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

Included in this guide:

Man using a laptop while sitting on the floor next to his backpack
These are the best laptops for graphic designers. (Image credit: Image Credit: Bruce Mars / Pexels)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best laptops for graphic designers need to be powerful machines to make the cut. Without all that horsepower, you won’t be able to do the video rendering and editing you need to do, especially in 4K. And, you’ll need the help of the best graphics card and best processor you can get your hands on. However, you need more than just pure power for graphic design work.

A laptop for graphic design needs to also have enough RAM and hard drive space to handle and store your video files. After all, those projects tend to get big very quickly. You also need a quality display that will reproduce colors accurately and be easy on the eyes so that you don’t experience eye strain after a long day in front of the computer. And, if you plan on working in the field, it needs to be as durable and portable as possible.

To help you find the best notebook for graphic design, we’ve rounded up our top picks including both Windows and macOS laptops. And, we’ve also included our price comparison tool so you can find deals on whichever laptop you’re hoping to buy.

Dell XPS 17 (2021) opened halfway against a white background

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

A powerhouse for creative design

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Great performance+Gorgeous design
Reasons to avoid
-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)

Two Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021), one with its back on the camera, against a white background

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

A creative professional's dream

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous display+Abundance of ports
Reasons to avoid
-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) from above against a white background

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

Apple’s little MacBook Pro gets a big refresh

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Huge battery life+Great performance+Can run iOS apps
Reasons to avoid
-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)

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020) front and center against a white background

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

Premium laptop for graphic design

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Extremely powerful+Stunning display
Reasons to avoid
-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)

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 against a white background

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 is a stellar machine for graphic design. (Image credit: Lenovo)

The perfect 2-in-1 for graphic designers

Specifications
CPU: 11th generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Xe Plus
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 14-inch, 1920 x 1200p, IPS touchscreen, 400 nit
Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic 16:10 display+Outstanding performance for demanding tasks
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of SD card slot is a major disadvantage

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 might be pricey but it’s well worth the cost. Not only do you get a fantastic screen with a wider 16:10 aspect ratio but excellent performance thanks to the latest generation Intel processors, Intel Xe graphics, and Evo certification. It will also last quite a while on a single charge if you need to work on the road or in the field. Its design is not the most awe-inspiring and an SD card slot would have been appreciated, but the X1 is an otherwise stellar machine for graphic design.

Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6

A MacBook Air (M1, 2020) showcasing its screen against a white background

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

A more affordable Apple laptop for graphic design

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+macOS Big Sur is fast and responsive+Battery life is great+Silent in use
Reasons to avoid
-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)

Dell XPS 15 at an angle against a white background

The Dell XPS 15 is about as close to perfect as a laptop can get. (Image credit: Dell)

Perfect for graphic design

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Speedy performance+Gorgeous display and design
Reasons to avoid
-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.

Two Acer ConceptD 7s, one open, one closed, against a white background

The Acer ConceptD 7 is a  powerful mobile workstation. (Image credit: Acer)

A mobile workstation for creatives

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Cheaper than MacBook Pro+Good selection of ports
Reasons to avoid
-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

Razer Blade 14 at an angle against a white background

The Razer Blade 14 is just the ticket for all your graphics design demands.  (Image credit: Razer)

Portable laptop for graphics design

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful chassis+Thin and light
Reasons to avoid
-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

Lenovo Legion 7i (2020) against a white background

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

A perfect machine for work and play

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+144Hz display, 240Hz models available+Quiet fans that keep their cool
Reasons to avoid
-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)

Matt Hanson

Senior Computing editor

Matt (Twitter) is TechRadar's Senior Computing editor. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. If you're encountering a problem or need some advice with your PC or Mac, drop him a line on Twitter.