We as graphic designers (and as graphic design students) know how difficult it can be to find a graphic design laptop that has everything we need. There are so many on the market and they all have different specs, features, and price points. So what is the best graphic design laptop for 2022? The Apple MacBook Pro M1! It’s lightweight (slimmer than any other graphic design laptop), easy to use, the battery lasts up to 21 hours, and comes with amazing software like Adobe Creative Cloud which you get free access to if you purchase this laptop! To make that purchase even easier, I’ve included affiliate links in this article.
What Is The Best Laptop For Graphic Design?
I wanted to give you this context because a lot of people are making listicles of all these different laptops and all these different choices and if you’re like me you have a hard time making the choice. So what is the best laptop for 2021 in my opinion? The number one laptop that I think that you should be buying is the 2021 Apple MacBook Pro 14 or 16 inches with the M1 chip in it. This is an amazing laptop and the scalability and what you can actually add to this thing if you custom order it is absolutely amazing. So I wanted to jump in this with you guys today and show you what this laptop really has to offer you.
And like I said many times before this is just my opinion. You may disagree with me. You may be more tech-savvy than I am. I’m very tech-savvy but I’m not a computer builder. I’m not an engineer; I’m not a scientist. I’m not going to be able to build a laptop or customize or upgrade a laptop myself because I don’t have any interest in doing that, and because I don’t have the skill set to do that or the time. So it’s really important you understand where I’m coming from in this article because the best laptop for me includes the ability to use it immediately, with no customization necessary.
What Are The Criteria?
I want to go over the three criteria that I employ before we get into the specifics. That’s usually how I approach any form of a product review. To determine what makes this laptop the finest for graphic designers, I consider three criteria while writing the article. So, to me, the technology, ease of use, and overall quality are where I’m making my decisions from. And how did I choose this specific laptop?
The first step is to select a laptop that has the best quality possible. The quality of the MacBook Pro will be discussed in detail in this article, but it’s probably second to none when compared to other laptops I’ve tried. I have to say that I’ve tested many laptops and the quality is quite important for longevity and performance. These are all crucial elements of a good laptop; they’re all important pieces of the laptop’s overall quality.
So that was the first consideration in my decision, but the second was the ease of use or user experience. Apple has a beautiful interface; it’s clean, simple, and straightforward to navigate and learn. The learning curve isn’t steep. I adore the elements and features that PC-based computers provide. However, Intel-based computer systems have so many fundamental customizations and functions that they might be overwhelming and distracting from what the actual purpose is: to operate smoothly.
The third component is the technology itself, which is smooth, seamless, and dependable. When you’re using a tool like this, it’s not about the money. I wanted to make sure I said that right away because it’s not about the money that a tool costs; it’s always about the value that the tool provides. If you’re like me, you want the finest quality at all times and don’t mind what it costs. It’s all about value when we talk about those things.
What Are the MacBook M1 Pro Specs?
So are you ready for the product specs? Let’s go ahead and jump into the specs for the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch or 14-inch. You can get close to the same performance with the same features other than the screen size in both computers, but I want to jump into the processors and this M1 chip first.
GPU and M1 Chip
All right so the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch or 14-inch is either going to come with a Pro chip or a Max chip. The Pro chip is going to allow you to have a 16 core GPU graphics processing unit. And then, if you get the Max, you can actually upgrade to a 32 gig core GPU which is very important if you’re using Premiere and Photoshop and some of these high-end design programs (like After Effects).
You’re going to need everything you can get to throw at this thing because sometimes we’re running multiple programs that are very graphics card heavy at the same time so it’s really important to probably upgrade for the little bit of additional money that it is from the Pro to the Max especially if you’re spending that much money. I would highly recommend you consider the Max chip versus the Pro chip. They’re both going to have a 10-core CPU. So 10 cores either way you go but with the Max, you’re going to get that upgrade in the GPU and also in some of the other specs.
Graphic Design Laptop RAM
So, based on whether you do the Pro or the Max, you can get anywhere from 16 right-out-of-the-box gigs of ram with the Pro to as high as 64 gigabytes of ram with the Max. That is a lot of RAM for a MacBook. The computer that I have right now on my desk has 16 gigabytes. It came right out of the box like that and it’s been an amazing computer.
It has not had any problems and is not slow. It does everything that I needed to do so I highly recommend that you get at least that. However, if you have the money, I would recommend upgrading to the faster one. Get something in between 16 and 64; there is a 32GB option that is probably the ideal. It’s important to think in terms of your RAM when buying a graphic design laptop; RAM is very important to the speed and performance of your laptop.
Graphic Design Laptop Storage
The next piece to this is understanding your storage. A lot of storage is now online but if your computer has a small amount of storage you’re gonna have to be turning things off and turning things on and dealing with iCloud. I’ve dealt with this a lot on my MacBook and, looking back, I wish I would have splurged for the model with a little bit more storage. This is relative, though.
