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Best laptops for graphic design 2021: top picks for graphic designers

It takes more than pure horsepower to be considered one of the best laptops for graphic design. That’s not to say that you can live without...

It takes more than pure horsepower to be considered one of the best laptops for graphic design. That’s not to say that you can live without that high performance. All that video editing and rendering, particularly in 4K, needs the best graphics card and the best processor to help get you through those processes. But, there are a few other things you need as well.

For a machine to handle graphic design work, you also need a good amount of RAM as well as a large amount of storage space. Those video files that you’ll be rendering are not small. On top of that, the screen needs to accurately reproduce colors, not to mention minimize eye strain so that you can put in longer sessions without getting a headache. And, if a lot of your work is in the field, a portable yet durable design is important.

Whether you want a macOS or Windows machine, we’ve collected the best laptops for graphic design so you can tackle your latest projects like a pro. And, our included price comparison tool will help you find the best deals on whichever laptop you fancy.

The Dell XPS 17 (2021) is surprisingly portable for such a powerful workstation.

(Image credit: Dell)

1. Dell XPS 17 (2021)

A powerhouse for creative design

CPU: Up to 11th Generation Intel Core i9-11980HK | Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6 | RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4-3200MHz | Screen: 17.0" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 17.0" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit | Storage: Up to 4TB M.2 PCIe NVMe

Great performance
Gorgeous design
Lack of ports

The Dell XPS 17 (2021) has the kind of power to handle just about any graphic design work. With specs of up to an Intel Core i9 CPU, 64GB of RAM, and an Nvidia RTX GeForce 3060 means you can even tackle some 4K video editing, especially if you upgrade to a UHD display. Somehow, all this performance fits in a 0.77 inch thick machine for a surprisingly portable workstation. While the XPS 17 does come at a premium and could come with a few more ports, it is a great machine for a creative professional.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 17 (2021)

The Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) is expensive but worth the money.

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

2. Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021)

A creative professional's dream

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M – Radeon Pro 5500M | RAM: 16GB – 64GB | Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone

Gorgeous display
Abundance of ports
Runs hot

One of the most powerful mobile workstations out there, the Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) comes with a lot of power, a gorgeous display, and a whole lotta ports. Best yet, it’s priced well below its less-powerful rivals, making it a better proposition even if you have a more flexible budget. It isn’t by any means perfect. The battery life could use a bit of a boost, for example. But, for how much you’re paying and for the other things you’re getting in return, it’s a miniscule sacrifice.

Read the full review: Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021)

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) is one of the best MacBooks for graphic design money can buy.

(Image credit: Apple)

3. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

Apple’s little MacBook Pro gets a big refresh

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU | Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPURAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 LED-backlit Retina display | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm

Huge battery life
Great performance
Can run iOS apps
Still lacks ports

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) may not have gotten a massive design overhaul, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up for big time in performance and battery life. Thanks to Apple’s groundbreaking M1 chip, the new MacBook Pro 13-inch delivers excellent performance and exceptional battery life. Its performance is so impressive, in fact, that it can easily handle 4K - and even 8K - videos. If you’re looking for a powerful laptop that keeps things small and lightweight, this is easily one of the best MacBooks for graphic design money can buy.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

The Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020) is a gorgeous, smart-looking mobile workstation.

(Image credit: Razer)

4. Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020)

Premium laptop for graphic design

CPU: Intel Core i7-10875H | Graphics: Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 | RAM: 32GB DDR4-2933MHz | Screen: 15.6" OLED 4K Touch 60Hz, 100% DCI-P3, factory calibrated | Storage: 1TB SSD

Extremely powerful
Stunning display
Very expensive

If you want the most powerful laptop ever made and money is no object, then the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020) is one of the best laptops for graphic design. This gorgeous, smart-looking mobile workstation will give some of the most powerful desktop PCs a good workout, running for their money, showcasing prowess in complex tasks like 3D animation. That’s while delivering a delicious 4K touchscreen display with 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, perfect for creative pros and accomplished multi-taskers. Of course, it’ll also set you back a hefty sum. But, if you’ve got the dough, this has all the serious firepower you need.

Read the full review: Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020)

The Dell XPS 13 (2020) is a brilliant performer while also thin and light.

(Image credit: Dell)

5. Dell XPS 13 (2020)

Still one of the best laptops of all time

CPU: 10th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – 4k (3840 x 2160) | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Gorgeous design
Excellent battery life
Lackluster audio
Expensive

The Dell XPS 13 (2020) has been a regular in our best laptops list for years, and it also earns a well-deserved spot in our best laptops for graphics design list. It keeps everything we've come to love from Dell's flagship 13-incher, from the gorgeous and light design, to the powerful modern components that power it. It now rocks 10th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and a bezel-less ‘Infinity Edge’ display, which means the Dell XPS 13 (2020) is a brilliant performer, while remaining thin and light. There’s a wide range of customization options as well.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is a thin and light laptop that offers great performance.

