Best Laptops for Artists – 2020 Guide

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Sometimes artists require a special kind of laptop that suites their need. One prime example is music production. Music production is a very resource intensive task that requires a great CPU in order to keep up with the workload. We have explored what we think are the best laptops for artists, down to more specific categories such as photo editing, music production, and design.

What Artists Should Look for in a Laptop

Most artist don’t need the latest and greatest laptop, but some do have more special needs. In this guide we are exploring some of the things you should look for when doing your research. Further down there are links to more specific guides, which take into specific use cases and can therefore give more direct advice.

CPU

The first area we will explore is the CPU. The CPU is the brain of the computer and therefore understandably quite important. Even for those who are just looking for any run of the mill laptop, a good CPU goes a long way in making the laptop feel fresh and fast for longer.

The down side is that a powerful CPU cost more and it also uses more battery. This guide is more aimed towards artists who use the laptop for their work, and therefore is willing to invest a little bit of money to get something that will last a long time. You can find really cheap laptops with an Intel Core i3, but those really are only suited for casual use, not anything more. If you want to use any sort of drawing program, music program, or the like then you will not have the greatest performance unless you get at least a decent CPU.

At minimum I would recommend that you get at least an Intel i5, and no older than an 8th generation. The generation is denoted by the first number that comes after the model. For example, an i7-9750H is a 9th generation, as indicated by the “9”. The 10th generation is rolling out for some devices so a 7th gen would already be several years old.

GPU

Most of you will not need a GPU. If you are going to be doing work that includes animation and 3d drawing, then you should invest in a laptop that has a GPU. The thing is also that most mid-range and above laptops come with GPUs these days. The reason is that more and more software is able to take advantage of the GPU and offload some of the work from the CPU. Even chrome can use a GPU to render some things now. This means that you can get better performance even if you don’t necessarily need a GPU for your artistic work.

If you like to play video games in your spare time then you should definitely get a GPU. For video games, the better the GPU the better it is. The best GPU cards right now is the RTX series, but you will also find a lot of laptops with Nvidia GTX cards, which will do just fine.

RAM

RAM is another component that is important for anyone, and for everything. RAM is super fast memory that does nothing but hold information so that it is readily available for the CPU. If the CPU needs something that is not in RAM, it first has to be loaded from the had drive which takes a lot longer. Because of this, the less RAM you have, the slower your experience will be. There is a limit to how much RAM is useful, but I recommend that you get no less than 8 GB. RAM is getting quite cheap, and you can even upgrade it yourself if you happen to not have enough.

Another thing to consider regarding RAM is that not all RAM is equal. There is for the most part DDR3 and DDR4. DDR4 is faster and uses less energy, so you are better off if you get a laptop that has DDR4 RAM. RAM speed is measured in MHz, and you should be looking for 2666 MHz RAM. Most mid-range laptops will come with this, but make sure you double check the product page before you buy.

Storage

Storage is yet another area that is important to everyone. Storage means more than just a place to store your files, it also is where your operating system and programs are installed. An SSD is much faster than a regular hard drive, and because of that, any program or OS that is installed on an SSD will work much faster than if they were installed on a hard drive. You laptop will start much faster, and in general you will have a better experience.

I recommend that you get at least 256 GB of SSD storage, as it can fill up quite quickly. As an artist you will have a lot of files as well. You can mitigate a smaller storage drive with either online storage or external storage as well.

Screen

The last thing I want to talk about is the screen. For most people, a full HD (1920 x 1080) will be the perfect resolution. If you are into digital art, then having a 4k screen might make sense for you. Being able to see more details can be important if you need to be pixel perfect.

Also, if you need the absolute best image quality then a glossy screen might be best for you. Matte screens produce less glare in sunlight, but as a result of diffusing the light as it comes out, a matte screen does not have as good image quality as its glossy counterpart.

Now that you know some of the things you should look for, here are some what we consider the overall best laptops for artists.

List of Best Laptops for Artists


Based on our research, our pick as the best laptop for artists is the Razer blade (#ad).

Razer Blade 15 – Picked as Best Laptop

Image of Razer Blade 15, our pick as the best laptop for artists.

The Razer blade is the best laptop in many categories. Overall, this is a stylish gaming laptop that most people will really enjoy. For starters, as discussed, the CPU is a really important part of the laptop for artists. This laptop has the Intel Core i7-9750H. This is one of the best laptop CPUs on the market, and as you will notice with the other laptops, it is the CPU that all the top options have. This CPU will easily be able to take on anything you can throw at it as an artists. You can get better options if you go for a desktop grade CPU, but this still has 6 cores which makes it suitable for gaming and multi tasking.

The laptop also comes with one of the best GPUs currently. It has a RTX 2060 card, making it a good match for anyone who will be doing graphics intensive work. If you are looking to play video games also this is one of your best options, it is a gaming laptop at heart after all.

