A graphic designer works with complex files that contain a lot of data, requiring high-end laptop hardware that can handle the power demands of graphic design software. This means a laptop for graphic design must have above-average processing capabilities.
The Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch laptop is our favorite model for graphic designers. Apple excels at creating high-quality displays that are perfect for graphics and photography without skimping on the laptop's processing power.
What to know before you buy a laptop for graphic design
You need a laptop that has a CPU with above-average processing power and a clock speed of at least 2.8 GHz. This chip must be able to handle complex software and large graphics data files. Having a powerful CPU allows the software to run far smoother than a less expensive and slower CPU, helping to eliminate frustrations on your end.
The graphics card consists of a graphics processing chip and graphics memory, all of which help with creating the image on the screen, called rendering.
As you make adjustments in the software to change the look of your graphics, the graphics card will render those changes. A slow-performing graphics card can create quite a bit of frustration, as you want to see the changes you’re making in real time, rather than having a lag in rendering, so devote quite a bit of your laptop budget to a high-end graphics card.
With a laptop, the screen is part of the computer, so you’ll want to purchase a large screen that has outstanding color sharpness and accuracy.
If you’re someone who doesn’t find the laptop screen large enough for your work — and if you’ll be using the laptop at a desk much of the time — you may be able to purchase a separate, larger monitor that plugs into your laptop. Make sure the laptop has the ability to support an external monitor before you buy it.
Laptop for graphic design features
You may feel like you need large amounts of local storage as a graphic designer, and a large hard drive can certainly be helpful. However, if you make use of cloud storage, you may be able to survive without a huge hard drive on your laptop, saving some money.
Some people prefer the Windows operating system, while others are fans of Mac. You should select the operating system with which you are the most comfortable.
Modern software often runs in the cloud, which makes matching your software with the laptop’s operating system less important than it was in the past.
Laptop for graphic design cost
Because graphics designers need powerful graphics processors and larger screens than the average laptop, costs are higher than average. A basic laptop for graphic design may cost $800 to $1,400, while an above-average laptop may cost $1,400 to $2,500.
Laptop for graphic design FAQ
How do I know if a laptop has the color accuracy I need?
A. For the greatest color accuracy, look for a laptop screen that supports the Adobe RGB standard. The sRGB color standard isn't quite as accurate as Adobe RGB, but sRGB will do the job in a less demanding graphical environment.
Can I draw by hand on the screen of any laptop?
A. You need a laptop screen that supports touch capabilities to be able to use a stylus to draw on the screen. A 2-in-1 laptop design supports touch like a tablet, but it has a laptop configuration.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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