(Image credit: Apple)

6. MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

A more affordable Apple laptop for graphic design

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core | Graphics: Integrated 7-core – 8-core | RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory | Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 Retina display | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

macOS Big Sur is fast and responsive
Battery life is great
Silent in use
Fanless design could impact performance

Thanks to the revolutionary ARM-based Apple M1 chip that powers the new MacBook Air, this is a stunning achievement: a thin and light laptop that offers great performance, even with 4K video editing, while also offering incredible battery life. Easily managing over 11 hours on a single charge, this is a laptop you can easily carry around with you at work or school, and its price is incredibly competitive compared to Windows 10 rivals like the Dell XPS 15 (below). Running both new and old Mac apps, the new MacBook Air can now also run iOS apps for iPhone and iPads, giving it access to hundreds of brilliant mobile applications and games as well. Even if you've only ever used Windows laptops before, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is well worth getting and making the jump to macOS. Yes, it really is that good.

Read the full review: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

The Dell XPS 15 is about as close to perfect as a laptop can get.

(Image credit: Dell)

7. Dell XPS 15 (2021)

Perfect for graphic design

CPU: Up to 11th Generation Intel Core i9-11900H | Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB GDDR6 | RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4-3200MHz | Screen: 15.6" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 15.6" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit | Storage: Up to 4TB M.2 PCIe NVMe

Speedy performance
Gorgeous display and design
Could have better discrete graphics

The Dell XPS 15 (2021) keeps everything that’s made this mid-size flagship model special, but with some updated internals. While the XPS 15 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it makes a great laptop for graphic design. With up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, you should be able to handle most image and video editing without breaking a sweat. It can even handle some gaming, though it is admittedly a bit underpowered compared to some of the competition. 

But, with that beautiful screen and the fantastic battery life that the XPS 15s have always come with, you’ll forget about any shortcomings of this computer. And, considering its beautiful design, it’s no wonder that the XPS 15 models consistently rank among the best Dell laptops out there.

The Acer ConceptD 7 is a powerful mobile workstation.

(Image credit: Acer)

8. Acer ConceptD 7

A mobile workstation for creatives

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 – 2080 | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.6" 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 16:9 IPS | Storage: 1TB

Cheaper than MacBook Pro
Good selection of ports
Expensive
Plain design
Not as thin and light as MacBook Pro

For those who think that MacBook Pros are overpriced but still need a powerful mobile workstation, there’s the Acer ConceptD 7. This formidable laptop capable of handling complex and demanding tasks, thanks in part to its Nvidia RTX graphics, was designed specifically with creative professionals in mind. Beyond that sheer power it delivers, it also offers decent port selection, a minimalist solid white design and that stunning Pantone-validated 4K IPS display. Obviously, it’s still pretty pricey, but if you’re looking for a Windows-powered MacBook alternative for creative endeavors, it’s certainly among the best laptops for graphics design.

Read the full review: Acer ConceptD 7

The Razer Blade 14 is just the ticket for all your graphics design demands.

(Image credit: Razer)

9. Razer Blade 14

Portable laptop for graphics design

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 - RTX 3080 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 14-inch 144Hz Full HD – 14-inch 165Hz QHD | Storage: 1TB SSD

Beautiful chassis
Thin and light
Expensive

This luxurious thin and light gaming laptop from Razer just oozes class, and is an ideal laptop for people who want a powerful device they can take around with them. It's one of the nicest looking modern gaming laptops we've seen. It isn’t just for gaming, however. The Razer Blade 14 comes with cutting edge components as well, including the awesome AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor and up to an RTX 3080 graphics card – just the ticket for all your graphics design demands. This means it’s able to see you through the most intensive graphics design processes without breaking a sweat… while keeping things portable and solidly built, so you won't worry about it getting damaged when out in the field.

Read the full review: Razer Blade 14

The Lenovo Legion 7i (2020) is stunning inside and out.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

10. Lenovo Legion 7i (2020)

A perfect machine for work and play

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 - RTX 3080 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 14-inch 144Hz Full HD – 14-inch 165Hz QHD | Storage: up to 1TB SSD

144Hz display, 240Hz models available
Quiet fans that keep their cool
Mediocre battery life

The Lenovo Legion 7i may be first and foremost a gaming laptop, but that stunner of an aluminum design and seriously impressive performance make it a boon to creative professionals like graphic designers as well. This wouldn’t look out of place in an office, especially if you turn off those blinding RGB lights. Plus, it stays cool under pressure, thanks to its fantastic thermals. This may not be an RTX 3000 Series laptop, but you can get an RTX 2080 Super Max Q under the hood that’s nothing to joke about. Of course, if that’s overkill, there are other configurations on hand as well.

Read the full review: Lenovo Legion 7i (2020)

  • The best laptops: our pick of the 15 best laptops you can buy this year


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