The best laptops for professional designers and designers

Already looking for a laptop to use with the desktop or as a host, it is important that you choose a suitable device to perform your work as an artist or graphic designer or designer.

To perform this classification, we have tested and tested benchmarking the four models presented here and also others that have not turned out to have a good relationship between power and portability.

Next, we will help you choose the correct settings. But before analyzing what screen, processor, RAM, storage, graphics card, ports and operating system you need, you may want to take a look at these recommendations.

What programs do you use? Recommended settings
Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, Sketch or Adobe XD Processor: Core i7 with HRAM suffix: 16 GB Storage: 512 GB Display: Retina or 4K
Photoshop, Illustrator or software to edit video and make simple animations Processor: Core i7 with HRAM suffix: 16 GB Storage: 512 GB (PCIe SSD) GPU: AMD Radeon Pro 555X or Nvidia GeForce 1050i Display: Retina or 4KPorts: Thunderbolt x 3
Photoshop (advanced level) or After Effects Processor: Core i9RAM: 32 GB Storage: 512 GB or 1 TB (PCIe SSD) GPU: AMD Radeon Pro 555X or Nvidia GeForce 1050i Display: Retina or 4KPorts: Thunderbolt x 3
Any program of the above, but you have a low budget Processor: Core i7 with URAM suffix: 8 GB Storage: 512 GB Display: HD

Purchase guide for a portable graphic design

1. Screen

Most 15-inch laptops can be purchased with HD resolution (1920 x 1080, 1920 x 1200) or 4K (3840 x 2160). Our recommendation is that you always bet on the 4K screen if you can afford it.

A 4K screen allows you to see much better details of the project you are working on. In fact, the interfaces of current applications are designed for resolutions higher than HD.

In addition, laptops with 4K screen are designed for professionals and offer better color reproduction. These panels usually offer the Adobe RGB range at 100%, while HD panels only at 75%.

Some models also come with a touch screen. These are not for drawing as in the case of tablets, but only to be able to perform controls such as scroll or zoom with your hands. This is much more convenient than using the trackpad.

2. Processor

All laptops on this list have Intel CPU units. Despite AMD's efforts to gain a presence on the desktop computers of gamers and creative, most brands prefer Core or Xeon processors.

This does not necessarily make things easier. Choosing a processor from the Core range also presents difficulties. We recommend choosing one of the last generation. Then you will have to choose between Core i3, i5, i7 and i9.

Core i5 and i7 processors are divided between U and H / HQ / HK models. The U chips have between two and four cores and suck less battery and offer less performance than the H chips. You will find them in the smaller laptops.

On the other hand, H chips have between four and six cores and offer faster speeds than U chips, which makes them ideal for more intense tasks. Most likely, you opt for an i7 chip, although if the budget allows it, bet on an i9.

If you want to know what type of processor a laptop has and what generation it belongs to, you should look at the first number after the script and the letters at the end. A quick search on Google should also help you.

On the other hand, there are some high-end laptops that use mobile versions of Xeon processors that are normally used in workstations. They are not necessarily more powerful than Core processors, but they do offer ECC RAM.

3. RAM

The gigabytes of RAM will determine how much information it is capable of storing in the short term. That affects the number of applications that you can manage at the same time before you have to rely on storage.

We recommend that you bet on a portable 16 GB of RAM, since this is the capacity required by many design applications. If you're really on a budget, 8 GB of RAM is the minimum you need.

Now, if part of your work involves using applications that demand a lot of RAM, as is the case with After Effects, then you should bet on a 32 GB model. Some high-end models come with 64 GB, but their price is usually very expensive.

Have a faster RAM to improve the performance of your laptop. The best laptops use a 2666 MHz DDR4 RAM, while older or smaller laptops usually have a 2133 MHz DDR3 RAM.

Most laptops have two slots for RAM modules. Unlike before, now one of them is usually factory cow, which means that you can expand the RAM of your computer more easily.

However, dual DIMMs usually offer better performance than individual DIMMs, so if you do not plan to expand the RAM of your laptop, it is best to bet on a model with two factory RAM modules.

4. Storage

Most 15-inch laptops have a single disk, usually with capacities up to 1TB. Others offer even 2TB of space, but it is usually in exchange for a price that is too high.

The 265 GB of storage are often too few especially if we take into account that graphic designers need to install many editing programs. Thus, the best option for most is an internal memory of 512 GB.

Normally, you can choose between SATA or PCIe disks. We recommend that you bet on the seconds, also in the case of laptops with two discs, since they will give you an extra performance ideal for editing 4K video or creating animations.

5. Graphics card

If you usually work in two-dimensional applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign or Sketch, you may wonder if you need a laptop that has a separate 3D graphics card such as AMD or Nvidia or if you can settle for the included Intel UHD.

According to our experience, you will need a discrete graphics card if you are going to use Photoshop to create documents with many layers and to encode video and animations. Instead, Intel graphics will be enough if you work with InDesign, Sketch or XD.

On the other hand, if you use a software Like Cinema 4D, you should get the most powerful graphics card you can afford. It is also advisable to use an eGPU whenever you can to add more 3D power.

6. Ports

The offer of ports in 15-inch laptops has been reduced as they have become thinner and thinner. An example of this is the MacBook Pro, which currently only offers four Thunderbolt ports.

