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB SSD | Display: 16.3inch Full HD Plus, 16.3-inch Ultra HD Plus

dell-xps-16-main
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MSI Creator Z16 HX Studio

Best graphic design laptop for content creators

MSI's Creator Z16 HX Studio is our recommendation for content creators looking for a compelling laptop. At its highest configuration, this beast sports a 13th-Gen Intel Core i9-13900HX CPU, GeForce RTX 4070 GPU from Nvidia, and a whopping 2TB SSD. You can store hours of footage on this thing and still have plenty of room left over. Interestingly, on the product page, MSI states that Creator Z16 can process Photoshop and Premiere Pro much faster than its predecessor. It can render videos in 30 percent less time.

Speaking of videos, Nvidia Studio is installed on this machine. It consists of multiple AI features that can help turn your ideas into reality. The suite also houses some of the latest creation software tools, like ray tracing, to deliver realistic graphical works. Naturally, a laptop of this caliber sports a stunning Quad HD Plus (2,56 x 1,600 pixels) resolution display covering all of the DCI-P3 color gamut.

With this hardware level, a typical laptop would turn into a furnace. It's going to be generating a lot of heat. To combat this, MSI installed a robust cooling system called the Vapor Chamber Cooler to ensure the Creator Z16 operates at a low temperature. 

MSI Creator Z16 HX Studio specs: CPU: 13th-Gen Intel Core i7-11800H, i7-13700HX, i9-13900HX | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, RTX 4060, RTX 4070 | RAM: 16GB, 32 GB | Storage: 1TB, 2TB SSD | Display: 16-inch QuadHD Plus touchscreen

Razer Blade 18
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Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra

Best graphic design laptop for Samsung users

Samsung's Galaxy Book4 Ultra is a fantastic graphic design laptop for a wide array of reasons. Chief among them is the stunning,16-inch 3K AMOLED touchscreen. It is the device's shining feature. Colors practically come to life thanks to the display supporting DCI-P3 and a color volume of 120 percent. Image quality is out of this world. Also, the touchscreen works with multi-touch gestures and you can edit content directly on the display. 

For people who like to do their work outside the home or office, Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Book4 Ultra with two helpful features. The first one is the anti-reflective Corning Gorilla glass. It greatly reduces the amount of reflections and glares, so content stays readable all the time. The laptop also has Vision Booster to enhance the brightness, color, and contrast of an image.

Review: I tested Samsung's flagship laptop and it gave my MacBook Pro a run for its money

Besides the high quality display, the device has other great aspects. The battery lasts, on average, 10 hours before needing a recharge. That length of time on a machine with a 3K resolution screen and a discrete graphics card is pretty crazy. What's make the battery even better is that it can recharge up to 55 percent in about 30 minutes.

As good as the Galaxy Book4 Ultra may be, it is primarily meant for Galaxy smartphone users. It houses a lot of apps catered towards that group. Galaxy S24 owners will appreciate being able to connect their phone to the computer and use it as a webcam. Everyone else will consider it bloatware.

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra specs: CPU: Intel Core Ultra 9 Processor 185H | GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RYX 4070 | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 1TB SSD | Display: 16-inch 3K Dynamic AMOLED

Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Ultra
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Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

Best gaming laptop for graphic design

Game laptops lend themselves very well to being awesome graphic design machines. Their hardware configurations make them a good fit for the task. But some professional may be hesistant to buy them since A) they light up like a Christmas tree due to their RGB lights and B) they can be huge. Well, Asus' ROG Zephyrus G14 is none of those things and still delivers awesome performance.

The first thing you may notice looking at the device is it sort of looks like a MacBook. You have a primarily white body, square-shaped keys, and a screen surrounding by thin, black bezels. Its display even has a similar resolution output and it costs about the same as a MacBook. They have a lot of similarities. However, the Zephyrus G14 outshines Apple's device in multiple ways. 

