Some artists are looking to get a compact and easy-to-carry laptop, while others want a 2-in1 that supports an active pen. And all will want to run Corel Painter, Photoshop, Illustrator, Affinity Designer, or similar drawing and art software.
After thorough research by taking inputs from professionals in the field, we put together a list of highly suitable laptops for art students and artists. The first thing we considered while reviewing these laptops is how they will help an artist such as yourself.
We included models from reputable brands with various specifications, and there are some budget-friendly options as well. No matter what your requirements and budget are, if you are an art student looking for a reliable machine, then the models in this list won’t disappoint.
- Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
- 9 Best Laptops for Art Students & Artists in 2021
- 1. Best Overall: HP Spectre x360 15T
- 2. Best MacBook For Art Students: Apple MacBook Air
- 3. Best Thin Laptop: ASUS ZenBook 14
- 4. Best 2-in-1 Convertible: Acer Spin 5
- 5. Budget Dell Option: Dell Inspiron 15 5502
- 6. Budget HP Laptop: HP Pavilion x360 14
- 7. Best Battery Life: Microsoft Surface Pro
- 8. Best with Ryzen 5: Lenovo Flex 5
- 9. Cheapest Option: Microsoft Surface Go
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What’s the best laptop for art students?
- Should a laptop for an artist support touch screen?
- How much RAM a laptop for art students should have?
- Should a laptop for art students have a GPU in it?
- Does a laptop for art students should have a high-end CPU?
- Can an art student use a regular laptop?
- Can an art student use MacBook?
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
|Minimum System Requirements||Recommended System Requirements|
|CPU||8th Gen Intel Core i5||8th Gen Intel Core i7|
|Storage||256GB SSD||512GB SSD|
|Display||13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080)||15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080)|
|GPU||Integrated Intel/AMD Graphics||Dedicated Graphics with 2GB VRAM|
|Battery||Up to 5 hours||Up to 8 hours|
9 Best Laptops for Art Students & Artists in 2021
|HP Spectre x360 15T|
|Apple MacBook Air|
|ASUS ZenBook 14|
|Acer Spin 5|
|Dell Inspiron 15 5502|
|HP Pavilion x360 14|
|Microsoft Surface Pro|
|Lenovo Flex 5|
|Microsoft Surface Go|
Some of these laptops have a big screen, thin and light design, a few of them offer hours of battery life on a single charge. And then, there are a few models that are as powerful as a high-end PC, which can run almost any software or game without any issue.
1. Best Overall: HP Spectre x360 15T
HP’s new and improved Spectre x360 15T is probably the best 2-in-1 laptop you can invest in, considering the crafty aesthetics and a reliable processing setup. You might have a diverse set of preferences that can be best represented by this class-leading convertible.
CPU and GPU
Starting out, you get access to a future-proof, 10th gen i7 processor that is capable of reaching clock speeds of up to 5GHz. The insanely powerful, hexa-core processor is good enough for high-fidelity software such as Revit, Blender 3D and diverse non-science domains.
Besides, artists can deploy this processor alongside the Turing-based GeForce GTX 1650 Ti for making graphic-centric performances come to life.
The GTX 1650 Ti is incorporated as the Max-Q version which is slightly underpowered as compared to the vanilla version. Regardless of the power and TDP levels, it is still good enough for running apps like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and more, without breaking a sweat. Besides, the dedicated graphics card also accommodates 4GB of VRAM for managing certain texture-intensive leisure games and processes.
RAM and Storage
Next in line is the ultrafast chunk of system memory, which allows you to manage the higher work volumes with considerable ease. The 16GB dual-channel RAM is a purposeful multitasking asset, capable of processing data, disk cache, and files at 2933MHz. The Spectre x360 15 T’s latest model doesn’t run short on storage as it’s equipped with a 1TB SSD. The NVMe-compatible storage unit is adequate enough for most young professionals, and art or engineering students.
OS and Display
HP offers the elusive and interactive Windows 10 Pro OS and sweetens the pot further with a bundled flash drive, HP pen, and MS-Office trial version. For creatives, media fanatics, and students who are more into reading, the 15.6-inch 4K panel is a necessitated inclusion. With an overall resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, the featured IPS screen is one of the brightest in the retail sector. Besides, the touchscreen is literally bezel-less and completely stylus compatible.
