Digital Artists: 9 Best laptop for drawing and animation in 2022

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A laptop for content creation is very different from a laptop for content consumption.

best laptops for drawing and animation

Since drawing and animation are graphics-intensive tasks, they require a laptop that can handle these workloads.

An ideal laptop for graphics should have a high-resolution color-accurate screen, powerful processor, good graphic performance as well as adequate ports to connect peripherals such as a graphics tablet.

Other features such as user-upgradeable RAM and storage plus a minimum of 4K output @ 60 FPS, when connected to an external monitor, is also ideal.

Some of the popular laptops in the market simply cannot fulfill these requirements and won’t fit your needs as a digital artist.

After spending over a week – comparing, testing, and benchmarking over 30 laptops, we have finally been able to find some of the best laptops for drawing and animation.

Our top pick is a fantastic laptop that has a futuristic design, a modern-industrial look, premium build, great performance, and most impressively “it also doubles up as a graphics tablet“.

Other options in our list consist of everything from portable ultrabooks to productivity-powerhouse machines with dual screens.

Some of them even come with touch and stylus support as well as a 2-in-1 convertible design. Giving you a wide range of options to pick from.

Top Recommendations

In a hurry? Here are our top picks…

Apple Macbook Pro 14 for drawing and animation
Apple Macbook Pro 14
  • 14.2-inch screen
  • 16:10 Aspect ratio
  • Apple M1 Pro chip
  • Integrated GPU (8 or 10 core)
  • P3 wide color gamut
  • All-metal body
  • Premium
microsoft surface laptop studio moving
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio
  • 14.4-inch screen
  • 3:2 Aspect ratio
  • Intel® Core™ i5 or i7 
  • NVIDIA® RTX 3050 Ti Graphics
  • 100% sRGB color
  • All-metal design
  • Stylus support
asus tuf dash 15
Asus TUF Dash 15
  • 15.6-inch screen
  • 16:9 Aspect ratio
  • Intel® Core™ i5 or i7
  • NVIDIA® RTX 3050 Ti Graphics
  • 100% sRGB color
  • metal+plastic build
  • Affordable

Minimum hardware requirements for drawing/animation

One of the first steps of buying a laptop is to be aware of the basic requirements.

A laptop with a slow processor and low RAM simply do not have the horsepower to smoothly run any graphic-intensive application.

Here are some of the minimum requirements your computer needs to have…

Processor – Faster processor equals smoother performance

  • 4 core 8 threads for Intel Processors
  • 6 cores and 6 threads for AMD processors

RAM – for stability and better multi-tasking

  • Ideally 16 GB, minimum 8 GB

Storage – More is always better

  • 256 GB min storage – NVMe or SSD

Other requirements

  • More than 95% sRGB color gamut coverage (color accuracy)
  • Scree brightness of more than 300 nits
  • 1440p (2k), 60Hz output for external monitors

With the basics out of the way, now let’s move on to our list. You would be happy to know all the laptops mentioned in this list fulfill the minimum requirements mentioned above.

1. Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio – The “Best” Laptop for Drawing and Animation

Our pick

Microsoft surface laptop studio in stage mode

Buy Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio on Amazon →

From our initial list of a little over 30 laptops, we had a number of potential candidates for being at the top spot for the best laptop for drawing and animation.

Out of all these laptops, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio stood out as a deserving winner.

It has the most extensive list of features as it comes with an extremely color-accurate display along with a 120 Hz fast screen refresh rate, powerful processor, a modern-industrial 3 in 1 design, and a premium chassis – all in a single package.

The Surface laptop looks nothing like any other laptop in the market.

It features a unique hinge that instantly transforms the laptop into a drawing tablet or an intermediate position (called stage mode) for use as a multimedia device.

The overall design of the laptops is very classy and premium. It has a raised platform-like structure with vents at the base.

It looks good as part of your setup as well as in a professional environment. 

Now the surface Laptop is not all about design. It comes with a 14.4-inch touchscreen with support for pen input.

drawing using slim pen 2 on Microsoft surface laptop studio

Talking of pen input, unlike those janky styluses that usually come with laptops, the Surface Laptop comes with a very capable stylus “The Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2“.

As an artist, you will really enjoy using this stylus as it has very consistent, and predictable stroke characteristics.

The Surface Pen combined with the 120 Hz screen refresh rate results in a very smooth and natural drawing and writing experience.

It is also important to note that the Surface Laptop Studio screen has an aspect ratio of 3:2, which is considered better for productivity compared to a normal 16:9 screen, as you ger more vertical screen space.

Now as an artist most of you are gonna use a mouse with this laptop. But it is reassuring to know that the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio comes with a precision trackpad, and it is one of the best trackpads in Windows laptops.

Overall, it is safe to say – you can’t go wrong with this laptop. 