Review: Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

First off, it has better hardware, sporting an AMD Ryzen 9 8945HS processor and a Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 graphics card. This configuration allows the laptop to be flexible in tackling different kinds of workflows. When the day, you can game on it without skipping a beat. This is something very few MacBooks can boast. Second, the Zephyrus G14 has fantastic keyboard. Each keys has an indent guiding your fingers to the center and every button has a springy feel. It all results in a comfortable typing experience.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 specs: CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 8945HS 8 Core | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 | RAM: 16TB | Storage: 1TB SSD | Display: 14-inch 3K OLED

asus-rog-zephyrus-14-on-table
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What is the best laptop for graphic design?

We chose the 14-inch Apple MacBook Pro from 2023 as the best laptop for graphic design due to its exceptional high-resolution display and great hardware performance. 

If you're thinking about getting something else, the table below lets you compare the best graphic design laptops according to price, screen size, and CPU.

Best laptop for graphic designersCostDisplayCPU
Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch$1,49914 inchesApple M3
Apple MacBook Air M3$84913.6 inchesApple M2
Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1$1,35914 inchesIntel Core Ultra 7 155H
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2$1,99914.4 inches13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700H
Dell XPS 16$1,39916.3 inchesIntel Core Ultra 7 155H
MSI Creator Z16 HX Studio$1,74916 inches13th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H
Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra$1,89916 inchesIntel Core Ultra 9 Processor 195H
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14$1,89914 inchesRyzen 9 8945HS

Which graphic design laptop is right for you?

Graphic design laptops are capable of handling a wide range of tasks, but some are better than others in certain scenarios. Hardware-demanding work, such as video editing, requires a high-end computer.0

For this reason, you need to be sure of what you're looking for in a laptop. You don't want to buy a device that's going to struggle. Here's how to figure out which laptop for graphic design may work best for you:

Choose this laptop for graphic design...If you want…
Apple MacBook ProThe best graphic design laptop overall. The MacBook Pro with the M3 chipset delivers performance, a long battery life, and a stunning screen.
Apple MacBook Air M3An alternative to the MacBook Pro. It's significantly cheaper than its counterpart, but still offers great performance.
Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1The best 2-in-1 laptop. Its 2.8K resolution touchscreen enables vibrant colors plus its comfortable keyboard lets you work all-day and control various functions.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2The best laptop for drawing. The new model improves on the original by introducing a better processor and the option for a GeForce RTX 40-series graphics card.
Dell XPS 16The best Windows graphics design laptop. It's a real powerhouse of a machine sporting a 4K display, GeForce RTX 40-series GPU, and lots of storage spac.
MSI Creator Z16 HZ StudioAn excellent machine for content creation. It's arguably the most powerful entry on this list and comes with a massive 2TB SSD for storage.
Samsung Galaxy Book4 UltraThe best graphic design laptop for Samsung users. It comes with multiple apps aimed at improving the user experience for Galaxy phone owners.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14The best gaming laptop for graphic design. This device houses powerful hardware, a comfortable keyboard, and slick formfactor reminiscent of Apple's MacBook Pro.

Factors to consider when choosing a laptop for graphic design:

A laptop specifically designed for creative users needs to provide far more power than a laptop aimed at general usage. Here are some of the top factors you'll want to consider before making a purchase: 

  • Hardware: Creative professionals rely heavily on their laptop's graphics card to do a lot of the work. But graphics cards need to be paired with strong CPUs to perform at a high level and be supported by a good amount of RAM.
  • Display: All that performance doesn't mean squat if the laptop's display can accurately show off your work. It's for that reason, creative professionals greatly prefer high-resolution displays so they can have the best image possible.
  • Screen size: 16-inch or 17-inch displays are larger and much heavier than a 13-inch or 14-inch laptop. Regular travelers may want to go something smaller when on the run and leave the laptop with the big screen at the office or home.
  • Battery life: Decide whether you need a high-end laptop that can accomplish tasks but only run for a few hours or a mid-ranger that can last an entire day. 
  • Price: Price is an important factor to account for when shopping for laptops. Obviously, the more expensive options tend to have the better hardware. But that doesn't mean you should completely discount the cheaper models because many still deliver awesome performance.

