Wondering what the best laptops for Illustrators are in 2020? Well, you’re in the right place.
Many illustrators have reached out to us asking what the best laptop for making illustrations and we’re writing this post as a direct answer to their question and other doubts.
Picking a laptop for a specific need can be both a simple as well as a complex task at times. That’s why we’ve managed to do all the research so that you can simply go and choose the best laptop for your needs.
Without wasting any more of your time, here are the best laptops for digital artists and illustrators for the year 2020.
Best Laptops for Illustrators in 2020
Editors Choice - Apple MacBook Pro 16
Apple’s latest laptop, the MacBook Pro 16″ is our editor’s choice as the best laptop for illustrators.
Being Apple’s flagship laptop, it is hard not to recommend this brand new laptop for both aspiring and experienced illustrators.
The MacBook Pro is probably the best laptop out there for people in the creative biz like illustrations, design, graphics and much more. It comes with the right amount of everything that makes this a clean fit for the job.
The first good thing about this laptop is the screen. We have a 16″ display that comes with a superb resolution of 3072 x 1920 pixels. This number translates into a pixel density of 228 pixels per inch which is excellent for a laptop.
The display here is an IPS panel and comes with excellent color reproduction and brilliant viewing angles. The screen is a bit glossy but it is well-suited for graphics and other creative work as it gives an accurate description of the color on the screen.
There is no lack of processing power in this MacBook. The model comes with an i9 processor from Intel and has a base clocking frequency of 2.3GHz and can be turbo boosted to a max of 4.6GHz. Though there are questions about the throttling of the CPU, the laptop has performed very well under heavy duty.
The processor also comes with 16MB cache which should give you a good boost when it comes to handling large office docs and other files. The memory department comes with 16 gigs of DDR4 type memory which is more than enough for most illustrators out there. You can multitask your heart out without having to worry about the system hanging.
Though the previous editions of the MacBook had problems with the keyboard, Apple has ironed out those issues and now the keyboard is a pleasure to use. The touchpad is also pretty smooth and should give you an excellent interface to interact with your illustrating applications.
The SSD on the MacBook Pro is stupid fast. It loads the operating system in just a few seconds. It opens and closes applications in a flash and you’ll be amazed at the reading and writing speeds of this SSD. If you’re new to SSDs, then prepared to be blown away by the speed of this laptop.
Having only USB type C ports can be a problem for some, but if you don’t have a problem with using adapters, then this shouldn’t bother you much.
If you’re a fan of Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW, then you’re going to love using the MacBook Pro 16 as it is perfectly designed to run both these applications seamlessly without any problems whatsoever.
Another advantage of this model here is battery life. The MacBook is a solid device and can last for about 8 to 10 hours even with a heavy load. If you’re someone who travels a lot, then this laptop will serve you well.
Overall, the Macbook Pro shines with finesse and is our Editor’s choice when it comes to the best laptops for illustrators for the year 2020.
Best Windows Laptop For Illustrators - Microsoft Surface Book 2
Hey, your editor’s choice is great and all, but I don’t like Apple and I’m a Windows guy. Got anything for me?
We hear you.
If you’re looking for the best Windows laptop for Illustrators, then let us present to you the Microsoft Surface Book 2.
Though there are a ton of Windows laptops out there, the Surface Book 2 stands out for several reasons. One of the main ones being it can actually turn into a tablet on which you can do your illustrations.
Being a flagship notebook, the Surface Book leaves no stone unturned. It comes with the best of the specs and you can’t really find a bad corner even if you wanted to.
The display here is a 15″ display that comes with a brilliant resolution of 3260 x 2160 pixels. This resolution is pretty sweet and for the screen size, you’re going to get an impression PPI which gives you crisp pictures.
The panel here is an IPS one much like that of the MacBook Pro. It is excellent when it comes to color reproduction and also hits the right tone for your illustration purposes. It is also a glossy screen, but we don’t think that’s a problem to worry about.
One of the main differentiators between the top two models here is that the Surface Pro comes with a detachable touchscreen. Yes, if you’re someone who uses an external tablet to make your illustrations, you don’t have to anymore. Now, you can just take the Pen that comes with the Surface Book and draw on the tablet itself.
The laptop comes with ample power in the form of an eighth-gen Intel i7 processor. This is one of the best processors you can get your hands on so no doubts about the processing abilities of this notebook here.
To make it only better, the processor is accompanied by 16 gigs of DDR4 type RAM. This is the perfect amount of RAM you’d want in a laptop for illustrators. Anything more would be a bit of overkill.
The graphics performance of the Surface Book 2 is also on point, thanks to the dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU with a VRAM of 6 gigs. Though this might sound like an older GPU, it gels well with the setup and gives exceptional graphics performance.