No matter whether you are a hobbyist or professional or even a casual gamer, Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio has something for everyone.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio - Features and Specs.  (click to expand)

Resolution: 2400 x 1600 (201 PPI)

Size and aspect ratio: 14.4 inches, 3:2

Color Accuracy: Full sRGB color coverage (very accurate, source)

Max Display Brightness: 500 nits

Processor: Intel® Core™ i5 or i7 (11th gen)

Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 3050 Ti

RAM: 16 GB, or 32 GB (LPDDR4x)

Storage: 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB

Backlight (keyboard): Yes

Ports: 2 USB Type-C port (USB 4.0/Thunderbolt™ 4), 3.5 mm headphone jack, surface connect port for charging

Upgradeability: not user upgradable (soldered RAM)

Weight:  4.00 lbs (1820 grams)

Battery: 56.3Wh (Mediocre battery life)

Pros – What we liked

  • Doubles up as a drawing tablet
  • Unique 3 in 1 hinge
  • Uniform Bezels from all 4 sides
  • Excellent color acuracy
  • 3:2 aspect ratio (taller screen)
  • 120 Hz adaptive refresh rate for buttery smooth experience
  • The best Laptop stylues
  • Styluses magnetically attaches to the laptop and charges there
  • Tilted screen for comfortable drawing when folded down
  • Precision trackpad
  • Outdoor visibility: 500 nits max brightness
  • Windows Hello (face sign-in)
  • Backlit keyboard
  • High-quality all-metal construction 
  • Decent webcam
  • Powerful internal components – can easily handle creative tasks as well as gaming

Cons – But not dealbreakers

  • Not user upgradable
  • Soldered RAM
  • No number pad
  • Only USB-C ports (lack of non USB-C ports)
  • The base of the Surface Laptop sits taller on the desk (as it has a 2 step design with vents at the bottom) and have relatively sharper edges
  • Display with rounded corners (not a big deal but something to note)

Check on Amazon →

 

2. Apple MacBook Pro 14 – The complete package

Apple Macbook pro 14

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Apple Macbook Pro has been a very popular choice amongst creative professionals for quite a while now. 

It has recently gotten a massive design overhaul and power boost making it a much better option compared to any other laptop in the market.

If you ever wanted a complete laptop, which almost does everything (except for gaming), the New Apple Macbook pro is a perfect choice.

Some important points to consider when looking for a drawing and animation-centric laptop is – the power/performance, the quality of the screen, connectivity options, software support as well as battery life. 

The Apple Macbook Pro 14 stands tall on all these benchmarks and is one of the most complete packages. 

It comes with Apple’s in-house M1 Pro processor with 8 or 10 core CPU and 14 or 16 core GPU. The processor is based on the latest 5nm process technology.

macbook pro 14 3d design and graphics

The laptops not only handle heavy drawing and 2d animation workload but also flies through heavy 3d Animation workflows and renderings.

Its 5-nanometer chip architecture provides unmatched power efficiency making the Macbook Pro last almost twice as long as any leading Windows laptop in the market right now. 

Next coming to the screen, If you know Apple, you know that they get their screens right. 

It comes with a Liquid Retina XDR (Extreme Dynamic Range) display, and this time around this is not just a fancy marketing name.

The Laptop actually comes with a Mini-LED screen which produces amazing contrasts and colors.

In fact, this is the most color-capable screen on a laptop and is perfect for any color-sensitive task including drawing and animation.

It is also the brightest screen in a laptop with 1000 nits of sustained brightness compared to just 500-600 nits in other leading laptops.

So working in a bright outdoor environment is not gonna be an issue.

14-inch Macbook Pro screen specs

  • 14.2 inches with 3024 x 1964 resolution
  • 1000 nits sustained brightness
  • 1600 nits peak brightness
  • 10,000 mini LEDs matrix
  • 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio 
  • 1,000,000,000 colors

The availability of multiple connectivity options is also an important feature to look for.

As an artist, your workflow may require working with different equipment such as a drawing tablet, and they all should be able to connect to your laptop. 

The newer 14-inch Macbook Pro got you covered as it comes with a huge number of connectivity options.

Connectivity ports on 14-inch Macbook Pro.

  • 1 x MagSafe 3 – for charging (attaches to the port magnetically)
  • 3 x Thunderbolt 4.0 capable USB-C port
  • SDXC port – for Memory cards 
  • HDMI port – For projectors, external monitor screens, and old school devices
  • Headphone jack – For high fidelity audio

With that all said, it is not all roses and butterflies. 

If you are into gaming, or you are planning to use your laptops for gaming, it is a common consensus that Macbook Pro are not the right laptop for you.

You can get much better gaming capability at a much lesser price elsewhere. 

We are not saying you can’t play games on the 14-inch MacBook, but this laptop is not the best choice for hardcore gaming.

*Note The Macbook Pro is also available in a 16-inch size (Amazon) with a more powerful Processor and graphics.

