Best graphic design laptops under $1,000

Best Graphic Design Laptops Under $1,000 | Recommendations for 2020

Best Graphic Design Laptops Under $1,000 | Recommendations for 2020 1024 602 Nick Saporito

Today I’ll be going over my 5 best graphic design laptops under $1,000 for those of you who may be in the market for one in the near future. $1,000 is a good budget for a graphic design laptop, so you can expect to get some real bang for your buck as long as you know what to look for.

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Minimum Requirements

Graphic design is a pretty broad term that encompasses many different kinds of design and many different software applications. You can read my post about minimum hardware requirements to get an idea what you should look for, otherwise you can read on to see my personal recommendations.

$1,000 is enough money to purchase a laptop that can sufficiently handle the most demanding kinds of graphic design, like 3D and animation. For $1,000, these are the minimum specs I would look for personally…

CPU

Processing power is one of the most important factors. For this price range I’d settle for nothing less than an Intel i7. An i5 should be sufficient for graphic design, but that would be more suitable for a $500 budget. If you’re going to spend closer to $1,000 then you deserve better than that.

Memory

Adobe software is bloated and hogs a lot of system resources. You’ll need some memory to accommodate all that processing power. With this sort of budget I would settle for nothing less than 16 GB. In fact, all 5 of my picks have 16 GB. Laptops with less didn’t make the cut.

Storage

Storage is an often overlooked performance factor. Solid state drives are much quicker than traditional disk drives, so a laptop that has an SSD is a must. It’s okay if there’s an extra HDD for additional storage, but the OS and all of its applications need to be running on an SSD for the best performance.

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Graphics

A dedicated GPU is highly recommended if you’re doing 3D and animation work, but even if you’re just using Photoshop and Illustrator, the GPU will help those applications run faster. And for this price range it’s not unreasonable to look for a laptop that has a dedicated GPU, so it will be a determining factor.

Resolution

Screen resolution is hardly a performance factor, but as a graphic designer you will sometimes have to design things at large sizes, so anything less than 1080p for this price range would be unacceptable.

Best Graphic Design Laptops Under $1,000

The following 5 laptops were my top picks after rummaging through Amazon. They’re ranked by dollar-for-dollar value rather than price. Simply click the image associated with each product to be taken to the listing where you can see its current price.

5. ASUS VivoBook K570UD

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8550U
  • Memory: 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 1050 4GB
  • Resolution: 1080p

This ASUS laptop may have made the bottom of my list, but it’s a solid buy at less than $1,000. In fact, it was the cheapest of the lot by $100, making it a great value. Don’t let the price fool you though — this laptop packs all the power you need as a graphic designer in 2020.

4. Dell Gaming Laptop

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
  • Memory: 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 1050TI 4GB
  • Resolution: 1080p

This Dell laptop is very similar to the ASUS laptop listed at #5, but for an extra $10 you get a better processor and a better graphics card. That’s a steal.

3. Asus ROG Strix Scar Edition GL703GE Gaming Laptop

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
  • Memory: 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 1050TI 4GB
  • Resolution: 1080p with a 120Hz Refresh Rate

Numbers 3 and 4 were really close calls. This ASUS laptop has identical specs to the aforementioned Dell laptop, but the screen has a 120Hz refresh rate, meaning you can get up to 120 frames per second when producing animations and editing video. The refresh rate wasn’t indicated on the DELL laptop, so I have to assume that it uses the standard 60Hz.

2. MSI GL63

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
  • Memory: 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
  • Resolution: 1080p

Deciding where to place this MSI laptop was a little tricky. It has a better graphic card than the other laptops mentioned so far, but it doesn’t have that extra HDD space. This is a trade-off I had to mull over a bit, but I ultimately decided that the MSI is a better value because it’s very easy and cheap to add external storage later on if needed, whereas a graphics card isn’t so simple to upgrade.

Build quality is another factor. I’m a happy MSI customer myself and can say for certain that it is built much better than any other laptop I’ve ever owned.

1. Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop PC

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
  • Memory: 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
  • Resolution: 1080p with a 144Hz Refresh Rate

Finally, this Acer Predator gaming laptop tops my list as the best graphic design laptop under $1,000, and it was a very close call. Much like the MSI laptop, you’ll miss out on the extra HDD storage, but it’s a worthy trade-off because you’re getting a better graphics card. The only reason this one edged out the MSI laptop is because it has a higher refresh rate of 144Hz. Again, the MSI’s refresh rate wasn’t indicated, so I have to assume it uses the standard 60Hz.

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Nick Saporito

Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design. A full portfolio and information regarding services offered can be found at LogosByNick.com.

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16 comments
  • Ray Renteria

    Hey Nick,

    For the Helios 300 being your top pick, how is the color accuracy? I found one for sale at $660 and tempted to buy it. However, I’ve heard reports that the Adobe RGB percentage being too low.

  • Marina

    Hi Nick,

    would you be using the same machines you recommend here for processing the videos you make for youtube? The sam Q for your 500$ laptop recommendations.

    Thank you, Nick!

    • Nick Saporito

      Video editing is a lot more demanding so I wouldn’t bother with anything in the $500 post. These laptops should handle video editing just fine though. Any processor i7 and up should be sufficient, and having a dedicated GPU helps too. My own computers have similar specs to these laptops and I edit and render all of my videos without a problem.

  • John

    I am a still running an older i5 for gimp, inscape, older CS2 but my best boost for doing any graphic work was buying a decent size 24′ monitor $120 (£100 UK) which makes so much difference, less zooming to see details . This was a play off between actual size and pixel quality , didn’t need to break the bank either. although laptops are great they are limited on screen size.

  • Bobby J

    Hey there Nick,
    great stuff as usual. The only downside is that in Europe these laptops cost about 50% more.
    I found the ACER Predator in Switzerland for 1499 CHF (about 1500 USD). Altough it has additional 1TB HDD.

    https://www.mediamarkt.ch/de/product/_acer-predator-helios-300-1856473.html

    Found also the MSI GL63 in a French shop but for 1599 EUR (1760 USD)

    https://www.fnac.com/PC-Portable-MSI-GL63-8SE-213FR-15-6-Gaming/a13203051/w-4#omnsearchpos=1

    Did not really spend a lot of time looking for the brands but these two were the only ones I could find.
    Prices are … tough luck.
    Cheers
    B

  • mark

    I have a dell gaming laptop. It meets the hardware specs but I’d never buy another Dell product again. Terrible company. Inspiron 15 7567 gaming rig. I had to replace the flat screen because the one it shipped with was completely unusable. The hardware itself and the computer are fine it’s just Dell really sucks. I’m out of warranty and the price they asked to renew or extend it was monstrous. They only care about one thing, sales. I don’t know who I’ll go with next. I’ll never buy anything from Dell again.

    M

  • JJones

    I would like to hear your recommendations on a portable tablet with a pen that can run Gimp and Inkscape!

    Thanks Nick!

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