If you love doing graphic design, then you probably know that you need a good laptop. In this article, we reviewed the 5 best laptops for graphic design for this year. We spent around 33 hours researching the best models available that you can get without having to spend a fortune. Let’s not waste any more time and let’s jump straight into it.
1. Microsoft Surface Book 2
To finish up our best laptops for graphic design list, we have the Surface Book 2.
Crowned as the best 2-in-1 laptop until now the Surface Book 2, with a bigger screen that can easily run the latest video games thanks to its massive power specs, with a crazy long battery, excellent cooling and being the best tablet for drawing, this device will excel in nearly everything.
The design is the same as the original Surface Book, and Microsoft has made the right choice by not messing with the design. It is so good. The magnesium body is rock solid. It shows zero amount of flex throughout the body. With the “muscle wire” securin mechanism makes the detachable display amusing. No other manufacturer can match Microsoft in the build quality when it comes to notebooks. Surface Book 2 is 0.9-inches thick and 3.38 pounds heavy, making it neither the thinnest nor the lightest laptop, but it is better built and sturdier. Solid everywhere, with no weak spots in the body.
Surface Book 2 retains the standard 3000×2000 267 ppi Panasonic display that was used in the previous models. It is seen that the display produces high contrast and pleasant brightness. Testing the display it also excels in every metric. Maximum brightness is 402 nits and the contrast was 1460:1. In the image we see very deep blacks and popping colors, everything is sharp and extremely detailed. Despite the keyboard being a little on the shallow side with just 1.2 millimeters of travel, the typing experience is very satisfying, mostly due to the keys having a click to them. The touchpad is very smooth and uses the precision drivers for Windows, and it instantly recognizes all the gestures.
Even if it is a 2-in-1 laptop, Surface Book 2 is a very powerful machine, extremely powerful. It can compete even with high-end gaming laptops as well. The Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics unit inside the laptop’s base is more than enough to smoothly run most triple-A games at HD quality. To go along with that the Surface Book 2 also has an Intel Core i7-8650U and 16GB of 1866Mhz RAM. With everything stated earlier this can handle heavy design and engineering work with ease. Yes it may have a premium price, but the performance and the features that this proper 2-in-1 is nowhere to be found, making it easily one of the best laptops around.
2. Lenovo FLEX 5
With the introduction of the premium Yoga series, Lenovo has started its 2-in-1 flagship laptop series. However, sometime later they launched the Flex series, which are also 2-in-1 laptops with affordable prices to reach a bigger base of customers. The Lenovo Flex 5 is an affordable and stylish device, also packing a great amount of power, all while being a 2-in-1.
Flex 5 has a simple two-toned design which is pretty slick. The lid is black plastic, the deck is gunmetal gray aluminum. overall the case is pretty beautiful without losing function and sturdiness. The laptop is 4.1 pounds heavy and 0.8 inches thick, it is on the larger side of the spectrum but it is carryable nonetheless. Because of its flexibility it can be used as a laptop, tablet, display and in the tent mode.
The screen on the Flex 5 is a 14-inch 1920×1080 touch display, which is kinda dark and doesn’t offer a lot of colors. The panel offers just 74 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is below par. The brightness is 242 nits at maximum, pretty mediocre. The viewing experience is decent at best, but at least the colors were accurate. The keyboard is nice, it maybe doesn’t have a really long key travel but it is pretty good. The touchpad is also pretty nice, pretty responsive and accurate at all times.
In terms of performance the Lenovo Flex 5 comes with a 2.7-GHz Intel Core i7-7500U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB, 5,400 HDD, 128GB SSD and an Nvidia 940MX GPU with 2GB of VRAM. This can handle everything thrown away at it during everyday usage with ease. In performance benchmark tests it has fared well. The graphics card while not being proper for gaming will give you a better and faster performance in Photoshop. In the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark test it has achieved a score of 105373 surpassing the average. The battery is average too, giving you about 8 hours of continuous web browsing. Despite having a lackluster display and average features it is a seriously good and affordable option if you are considering getting into the 2-in-1 craze.
3. HP ZBook 15v G5
HP’s ZBook Series is known for providing one of the best mobile workstations in the industry. Lately HP has released a lot of models from the ZBook series, one of those models is the ZBook 15v, which is the best model for providing beastly performance without breaking the bank. Very much appreciated by graphic designers.
The device comes in monochromatic silver color with a CNC-machined aluminum chassis. The diagonal cut back corners add a touch of sophistication. The machine is sturdy and it has passed various tests against shock, temperature, vibration and other external factors. It is a large machine, it is 1-inch thick and has a weight of 5.8 pounds, making it a brick. However, it is a little price to pay compared to the other features and sturdiness that this laptop offers.