Apple Macbook Pro 14 - Features and Specs.  (click to expand)

Resolution: 3024 x 1964 pixels, 254 ppi

Size and aspect ratio: 14.2 inches, 16:10

Color Accuracy: P3 Wide color gamut

Processor: M1 Pro 8 core or 10 core

Graphics: Intigrated 14 or 16 core GPU

RAM: 16 GB, or 32 GB (intigrated/unified)

Storage: 512 GB (optional 1 TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB or 8TB)

Backlight (keyboard): Yes

Ports: 3 USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, SDXC, Headphone, MagSafe

Upgradeability: No

Weight:  4.7 lbs (2.1 kg)

Battery: 58.2Wh (weight varies depending on confiuration)

Pros – What we liked

  • 14.2-inch screen in a narrow bezel design
  • Setting a benchmark for display quality
  • 1000 nits sustained brightness (1600 peak) (even visible under sunlight)
  • Unmatched color accuracy
  • Powerful in house Apple m1 processor 
  • Extremely power-efficient, resulting in excellent battery life
  • Backlit keyboard with function keys
  • Premium metallic unibody design (function over form design)
  • Multiple connectivity options 
  • The best trackpad on any Laptop
  • Best webcam on any laptop (1080p)
  • Best in class speakers
  • A complete package for drawing 2d as well as 3D design and animation
  • Can handle light gaming

Cons – But not dealbreakers

  • Notched screen
  • No face Unlock (in spite of having a notch)
  • Expensive
  • Expensive memory upgrades
  • Integrated memory (not user upgradable)

Check on Amazon →

 

3. Dell XPS 15 – Premium and stealth laptop with all-screen design

dell xps 15 9500 - the best laptop for artist and animators

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The XPS is one of the premium laptops series from Dell. Its all-metal design with a carbon fiber keyboard deck gives it a stealthy premium look.

That stealth look is complemented by a gorgeous screen with the smallest bezels on all 4 sides measuring just a few millimeters.  

Unlike other laptops in this list what is unique about the Dell XPS 15 is its user-upgradable RAM and storage. 

dell xps 15 user upgradeability
Dell XPS user-upgradable RAM and storage

It is impressive that even after being sleeker than Microsoft Surface Studio and Macbook Pro, the Dell XPS still manages to design the internals with user-upgradeable parts.

Dell XPS 15 display

The laptop comes with 15.6 inch screen with an aspect ratio of 16:10. It is available in 4K or 1080 p resolution screen with 100% Adobe RGB color support.

Dell XPS 15 with its all-screen design with virtually no bezels on any of the four sides makes you go wow every time you open and power up this laptop.

Due to its bezel-less design, Dell has been able to fit a 16-inch laptop in a body of a 14-inch laptop, giving you ultimate portability without compromising with the screen size.

dell xps 15 design and specs

Compared to other premium laptops, the design of the XPS 15 defiantly looks a generation ahead of its competitors.

Power and Performance

The laptop is not a slouch either when it comes to graphic performance. It comes with a 11th Gen Intel i5, i7 0r i9 processor with the NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti graphics card with 4 GB of video memory.

There is also an option for an OLED screen.

In real life usage, this laptop can effortlessly handle drawing, and 2D animation applications without even warming up.

This laptop is available in multiple processors, RAM, and Memory options, that you can customize as per your needs and budget.

Out of all the available variants of Dell XPS 15, this variant (click here to check out – Amazon) is the most value for money.

In a nutshell, the Dell XPS 15 is an all-rounder laptop that has something for everyone. We can quite frankly recommend this to anyone looking for a quality laptop for digital art, design, and animation work.

If you are one of those lucky people buying it, we are sure this will exceed your expectations.

Dell XPS 15 - Features and Specs.  (click to expand)

Resolution: FullHD or 4K

Size and aspect ratio: 15.6 inches, 16:10

Color Accuracy: 100% Adobe RGB

Processor: Intel® Core™ i5, i7, or i9 (11th gen)

Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 3050 Ti

RAM: 8 GB, 16 GB, or 32 GB (3200 MHz)

Storage: 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB

Backlight (keyboard): Yes

Ports: 3 USB Type-C port (thunderbolt compatible)

Upgradeability: Yes, 2 user-upgradeable RAM slots and 2 NVMe storage slots

Weight:  4.53 lbs (2.05 kg)

Battery: 56Wh/ 86Wh (weight varies depending on confiuration)

Pros – What we liked

  • Bezel-less: from all four sides
  • The best trackpad on a Windows Laptop
  • Outstanding 500 nits brightness
  • Superior color accuracy (100% Adobe RGB)
  • Windows Hello (face unlock) plus a Fingerprint sensor
  • User-upgradeable RAM and Storage
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Superior sound quality (speakers)
  • 130W charger plus 86Wh battery capacity
  • Comfortable carbon-fiber keyboard deck
  • 15-inch laptop in a 14-inch body (ie. compact)
  • Good for drawing, animation as well as some respectable gaming
  • Probably the best-looking laptop in the market

Cons – But not dealbreakers

  • Noisy fans when running at full power
  • Mediocre video calling camera
  • No number pad
  • Only USB-C ports (But comes with a handy HDMI + USB-A dongle)
  • Wrist rest area on keyboard deck picks up fingerprints from oily hands (but cleans off easily)

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4. Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 – Value for money, performance heavy laptop for Artists

lenovo legion 5 laptop

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If you are a gamer by heart and a digital artist by profession, the Lenovo Legion 5 is the perfect blend of the two worlds.

A great laptop doesn’t necessarily need to be outrageously expensive. The Lenovo Legion 5 is the perfect example to demonstrate that.

It comes with a top-of-the-line graphic and processor, a very well-designed cooling system, and a robust sturdy design, and a screen with the video calling camera present in the reverse notch – all at a very reasonable price.