In addition to a great CPU and GPU, the laptop also has 16 GB of DDR4 RAM. This is just in the sweet spot for artists. It is the best kind of RAM you will find in a laptop. There is also 512 GB of SSD storage, which should give you quite a bit of room for whatever files you want to keep.

See the Razer blade (#ad) on Amazon.

Dell XPS 15 – Best 4k Screen

Image of Dell XPS 15

If you need the best screen because you do things like digital drawings, then the 15 inch version of the Dell XPS is a great choice. This laptop also comes with a full HD option, which is a little cheaper because of the screen.

As with the other high end options, it has the Intel Core i7-9750H CPU. With a 4k screen you really need good parts to power the generation of all the pixels, especially if you want to play games or something like that. For normal use you will be okay with less powerful parts, but one of the reasons for getting a 4k screen is because you need it for watching 4k videos, or perhaps even making them yourself. For heavy duty video rendering you might also consider going with a desktop computer, because they get a lot more powerful than what any laptop can.

The GPU in this laptop is not as good as the Razer Blade. It comes with the Nvidia GTX 1650. This is not a bad GPU at all, but for this price you can get an RTX model, so if you are into gaming then this laptop is not for you. The main reason to get this laptop is if you want an ultra HD screen. If you want power then go with another option that just has a regular full HD screen. Playing video games on a 4k laptop monitor is also not great. You need very powerful parts to render the graphics, and laptop grade specs are not as good as a desktop.

Storage is ample with a 1 TB SSD. There is also 16 GB of RAM which should be enough for most artists. Some people might benefit from 32 GB, but you can always add more yourself later.

See the Dell XPS 15 (#ad) on Amazon.

MSI GS65 Stealth-432 – Most Powerful Laptop

Image of MSI GS65 Stealth-430

The MSI GS Stealth-432 is the most powerful laptop we recommend for artists. There are more powerful options, but this has a thin and sleek body, making it an excellent contender for artists who want one of the most powerful laptop options out there that still looks like a normal laptop.

The MSI is also great if you are interested in gaming. It has a 240Hz screen, meaning the refresh rate is very high, which is good for video games. For digital art it does not matter, as you don’t need to redraw the images too many times. Perhaps if you do animated videos of some kind it can be useful.

The laptop has the Intel Core i7-9750H like the other options we are recommending. If you are investing the money to buy a new computer then you should get you something that can last you for many years to come. If you just want to browse the internet then obviously these laptops are not for you. These are all premium high end laptops.

As far as the GPU goes it has the RTX 2070 Max-Q. There are a few options on the product page, and you can upgrade to a 2080 Max-Q, or you can go down to a GTX 1060 if you want. The cheaper model takes you quite a bit lower than this model. Depending on your GPU and screen need, you can custimize it to your liking.

See the MSI GS65 Stealth-432 (#ad) on Amazon.

Dell Inspiron 7000 – Best Budget Laptop

Image of Dell Inspiron 7000

We have to have one more budget friendly laptop on this list as well, and that is the Dell Inspiron 7000. This laptop is a great laptop that offers a lot of bang for your buck. Even though the laptop is a lot cheaper than all the others, it still comes with the Intel Core i7-9750H. This is an incredible CPU in a laptop for this price. Most artists need a great CPU and not too much else. If that sounds like you then this is probably the laptop you should go for.

In addition to the good CPU, the laptop also has a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU. It is not the most powerful option, but it does make the laptop suitable for light game play. You might not be able to put things on the highest settings, but this should be able to let you play pretty much whatever you want. It is also a good option for things such as music production and video editing, but as always, a desktop would be a lot better in pretty much all cases.

There is also an acceptable 256 GB SSD, and 8 GB of RAM. This is one the lower end of what you should look for, but it should also be okay for most people. Overall this is a great laptop that also has other fringe features such as a fingerprint reader.

See the Dell Inspiron 7000 (#ad) on Amazon.

Specific Artist Laptop Guides


The laptops above are great, and in most cases they will actually be the best laptop for you. But, we have also created a series of more target guides for artists that you can find below. Here we go into detail about what is important to look for in each case that we cover.

FL Studio

FL studio is a popular software for making music. Music production can require a lot of resources, and it is especially CPU intensive. We have explored the things we think you should look out for when researching the best laptop for FL studio.

Animation

Animation can require a lot of resources. In this guide we go into what you should be looking for and what we think are the best options for you. Check out our guide on the best laptop for animation.

Conclusion

The best laptop for an artist depends on what kind of artist you are. The most general advice I can give you is to look for a mid-level laptop that will last you a long time. If what you are going to use the laptop for is resource intensive, then get a good CPU an perhaps even a GPU. Always make sure you get an SSD, and at least 8 GB of RAM.

Last Updated: by Ole Larsen