Apple Macbook Pro M1
As an aspiring artist or art student, a laptop can feel like an essential tool for your creative endeavors. With the ability to use digital tools to enhance or create artwork, a laptop can be a game changer.
But with a seemingly endless array of options on the market, choosing the best laptop for art students can be a confusing process. Do you prioritize screen resolution, processing power, or portability? And what about the touch aspect of a laptop – is it worth investing in a touch screen model, or can you get by without it? Finding the right laptop for your needs can be a daunting task, but fear not – we’ve done the research for you.
After hours of testing and analyzing, we’ve compiled a list of the top laptops for art students, taking into account factors like processing power, display quality, and, of course, the touch screen capabilities. So whether you’re aiming to become a painter, photographer, or graphic designer, there’s sure to be a laptop on this list that will suit your needs.
From convertible touchscreens to powerful processing, from stylish designs to portable sizes, these laptops span the spectrum of interesting choices for creative minds.
But don’t just take our word for it. Take a closer look at each laptop and see which one resonates with you the most.
We’ve also included some tips on what to look for when choosing an interesting laptop and how to make the most of its features. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the world of laptops and creativity!
Selection Criteria for Best Laptop for Digital Art Students 2023—Buying Guide
Picking the best laptop for art students from the apparently limitless selection of possibilities on the market can be perplexing.
As an art student, the CPU you require for your laptop will depend on the sort of work you will be performing. If you are working with graphics-intensive software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or CorelDRAW, then you will need a strong processor that can manage the high task. An efficient CPU will have a high clock speed and several processing cores.
An Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor, or a similar midrange CPU, will suffice for most design and creative tasks. A more powerful CPU, such as an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7, may be necessary, however, for intensive 3D modeling and rendering.
The graphics processing unit requirements for your laptop as an art student are determined by the complexity of your intended job. When settling on a computer, think about the programs you intend to run and the resources they will require.
Intermediate graphics processing units like the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 or the AMD Radeon RX 560X are enough for most design and creative tasks. These graphics processing units are enough for simple 3D modeling and rendering.
For intensive 3D modeling, rendering, or animation, however, a more powerful processor, like an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 or AMD Radeon RX 5700, is recommended. These GPUs are great for intensive graphical processing since they feature more cores, faster clock rates, and greater video memory (VRAM).
In general, eight gigabytes of RAM is fine for typical design and graphic tasks. But, you should think about getting 16GB or perhaps 32GB of RAM if you plan on doing extensive 3D modeling, rendering, or animation. This will guarantee that your machine is up to the task of running many programs simultaneously.
How much capacity and how quickly you need to access and save your art files will determine the sort of SSD you need for your laptop as an art student.
A 512GB SSD is plenty of space for typical design and creative projects. But, a 1TB or 2TB SSD may be necessary if you frequently deal with very big files such as high-resolution photographs, films, or 3D models.
When it comes to speed, a PCIe NVMe SSD is your best and quickest bet. This SSD type outperforms standard SATA SSDs in both read and write speeds, allowing your computer to more quickly process huge data.
Touch Screen Display
Touchscreen laptops have a place in the creative process, but they are not required for all art students.
If you mostly use 2D graphic design and digital painting programs like Adobe Photoshop, CorelDRAW, or Procreate, you might not need a touchscreen laptop.
For more natural and intuitive object manipulation in 3D modeling and sculpting tools like Blender, ZBrush, or Maya, however, a touchscreen laptop can come handy. In addition to being useful for drawing and taking notes, a touchscreen laptop may be used to surf the web and use other non-arts-related programs.
While shopping for a laptop, mobility is sometimes more crucial than other specs for art students. Your individual circumstances will determine whether or not you need to bring your laptop to your art lessons, studios, or other creative spaces.
A lightweight and portable laptop is a good option if you intend to often transport your device. Students who need to transport their laptops frequently often opt for ultrabooks or other thin and light laptops, with smaller screens.
If you intend on doing most of your work in one place, like your dorm room or your house, mobility may not be as important. A more robust and feature-rich laptop, albeit heavier, might be a superior option in this scenario.
As an art student, the ideal length of battery life for your laptop will vary according on how and where you plan to use it. Battery life may be less of an issue if your planned work locations have nearby electrical outlets.