The Legion 5 is a much-loved series from Lenovo. Every year they upgrade it with the latest specs and design tweaks.

This tried and tested laptop design is very functional. It has the majority of the ports on the backside of the laptop with a few on the sides of the laptop.

This port layout keeps your laptop looking clean in spite of being connected with multiple devices on the back. 

As far as the power and performance are concerned, the Legion 5 comes with AMD Ryzen 7 5800H Processors.

These processors are comparable to Intel’s 11th gen i7 11800H processors.

On the graphics side of things, the Legion 5 comes with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050Ti.

Both the CPU and GPU are pretty much the best you can get in this segment and result in smooth operation no matter how big your project files get and how many layers you use.

If you are into 3D graphics and animation, the viewport smoothness and performance even with real-time rendering is great.

Moving on to the screen, the Lenovo Legion 5 comes with a 15.6-inch FullHD screen with 100% sRGB color coverage and a 165 Hz refresh rate.

Looking at these stats you can tell, this ain’t no Macbook pro 14 level screen in terms of color and overall picture quality, but 100% sRGB is still good enough to get the job done.

Lenovo Legion 5 - Features and Specs.  (click to expand)

Resolution: FullHD

Size and aspect ratio: 15.6 inches, 16:9

Color Accuracy: 100% sRGB, 72% NTSC

Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 5800H (3.20 GHz, up to 4.40 GHz Max Boost, 8 Cores, 16 Threads, 16 MB Cache)

Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 3050 Ti

RAM: 16GB DDR4 (3200 MHz) – user upgradable

Storage: 512 GB SSD

Backlight (keyboard): Yes (RGB)

Ports: e-shutter (camera kill switch – for privacy), 3 x USB-A, 2 x USB-C, HDMI, Power, Headphone, RJ45 (ethernet) 

Upgradeability: Yes, 2 user-upgradeable RAM slots and 2 NVMe storage slots (1 empty)

Weight:  5.2 lbs (2.4 kg)

Battery: 60Wh/ 78Wh (Mediocre battery life)

Pros – What we liked

  • Great value for money
  • 15.6 inch screen with 120 sRGB color accuracy
  • 165 Hz refresh rate
  • Anti-glare coating
  • RGB keyboard light
  • Powerful AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor
  • Top tier graphics NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 3050 Ti
  • Excellent cooling design
  • Keyboard with Numpad
  • 3 sided bezel-less design
  • Reverse notch for the camera
  • 180 degree hinge
  • Good construction – made of PBS plastic but strong and tough in hand
  • Good sound quality
  • An excellent choice for any graphic and processor intensive task (rendering, animation, drawing, gaming, working with 3D files)

Cons – But not dealbreakers

  • 300 nits (Mediocre display brightness)
  • Not so good video camera quality
  • Havier laptop with larger footprint
  • Average battery life

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5. Asus Zenbook Flip 13 OLED – 2 in 1 foldable laptop for drawing and animation (with stylus)

asus zenbook flip 13

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Unlike Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo, Hp, or even Razor – Asus is one of those brands that do not often get all the credit they deserve.

But they work in silence and keep on making banger products anyways.

The Zenbook Flip 13 is a very special laptop and comes with a very impressive list of features. 

For starters, it is a two in one laptop with a 360 folding hinge. Plus the fact that it supports touch input and works with an active stylus.

This enables you to flip the laptop over and convert it into a tablet-like form-factor and use your stylus over it in software such as Photoshop, Illustrator or any other program of your choice. 

We also like the fact that unlike other laptops with pen support, the Asus Zenbook Flip 13 comes with the supported pen in the box.

The stylus is an active pen and has 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity.

The next great thing about this laptop is the display.

If you know about screens you might know that OLED screens are known for their superior colors and contrast. 

What is amazing about this Asus ZenBook Flip 13 is, in spite of being relatively cheap compared to some of the other laptops on this list, it still comes with a beautiful OLED screen.

And its color accuracy of 100% DCI-P3 (133% sRGB) is just bonkers for this price range.

asus zenbook flip 13 folded

The laptop is powered by an Intel Evo i7 11th gen processor with integrated graphics.

It can handle any drawing or animation-related tasks. 

It 13 inch highly color accurate screen, its compact form factor with foldable desing, touch and pen support, powerful internals and reasonable pricing makes it a great choice for anyone looking for a compact and capable laptop for drawing and animation.

*Tip – Since the RAM is soldered on and can’t be upgraded, make sure to go with the 16 GB of RAM.

Asus Zenbook Flip 13 - Features and Specs.  (click to expand)

Resolution: 1920 x 1080 FHD resolution

Size and aspect ratio: 13.3 inches, 16:9 (OLED)

Color Accuracy: 100% DCI-P3 or 133% sRGB

Processor: Intel® Evo Core™ i7

Graphics: Intigrated

RAM: 16 GB

Storage: 1 TB

Backlight (keyboard): Yes

Ports: 1 USB-A and 2 USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4, HDMI

Upgradeability: RAM (No) and Storage (YES – NVMe)

Weight:  2.87 lbs (1.3 kg)

Battery: 67 Wh

Pros – What we liked

  • Compact, thin and lightweight
  • 13 inch FullHD OLED screen 
  • Exceptional colors – 100% DCI-P3  (133% sRGB) color gamut coverage
  • Small bezels on three sides
  • Foldable design with a 360-degree hinge
  • Supports pen and touch input
  • Stylus comes included in the box
  • Fast charging enabled
  • Convenient “Windows Hello” face unlock
  • Strong and sturdy in-hand feel 
  • Numpad integrated into the trackpad

Cons – But not dealbreakers

  • Insufficient cooling
  • No fingerprint reader

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6. Microsoft Surface Pro 8 – Best laptop alternative for drawing

microsoft surface Pro 8 for animation and drawing

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The Microsoft Surface Pro may physically be the smallest device on this list. But do not underestimate its power by its size. 