The reason for the manufacturers is that, at present, a large part of the connections are made wirelessly, so fewer ports are needed. In addition, you can always turn to an adapter if you need more.

Especially if you transport the laptop up and down, you will know how frustrating it is to realize that you have left the adapter at home. This is why in this list we also reward models with USB and HDMI ports.

7. Windows or Mac?

Although there are still static and user experience differences that place macOS above Windows, most creatives will not notice them, since the interfaces of the editing programs are practically the same on both platforms.

Photoshop is Photoshop on both Mac and Windows. The only real difference are the shortcuts made with the keyboard. Of course, there are some exceptions, since certain applications are only available for Mac, such as Sketch, or for Windows.

The best laptops for graphic design of 2019

one. Dell XPS 15

The Dell XPS 15 It offers the best combination of design, performance and price. For the same price as a basic MacBook Pro you have the fastest processor of laptops for average consumers, 32 GB RAM, 1 TB of memory and 4K touch screen.

In our tests, the XPS 15 only remained below the HP ZBook Studio, much more expensive, in Photoshop performance, but instead it was the first in the benchmark Cinebench R20. Of course, the life of the battery is less than that of a MacBook Pro.

The screen is capable of reproducing almost the entire Adobe RGB color spectrum, but the truth is that, compared to the other models, it has the worst color accuracy. That doesn't mean it's not excellent, just not as much as others.

Basic Specifications

  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home
  • Processor: Intel Core 8 Generation i7-8750H
  • Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR4
  • Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
  • Display: 15.6-inch InfinityEdge (Full HD, 1920 x 1080)
  • Connectivity: Wifi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth, USB x 2, power plug, HDMI 2.0, Thunderbolt, port Jack, SD slot
  • Battery: 56 Wh
  • Dimensions: 357 x 235 x 11-17 mm
  • Weight: 2 kg

two. MacBook Pro 15

Since the first was launched MacBook Pro In 2008, Apple's notebook is a very popular choice among designers and artists. It is the best portable designer from an aesthetic point of view, but its low supply of ports is somewhat disappointing.

The screen is the one that shows the colors in a more realistic way, but can only reproduce 87% of Adobe RGB colors. It is a matte panel with slightly less resolution than 4K and it is not a touch screen.

The performance of MacBook Pro 15 It is quite similar to other models with 2.9 GHz six-core processors, although sometimes it takes time to load in our Photoshop tests. On the other hand, it has the best battery on the list.

Basic Specifications

  • Operating System: macOS
  • Processor: Intel Core 9 Generation i7
  • Graphics card: Radeon Pro 555X
  • RAM memory: TBC
  • Storage: 256 GB | 512 GB | 1 TB | 2 TB | 4 TB
  • Display: 15.4-inch retina (2880 x 1800)
  • Connectivity: Wifi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth 5.0, Thunderbolt x 4, port Jack
  • Battery: 83.6 Wh
  • Dimensions: 349.3 x 240.7 x 15.5 mm
  • Weight: 1.83 kg

3. Asus ZenBook Pro 14

The great particularity of Asus ZenBook Pro 14 is that it includes an additional touch screen where we will normally find the trackpad. You can use it as a second HD monitor or to control certain applications, or simply as a trackpad standard.

We have included this laptop in the list for those designers and designers who are looking for a cheaper option but with which they can continue to unleash their creativity. The ZenBook Pro 14 is economical but powerful.

Despite being cheaper, it offers better performance than some 13-inch models such as the MacBook Pro or the Dell XPS 13. It is true that it is not up to 15-inch models, but it is much more than we can ask half price.

Basic Specifications

  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home
  • Processor: Intel Core 8 Generation i7-8565U
  • Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR4
  • Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
  • Display: 14-inch IPS (Full HD, 1920 x 1080)
  • Connectivity: Wifi dual band 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, USB 2.0, USB 3.1, USB-C, power input, HDMI 1.4, port Jack, microSD slot
  • Battery: 70 Wh
  • Dimensions: 323 x 225 x 17.9 mm
  • Weight: 1.6 kg

Four. HP ZBook Studio G5

The HP ZBook Studio G5 It is a powerful and elegant mobile workstation that includes the NVidia Quadro P1000 graphics card and, in our sample copy, an Xeon processor and an ECC RAM. That makes it a reliable and robust laptop.

We like the design that HP has opted for. Straight and non-curved angles give it a touch of seriousness that you don't find in other models. Best of all, it is no less powerful than Core chip models, but not more.

In our sample model, the P1000 graphic was somewhat less powerful than we would have expected and the battery life is much lower than that of the MacBook Pro or the XPS 15, but the color reproduction is exceptional.

Basic Specifications

  • Operating system: Windows 10 Pro 64
  • Processor: Intel Core 8 Generation i7-8750H
  • Graphics card: Intel UHD 630
  • RAM memory: 16 GB
  • Storage: 512 GB
  • Display: 15.6-inch FHD IPS eDP (Full HD, 1920 x 1080)
  • Connectivity: Wifi dual band 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.0 charging, USB 3.1 x 2, USB-C, power connector, HDMI 2.0, port Jack, SD slot
  • Battery: 64 Wh
  • Dimensions: 360 x 254 x 8.8-17.4 mm
  • Weight: from 2 kg

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