Best Microsoft Surface for Graphic Design

The Microsoft Surface line is a great group of products that you can use for graphic design. But, just like any product line, there’s a lot to choose from. This guide will help you pick the best computer to help you do your job as a graphic designer.

Best Microsoft Surface for graphic design

Now that you’ve decided that you’re going for a Windows laptop, it is time to pick the one! Contrary to popular belief, it is completely fine to do your graphic design work on a Windows computer.

In this post, we will take a closer look at the entire Surface family, talk about the things you have to keep in mind, and I will give you my recommendations for a great Surface to add to your UX equipment. We will start with the latter so that you can get started quickly and move back up to the former.

Microsoft Surface Book 3 for graphic design
The best Microsoft Surface for graphic design 👇

Looking for a great Surface for graphic design? As a 2-in-1 laptop,  with touch and high-performance hardware, the Surface Book 3 is your laptop of choice!

Table of Contents

Best Microsoft Surface laptop for graphic design

Alright. Moving on to what I believe to be the best Microsoft Surface laptop if you want to use it for your graphic design work. Just as with any form of design work, you will need a high-end laptop with good specs. Here’s why.

Graphic designers use tools like Adobe Photoshop, XD, and Illustrator. These tools are cumbersome for the GPU of your laptop. You’ll probably have a few of these tools open and maybe a few other applications like a mail client, Teams or Zoom, and a web browser. To multitask like this, you will require a high-performance laptop.

It brings the list of potential Surface laptops suitable for graphic design down, which is good. The main spec of the following recommendations is a robust and dedicated GPU. And that’s precisely what you need in a laptop for graphic design. Let’s take a look!

Microsoft Surface Book 3

I’ve talked about the best laptop for different design roles before. As you might know, the Microsoft Surface Book 3 is one of my top two choices. Yes, this includes graphic design as well. Over at The Designer’s Toolbox, we’ve been using a Surface Book 2 since 2018 that has worked very well.

The new and improved Surface Book 3 is as good as it gets. Last year, it was refreshed to include the latest laptop specs that suit a graphic designer’s requirements very well. It includes the latest NVIDIA GPUs and a new Intel i7. Because of these specs, it can easily run graphic design software like the Adobe creative suite.

Surface Book 3 for UI, UX, and Graphic Design

The Surface Book 3 is a 2-in-1 hybrid laptop. You can detach the touch screen monitor of this laptop to use as a tablet on the go or turn it around to have a mounted touch screen. Furthermore, the Surface Book 3 supports the great Surface Pen, which is something every graphic designer can use.

I can genuinely recommend the Microsoft Surface Book 3 for any graphic designer. Make sure to check it out on Amazon via the button below.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

An alternative could be the Surface Laptop 4. Don’t let that number 4 fool you. The laptop isn’t worse than some other Surface family laptops with a higher number, like the Surface Pro 7. It is just different. The Surface Laptop 4 does not have a detachable screen.

Surface Laptop 4 for graphic design

Whether or not a graphic designer needs a detachable screen is up to you. This Surface laptop can fulfill your graphic design needs if you’re okay with not having a detachable screen. It has high-end specifications that are an excellent fit for any graphic designer.

  • Dedicated GPU for using your design tools.
  • Surface Pen support for drawing and sketching.
  • Great screen.

There’s more, of course, but these were the highlights. I believe the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 to be an excellent choice for any graphic designer that doesn’t need the 2-in-1 hybrid solution of the Surface Book 3.

Comparing the different Surface laptops

There are a lot of laptops within the Microsoft Surface line. You have the Surface Book and Laptop I’ve mentioned above, but also the Surface Pro, Go, and the Surface Studio, which technically isn’t even considered a laptop. Here’s a list of the entire Microsoft Surface family.

  • Surface Go 3
  • Surface Laptop Go
  • Surface Laptop 4
  • Surface Pro 8
  • Surface Pro X
  • Surface Book 3
  • Surface Studio 2
  • Surface Studio Laptop

Each of these machines serves a different type of audience. Every audience needs a computer for another kind of work. First, the power user needs a high-end laptop such as the Surface Book or Surface Laptop. I believe that the graphic designer is a part of this group. Next, you have the designer-on-the-go. It is someone who travels a lot and needs a lightweight laptop for office work, research, and workshops when he’s on the go.

