Best Laptop for Adobe Illustrator

The ‘best’ laptops on the market aren’t necessarily the best for all applications. This is especially true for specialized production software.

You can very easily get caught up in the allure of an expensive MacBook because of their Mac OS and pretty externals but you may be wasting your time and money on something that is better for music production or just general usage.

It gets more complicated when you’re looking at Windows based laptops because of the sheer amount of options you have available to you.

What’s worse is that you could find the laptop with all of the perfect components but it ends up with a 13” HD ready display that makes it impossible to view your renders.

Adobe Illustrator is software that needs specific hardware for it to be easy to use and so that you can see exactly what you’re working on. This can be a massive issue with the more budget friendly laptops as they normally use a cheap display with abysmal color reproduction. Meaning, you could spend hours editing a commission and then receive a complaint that the colors are all wrong and that’s just not your fault.

We’ve put in the leg work for you though and we’ve come up with an easy list of the best laptops on the market specifically for Adobe Illustrator.

To make sure that you have all of the information you need to make the right choice we’ve also included a buyer’s guide at the end of the article. That way you can say goodbye to buyer’s remorse and be confident in your purchase.

In a Rush?

Have you got a project to hand in at the end of the week or do you just need that final piece that will complete your portfolio?

Not to worry, we’ve got our top pick right here for you with just a few reasons why we love it.

Eluktronics MAG-15

This laptop shows how a machine designed for ‘gaming’ can excel at a completely different purpose.

The MAG-15 isn’t a typical gaming laptop and doesn’t have the sharp edges or bulk we’ve come to expect from the gaming industry.

  • The 6 Core 4.5GHz i7 CPU is more than powerful enough for Illustrator.
  • The GTX 1660Ti is a budget friendly GPU with low TDP and adequate VRAM.
  • A High Refresh rate FHD Monitor makes everything look buttery smooth.
  • Plenty of I/O for all needs including drawing pens and extra displays.

OUR TOP PICK

Eluktronics MAG-15 Slim & Ultra Light NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti Gaming Laptop with Mechanical RGB Keyboard - Intel i7-9750H CPU 6GB GDDR6 VR Ready GPU 15.6” 144Hz Full HD IPS 1TB NVMe SSD + 32GB RAM

This is a laptop that has been designed for gaming but can be used for everything and anything else. It performs particularly well for creative software like Illustrator.

The MAG-15 comes in many different configurations, this one comes with an i7-9750H processor. This is part of Intel’s 9th generation lineup that didn’t cater to the low power consumption needs that the 10th generation processors did.

For this reason it still retains a base clock of 2.6GHz and can boost up to a blistering 4.5GHz. This is the base model and therefore doesn’t come with the upgraded cooling system (you can opt for this if you’d like).

Still, with the standard cooling system, you’ll easily hit the boost clock when you aren’t gaming! This is more than apt to render your projects.

This model comes equipped with a 6GB GTX 1660Ti from Nvidia. This card was designed to be a budget friendly 1440p gaming GPU. This means it has plenty of VRAM and a high enough clock speed to power a 4k monitor that you can plug in through the included Thunderbolt 4 port.

Speaking of displays the MAG-15 comes with a 15.6” FHD monitor that has a 144Hz IPS panel meaning your illustrations will look buttery smooth AND be extremely vibrant.

The version we’ve chosen comes with 32GB of 2666MHz memory which is enough to work on 4 different 4k projects with 25+ layers at the same time. It also has a 1TB NVME SSD so speed will never be an issue. You also get enough I/O that you could run a battlestation from this laptop.

Pros

  • With a boost clock of 4.5GHz and an active cooling system the i7 is perfect for Illustrator.
  • The 6GB 1660Ti is powerful enough to render multiple 4k projects simultaneously.
  • The FHD IPS panel will accurately show you what you’re working on.
  • The gaming features like the mechanical keyboard and huge I/O make this perfect for Illustrator and versatile enough for all creativity software.

Cons

  • When running at full power the cooling fans can be quite loud.

EDITORS CHOICE

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo UX581 Laptop, 15.6” 4K UHD NanoEdge Touch Display, Intel Core i7-10750H, 16GB RAM, 1TB PCIe SSD, GeForce RTX 2060, ScreenPad Plus, Windows 10 Pro, Celestial Blue, UX581LV-XS74T

This ASUS laptop has been designed for all types of productivity and removes the need to buy extra peripherals.

The 10th generation i7 that comes with this laptop is not part of the ultra low TDP mobile CPUs that intel designed for laptops. It therefore has a base clock of 2.6GHz and can boost all the way up to 5.0GHz across all 6 cores.

The fact that this laptop comes with an RTX card is testament to its premium quality. The RTX 2060 comes with 6GB of VRAM which is necessary for the dual 4K screens this laptop comes with.

The main selling point of this laptop is its displays, yes plural. The ZenBook Pro Duo comes with a market leading 15.6” 4K OLED main display capable of reaching 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. It is also bright enough to achieve HDR10 standards.