Keyboard and Peripherals
As art students need to type incessantly for drafting assignments and discourses, HP supplies a standard Island-style keyboard, appropriately with backlit support. Moreover, if you are invested in accounting and other forms of number crunching, the Numeric keypad is also a significant addition. Besides, HP also makes room for impactful B&O speakers, HD webcam with IR support, smooth trackpad, and studio-grade microphones.
Design & Ports
The Spectre x360 15T is a structural masterpiece and considerably lighter than the preceding variant. At 4.23 pounds, this is one of the lightest 2-in-1s in the market, bolstered further by the likes of the camera shutter, mute key, and the nifty fingerprint scanner. As far as the connectivity is concerned, you get access to Type-C, Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort 1.2, and Wi-Fi 6 support customized for Gigabit speeds.
In terms of battery life, the metal-clad convertible lives up to the expectations. It churns out 13 hours’ worth of steady backup, allowing students to keep working even if there is an electrical outage. Overall, the holistic specs sheet clearly justifies the price tag and student compatibility associated with the new HP Spectre x360 15T.
- Future-proof processor
- Brilliant aesthetics
- Class-leading display
- Innovative security suite
- All-inclusive connectivity
- Questionable keyboard actuation
- Not meant for insanely demanding games
2. Best MacBook For Art Students: Apple MacBook Air
If you are an art major, you will want to check out the new Apple MacBook Air. This M1-powered notebook might not be your go-to computing resource as an engineer but it certainly packs a punch when domains like commerce, digital art, graphic design, accounting, and business processes are concerned. Before purchasing it, be sure it’s compatible with the software you use. The M1 still has some way to go to be compatible with most software.
CPU & GPU
At the core, the new Apple MacBook features the famed, M1 processor. Based on the 5nm architecture, this chipset is arguably the fastest from Apple, capable of reaching maximum clock speeds of up to 3.2GHz.
The insane power projected by this processor allows you to work with graphic designing apps like InDesign, Illustrator, Sketch and Pro Tools with ease. There is also an integrated, seven-core GPU in play, which caters towards casual games and improved visuals.
RAM and Storage
The 8GB RAM is faster than expected, allowing you to handle resource-intensive tools like QuickBooks, MS-Excel, and other software modules without system slowdowns. Storage-wise, there is a 512GB SSD unit in play, best known for loading apps and booting up the latest macOS in virtually no time.
As far as the display is concerned, the 13.3-inch IPS panel is an exciting resource for digital art connoisseurs, graphic designers, and even streamers. Plus, the overall display resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels ensures the highest possible levels of color accuracy.
Design and Ports
The MacBook also features other functional specs, including a highly responsive Touch ID, advanced magic keyboard for the passionate content creators, FaceTime webcam, powerful microphone array, and a reliable acoustic setup. As far as the connectivity goes, you get access to 2 Thunderbolt ports followed by the ultra-fast Wi-Fi 6 support.
The battery backup, extending up to 18 hours, is yet another powerful resource, making the 2.8-pound Apple MacBook Air M1 one of the best notebooks for film students and aspiring professionals.
- Ultra-fast processor
- Sharp display
- Excellent keyboard
- Wi-Fi 6 support
- Massive battery backup
- Stellar design
- Limited ports
3. Best Thin Laptop: ASUS ZenBook 14
The ASUS ZenBook 14 ultra-slim laptop is one of the most powerful yet compact notebooks with a 14-inch screen on our list that digital artists, animators, and illustrators would want to consider.
It has a 14-inch screen with a 1920 x 1080 pixel screen resolution with a narrow bezel-design. The machine offers a higher screen-to-body ratio compared to the competition, which is bright and color accurate.
CPU and GPU
The laptop is powered by a quad-core 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 with a base clock speed of 2.8GHz and a turbo boost up to 4.7GHz. Besides, the NVIDIA GeForce MX450 with 2GB VRAM is capable enough to run casual games and support an external 4K monitor.
RAM and Storage
The Zenbook 14 offers 8GB RAM helps an artist open multiple software in the background while surfing the web without any issue. It also has plenty of flash storage, 512GB to be exact, which allows the user to install software locally and store their animations, drawing and artwork without any picture storage issues.