First things first, the Microsft Surface Pro 8 comes with a stylus and is designed to be used with a stylus. 

This is the same stylus (Microsoft Slim Pen 2) that comes with the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, which we have declared as the best laptop for artists and animators.

The Surace Pro 8 is geared towards people who travel a lot and want a handy device they can take anywhere with them.

Unlike its competitors such as iPad Pro and Samsung tablets – Since it is Windows-powered, it can run all your industry-standard drawing and animation application. 

microsoft surface pro 8 for drawing
Microsoft surface pro 8 running photoshop

Not only that you can also use 3D software such as Blender, Zbrush, and Maya on this tablet.

The device is capable enough to handle regular 3D tasks as long as you are not doing crazy particle or fluid simulations.

microsoft surface pro 8 tablet with type cover

This tablet can be instantly be transformed into a full-fledged laptop with the help of the Surface Keyboard accessory (sold separately).

One of the neat features of the Surface Pro 8 is the fact that it comes with an inbuilt Kickstand.

The hinge allows you to prop up the tablet at any angle of your choice. Plus it is strong and sturdy enough to support the weight of your hands while drawing on it.

So in a nutshell, if you are someone who wants a compact portable Windows-powered device that comes with an excellent stylus for their 2D art and graphics tasks, the Surface Pro 8 is undoubtedly the best choice.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 - Features and Specs.  (click to expand)

Resolution: 2880 x 1920 (267 PPI) (120Hz refresh rate)

Size and aspect ratio: 13 inches, 3:2

Color Accuracy: 100% sRGB

Processor: Intel® Core™ i5 or i7 

Graphics: Integrated Intel® Iris® Xe Graphics

RAM: 8, 16 or 32 GB

Storage: Removable (128 or 256 GB), Inbuilt (512Gb or 1TB)

Backlight (keyboard): Yes (on the keyboard accessory)

Ports: 2 USB-C Thunderbolt 4, Headphone jack, Surface connect

Upgradeability: User upgradeable storage

Weight:  1.96 lbs (891grams)

Battery: 50 Wh

Pros – What we liked

  • 13 inch screen (larger than previous generations)
  • Smaller Bezels
  • Good display brightness (500 nits)
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Excellent pen performace
  • Compact, powerful and portable
  • Runs all design and creative applications (Windows)
  • Inbuilt kickstand
  • User upgradable Storage
  • One of the lightest devices on the list (without keyboard accessory)
  • An excellent alternative for people on the go who do not want to carry a laptop as well as a drawing tablet

Cons – But not dealbreakers

  • Does not come with stylus and keyboard accessory 
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Lower graphics performance, good enough for creative tasks but can’t play games

Check on Amazon →

 

7. Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo – Productivity powerhouse (dual-screen)

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo

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Let’s change lanes from looking at a compact creative device with a smaller screen to a full-size laptop with not one but two screens. 

The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo comes with a 15.6-inch full HD screen along with a 14-inch secondary touchscreen display located on the keyboard deck.

The secondary screen is a huge productivity advantage.  

We as an artist have to often work with multiple windows and managing those on a single screen can be quite challenging. 

What the Asus ROG Zephyrus allows us to do is manage those windows gracefully and improve our productivity.

You can have your main drawing or animation window on the main screen and open the file explorer as well as PureRef for reference (images) on the bottom screen.

You can even squeeze in a browser in there and play some songs to help you get in the zone.

And since it is touchscreen play pause or drag and drop (file management) would also be easy.

This layout can be very useful for working on 3D projects where you have multiple files to manage and multiple tools and software opened simultaneously.

Here is a video to showcase its productive capabilities. credit: Pitch

One other neat feature of this laptop is, when you open its lid, the secondary screen also raises and positions at a comfortable viewing angle. 

To accommodate the screen the keyboard is pushed down a little and the trackpad is shifted to the right side with an integrated digital Numpad.

Since the ROG Zephyrus is primarily made for gaming, you can expect excellent performance.

In fact, it is one of the most powerful laptops on this list and comes with AMD Ryzen 7 or 9 processors as well as NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6 graphic card for unmatched graphics performance.

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo for 3d animation

Because of how useful the design is, Asus has also been pushing these laptops as a perfect choice for artists, designers and video editors, and any other creation-centric tasks.

Considering how powerful this laptop is and what it brings to the table, it has been priced fairly.

