XPPen Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2) review

Bigger can be better

The XPPen Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 on a rug
(Image: © Future (Henry St Leger))

TechRadar Verdict

With a sleek, integrated design and 16,000 pressure levels in its advanced stylus, the XPPen Artist Pro 16 offers a big upgrade over previous iterations of the Artist Pro. While it has largely the same specification as the 14 version, a larger, higher-resolution screen only makes it more capable as a drawing tablet and illustration device.


  • +

    + Improved stylus

  • +

    + Built-in stand and keydial accessory

  • +

    + Roomy 2.5K display


  • -

    Fixed angle for stand

  • -

    No touch control

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One-minute review

The XPPen Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2) is an excellent drawing tablet for hobbyists and early career professionals alike. It features an expansive, responsive screen, with a 2.5K resolution and precise brightness control to best match your environment, alongside the sleek accessories and streamlined functionality to let you jump into the creative act with little difficulty – subtly improving both the looks and the function of the first-gen Artist Pro 16.

The revamped stylus is the main event here, boasting an unmatched 16,000 pressure levels for markings that are precisely controlled by your touch; it doesn’t feel much different from the 8,092 levels seen in other leading tablets and may be similar to the 8K or 16K resolution in a high-end TV, which sounds advanced but is barely noticeable. Either way, it’s good to know the finer motions of your hand are being catered to, and the Artist Pro 16 is currently leading the market on this feature.

The tablet is well designed, with an integrated stand that props up the display at a (sadly fixed) 19-degree angle, and a slim wrist support at the base. Inputs are pleasingly minimal in the display itself, with a wireless keydial accessory with customizable shortcuts to help you navigate your creations with ease.

While this 16-inch display will set you back a little more than the Artist Pro 14, the larger screen real estate may be enough to sway you – packing in 2560x1600 pixels compared to the smaller model’s 1920x1200 – just keep in mind that specifications are otherwise almost identical between them.

Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2) review: Price and availability

  •  List price: $599.99 / £529.99 / AU$365.99 

The Artist Pro 16 retails for just $599.99 / £529.99 / AU$609.99, which is an astonishing amount considering some of the high-tech features packed into this mid-range drawing tablet – particularly the 16,000 pressure levels in the stylus (included).

The smaller XPPen Artist Pro 14 comes in a little cheaper at $356.99 / £359.99 / AU$559.99, with the same stylus and almost the same specification, if that extra screen real estate isn’t worth the upgrade for you.

Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2) review: specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Dimensions 405.11 x 291.37 x 20.23 mm
Active drawing area344.68 x 215.42 mm
Display resolution 2560 x 1600 pixels
Pressure levels 16,000
Compatibility Windows 7 (or later), Mac OS X 10.10 (or later), Android (USB3. 1 DP1.2), Chrome OS 88 (or later), and Linux.

The XPPen Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 screen bezel closeup

(Image credit: Future (Henry St Leger))

Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2) review: design

  •  Integrated kickstand 
  •  Wireless shortcut remote 
  •  Stylish finish 

The XP Pen Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2) certainly looks plush. The second-generation model has ditched the built-in buttons and gray finish for a sleeker, button-free black; even the XP Pen logo has shrunk, allowing the screen itself to sit center stage.

Beneath the screen, you’ll find a wrist support, which doesn’t have the cushioning of an equivalent mousepad but still assists with ergonomics. That said, it doesn’t exactly do much when you’re drawing on the upper half of the screen, given its overall size.

There are two kickstands at the back, integrated into the overall body of the display, which prop up the screen at a 19-degree angle. The previous Artist Pro 16 model did come with an adjustable stand, with a lot more freedom around the precise angle, so it’s worth keeping in mind whether the lack of flexibility is worth it for you.

In-line built-in buttons have been moved to a separate device entirely, packed into a sleek shortcut remote (The ‘X-Remote Control’) about the size of a compact smartphone. It features 10 customizable shortcut buttons and even a circular dial for quickly scrolling through options (we have it set to vary brush size in Photoshop, and it’s a delight). The remote allows you to keep your non-drawing hand consistently occupied in one place, without moving to and from the side of the screen.

There are a couple of inputs snuck into the upper side of the tablet, for power and brightness adjustment, alongside two ports for USB-C to USB-C connections (cable included) or a more complex HDMI 3-in-1 cable (sold separately).

But, of course, the screen is the main event, and what you’ll be mostly concerned with. The Artist Pro (Gen 2) comes with a 2560 x 1600 resolution, which is a decent improvement over the first-gen tablet’s 1920 x 1080 spec, with twice as many pixels and a taller 16:10 aspect ratio compared to the former’s 16:9. 

The screen is fully laminated and is said to be free of parallax – meaning the markings on the screen should precisely match the movements of your pen.

The XPPen Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 on a rug

(Image credit: Future (Henry St Leger))

Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2) review: performance

  •  Smooth, responsive drawing 
  •  Only minor line jitter 
  •  Precise brightness control and mostly impressive color 

The Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2) is a clear step up from the first-gen model, with a new X3 technology elevating what XP Pen’s range can do – a more sensitive stylus working on a higher-resolution screen for what should be a smoother, more enjoyable experience.