A longer battery life is preferable if you plan on using your laptop in locations away from an electrical outlet, such as during outdoor sketching sessions or when traveling.
The ideal battery life for a laptop should be between six and eight hours. This should keep your laptop running all day long without the need for an outlet.
You should also think about purchasing a laptop that has a rapid charging feature. Some laptops can charge up to 50% in as little as 30 minutes, which might be beneficial if you need to rapidly fill up your battery before leaving out.
Top Product Recommendations for the Best Laptop for Art Students 2023
- Best Overall Laptop for Digital Art Students: Apple Macbook Pro M1
- Most Powerful Laptop for Digital Art Students: Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio
- Most Portable Laptop for Digital Art Students: Lenovo Ideapad Duet Chromebook
- Best Touch Screen Digital Art Laptop: Apple Macbook Air M2
- Best Art Laptop with Long Battery Life: Microsoft Surface Pro 8
- Most Budget Friendly Digital Art Laptop: Acer Spin 5
1. Best Overall Laptop for Digital Art Students—Apple Macbook Pro M1
- Processor – Macbook Pro M1
- Graphics Processing Unit – Up to 32 core
- RAM – Up to 64GB
- SSD – Up to 8TB
- Touch Screen – No
- Portability – 9/10
- Screen Size – 14.2 or 16.2 inches
- Battery Life – Up to 21 hours
About Apple Macbook Pro M1
In 2023, the Apple MacBook Pro M1 is our best laptop for digital artists and students because of its ability to run Macintosh-based creative tools, store massive files and portfolios, and render artwork with stunning realism and vibrancy. It is true that this is an older model, and the company now also features the M2 chip; however, for art students, there really is no difference between the two, except for the price point.
The sharpness, clarity, and vivid colors of the MacBook Pro’s display are all assets to any visual artist’s process. It boasts a 32-core GPU and a battery life of up to 21 hours, making it ideal for games and other graphically heavy applications. A 1080p Facetime HD camera is included for those frequent Zoom conferences with teachers and online classes.
The 16-inch Liquid Retina display and its extensive set of capabilities make it ideal for designers and other professionals. You can use the Touch Bar to rapidly alter brush settings in Photoshop, or you can edit pictures of your artwork to print to see all the intricacies.
The M1 chip’s central processing unit is both powerful and efficient. This allows for quicker processing of images and videos. If you choose the version with 64 gigabytes of RAM, you’ll be able to multitask smoothly between several artistic programs. Whether you’re working on intricate artwork or editing 4K video, unlike most laptops, this one is up to the challenge.
The battery life of the MacBook Pro is excellent for creating digital art, allowing you to practice for long periods of time without worrying about finding an electrical outlet. This laptop is portable and stylish enough to carry anyplace.
- Best Apple laptop for running multiple art software simultaneously
- Great battery life
- Great display for an aspiring digital artist
- Long term buy, as you can use it later on as a professional artist
- One of the less portable laptops on our list
2. Most Powerful Laptop for Digital Art Students—Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio
- Processor – Windows Laptop
- Graphics Processing Unit – NVIDIA’s 2nd gen RTX
- RAM – Up to 32GB
- SSD – Up to 2TB
- Touch Screen – Yes, 120Hz PixelSense™ Flow touchscreen
- Portability – 10/10
- Screen Size – 14.4 inches
- Battery Life – 12 hours
About Microsoft Surface Book
It is an ongoing debate among artists, whether to choose an Apple Macbook or go for Windows Laptops. Microsoft’s latest premium tablet, the Surface Pro 9, is an all-around contender to the iPad Pro. Yet, Microsoft sees the Surface Pro as both a laptop and tablet, whereas Apple sees the iPad Pro as a tablet first and foremost.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is a beautiful device, much more so than its still-impressive predecessor, the Surface Pro 8. There are four attractive color options for the new model: Graphite, Sapphire, Forest, and the original Platinum. The great keyboard, as well as the rest of the accessories, are available in the same rainbow of hues. The Surface Pro 9 is compatible with previous keyboard designs, thus, upgrading to a new keyboard is optional.
The new Surface Pro 9 is just as fast and responsive as the Surface Pro 8, but its screen provides an even better sketching experience.