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo - Features and Specs.  (click to expand)

Resolution: 1920 x 1080 fullHD (300Hz refresh rate, 3ms)

Size and aspect ratio: 15.6 inch primary with 16:9 aspect, 14 inch secondary display

Color Accuracy: 100% sRGB

Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 or 9

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6

RAM: 8, 16 up to 24 GB

Storage: 1TB (upgradable with one empty slot)

Backlight (keyboard): Yes (RGB)

Ports: Located on the left, right side as well as back. 3 x USB-A, 1 x USB-C (supports display port/ power delivery), HDMI, microSD card reader, headphone jack, RJ45

Upgradeability: User upgradeable storage and RAM

Weight:  5.47 lbs (2480 grams)

Battery: 90 Wh

Pros – What we liked

  • Dual screen for increased productivity
  • 15.6 inch full HD IPS screen with great colors  
  • Great viewing angles and 300Hz refresh rate
  • Anti-glare coating
  • Touch capable second screen 
  • Both screens support “Asus Pen Stylus”
  • Powerful AMD Ryzen 7 or 9 processors
  • Extremely powerful Graphics 
  • User upgradeable RAM and Storage
  • Numberpad integrated into touchpad
  • Great speakers
  • RGB keyboard
  • Comes with a wrist pad for comfortable keyboard usage
  • Reasonable Priced
  • Great for gaming, drawing, Desing – plus heavy 3d modeling, animations and rendering

Cons – But not dealbreakers

  • Keyboard layout differs from other laptops (might need some getting used to)
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Stylus does not come included and has to be purchased additionally
  • Heavy weight – 5.47 lbs (2480 grams)

Check on Amazon →

 

8. Samsung Galaxy Book Pro – Stylish and sleek ultrabook for at pocket-friendly prices

samsung galaxy book pro

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Except for one or two laptops, most of the laptops mentioned in this list are big bulky devices. 

Of those select few devices that are thin and sleek, most of them are available in higher price ranges.

If you are looking for a laptop in the budget segment, your options are pretty much limited to chunky devices (which is okay if you like that look).

That is where the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro comes to the rescue.

This is an intel EVO-certified laptop and offers a compact and portable design, longer battery life, and great performance. 

Its dimensions are crazy as it measures just 1.16 centimeters in thickness. 

In addition to being thin, it is also the lightest laptop on this list measuring just 2.36 lbs (1.07 kg), which is great in terms of portability.

But what is even more amazing specifically for digital artists is the fact that this is the cheapest 16-inch laptop in the market that comes with an AMOLED screen.

samsung galaxy book pro laptop for drawing and animation

This amazing screen results in way better color accuracy making it a great choice for drawing and animation.

Now let’s talk a little bit about the power, processor, and graphics of this laptop.

The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro is powered by an Intel i5 or i7 processor depending on the model you choose and comes with integrated Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics.

This CPU and graphic combination is sufficient for most of your drawing and animating needs. 

But once you start pushing too hard, handling crazy resolution and large 3D project files with hundreds of little files and assets, it starts to heat up.

We best recommend this laptop for beginner to intermediate artists. 

We talked a little bit about Intel EVO certification in the beginning. 

The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro comes with modern features such as instant power, instant wake from sleep, longer battery life as well as fast charging capabilities. 

Overall, thanks to the screen, power, and design – this laptop is an excellent daily use art tool that artists will really love and enjoy working on.

*Note

The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro with Intel i5 processor comes with 8 GB of RAM which sounds small but it still delivers good performance on this laptop.

But if you want a higher 16 GB of RAM, go for the Intel i7 model of this laptop. Which is priced slightly higher.

Our recommendation is 8 GB of RAM will be sufficient for most artists on this laptop.

Samaung Galaxy Book Pro - Features and Specs.  (click to expand)

Resolution: 1920 x 1080 fullHD 

Size and aspect ratio: 15.6 inch, 16:9, 370 nits brightness

Color Accuracy: 100% DCI-P3, 133% sRGB (OLED screen)

Processor: Intel Evo i5 or i7

Graphics: Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics

RAM: 8 GB LPDDR4x (not user upgradable)

Storage: 512 GB (upgradable)

Backlight (keyboard): Yes

Ports: 1 x USB-A, 2 x USB-C, microSD card reader, HDMI, headphone jack

Upgradeability: No

Weight:  2.36 lbs (1.07 kg)

Battery: 65 Wh

Pros – What we liked

  • Excellent 15.6 inch full HD OLED screen
  • Excellent colors accuracy – ideal for graphic work
  • Good display brightness – 370 nits
  • Narrow bezels
  • The lightest ultrabook measuring only 2.31 pounds (1.04 kg)
  • Adequately powerful – surprisingly good performance
  • Quick boot time
  • large trackpad
  • Supports s pen (not touchscreen though)
  • Available in silver and blue colors
  • Incredibly good battery life
  • Comes with a Numpad
  • Available in two color options

Cons – But not dealbreakers

  • Poor webcam
  • Glossy screen
  • Mediocre speakers
  • Comes with a lot of preinstalled bloatware (but you can uninstall them)

Check on Amazon →

 

9. Asus TUF Dash 15 – Budget laptop you should buy for drawing and animation

asus tuf dash 15

Buy Asus TUF Dash 15 on Amazon →

We agree, if you look online there are plenty of laptops that are considerably cheaper than the Asus TUF Dash 15.