Battery life is important for any laptop. If you’re an illustrator on the move, then it is going to matter more than ever. The Surface Book comes with excellent battery life and you should comfortably go through your day without having to look for a power socket.
Overall, the Microsoft Surface Book is a solid laptop and a tablet combo that can understand the needs of an illustrator better and serve him well. If you’re woven into the Windows ecosystem, then this one is a no-brainer.
We can confidently say that this is the best Windows laptop for illustrators.
Runner Up - ASUS ROG 15.6" Laptop
Wait, doesn’t ROG stand for the Republic of Gamers?
Yes, it does, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a good notebook for digital art.
In fact, this laptop is a lot more affordable than our Editor’s choices and only falls short in a few areas. If you find them both expensive, then we’d say go for this one as it is only half their price.
This ASUS laptop comes with a 15.6″ display that has a full HD resolution. Clearly, you can see why this model is priced a lot cheaper than those two. Though this is not a QHD display, it does well when it comes to color accuracy.
The pictures are sharp and the contrast ratio is impressive. Being a gaming laptop, this one concentrates a ton when it comes to the display output and that’s just an advantage for illustrators as well. The colors are impressive and the same can be said for viewing angles as well.
Now, the battery life of this laptop might not be as good as the other two we’ve discussed. This is a gaming laptop and gaming laptops are notorious for having poor battery life. This is one is no different. With hardcore gaming, the laptop lasts for about 3 hours. But we’re talking about illustrators here, and with a regular workload, the laptop should be good for about 6 to 8 hours which is decent.
How powerful is this ASUS ROG laptop? It comes with an i7 processor from Intel’s 9th generation of chips. The i7 9750H is one of the top three most powerful processors out there and is a beast. It comes with a typical clock speed of 2.60GHz and can clock to a maximum of 4.5GHz. It can handle pretty much anything you throw at it so no problems here.
The memory here is 16GB DDR4 type RAM with a speed of 2666MHz and it complements the processor well. You can multitask like a boss without any issues. If you’re going to handle large files and work with a lot of layers, then this memory will make sure that you’re having the best experience doing so.
Storage is another essential feature you can’t skimp on. This ASUS notebook comes with a 1TB hard drive disk and a 512GB SSD. The hard drive part of the storage is great for storing all your data while SSD does well when it comes to both storage and performance. It boots up the laptop in a few seconds and absolutely kills it when it comes to opening and closing apps.
We also have a dedicated graphics card here in the form of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. It comes with a dedicated memory of 4 gigs which is more than enough for most illustrators. With more digital art applications making use of GPUs, this one will surely come in handy.
While the laptop comes with all the connectivity options you need, it lacks USB type C ports which were present in both our best picks. Though this is not a big deal, if you’re someone who is looking to future proof your laptop, then you should know about this.
Even then, the ASUS ROG laptop is a solid notebook for gaming and an even better one for illustrations which is why it is the runner up in our list of best laptops for illustrators.
Best Mid-range - Acer Predator Helios 300
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is much like our runner up. It falls in the same category and comes with similar specs and performance.
The laptop comes with a 144Hz 15.6″ display that has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This is an IPS display and with that, you get excellent color reproduction and contrast ratio. The pictures are sharp and you really can’t ask for more in a mid-range laptop for illustrators.
One of the advantages of having an IPS display is the viewing angle. The laptop comes with excellent viewing angles and is great for making presentations.
Another nice feature is the 144Hz refresh rate. This means you’re going to have very little lag when connecting your tablet and drawing on it. The keyboard and the trackpad are pretty solid and you’ll have a great experience working them.
How good is the processing power of the Acer Predator Helios 300? Well, it comes with an Intel i7 9750H processor that clocks at 2.6GHz. This is one of the best chips out there and is one hell of a processor. The processor can be clocked to a maximum of 4.5GHz which is more than any illustrator would ever need.
With 16 gigs of DDR4 RAM in the memory department, you are getting a ton of freedom for multitasking. You can now open tens of tabs in your browser without dragging the system’s performance down.
Also, if you are an illustrator who works with a lot of files with many layers at the same time, you’ll appreciate this memory as it will not hold you down for a bit.
The storage in this laptop is made of a 256GB NVMe SSD. This is a super-fast SSD and comes with excellent read and write times. It can open the OS in a few seconds and handle any application in a flash. The only caveat here is that you’re only getting 256 gigs of space which may or may not be enough depending on your needs.
The laptop comes loaded with a discrete graphics card (Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650) with a video memory of 6 gigs. This is a sweet setup for gaming but it also comes in pretty handy for drawing illustrations as well. Both Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW have started taking advantage of GPUs, so having a solid GPU will work in your favor.