Keyboard and Trackpad
What stands out about this model is its multipurpose Touch-enabled screenpad. It can especially be helpful for art and design students to draw, take notes and other minimalistic changes. The keyboard has good keys with fast travel time.
The Asus ZenBook 14 also offers features like an Infrared camera with support for Windows Hello face unlock. Art majors can just open the lid of the laptop, and it will automatically log in, without needing any password. It weighs 2.62 pounds and it offers an average battery life of humungous 21 hours on a single charge, and it just takes around one and a half hours to fully charge.
Overall, it is a great machine for graduating art students who want a laptop that is lightweight and offers great performance. However, if you’re looking forward to playing high-end games on this, then this might not be the best choice.
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Powerful battery life
- Good bezel-less display
- Good keyboard
- Different trackpad
- Limited ports
- A bit expensive
4. Best 2-in-1 Convertible: Acer Spin 5
Acer is known for offering portable laptops with tremendous battery life and the Acer Spin 5 is no different. As one can guess with the name, this is a convertible laptop that gives a choice to the owner to use it as a regular or a touch screen device.
The Acer Spin 5 Convertible comes with a 13.5-inch touchscreen and a 2K resolution which can also detect capacitive pen input. The IPS display with such screen resolution makes the entertainment and streaming experience much better than other models.
CPU and GPU
It is powered by the 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7, which is one of the best quad-core processors, which offers the right amount of performance and efficiency that an artist and student might seek from a laptop. Also, the integrated Intel Intel Iris Plus GPU can utilize device memory as video memory.
RAM, Storage and OS
The Acer Spin 5 is like most of the laptops suited for art students offers 16GB RAM, which is a great amount, and makes sure that it can handle all the tasks even in the future without any issue. Also, it also offers 512GB of flash storage and the Windows 10 Home OS on this multipurpose art student-friendly machine can boot in less than 10 seconds.
The Acer Spin 5 weighs 2.6 pounds, making it a bit heavy compared to the other laptops recommended for art students. However, it costs less than half the price of other machines with similar specifications, which should do the job.
Though the company claims that Spin 5 can last for 15 hours, we found out that the laptop can last around 9 hours with a medium workload. If you are an art student and looking for a high-end machine with a touch screen that is also reasonably priced, then the Acer Spin 5 will fit the bill.
- Touch screen 2K display
- High-end CPU
- 512GB flash storage
- Good battery life
- Loaded with bloatware
- No dedicated graphics
5. Budget Dell Option: Dell Inspiron 15 5502
Have you ever considered getting the most updated laptop at a great price? If so, the Dell Inspiron 15 5502 is something you might be interested in.
The Dell Inspiron 15 5502 houses the Intel Core i5-1135G7 chipset, capable of reaching a maximum clock speed of up to 4.2GHz. As a new-gen processor, you can expect enough firepower for managing diverse academic applications, resources, and software solutions.
GPU and RAM
Plus, there is an Intel Xe graphics co-processor in play, allowing you to get the best visual experience for a competitive price tag. You get 8GB of system memory to work with. The best thing about this RAM is the processing speed of 3200MHz, which ensures better file, cache, and data retrieval speeds.
Storage and Display
Coming to the storage, you get access to a high-speed, 512GB SSD module that can boot up the existing Windows 10 OS at enviable speeds. We also tested the anti-glare display with a large number of graphics-intensive applications and the 15.6-inch panel came out with flying colors.
Keyboard and Ports
This sub-$700 device also comes loaded with a feature-packed backlit keyboard, high-speed data transfer ports, vibrant webcam, and the Intel Wi-Fi 6 wireless standard. Also, this device comes equipped with a functional fingerprint sensor, which allows you to safeguard personal and academic resources with ease.
From a structural perspective, this is one of the lightest laptops for art students, at 3.64 pounds. However, we weren’t exactly pleased with the 6-hour battery backup and expected close to 10. Regardless, if you are more of a desktop user, the Dell Inspiron 15 5502 is still a resourceful laptop to invest in.
- Exquisite design
- 11th gen processor
- Excellent connectivity suite
- Fingerprint sensor for added protection
- High-speed RAM
- Not fit for gaming
- Anti-glare support isn’t as potent as on other competing laptop
6. Budget HP Laptop: HP Pavilion x360 14
Nothing works better than a convertible if you are an aspiring art professional or a student who is most invested in graphic design, digital art, photo editing, and other non-engineering tasks. This is why our bets are on the HP Pavilion x360, courtesy of the multi-mode operability and a pretty reliable specs sheet.