But as a 3D artist myself, I recommend you to spend a little bit extra and get the Asus TUF dash for drawing and animation purposes.

One of the biggest problems with budget laptops is they may come with decent processors and graphics, but a majority of them compromise on display quality.

For drawing, animation, design, or any kind of graphics-related work, the bare minimum requirement is the laptops would at least have a 95% of sRGB color space coverage.

Most laptops in the budget range come with sRGB coverage well below 80. This is a “No-go” for any color-sensitive work.

The Asus TUF Dash 15 is one of those laptops that has the perfect blend of price, power, and features and comes with a great display. 

It has a 15.6 inch 144 Hz screen with full HD resolution and sRGB color coverage of 100%.

asus tuf dash 15 power and performance
source: Asus

This laptop is not a slouch in terms of performance either. It is powered by an Intel Core i7-11370H processor and GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics.

It comes with 512Gb of NVMe storage with an empty slot for further expansion. 

As of RAM, it comes with 8 GB of single-channel DDR4 ram which can be extended to 16 or 32 GBs.

Overall, you are getting a great value for money and not compromising on display quality and color accuracy in favor of cutting costs.

All these features make Asus TUF Dash 15 a great choice for anyone looking for a budget laptop for graphic and color-sensitive work. 

Asus TUF Dash 15 - Features and Specs.  (click to expand)

Resolution: 1920 x 1080 fullHD 

Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 15.6 inch, 16:9

Color Accuracy: 100% sRGB

Processor: Intel core i7-11370 H series

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti

RAM: 8 GB (single channel)

Storage: 512 GB (upgradable)

Backlight (keyboard): Yes (single color “light teal”)

Ports: 3 x USB-A, 1 x USB-C, HDMI, RJ45, headphone jack, power, Kensington lock

Upgradeability: Yes, storage (NVMe) and RAM (single channel)

Weight:  4.41 lbs (2.00 kg)

Battery: 76 Wh

Pros – What we liked

  • Good value for money
  • 15.6-inch screen with great colors (100% sRGB)
  • Intel Core i7 processor
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Strong build with metal lid (screen) and high-quality plastic base case
  • User-upgradable NVMe Storage (2 slots)
  • User-upgradable RAM
  • Good thermal design with adequate cooling
  • Decent trackpad size and good keyboard with 1.7 mm travel distance

Cons – But not dealbreakers

  • Single channel RAM
  • Single color on the keyboard (light teal)
  • Does not have a webcam
  • No Numpad

Check on Amazon →

 

Our pick: Why we choose Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio as the best laptop for artists and animators

Our pick
microsoft surface laptop studio

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

3 in 1 design, great display, excellent color accuracy, use of premium materials, large trackpad, backlit keyboard, face login, great sound quality, 500 nits screen brightness, support for pen and touch input, and much more…

All these features make the Surface Laptop Studio the best laptop in the market for drawing, animation, 3D, or any other graphics work.

Buy on Amazon

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio is an all-rounder laptop that truly deserves the title of being the best laptop for drawing and animation.

One of the biggest reasons why we recommend it to digital artists is the fact that this is not just a laptop but also doubles up as a drawing tablet.

It has a very capable stylus which is very comparable to professional styluses such as Wacom Pro Pens. 

Unlike other pen-enabled laptops, the performance of Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2 stylus is smooth and stable. The pressure-sensitive works great and so does the tilt sensitivity.

Also, when you fold down the laptop in tablet mode, the screen is actually titled at a comfortable drawing angle, which is super comfortable to draw on longer drawing sessions.

The power and performance of this laptop is right on point. It very well handles even the most demanding creative applications starting from Adobe, Affinity suite of apps to big boys such as Maya, Cinema 4D, Houdini, Substance, or Blender.

Its 120Hz color accurate screen, large Precision trackpad, tactile keyboard – Everything wrapped in a unibody metal (magnesium-aluminum) shell gives you a confident, reassuring feel and reminds you of the incredible engineering that went into making this laptop every time you use it.

You do pay a steep price for all that shimmer, plus you also compromise on port and connectivity options (since it only has USB-C ports). If you can live with that, Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio (Amazon) is the right laptop for you.

Buyers Guide

Laptops are an important tool. Once you buy them, they are probably gonna stay with you for the next few years. So we want to make sure you get it right.

To help you get the perfect laptop for drawing and animation, here is a detailed buyers guide that will help you pick the perfect laptop for yourself – that meets your expectations and serves you well.

If there is something that we missed or if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section.

Understanding Processors

processor on a laptop

There are three brands of laptop processors available in the market

  • Intel Processors (11th gen) – based on 10 nm architecture
  • AMD Processors (5000 series) – based on 7 nm architecture
  • Apple Silicone (M1 Pro and Max) – based on 5 nm architecture

Size of transistors and their effect on processors

A processor is made of millions of transistors. They are the fundamental compute units of a processor.

The larger the number of processors, the faster it can make calculations.

Also, the smaller the size of individual transistors {measured in nanometers (nm)}, the less power it needs to carry out that operation. ie. better power efficiency

11th gen Intel processors have transistors of 10nm, followed by AMD 5000 series processors with 7nm transistors.