The ZBook 15v G5 comes with a 15.6-inch, 1920x 1080, and 120Hz touchscreen display has pretty good specs. However, due to the protective film layer on top of the screen it doesn’t show a lot of sharpness, and it sometimes a little dull. But it offers a lot of brightness, measured at 631 nits. The display color is good, but compared to its classmates it is lacking. The keyboard is pretty comfortable to type on, with its springy and spacious keys. The key travel is solid at 1.6mm.
Equipped with a quad-core Intel i7-8750H with 32GB of RAM and a 2TB PCIe SSD storage and a 2TB of HDD. This all means that this device plows through everything with ease. It has scored above its competitors in every synthetic benchmark test. As for graphics it comes with the Nvidia Quadro P1000 graphics which is a pretty decent.RAM and storage can be upgraded up to 64GB of RAM and 6TB of storage. The upgrades can be made pretty easily because the laptop offers easy access to the hardware. The whole package is more than enough for students that require workstation machines with discrete GPUs. Battery wise it did not disappoint also knocking the workstation average times. While not being the most sophisticated workshop-grade machine it will get you through most of the tasks until you are ready to upgrade to the bigger brother of the ZBook series.
4. Dell XPS 15 9570
Dell is known for producing decent machines, and with the latest iteration of the XPS 15 series, it has created one of the best performing laptops with a very low price. The value on this product is unreal, of course it may have some shortcomings, however it is unimportant considering everything that this laptop offers.
Even if it mostly looks like its 2017 sibling, there are some design changes in the device to make it feel different. The CNC machined aluminum body is lighter in tone, giving it a classier look than the last year’s. The Dell logo is updated too, with subtle branding. Dell XPS 15 9570 is 17.7mm thick and has a weight of 2 kilograms making it, pleasantly carriable.
This laptop has a huge 15.6-inch touchscreen display, with 4K UHD resolution and protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. The panel achieves a brightness of 400 nits. As a result of its matte coating even in lower-brightness settings, it is comfortably visible. Its contrast ratio is 1638:1 is pretty good, showing deeper blacks and vibrant colors.
Dell XPS 15 9570 is equipped with high-spec components performance wise. Under the hood it packs a 6-core 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU with 16GB of RAM and an incredibly fast 1TB of PCIe SSD. This is insane for that price and a laptop this thin. During daily use it can be used with 40 Chrome tabs open, 1080p streaming and Candy crush running in the background and it wouldn’t flinch. In synthetic benchmark tests, such as Geekbench 4 it has excelled with incredibly high results. In the graphics department it has a GTX 1050 Ti, which is enough to run most of the games smoothly. In the more demanding games with higher settings there will be seen some framerate drops, but considering that it is not a gaming laptop, the graphics performance is perfect. Taking into consideration that the Dell XPS 15 has a 4K touchscreen display, we see that the battery life is pretty good, it has averaged around 9 hours of battery life while doing browser working and listening to music. Overall a great laptop providing performance for its value, perfect for designers who value their money.
5. Acer Aspire E 15
Starting our best laptops for graphic design list, we have a very affordable product called the Aspire E 15.
As the demand for high-performance laptops grows, the market is saturated with a lot of choices. Most of those laptops make us choose between some advantages, and there are rare kinds that do not compromise. One of the very best in this class is the Acer Aspire E 15. It is a decent all-rounder that does not break the bank and aims for way higher than its league. It offers good performance, 15-inch screen with a sharp 1080p display, a decent battery life and it stays moderately cool under heavy tasks.
While not being an eye-candy, the Aspire E 15 with its plain design in the trackpad area, and its brushed metal look on the lid is not hideous. It is bulky and with a big plastic frame, which does a nice job of keeping the heat under control. With a weight of 5.27 lbs and a thickness of 1.2 inches, it is not the most portable of laptops but it is not the worst choice either. Also for a mid-range laptop it has a large option of ports.
Aspire E 15’s display is decent at best, with its 15-inch non-touch display. Actually, the image was rather sharp with a lot of detail, just the coloring was a bit off, which gave away the magic. Other than the colors it is a very good display with an above average brightness from its peers in his class. The keyboard is decent with good space between the keys, even with a number pad. The trackpad is ideal and very responsive with large size.
Performance is where Aspire E 15 shines the most, with 8th Generation Intel Core i3-8130U CPU, 6GB of RAM and 1TB HDD. It has handled most of the tests, such as heavy use test where they were dozens of tabs and 1080p video streaming there were no signs of it slowing down. In the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance benchmark it has scored 7871. It comes equipped with Intel UHD Graphic 620 GPU which has scored 63817 on the Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test, which is a solid number considering its class. The battery is also solid with a lifespan of 8 and a half hours with moderate use. A good all-around solid machine that aims above its weight class.