The 120Hz refresh rate and brilliant PixelSense display of the Surface Pro 9 are two reasons to buy it. The 120Hz refresh rate is more common in gaming monitors and will be appreciated by anyone who wishes to use it for designs, rendering the need for a separate graphics tablet redundant.
Though previous models relied on Intel Iris XE graphics, this newer machine uses NVIDIA’s 2nd gen RTX to handle almost anything you throw at it.
This is, by no means, the budget laptop that most students aim for, but if you are looking for touch screen laptops that are powerful enough to do video editing like a Macbook, and will last you well into your professionals years, this might be a great option to explore.
- Powerful and portable laptop
- Great for students and professional artists
- Comes with surface pen
- Can work with accessories of previous models
- Smaller screen for long hours of work
3. Most Portable Laptop for Digital Art Students—Lenovo Ideapad Duet Chromebook
- Processor – MediaTek Helio P60T
- Graphics Processing Unit – Integrated ARM G72 MP3 Graphics
- RAM – 4GB DDR4 SDRAM
- SSD – 64GB
- Touch Screen – Yes
- Portability – 10/10
- Screen Size – 10.1 Inches
- Battery Life – 10 hours
About Lenovo Ideapad Duet Chromebook
This is unlike any traditional laptop, but it is a decent laptop with good image quality for photo editing and art software. This model made it to our best laptops for artists students list, due to its portability and not because we consider it to be the main laptop for an art student.
If you need a nice machine for sketching but have a limited budget, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook will then be an excellent option for you.
This Chromebook meets the criteria for a portable device, which include a good battery life and a low price point, so you don’t have to constantly worry about its safety.
ChromeOS, not Windows, comes preinstalled on the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet since it is a Chromebook. Because of this, you probably won’t have access to your typical desktop drawing programs. However, it is compatible with Android apps, so you have access to a wide variety of high-quality drawing and digital creative tools. It is also compatible with digital pens from any company that adheres to the Universal Stylus Initiative standard. Yet, keep in mind that the 10-inch screen is slightly smaller than the majority of the laptops on this list.
- Very affordable
- Anti-glare display
- Small size
- Not powerful enough to be the main laptop for an art student
4. Best Touch Screen Digital Art Laptop—Apple Macbook Air M2
- Processor – Macbook M2
- Graphics Processing Unit – Up to 30 core
- RAM – 8GB
- SSD – Up to 2TB
- Touch Screen – No
- Portability – 9/10
- Screen Size – 13.6 inches, ProMotion technology for adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz, and up to 1000 nits sustained (full-screen) brightness
- Battery Life – 18 hours
About Apple Macbook Air M2
The Apple MacBook Air is the company’s thinnest and lightest notebook.
It’s important to be upfront about the fact that this has a smaller screen than we would want for a laptop used for creating digital art. However, its 13.6-inch full panel is bright and clear enough to be an impressive selling point for this laptop. Other Apple laptops with high-resolution screens obviously may be better in size, but not in quality.
This is a great laptop for designers because of its Liquid Retina display, which can showcase more than a billion colors. With a pixel density of 224 PPI, you’ll be able to view every intricate element of your designs—which is crucial when learning detailed methods of creating art pieces.
The lack of a two-in-one tablet design is a downside, although the display can still be used to make drawings using a dedicated graphics tablet or an iPad equipped with Apple’s Pencil.
Beyond its sharp retina display, other standout features are the Touch ID fingerprint reader, force touch trackpad, state-of-the-art keyboard, and long battery life.
The Macbook Air is a great computer for students who also value style and color, as it is made with recycled aluminum. The mobility of the MacBook Air is another major selling point. It’s a lightweight laptop, coming in at just 2.7 pounds, so if you need to bring your laptop to art class, you won’t have to worry about carrying it around all day. The battery has an 18-hour runtime, so you shouldn’t have to worry about recharging it either.