The battery life of the Acer Predator Helios 300 is quite decent at 8 to 10 hours depending on your workload. This is pretty decent battery life and even if yo
Budget Choice - Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop
If you’re on a budget and want a laptop for illustrations and digital art, then the Acer Aspire 5 is a pretty good choice.
The laptop costs just under $500 and comes with all the essentials you’d need for making illustrations. Most software will work seamlessly with this laptop as this laptop meets the recommended requirements.
How good is the display? With this laptop being a budget one, one would expect a poor display. But on the contrary, the laptop comes with a 15.6″ display with a Full HD resolution. Even at this budget price, we get an IPS display which is an impressive bang for the buck.
The colors on the display are accurate enough for the price and you also get good viewing angles which are nice.
The processing power in this laptop is quite decent considering you are getting an Intel i5 processor from the 8th gen that clocks up to a maximum of 3.9GHz. This is a pretty good processor and comes with high-grade benchmark scores. It can handle your workload without any issues whatsoever.
The laptop comes with 8 gigs of DDR4 RAM which should be enough for most illustrators. We do prefer 16 gigs as it gives you a nice cushion for you to operate, but 8 gigs should be just fine. If you’re going to work with a lot of layers, you might hit a snag but it shouldn’t be significant.
You get 256GB for storage in the form of an SSD. The storage is fast and comes with super quick read and write times. You can open and close even large files in a flash. The SSD also brings a huge uplift when it comes to the performance of the laptop.
Being a budget laptop, the Acer Aspire 5 Slim laptop comes only with an integrated GPU. Though we recommend a dedicated GPU to get the best out of your applications, you should still be able to do well with this integrated GPU. The Intel HD graphics GPU is one of the best when it comes to integrated GPU solutions and it has been vastly improved when compared to its predecessors.
The battery life is also pretty good. With a light load, the laptop should last for about 10 hours which is good considering this is a budget device. If you like to move around a lot, you can get around 7 to 8 hours of battery life even if you’re doing something intensive which is neat.
Honorable Mention - Acer Spin 3 Convertible Laptop
The Acer Spin 3 Convertible Laptop is our honorable mention for the best laptops for illustrators. This is a 2-in-1 laptop that comes with pretty features and is tailored towards the creative minds among us.
The 2-in-1 laptop comes with a 14″ screen that has a full HD resolution. The display can get really bright and has pretty color accuracy. Thanks to the IPS panel in place, you can get excellent viewing angles across the screen.
The device is equipped with an eighth-gen Intel i7 processor that can clock up to a maximum of 4.6GHz. When it comes to sheer processing power, this one is a powerhouse. It gets excellent scores in benchmarks and that reflects in real-life performance as well.
The memory department comes with 16 gigs of DDR4 Type RAM. This is a pretty good amount of RAM and should be fine even for the heavyweight users. This memory gives you the ability to work on large files and you can’t lag the system down even with tons of layers.
You get plenty of storage in the 512GB SSD. The solid-state drive is a good choice and it keeps the performance of the laptop on point. Everything you do with the device is super fast and you can feel that at every turn. Some might feel like space is a bit less, but most users will be fine with it.
One of the drawbacks of this laptop is the lack of a dedicated graphics card. You only get an integrated Intel HD graphics card and that’s okay for the most part. But we highly recommend getting a dedicated GPU so this is kind of a miss with this convertible.
A key advantage with this Acer Spin 3 Convertible model is that it comes with a promised battery life of 12 hours. Though it might look like an exaggeration, if you can manage your workload right, you should be able to get around 10 hours of battery life with ease.
Overall, the reason why this Acer Spin 3 Convertible Laptop is an honorable mention is that you can draw right on the screen. With this laptop, you don’t have to have a separate Wacom tablet and that makes this a good choice for people who are starting out. Also, this one is much more affordable than the Surface Book 2 as well.
What To Look For In The Best Laptops For Illustrators?
Before you take your card out and order a laptop, you should be familiar with what you need to look in a laptop that is specifically designed for illustration purposes
One of the simple ways to tackle this is by knowing what software you’ll be using for your illustration purposes. Once you’ve zeroed in on the application, then you can take a look at the minimum requirements and see if the laptop passes those with flying colors.
Our style is to see if the laptop has all the recommended requirements as opposed to the minimum requirements. But if you’re just starting out and if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a laptop, then going with the minimum hardware might not be that bad of an idea.
If you’re not sure about the software, then we can help you pursue one. Any serious illustrator in 2020 would probably prefer Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW. If you’re a fan of Adobe and already used to their workflow mechanics, then going with Adobe Illustrator is a smart move.
Now that we’ve given you a gist of the basics, let get into some details.
Picking a laptop with the best display is crucial as you’re going to stare at it all day. Not only that, you need a screen that doesn’t mess up with your working style or flow.
At the very minimum, you should go after a laptop with a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This is full HD resolution and should be a very minimum when it comes to illustration works. This resolution will make sure that you can’t see pixelated images that will be handy during work.