The Apple silicone (M1 Pro and Max processors), have the smallest 5nm (nanometer) transistor, making them the most power-efficient processor. This results in excellent battery life and low thermal load.

Classification of laptop processors based on power

Comparing these processors requires a dedicated article of their own. So for this short comparison, we will keep things simple and easy to understand. 

Based on their power, these processors can be divided into four groups.

Entry Level – Intel core i3, AMD Ryzen 3

Mid Range – Intel core i5, AMD Ryzen 5

Top End – Intel core i7, AMD Ryzen 7, Apple M1 Pro 8 core

Max Power – Intel core i9, AMD Ryzen 9, Apple M1 Pro 10 core

For a detailed benchmark and performance result of the processor of your choice, you can head over to cpubenchmark.net (new tab).

Which is the right processor for drawing and animation

Since the price of the laptop is heavily influenced by the processors used inside them.

Therefore it is important to pick the right processors that meet your requirements and do not overpay for power and features you don’t need.

One of the first processors you should strike out of your list is the Intel Core i3 and AMD Ryzen 3.

These are entry-level processors which are fine for browsing the web and basic computing, but not up to the task for graphic work.

Intel i5 and AMD Ryzen 5 is good starting point. These are great for light to moderate level graphic tasks.

If you are an intermediate or a pro user, who use hundreds of layers and complicated texture brushes and blend modes. Or you are creating high-resolution long-duration animation with advanced keyframing. 

In both these cases the Intel i7, AMD Ryzen 7, or the 8 Core Macbook Pro with M1 Pro chip are the right choices for you.

These are not only good enough to handle 2d design but also great for demanding 3d applications and light rendering.

The Intel i9, the AMD Ryzen 9, or the 10 core Apple M1 Pro is for power users and professionals who want the best of the best and do not want to compromise with performance.

We mostly recommend these processors if your workflow requires the use of a lot of 3d applications, rendering, or large project files with thousands of asset files.

What is the right laptop size for drawing/animation?

The bigger screen size is always better when we talk about graphics work. But when we talk about laptops we also have to consider other factors such as portability, compactness and weight.

Generally saying, if portability is your priority you can get a 13-inch laptop. But in that case, we highly recommend you to get a monitor as well.

With a smaller laptop plus monitor setup – you get the benefits of a larger screen when you are at your primary workplace, at the same time have the freedom to easily take your laptop and work wherever you go.

But this 13-inch laptop is not the ideal size for everyone.

For most people, we recommend getting a 15-inch laptop – as it is a sweet spot between screen size and portability. Especially the screens with a taller 16:10 or 3:2 aspect ratio – as they provide more vertical screen space.

Laptops like Dell XPS 15 (Amazon) are an even better choice as they come with a 15-inch screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio. Plus its bezels around the screen are nonexistent, which helps them pack a 15-inch laptop inside the body of a 13 or 14-inch laptop.

Is the inbuilt graphics enough? or you need the dedicated graphics?

The inbuilt graphics kind of gets the job done on less graphics-intensive tasks and some light drawing.

But, for the best performance, you should definitely look for a laptop with dedicated graphics.

Is 8 GB enough RAM for digital artists?

how much ram does a laptop need

Yes if you are doing light graphics works such as drawing and not working with crazy resolutions, then 8 GB of RAM is okay.

But once you start working on large projects with massive resolutions or a huge number of layers with crazy filters, layers, and textures – you will need the 16 GB of RAM.

For that reason, you should look for a laptop that has a user-upgradable RAM slot – where you can easily and cost-effectively increase the size of the RAM if you ever feel the need to do so.

How much storage do you really need in a laptop?

Well, it is different for everyone and depends on individual usage. As per the general consensus – “a larger the memory capacity is always better”. But it will also cost you more.

256 GB is the bare minimum storage capacity you should have but we would advise you to go for at least 512 GB of storage.

What are Intel Evo certified laptops – does it matter as for digital art

A few of the laptops mentioned in this list come with Intel EVO certification.

It is a certification that is given to the manufacturers that achieve the standards of sleekness, power, and performance.

Since this certification is indicative of a better user experience, it is nice to have the EVO badging on your laptop, if not necessary.

What else do you need for getting started with drawing and animation?

macbook pro with a drawing tablet Graphics tablet: Other than the laptop you will most likely need a graphics tablet such as Wacom Intuos (Amazon). This will allow you to digitally draw stuff no matter whether your laptop supports the stylus or not.

And even if the laptop you choose supports stylus input, the quality of the lines drawn and the overall drawing experience would be way better with a dedicated graphics tablet.

A secondary screen: As we said earlier, more screen is always better. And a vast number of digital artists use a dedicated monitor for drawing and animation purposes.

But instead of getting a full-fledged monitor, you can also get a thin and portable secondary screen just like this one on Amazon.

You can simply connect them to your laptop and push all the menus and buttons on the secondary screen, and work comfortably on your primary screen.

Check out our guide on essential tools for digital artists (new tab).

 

 

Related: Best laptop for Autodesk Maya

 

 

Aaron Levie

Aaron Levie loves painting. he started as a traditional watercolor artist and later switched to digital. He really likes freedom and control that digital art provides.

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