If you look at the Microsoft Surface line, they focus on the same groups as I’ve just mentioned. The Surface Pro 8 and X are excellent for light to medium work. They are very lightweight and easy to take with you. The battery life is long enough to do your job while on a plane or train. Both machines have Surface Pen support for your artistic and graphic design needs.

Let’s move on to the graphic design powerhouses of the Microsoft Surface family. I’m talking about the Surface Book 3 and the Surface Laptop 4 I’ve recommended just above.

  • The Surface Book 3 is a laptop that has a detachable touch screen. Because of this, you can use only the screen as a tablet. The Surface Book 3 is Microsoft’s answer to the Macbook Pro. It features all the top-of-the-line specs you might expect from a costly laptop. As a graphic designer, this could be your Surface laptop of choice.
  • The Surface Laptop 4. It features similar specs as the Surface Book 3. The main difference is the fact that this laptop isn’t a hybrid. It means you can’t detach the screen like many other machines from the Surface family. It makes the computer a little lighter but just as powerful performance-wise.

Graphic design apps for Surface Pro

Software is just as essential as hardware. In a perfect world, both would be perfectly aligned. Here’s my list of graphic design apps for Surface Pro.

  • First of all, you can’t do without Adobe Photoshop. I don’t need to explain what it can do. It is just a must-have for any graphic designer and photographer.
  • The same goes for Adobe Illustrator. If creating icons, logos, or artwork is your deal, the vector-based classic is your go-to graphic design app.
  • If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, you could consider Affinity’s Photo and Designer. It’s cheaper but not as complete in terms of features as Adobe’s apps.

iPad vs Surface for graphic design

Since most Surface products are tablets, an iPad vs Surface comparison for graphic design is easily made. So which one should you buy? One of the most important things to keep in mind is the stylus you can use with both products. The Surface Pen vs Apple Pencil comparison is made just as quickly.

As for me, I like the iPad a lot. It comes with Procreate, a fantastic tool for any graphic designer. Yet, the Surface family has access to Windows 11, arguably a more robust OS than iPadOS.

Picking one of the two is easier if you look at the other devices you or your clients have. I recommend aligning with that to create an ecosystem of devices from a single manufacturer.

Frequently asked questions

There’s much to be said about the Microsoft Surface family. With an increasing number of machines, the options grow for graphic designers to select their next computer. Here’s a list of frequently asked questions and answers to help you make the right choice.

Is the Microsoft Surface Pro good for graphic design?

The Surface Pro is available in two versions. These are the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Pro X. Both are great laptops, but I believe the Surface Pro 8 to be better suited for graphic design.

This configuration has a stronger Intel i5 or i7 CPU, which sets it apart from the Surface Pro X. You will need the raw power of an Intel CPU to run your graphic design tools.

Which Microsoft Surface is best for artists?

Artists need to use the Microsoft Surface Pen for drawing, painting, and sketching. All of the Surface laptops have Surface pen support.

Therefore, the best Microsoft Surface laptop for artists is the same as for graphic designers. I believe this to be either the Surface Book 3 or the Surface Laptop 4, depending on your preference.

Which is the newest Microsoft Surface in 2022?

The newest Microsoft Surface laptop is the Surface Studio Laptop. It was released in October of 2021. Here’s a list of the most recent Microsoft Surface releases.

  • Surface Studio Laptop in October 2021.
  • Surface Go 3 in September 2021.
  • Surface Laptop 4 in April 2021.

Further reading

As you can see, the Microsoft Surface Book 3 is one of the best laptops for graphic designers, together with the Surface Laptop 4. The two-in-one hybrid concept works excellent for the Surface Book, and both laptops have great software and hardware.

Are you not sure which laptop is best for design? You can also check out our buying guide on laptops. It includes a list of recommended specs and things to watch.

Some of the links of this page are affiliate links. I might earn a commission if you order through these links. This doesn’t cost you anything, but it helps me run this website.

Useful resources to boost your UX career 👇

Or check out all UX resources on Gumroad.
Profile picture of author Nick Groeneveld, a senior UX designer and mentor for The Designer's Toolbox

About the author

Hi! I'm Nick Groeneveld, a senior designer from the Netherlands with experience in UX, visual design, and research. I have completed a wide range of projects in finance, tech, and the public sector.

Take a look at my LinkedIn and Medium for more.