If you can afford a better resolution display, you’ll only be doing your illustrations a world of good.
The next important thing about the display is the panel itself. It is paramount that you go for an IPS display. It offers the best colors and you get excellent color reproduction and viewing angles. Most affordable laptops come with TN panels. This might help in reducing the cost of the device, but it suffers in quality.
Whether you go for a matte or a glossy display is totally based on your preference. Glossy displays can sometimes be disturbing, especially when you work in well-lit areas, but matte displays don’t bring that problem. However, matte displays might have a little color hue issue which may or may not affect your work. Either way, it is your preference.
If you’re serious about your work, you can even add a secondary display to your laptop. It might be overkill depending on what your skill level is, but if you’re a professional getting an external display won’t hurt.
While most programs might be ok with just a dual-core processor, we do recommend a minimum of 4 cores if you want good processing power.
Having multiple cores to support your workload is essential. Most modern laptops come with enough cores to handle your illustration tasks. But if you’re at freedom to choose the laptop’s processing power, always go for a laptop with at least 4 physical cores.
Another key thing to note is the age of the processor. Don’t go with a processor that is a couple of years old. At the time of writing, Intel 9th gen is the latest generation of Intel chips. It is okay if you select an 8th gen processor. Anything older than that might cause problems in a couple of years.
Clock speed is another key aspect of the processor to keep in mind. You need a processor with a minimum clock speed of 2.50GHz. Also, it is better if the processor can turbo boost when you need that little nudge.
You can also avoid going for i3 processors as they are not meant for heavy workloads. It is smart to go for either i5 or the i7 processor as they are much more suited for illustrations than the i3 chips.
Is it true that laptops for illustrators must have 16 gigs of RAM?
It can help but that’s not necessary.
Having at least 8 gigs of RAM is essential in a laptop if you’re going to do illustrations in it.
A simple 8GB DDR3 RAM should be enough for most of the illustrators out there. If you need a bit more memory performance, you can go with DDR4 RAMs. But either way, you’re not going to be disappointed.
In fact, most applications are going to, at most, use 2 or 3 gigs of RAM at best. So technically, you could get away with just 4GB of RAM. But that’s going to create more problems in the long run. However, 8GB RAM is the best option for both performance and cost-wise.
If you’re going to work with huge files and a ton of layers, then it would be better to go for 16 gigs of DDR4 RAM for the best performance.
Storage is another important aspect when it comes to digital art.
Most applications are going to need less than 5 gigs of storage space for the applications and the temp files. So technically, you should be okay with any amount of storage.
But what matters here more is the type of storage than the amount of storage. Are you going to go with an HDD or an SSD?
An HDD is a traditional hard drive and is notoriously slow when it comes to reading and writing files. It can take a bit of time to do even the most simple tasks. The SSD, on the other hand, is super fast and handles everything quickly. It comes with excellent read and write speeds so you don’t have to wait to open your files.
If you’re going to deal with large files, it is better to go with SSDs as it can handle them real quick. In fact, there is no real reason to go with traditional hard drives unless you’re on a shoestring budget.
Is it necessary to get a laptop with a dedicated graphics card?
Getting a laptop with a discrete graphics card is one of the best decisions you can make when going for a purchase. Get a laptop that has at least 2 gigs of dedicated video memory. If you can afford it, going for 4GB VRAM is even better.
What a discrete GPU does is that it takes the load off your CPU. Also, most modern-day applications are designed to work better with GPUs than with CPUs.
But if you’re in a tight budget, then you can just go with a good processor. Pick a simple illustrating application that won’t require a ton of resources and work with it. This will reduce the stress on your CPU and also will fit well into your workflow.
Battery life is another important point. If you’re going to work in your home or office room, then this is not a big deal. You’re going to have access to a power socket almost all the time.
But if you’re someone who travels a lot, then having a solid battery life is super important. Most Apple laptops come with excellent battery life. The latest Surface books and the Dell notebooks have impressive battery life as well.
If you’re going to travel a lot, then buying a light laptop would make the most sense. The MacBooks are a lot lighter than most of the competition but you’ll do well with most Windows flagships as well.
Future-proofing your laptop is also important. If you follow our advice, you should be good for the most part. If you want to go above and beyond, get a laptop with a USB type C port as most laptops and hardware will be upgrading to it shortly. Be wary of the fact that you might have to use some adapters now.
That’s the end of this mammoth buying guide to find the best laptops for illustrators and other digital artists.
We hope you liked our guide and were able to find the laptop that’ll cater to your needs the best.
If you think we’ve missed something, or if you have any sort of feedback, please do let us know in the comment section below.
Thanks for visiting Consumer Tech Central and do come back if you need more buying advice.