The laptop also comes with a secondary display on top of the keyboard that has a resolution of 3840 x 1100 which can be used for anything from referencing to full stylus powered drawing. It saves you the need to purchase a drawing tablet or display.

The innovation here makes this the perfect laptop for Illustrator. The only thing holding it back is the price. The way the lid opens also props up the back of the laptop making it more comfortable to draw or type on, as well as increasing the cooling space.

It also comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM which is more than adequate for illustrator.

Pros

  • The ScreenPad is a secondary display that can be used for your tools, as a pen input or for referencing.
  • The 10th generation i7 and RTX 2060 are powerful enough to power the dual 4K OLED screens.
  • The main display is 4K and HDR10 rated AND has an OLED panel which is perfect for content creation.
  • There is plenty of power and storage available for you to do some 4K gaming.

Cons

  • With both screens on full brightness the battery life is quite short.

BEST VALUE

2019 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 16GB RAM, 1TB Storage, 2.3GHz Intel Core i9) - Space Gray

For a long time the MacBook Pro was considered the king of creativity. Apple’s OS and system integration massively benefits from high single core clock speeds over huge core counts.

Illustrator also benefits from clock speeds over core counts. The 16” MacBook Pro comes with the highest powered CPU on our list.

The 9th generation i9 CPU that; with Apple’s thermal architecture, can easily hit its boost clock of 4.5GHz across all 8 cores.

With the 4GB AMD Radeon 5500M graphics card, the MacBook’s internals can easily drive the proprietary 3072 x 1920 resolution. This IPS Retina Display is rated at almost 100% of the P3 color gamut meaning that it meets Apple’s TrueSense standards.

This model comes with 16GB of high speed RAM and 1TB of NVME storage so you won’t have to worry about speed or capacity.

The newer MacBook Pros all have a new touch bar with TouchID built in.

Pros

  • Mac OS gives you access to optimized processing and the Apple ecosystem.
  • The high-powered 9th generation i9 processor and the AMD graphics card make for a powerhouse of processors.
  • The Touch Bar can be used for tools and shortcuts to increase productivity.

Cons

  • If you’re used to Windows then this can be a huge jump and can take a lot of time to get used to.

RUNNER UP

MSI GF75 17.3' Gaming Laptop, i5-10300H, 8GB, 128GB SSD+1TB

This is the budget option on our list but it definitely doesn’t fall short.

The GF75 is equipped with a 10th generation i5 CPU that can boost up to 4.5GHz. With MSI’s CoolerBoost 3 Technology this is a very attainable clock speed across all 4 cores.

When you pair this with a more than capable GTX 1650 the FHD 144Hz display is perfectly apt. You get a full IPS panel and high refresh rates so there are no downsides.

This is a gaming laptop but you don’t lose out on battery life or versatility. The 17.3” display also makes this great for any creative production. Also you get the benefits of a gaming laptop in its cooling system and highly versatile I/O.

Pros

  • The large IPS display is buttery smooth and has great color reproduction.
  • A 10th generation i5 and GTX 1650 are a great pair up for productivity and also gaming.
  • Gaming features like cooling and I/O make this a great laptop for Illustrator.

Cons

  • With a large battery and huge screen this laptop is quite bulky.

RUNNER UP

ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop, 17.3” Full HD IPS Type, AMD Ryzen 5 3550H CPU, AMD Radeon RX560X, 8GB DDR4, 512GB PCIe SSD, Gigabit Wi-Fi 5, Windows 10 Home - FX705DY-EH53

This is also a 17.3” gaming laptop that makes up for some of the shortcomings of the last laptop but also at a slightly higher price tag.

ASUS decided to stuff an all-AMD processing system into this laptop and it works very well. The Ryzen 5 is a great processor but alone wouldn’t be the best option for Illustrator, thankfully this laptop also has an RX560X GPU built in.

AMD GPUs and CPUs now work off of each other to share the workload more effectively and allocate the correct cores to the correct actions. This makes it ideal for the Illustrator.

You also get a 17.3” FHD display meaning that you get a great view of your work. On top of all of that, the monitor is also a full IPS display. 

Pros

  • Most Budget friendly high performance laptop on the list.
  • Dual AMD processors increase efficiency and productivity.
  • The large IPS display meets the Adobe RGB standard so is perfect for Illustrator.

Cons

  • The laptop only comes with a 512GB SSD but you can upgrade this.

Best Laptop for Adobe Illustrator Buying Guide

There are a few different/key aspects that your laptop needs to have to be perfect for Adobe Illustrator.

To overly simplify vector-graphics based programs like Illustrator, you are essentially rendering and re-rendering an image with thousands of individual float points over and over depending on which part of it you’re working on.

To be able to do this smoothly without interruption to your workflow or input lag there are a few different parts of a laptop that are going to be important.

These parts are the CPU, the GPU or Video Card, the Display, the Memory, and other features like I/O (Input/Output) and storage.

CPU

The CPU is the main computing component of the laptop and is important for everything you do. Little things like opening your apps and programs to rasterization are all controlled by the CPU.