Setup is easy enough, once you’ve downloaded the correct driver from the XP Pen website, configured your pen and X-Remote Control to your desired specification, and got some kind of drawing software up and running on the tablet. (It’s worth noting that our review of the XPPen Artist Pro 14 (Gen 2) saw the reviewer facing some lag and driver issues, though they seemed resolved by the time this larger model got sent to me.)

Drawing is smooth and responsive across the screen, while the shortcut remote and stylus allow you to cycle quickly between fast, efficient functions. There’s no parallax here, and only a small amount of line jitter, making it easy to stay in control of your cursor mid-creation.

The screen doesn’t quite have the pen-to-paper feel of some more advanced devices, even with the felt nibs included in the pen case. Generally, the Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2) excels in presenting itself as a high-range model, with a few great specs to back that up, but there’s no doubt that the interaction between the pen and the screen could be more impressive.

The screen is capably bright, while the 2.5K resolution ensures images stay crisp as you delve into them. The brightness control is pleasingly precise, too, on a 100-point scale, which let me carefully calibrate the output as sunlight vanished throughout the evening. The color gamut is also impressive for the price, but a little less vivid than I might have hoped, with hues a little diminished compared to my laptop screen – something to keep in mind for professional illustrators.

However, the ability to turn off the display, and use it as a screen-less drawing tablet is a welcome boon, and means this particular tablet should suit a wide variety of sketchers and illustrators working in very different ways. It’s just a shame that the built-in stand doesn’t offer any adjustment, and you’re pretty much stuck drawing at the angle that it gives you, unless you find something else to lean it on – though for quicker sessions, as more amateur or early career artists may generally do, this might not become much of an issue.

The XPPen Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 pen case fully opened showing stylus and nib storage

(Image credit: Future (Henry St Leger))

Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2) review: performance

  •  16,000 pressure levels 
  •  Eight included nibs and sleek case 
  •  Handy eraser 

The stylus is the main selling point for the XPPen Artist Pro 16 – but how does it hold up?

This updated stylus boasts 16,000 pressure levels, which is roughly double the 8,192 seen in the first-gen Artist Pro 16 stylus, and therefore double what almost any comparable drawing tablet is offering these days. It’s a little hard to tell the difference at this amount, given that 8,192 levels are still pretty extensive, but I found the stylus brilliantly responsive, and you’ll be safe in the knowledge that your drawing pen is futureproofed for the next few years as other tablets attempt to catch up.

The stylus’s rubber grip is tactile, with a good amount of friction to stop it slipping from your fingers, while two built-in buttons can be customized for a multitude of functions. At the other end is a rounded edge that acts as a digital eraser, which I found hugely useful in touching up my creations on the go.

The stylus is presented in a sleek black case: just push in the drawer from one side and it will release, revealing the stylus and eight additional nibs for you to occasionally replace – four standard nibs, and four felt alternatives for (hypothetically) a more on-paper feel.

The case also includes a USB-A Bluetooth connector, for linking your laptop/desktop to the shortcut remote, though I found I could connect it directly to my computer’s Bluetooth with little issue.

The XPPen Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 keydial

(Image credit: Future (Henry St Leger))

Should I buy the XP Pen Artist Pro 16?

Buy it if...

You want a seriously advanced stylus
The 16,000 pressure levels are somewhat absurd, and are (at the time of writing) unmatched in the sector – though this exact stylus is currently thrown in for a handful of XP Pen tablets, some of them cheaper than the Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2).

You need a large, high-quality screen
With a 15.4-inch display, 2.5K resolution, and a 16:10 aspect ratio, the Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2) is a solid upgrade over its predecessor and offers a more expansive canvas on which to draw, edit, and arrange your creations.

You prefer a separate keydial
Whether you prefer separate accessories or buttons on the main device can be a matter of personal taste – but we found the shortcut remote tactile, portable, lightweight, and pleasingly simple.

Don't buy it if...

You want flexible arrangement options
The built-in kickstand is well-designed, but does mean you’re stuck in a particular position even for long drawing sessions, unlike the more adjustable stand that came with the first-gen model. The larger size also makes this tablet a little less portable than some of XP Pen’s other devices.

You want touch controls
The Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2)’s screen is responsive when it comes to the stylus, but not to your hands – meaning any zooming or scrolling needs to come from the accompanying X-Remote Control.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Value The 2.5K screen and advanced next-gen stylus are great at this price, though the step-down Artist Pro 14 offers much the same at a smaller cost.4 / 5
Design Aside from the fixed kickstand angle, the design is sleek and thoughtful, while looking suitably professional.4 / 5
Performance Drawing is a breeze on this expansive display, even if that pen-to-paper promise never quite happens.4 / 5
Stylus 16,000 pressure levels elevate this stylus above the rest, at least in theory, while the sleek pen case (and in-built nib remover) works very well.4.5 / 5
Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.