How did we test these laptops?

There are many excellent laptops for graphic design on the market, and our staff at ZDNET gets an opportunity to review many of them. We look at all of the factors mentioned above, including display, battery life, and value. We then test them as we would use them in the real world, from surfing the internet to streaming videos to more specific use cases for graphic design. The goal here is to see what they're capable of in real-world use.

Once all the testing is complete, the ones we liked the most are reviewed and sorted, given a specific category like the best Windows laptop for graphic design, and placed on the list.

Is battery life important in the best laptops for graphic designers?

Yes, but it depends on what you have. 

Battery life is essential for lightweight, cheap, or travel laptops, which are ideal for travel. These models don't have the most superb hardware in the world and are often mid-range devices. As a result, they're not very power-hungry. You won't have to worry about your laptop dying on you in the middle of a project. Plus, they're not heavy.

Battery life doesn't matter as much for bulky, powerful laptops like the MSI Creator Z16. You'll be using this machine primarily at home, and computers of this caliber are heavy. Speaking from experience, you don't want to lug around a big laptop every day. Plus, their hardware demands a lot of power, so your battery is going to drain much more quickly. 

Is connectivity important in the best laptops for graphic designers?

Having a wide array of ports on a graphic design laptop is important to have, but ultimately, it comes down to what you, the user, need.

Some manufacturers choose to equip their hardware with only a few inputs in order to keep sizes small and weight low. This is a good design move for ultraportable laptops. However, creative professionals work with a variety of devices and peripherals. Perhaps, they need to connect their laptop to an external display or multiple monitors. This extends to audio equipment and SD cards from cameras. 

For many professionals, having good connectivity options on a laptop is crucial to their work. Luckily, there are solutions to this problem. You can solve this by buying a docking station to complement your computers. These devices offer way more inputs and outputs than a normal computer could ever hope to deliver. 

Also: The best 5 laptop docking stations 

If you just want a single device, then you may be better off buying a heftier laptop; one with a variety of ports. A lightweight machine is ideal for travel.

Are MacBooks really that much better than Windows laptops when in comes to graphic design?

When it comes to hardware, not really. Modern MacBooks certainly have powerful M-series chipsets allowing them to rise above the rest. But Windows laptops have come a long way in bridging that gap. I would argue that Windows hardware is comparable to, in some cases better, than Apple's tech.

The main difference between the two comes down to software. MacBooks have a great selection of apps onboard that still trounce Microsoft software. GarageBand is still great for editing music. iMovie is also fantastic for making basic video edits. Of course, many of the best editing software is exclusive to Apple hardware. 

Also: Boost your security and productivity with the top Mac apps

Windows 11, on the other hand, doesn't have the greatest selection. For years, base apps on Windows computers were terrible. No one in their right mind takes Paint seriously as an illustration tool. You have Photoshop for that. Things have gotten much better, but base apps on Windows 11 still pale in comparison to what's on macOS. And those starting software choices can make a huge difference.

Can gaming laptops be used for graphic design?

Definitely. Gaming laptops are a great alternative for graphic designers. They are often equipped with some of the most powerful processors in the tech industry. On top of that, they have great graphics cards, huge storage drives, and a ton of RAM, providing professionals with all the power and space they need for work. Many even have stunning displays.

However, there are multiple problems with them. 1) Gaming laptops can be heavy. In some cases, over seven pounds. 2) They're expensive. 3) They don't always have the most pleasing designs. Several models feature bulky, all-black designs. And 4) People may not enjoy their RGB lighting. On certain gaming laptops, the lightning can be too much.

Other graphic design laptops we've tested:

As established earlier, we choose the top seven laptops based on pricing, performance, display, and more. But, if the group above doesn't work for you, here are other models to consider.

View at LenovoView at AmazonView at DellView at Best Buy
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