- Lightweight laptop
- Great display for digital drawing
- Laptop’s screen holds 224PPI pixel density
- Not a touch screen laptop
5. Best Art Laptop with Long Battery Life—Microsoft Surface Pro 8
- Processor – Intel Core i7
- Graphics Processing Unit – Intel Iris Xe Graphics
- RAM – 16GB
- SSD – 1TB
- Touch Screen – Yes
- Portability – 10/10
- Screen Size – 13 inches
- Battery Life – 16 hours
About Microsoft Surface Pro 8
Although it is primarily intended as a tablet, this Surface Pro can also serve as a laptop by connecting the optional type cover.
The small display initially seems like a drawback, but in reality, it makes for an extremely transportable laptop that can be used away from home, along with its long battery life.
The screen’s brightness is matched by vivid colors that pop off the display, and the screen’s excellent resolution counteracts many of the disadvantages of having such a small display. The PixelSense touchscreen display on the Surface Pro 8 is 13 inches in size, with a resolution of 2880 by 1920 pixels and a refresh rate of 120 hertz, which along with Dolby Vision and Adaptive Color technologies, make it one of the best laptops for artists.
The Surface Thin Pen 2 is also excellent; its haptic feedback makes it feel just like sketching with a real pencil on paper, and its precision is now on level with that of the Apple Pencil series.
As compared to other laptops, the Surface Pro used to be underpowered, but with the release of Windows 11 and a significantly faster processor, it has become the finest tablet laptop for students who place a premium on portability over raw power.
Based on normal use at 150 nits with auto-brightness and adaptive color deactivated, Microsoft claims the Surface 8 Pro’s battery lasts up to 16 hours. During our initial evaluation of the Surface Pro 8, we were able to verify this with a battery life test. However, like all laptops, the Surface Pro 8 performs best when it is connected to a power source.
Battery life goes hand in hand with increased laptop temperatures, which is almost always an issue when working long hours.
When used in tablet mode, the Surface Pro 8 gets lukewarm to the touch, especially at the kickstand where the SSD is located.
The fans are silent while not in moderate use, but when they spin at high speed once multiple programs are being used, it can get a little annoying during day-to-day activities.
- Great battery life
- Accurate screen colors
- One of the best laptop for artists who want to carry it to school
- High price point
- Loud fans
6. Most Budget Friendly Digital Art Laptop—Acer Spin 5
- Processor – Intel Core i7-1065G7
- Graphics Processing Unit – Intel Iris Plus Graphics
- RAM – 16GB
- SSD – 512GB PCIe NVMe
- Touch Screen – Yes
- Portability – 9/10
- Screen Size – 13.5 Inches
- Battery Life – 15 hours
About Acer Spin 5
Our budget option might seem unconventional in absolute number terms, as the list itself holds laptops at much lower price points. However, we tend to balance price versus range of specifications, including RAM and laptop displays, among others, in order to find the best budget option for our list.
Due to its high-quality touch displays, stylus compatibility, and elegant engineering, the Acer Spin 5 is a competitively-priced Windows notebook.
The screen’s 3:2 aspect ratio, rather than the more common 16:9, makes it a unique laptop for art. Although the screen is just 13.5 inches in width, the extra height provides an advantage when working with certain canvas sizes. The laptop’s long 15-hour battery life means you can use your digital pen to sketch practically anywhere you want without worrying about finding an outlet.
- Touch screen laptop
- Highly portable design
- Long lasting battery
- Up to par with specs needed for graphic design projects
- Lacks dual screen design
In summation, the quest for the ideal laptop for art students is a multifaceted and mercurial endeavor. There are a plethora of options on the market, each with its unique set of perks and drawbacks.
However, with diligence and careful consideration, one can navigate the labyrinthine world of computer technology and unearth the perfect device to fit their specific artistic needs. From the vibrancy of the display to the processing power of the CPU, there are several factors to weigh when making this critical decision.
Nonetheless, with a concerted effort and a willingness to explore, art students are sure to find a laptop that will enable them to unleash their creativity and take their work to new heights. So, whether it’s a sleek and portable MacBook PRO or a robust and customizable Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, the ultimate choice depends on the individuality and vision of the artist.
In the end, it’s all about finding the laptop that resonates with one’s creative spirit and propels them to new heights of artistic expression. With that said, happy hunting, and may the chosen laptop inspire many masterpieces to come!
We hope you found our analysis of the top laptop for digital art students of 2023 to be helpful. Consult our associated guides for further sources of comparable items for the artistic lifestyle.