What is the best laptop for UI, UX and visual design?

Whether you’re an experienced graphic designer, a visual designer, UI designer or just starting out as a UX designer, you need to have a computer to do your work on.
Best Laptop for Design

The problem is that there are so many different computers out there that it can be easy to get lost in all of the brands and options. This post will help you with selecting your next computer for your design work. We’re going to focus on selecting a laptop that’s suitable for UI/UX design, visual design and graphic design in general.

If you’re not interested in the technical side of choosing a laptop, skip to the end.

Selecting the best laptop for designers

There’s not just one model of computer that’s best for design. If you’re looking for a new computer, rather than focussing on brands, we’re going to focus on laptop specs. There are a few categories of specs you have to keep in mind. These are the CPU, GPU, RAM, storage and screen size. I’m going to recommend you for these categories.

CPU

The CPU stands for Central Processing Unit. It is the brain of your computer. If you’re a designer, you need a powerful CPU that can handle your daily work. Strong CPU’s have a high speed (Ghz) and a high number of cores. When looking at laptops, a lot of them feature Intel CPU’s. Intel has i3, i5 and i7 CPU’s. When you’re going to use your laptop for graphic design, you’re going to be fine with an i5 CPU. If you want something more you can get the i7, but it is not necessary.

GPU

GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit. Back in the day, the GPU was a part of the CPU. Cheaper laptops still have internal GPU’s like that. For design work you need to have a laptop with a dedicated GPU.

RAM

RAM stands for Random-access Memory. I can be short about this one. More RAM is better. Don’t go below 8 GB’s of RAM.

Storage

Bigger is better. Having more storage means you have more room for your documents, pictures and movies. You can supplement that by using streaming services for media or cloud storage for your documents. That way you save storage for other files. I’d recommend not going lower than 250Gb of storage. 500Gb if you can.

Screen size

Laptops typically come in two sizes. 13 inch and 15 inch. Once again, more is better, but more comes at a price. You can get away with a smaller screen if you don’t mind things getting a bit crowded on screen. If you work on a second screen at home or at the office you can pick a 13 inch screen size for your laptop to save some money. However, in most cases a smaller screen size laptop also has lower other specs.

Frequently asked questions

That’s it for the specs categories. Before we’re going to conclude we still have a few frequently asked questions unanswered. Take a look at them below.

Should I buy a two-in-one hybrid laptop, like the Microsoft Surface Book, for example?

You can. There are many options nowadays in the tablet-laptop-hybrid department. One of my favourites is the Microsoft Surface Book 2, which is a great Windows PC. I would highly recommend it. It has great power, battery life and checks all the marks I’ve mentioned above. An added benefit is that it can work as a tablet as well, which is nice if you are on the road a lot and if you like to draw.

Should I buy a Mac or Windows PC for UI/UX design?

In addition to personal preference, picking a PC or a Mac for UI and UX design depends on if you want to use Sketch. Sketch is a graphic vector editing tool that’s been developed just for Mac. It is very popular. There’s a lot of debate on whether you should use Sketch or Figma, one of Sketch’s competitors. So if you (or the colleagues and clients you have to work with) prefer Sketch, the only thing you can do is get yourself a Mac for your UI/UX design work.

Besides that, there is no reason to pick Mac over PC or PC over Mac.

If I do want a Mac, should I get a Macbook Air or Pro

The Macbook Air is, like the name suggests, more lightweight than the Macbook Pro. What it gains in being lightweight, it loses in power. If you’re on the road a lot, are a webdesigner, or a front-end developer, a Macbook Air is sufficient. However, keep in mind that it does not meet all the requirements as stated above. The current Macbook Air lineup features an i3 and an i5 CPU model without a dedicated GPU. The base models have a RAM of 8Gb, which you can to upgrade to 16Gb.

If you’re a power user who does video editing, graphic design and UI/UX design, the Macbook Pro would be a better option for you.

Putting it all together

If you put it all together, you will need to have a laptop with the following specs. i5 CPU, dedicated GPU, at least 8 GBs of RAM, 250Gb storage and a screen size starting at 13 inch. You can filter on these specs at most online retailers.

Our suggestion

I suggest you’d get either a Microsoft Surface Book 2 or a Macbook Pro. Both are great machines in their own right. They are close in price and performance. You will be set for years with either one of them.

What laptop did you choose? Does it meet your requirements? Let us know!

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