Without a good CPU you’d only be able to have a single project on Illustrator open without even being able to listen to your music. We know how important it is to be able to zone out while you’re creating without being distracted by all the sounds of the world.

The 2 different aspects that determine the efficacy of a CPU are its clock speed and core count. Many different tests state that Illustrator benefits from higher clock speeds over higher core counts but having more cores is never a bad thing and will also boost your multitasking ability.

The issue with high clock speeds and core counts is that increasing either increases the TDP. Essentially meaning that your battery life won’t last as long and your laptop will run hot.

There’s no point in getting a laptop if you’re going to be tethered to the wall the whole time. For that reason we prioritized clock speeds over core counts.

When it comes to the clock speed, all CPUs will state 2 different numbers. These are the base clock and the boost clock. The base clock is the lowest clock speed the CPU can operate at regardless of the temperature.

The boost clock is the upper limit of the clock speed and shows how fast the processor could be running if it was adequately cooled. As we said the higher the clock speed the higher the TDP and thermal output so for a good CPU, a good active cooling system is a must.

To summarize we’d recommend a minimum of 4 cores with a base clock of at least 2.0GHz and a decent cooling system.

GPU/Video Card

The GPU is the graphics brain of the computer that is responsible for everything that shows up on the screen. Now, that doesn’t mean that a laptop without a dedicated GPU couldn’t show anything on the display.

This is because all motherboards and most CPUs actually come with enough graphical power to display things on the screen, run basic rendering, and even lightly game.

A dedicated GPU is always going to be better than the integrated graphics of a CPU. This is because of the types of processing cores built into a GPU.

In 2014 Adobe released an updated version of Illustrator that allowed it to utilize the GPU for most of its processing needs, this massively increased the maximum canvas size and introduced real time, full-scale rendering that smoothened the creation process of most Illustrator users with a dedicated GPU.

To run Illustrator and run it smoothly you absolutely aren’t going to need an RTX 3090 or an RX 6900XT to power your laptop.

Despite the fact that Adobe unlocked the ability to use the GPU for its rendering and rasterization, Illustrator is too simple of a software to utilize gaming centric features like RTX cores.

You simply need a graphics processor better than a GTX 1050 with 3GB of VRAM; this card will give you the maximum amount of performance without breaking the bank.

Unless you’re going for a laptop with a 4k screen, then you might need the extra VRAM to run Illustrator smoothly.

In some cases even the onboard graphics will be adequate for Illustrator, you’ll just be limited slightly with large scale projects with a massive resolution.

The Screen

Speaking of displaying things, you’re going to need a good screen that can accurately reproduce colors and has good viewing angles.

A high resolution will also increase the overall fidelity of your work and make it easier to notice any minor errors.

An FHD screen will work no problem and acts as a good balance between quality and driveability. As we said the onboard graphics of most CPUs can handle an FHD screen but to get that extra performance and buttery smooth transitions you might need a more capable graphics processor.

We’d recommend getting the highest resolution that your budget allows but 1080p should be the absolute minimum.

Aside from the driveability of a screen, how it looks is massively important. This is mostly down to the panel type.

The type of panel that the laptop’s screen has determines its color accuracy, viewing angles, and refresh rate. The refresh rate isn’t too important for Illustrator but having a higher refresh rate makes everything you do look much smoother.

There are 2 main panel types that modern laptops use and these are IPS panels and VA panels. IPS panels are the best for any creative software like illustrator because the color accuracy, viewing angles, and brightness are all prioritized over refresh rates and cost.

For that reason we would always recommend an IPS monitor over any other type. A wide color gamut is so important because it essentially means your work will look very very similar on screen or printed. You can rarely find OLED panels that beat out even IPS panels but these are harder to run.

The size of the display also matters for obvious reasons and the larger your display the better it is for you. This is why we haven’t included any slime and light laptops. We also recommend 15.6” as the smallest display size you should consider.

The Memory

You know when you make a small mistake and you need to ‘CTRL+Z’ to instantly go back to before you drew that one line?

The speed and amount of times you can do that are determined by the speed and capacity of your memory or RAM.

This one can get quite complicated so we’ll go through it quickly. On a high-res display with a large file, each layer and every rasterized version of vector files needs to be saved on the RAM so that you can quickly navigate between them.

Once the project is flattened and compressed these files move to the storage but while you’re working on it they need to be able to be accessed quickly.

We recommend a minimum of 8GB of RAM running at 2600MHz to be able to quickly navigate through the different versions of your project and increase your workflow.

For 4k displays however we recommend 16GB minimum as 8GB can get quickly filled up, bottlenecking your workflow.

FAQ's

Does the amount of RAM affect the performance of Illustrator?

As we’ve stated above, the amount of RAM doesn’t affect the performance of Illustrator as a whole but having more can increase your limits on project size and working on simultaneous projects.

Illustrator stores rasterized versions of your vector projects temporarily so that they are easily accessible.

Having 8GB of RAM is the minimum amount we’d recommend but 16GB is the most ideal as you can easily work on large, high resolution projects without stuttering or slowing.

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