Under the hood, HP houses the G-series, Intel Core i5 processor, which is good enough for most graphics-intensive and mid-level academic tasks. While the base clock speed of 1GHz might not look like much, you can always overclock the same at 3.6GHz, for managing some of the more demanding applications.
GPU and RAM
The integrated UHD graphics co-processor is a reliable support system, best known for amplifying visual quality. Also, you get access to 8GB RAM, which is capable of handling multi-tab browsing and other processor-intensive tasks at 3200MHz. However, the RAM module is non-upgradable so proceed with caution if your processing requirements are expected to evolve time.
Storage and Display
As far as storage is concerned, you get a 512GB solid-state drive, which ensures faster boot-ups and file retrievals. The 14-inch display is an asset in itself, courtesy of the 1080p resolution, WLED-backlit support, and bright IPS paneling.
Keyboard & Peripherals
Coming to the functionality, the HP Pavilion x360 14 comes equipped with an exciting yet typing-friendly keyboard, powerful speakers, and an impactful webcam to attend online classes. However, it is the multi-mode operability that steals the show, allowing you to operate this convertible laptop in four specific modes.
As far as the ports are concerned, you get access to several high-speed USB slots, a usable HDMI port, and the Wi-Fi 6 support. The battery life, at close to 9 hours is also worth mentioning as it offers excellent value to the art students.
Therefore, the HP Pavilion x360 is easily one of the more portable convertible laptops in the retail space for art students, provided they are fine with a non-upgradeable RAM module.
- Excellent battery life
- Wide range of form factors
- High-speed storage module
- Sharp viewing angles
- Non-upgradeable system memory
- Slow data transfer speeds
7. Best Battery Life: Microsoft Surface Pro
Microsoft, the maker of the Windows OS, is known for offering excellent machines under the Surface lineup, and the Microsoft Surface Pro is a tailor-made device for artistic needs, as it offers a lot of features that an art student might be interested in.
It is one of the most compact art laptops that we would recommend, as it comes with a 12.3-inch display with a native resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixels, offering higher pixel density than laptops with 14-inch or 14-inch 2K display.
CPU and GPU
The Intel Core i5 processor powers the Microsoft Surface Pro with a clock speed of 3.5GHz with a dual-core setup. The laptop also has an integrated Intel UHD 620 GPU, which can do the basic graphics tasks without any issue.
RAM, Storage and Ports
As per the RAM, the Microsoft Surface Pro 5th Gen offers 8GB RAM, and it is not user upgradable. Plus, it also comes with 256GB of SSD flash storage that should be good enough for most art students. Besides, it also has a full-sized USB 3.0 port, enabling art students to access external storage and USB devices without any issue.
Battery & Weight
Like almost every other Microsoft Surface Laptop, the Microsoft Surface Pro 5th Gen offers an amazing battery life that can last for 13 hours with a single charge, and it also supports fast charging. It just weighs 1.69 pounds, thereby makes it one of the lightest notebooks with a touch display.
If you are looking for a laptop with a high-resolution touch screen display with a premium design, then the Microsoft Surface Pro 5th Gen is the one that you should consider.
- Premium build quality
- Amazing screen
- USB 3.0 Port
- Thin and light
- High-end software optimization
- Does not come with a keyboard
8. Best with Ryzen 5: Lenovo Flex 5
The Lenovo Flex 5 is a laptop for those artists and art students who need a machine that can last longer, not battery life but physical attributes. It is built like a tank, which also makes it a bit heavy compared to others.
The laptop comes with the industry-standard 14-inch screen with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080p with an almost bezel-less design. There is also a web camera on top of the display, which art students can use to attend video conferences.
CPU and GPU
The art laptop is based on the AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor with a base clock speed of 2.3GHz. Thanks to this base clock speed, Lenovo Flex 5 is extremely power-efficient and offers good thermal performance. It does not have a dedicated GPU. Instead, it uses an integrated AMD Radeon to handle basic graphics-related tasks without any issue.
RAM and Storage
The Lenovo Flex 5 laptop does offer 256GB SSD storage, which makes this one of the fastest laptops in this class. Besides, it also offers 16GB RAM, which is shared with the GPU as video memory. An art student should definitely consider the one that comes with at least 8GB RAM for a smoother performance.