The 2021 MacBook Pro comes right out of the box with at least a terabyte of storage. However, you may use up to eight terabytes of storage, which is a lot of storage. So, whether you go big or small, you’ll get a decent amount of storage and this is really important because it ensures that you won’t have to try to turn things off and on. Even before backing up your computer onto cloud storage services, it will always have enough storage space.
Graphic Design Laptop Customizability
One little quibble about Apple: their colors are much more limited than other options. You can buy cases and things that will fit your MacBook Pro, however, you’ll be stuck with either space gray or silver for the main body, and this is a fairly common complaint. I’d also love to have a red laptop or a black laptop; I wish Apple would give us a few more color options.
However, simplicity and ease of use are qualities that Apple has always valued. They’re trying to keep it simple, so if you want to customize your machine, just buy a cover or a case for your laptop that clips onto the outside. I have a clip and cover which goes over my MacBook to give it a more unique appearance, and you can buy them almost anywhere. There is definitely room for personalization; many individuals choose between silver and space gray and just use cases and covers to add their personal flair.
Graphic Design Laptop Battery Life
The MacBook Pro line is one of the most popular, and for good reason. If you’re watching video playback on your Macbook Pro, you can expect up to 21 hours of usage. The MacBook Pro with a 16-inch display has a battery life that’s slightly shorter than the 14-inch version (due to screen size), but it’s not significant. Video playback will last around 21 hours. I think real internet browsing and using Google Chrome and applications will reduce it down to about 18 hours, which is still an incredibly long charge duration. This is a really excellent battery if you’re on the go or traveling.
What Is the Price of the Best Graphic Design Laptop?
That’s why I said at the beginning of this post that it’s not about the money; the money isn’t what motivates us. So, you want to get the best tool for the task so you can make as much money as possible and have a fast computer to get things done effectively, which will result in you making more money down the road. Getting hung up on how much something costs is not what this article is about, but you probably do want to know how much it costs.
So, if you want to go with the 16 inch 2021 Apple MacBook Pro entry-level with the maximum CPU, you’ll be looking at a minimum of $2,500 but you’re probably going to be in the $3,000-$3,500 range if you upgrade anything we discussed like storage, RAM, etc. So just bear that in mind. You’re looking at a minimum of $2,500 and up; possibly as much as $3,500 to invest into a machine that will work for about ten years.
Graphic Design Laptop Longevity
I said at the start of this that two of my decision-making factors are dependability and quality. I have been able to own only two MacBooks in my entire life so far. I’ve been a PC guy all my life; I had an Asus and an Acer, among other things, over the years while doing graphic design there’s nothing more reliable or consistent for me than a MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro is a high-quality piece of equipment.
Because Apple doesn’t manufacture low-quality products, you may trust that you will receive a decent laptop. I had to acquire another one in 2016 because my other one was stolen; that’s the only reason I’ve had to replace one before the ten-year mark. My previous one worked perfectly and I purchased it in 2011, so I would have replaced it with the 2021 MacBook Pro, anyway.
Graphic Design Laptop Cost over Time
If you’re looking at the numbers, however, if you have one computer that costs $2,500 for 10 years versus the need to buy four or five or six or even ten PC-based laptops when you have to replace them over the same 10-year period, you’ll end up spending more money on the PC than on Apple. You also have to port over your data and your settings and learn a whole new machine; it’s a nightmare. It’s about durability as well as ease of use. Making your life simple is the key to your success in all areas of your business, but especially in the main tool that you’re going to be using in your graphic design business.
The Only Complaint…
The one disadvantage that I’d want to mention, and I’m hoping that someone at Apple reads this piece, is a bit of a pet peeve. I have one major problem with MacBooks: the charger. Over the years, I’ve had to purchase numerous chargers for these things because even the ones purchased six months ago fall apart at the connectors, ripping out of the base.
That’s the one thing I’d suggest they do differently: produce higher-quality chargers that don’t just fall apart in less than a year. Everything else I’ve bought from Apple has been top-tier quality. However, on the charger quality, they really need to step their game up and that is the only disadvantage I’ve ever seen with the Macbook.
So I believe the current reigning champion of graphic design laptops is the 2021 Apple MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro or M1 Max Chip, which I’d strongly advise you to pick if you only want to pull something out of the box and go to work. Unless you’re going to use external displays, I’d suggest opting for a 16-inch over a 14-inch laptop. You want the larger screen so that when you’re out traveling, you aren’t viewing a tiny display and that’s what I’d like to leave with you. If you want a great laptop, switch to Apple. Come to the dark side (or the good side–however you choose to look at it)! I’m Adrian Boysel. Thank you so much for reading! As always, keep looking up!