Battery Life and Design
In our testing, we found out that this mid-range laptop can last for 10 hours on a single charge and can last for an entire day without any issue. Also, the laptop supports fast charging, which also makes it one of the best laptops for traveling.
While the Lenovo Flex 5 15.6 is a bit heavy at 3.78 pounds, overall, a great laptop in terms of build quality that does not compromise on performance.
- Well built
- Good battery life
- Google keyboard
- Plenty of ports
- No dedicated graphics
- Average trackpad
9. Cheapest Option: Microsoft Surface Go
The Microsoft Surface Goo is a go-to laptop that runs on Windows 10 OS for those who need a machine for web browsing and watching movies. It is an affordable laptop that will be a great companion for art students. Unlike most of the budget options, the New Microsoft Surface Go offers a high-resolution touch screen with a native resolution of 1800 x 1200p with tempered glass protection.
The New Microsoft Surface Go is powered by the Intel Pentium Gold processor, which is a dual-core processor with a 1.6GHz clock speed. This processor is more than enough to run software like notes without any issue. It can also run entry-level photo editing tools that an art student might want to use.
RAM, Storage and OS
The laptop offers 4GB RAM, which is a bit less considering the modern workflow. However, for an art student who just wants to browse the web, that should not be an issue. Besides, it does offer 64GB flash storage, which is again a bit less. Do note that the New Microsoft Surface Go runs on the full version of Windows 10 OS so you can run any app or software from an older PC without any issue.
The New Microsoft Surface Go offers 9 hours of battery life and it also has an LTE slot, which can be used to get a wireless internet connection on the go. Lastly, the New Microsoft Surface Go weighs just 1.15 pounds. If you want a lightweight and budget-friendly touch screen laptop from a well-known brand, then the New Microsoft Surface Go is the laptop that an art student should consider.
- Good battery life
- Premium finish
- Extensive accessories support
- Good touch display
- Limited RAM
- Limited storage
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best laptop for art students?
The best laptop for art students should have a good display with touch screen support. It should be light in weight, making it easy to carry every day. Similarly, it should also offer good battery backup and its display should have good color calibration.
Should a laptop for an artist support touch screen?
Going with a laptop with touch screen support is an important factor for an art student or artist unless they use something like a Wacom tablet. As you will want to sketch or create a beautiful illustration. The benefit of having a touch screen on a laptop is that you can work on your art at any place.
How much RAM a laptop for art students should have?
If you are an Art student, then consider getting a laptop with at least 8GB RAM, which makes sure that it can handle multi-task issues with ease. If you can get the one with 16GB RAM, then the laptop is going to last for a long time without any issue.
Should a laptop for art students have a GPU in it?
If you are a gamer and an art student, then you can consider buying a laptop that offers at least 2GB of dedicated video memory. However, if you are not into gaming, then a regular integrated GPU should do the job.
Does a laptop for art students should have a high-end CPU?
If you are planning to use the laptop with software like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe after effects, then it should have a high-end CPU, as most of the photo editing tools depend on the CPU performance.
Can an art student use a regular laptop?
Yes, an art student can use a regular laptop, however, the models that we have reviewed offer improved productivity due to the hardware and software. So, instead of considering a generic laptop, consider one of these.
Can an art student use MacBook?
Yes, an art student can either use a Windows OS powered compared or a MacBook, as most of the software used by art students are available on both platforms.
These are some of the best laptops that an artist or art student would consider. Most have a touch screen display, enabling you to make drawings, paintings, and animations. Also, if it comes with features like a high-end CPU, you can also use professional image and photo editing software. Most provide active-pen support as well.
To sum up, here are some our top recommendations:
- If you’re looking for long-term use even after you complete art majors, go for a computer with dedicated graphics like ASUS ZenBook 14 or HP Spectre x360 .
- If you want to go with the Apple ecosystem so as to match your devices, we suggest the new Apple MacBook Air with M1 Chip. It has a powerful processor, retina display and good battery life.
- For people who’re on a tight budget, look into Dell Inspiron 15 5502 and Microsoft Surface Go. Both are cheap purchases to get you through the art school.
If you are looking for something else we have not listed, feel free to add a comment and we will respond.