Best Laptops for Design Students – Graphics, Illustrating & Editing
Not every laptop is equally suitable for mobile image editing.
A good display and sufficient power are especially important for working with Photoshop (or other image editing software) and Lightroom (or other RAW converters) for the Best Laptops for Design Students.
A laptop for Design Students should also be a lightweight if possible.
If you travel a lot when taking pictures, it is always an advantage to have lightweight photo equipment.
There is no need to invest twice – those who buy a good laptop or notebook can use it for image processing on the road.
At home a good monitor can be connected for image processing and (almost) finished is a professional workstation.
Test Results: Best Laptops for Design Students – Graphics, Illustrating & Editing
Best Laptop for Design Students: Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15
- Second Screen can be easily integrated into everyday work
- Powerful combination of processor and dedicated graphics card
- Additional, lighter power supply unit included
- Not a pure gaming keyboard
Best performing Laptop for Design Students
Asus is not breaking new ground with the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 – the Taiwanese company already launched the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo – a Digital Creator notebook – in the summer of 2019.
Now the notebook with the two displays is coming onto the market under Asus’ gaming brand “Republic of Gamers” (ROG) in the Zephyrus chassis.
Asus has provided the second, smaller display with a mechanism that allows the screen to be turned on by 13 degrees.
This is a clever solution, as the keyboard, which has moved to the lower edge, rests on the battery and the computing units have plenty of room to be cooled due to the set up display.
Display of the Best Laptop for Design Students
A glance at the measurement results shows very good values for both displays:
The 15.6-inch main display offers a UHD resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels and a very good maximum brightness of 396 candelas per square meter – in combination with the matt display surface, this prevents disturbing reflections.
The checkerboard contrast of 184 to 1 is also okay.
The higher the value, the better bright and dark areas are displayed simultaneously.
The color space coverage of the IPS panel is impressive, as we measured a 100% coverage of the Adobe color space here.
Thus the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 is also an exciting candidate for image & video editing.
The smaller 14.1-inch screen also relies on an IPS panel and a vertically halved UHD resolution (3,840 x 1,100 pixels), but also accepts direct touch input via finger or stylus pen.
We also measured a very good maximum brightness of 341 candelas per square meter and an even better chessboard contrast of 201 to 1.
In return, the second screen only reaches 78 percent of the Adobe color space, which isn’t tragic, though.
This is because the tools and toolbar are more likely to find their place here when editing videos and images.
You play better with the second screen?
As with its indirect predecessor, the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, and the competitor model, the Omen X 2S from HP, the second screen is only conditionally suitable for gaming.
There are simply still too few games with a sensible use for a second screen.
Maps and sidebars from Overwatch, CS:GO and Co. can be placed on the second screen – but you lose valuable seconds in the heat of the moment when you look at the not so well visible mini screen.
Instead you have a good view of chat programs or guides in your web browser.
For creative contemporaries with video editing ambitions, it looks quite different once again.
Thus, after a short period of getting used to it, one gets into a very productive workflow by using the second screen as toolbar and an extremely large touch bar.
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15: Unusual keyboard positioning
There is nothing to criticise about the elegant and high-quality aluminium chassis.
Also not the already described elegant display mechanism or the torsional stiffness.
However, mouse replacement and keyboard do bring a few points of criticism.
Because of the keyboard’s positioning, which is very unusual for a notebook, there is no wrist-rest – which is just a matter of habit, though.
The keyboard as such offers a very short stroke distance.
The keys individually for themselves are quite crisp, and the pressure point is also fairly accurate.
In the end, however, it is still far away from a gaming keyboard and not really a pleasure.
Normal 10-finger typing isn’t convincing either.
The mouse replacement has a pleasant surface, but size and aspect ratios are disturbingly unusual.
The touch field edges can hardly be felt, adjacent keys are quite close and – especially because the touchpad is quite narrow – are quickly operated by mistake.
Especially the adjacent enter key is quickly affected by lateral strokes.
It’s rather a good emergency touchpad – good that a mouse is included in the scope of delivery.
By the way, a number pad can also be projected onto the touchpad, which is typical for Asus.
Hardware at its best for the Best Laptop for Design Students
As it should be for a ROG Zephyrus, the hardware plays in the upper class:
The clock is an Intel i9-10980HK processor with a base frequency of 2.4 GHz and a maximum frequency of 5.3 GHz.
An Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 in Max-Q design (8 GByte VRAM) is used for the graphics of current blockbuster games.
In combination with a solid 32 GByte RAM, this provides for snappy 104.9 fps in Full-HD at high to highest details in Forza Motorsport 7, 103 fps in FarCry 5, 150.8 fps in GTA V and 106 fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Video editing benchmarks and all other gaming benchmark results can be found in our list of best.
To keep this performance as long as possible, cooler air is drawn in via a 28.5 millimetre air inlet behind the second display.
In combination with a liquid metal heat-conducting paste on the CPU, this should enable a constantly high performance.
In the test, a sometimes quite obtrusive coil whirring is noticeable – but only when the Zephyrus is “bored”.
As soon as you do a lap and the CPU/GPU starts to sweat, or when you switch from silent mode to power mode, no coil beeps anymore.
What else is in the Best Laptop for Design Students
Current AAA games partly require an almost outrageously large amount of storage space – so it’s quite fitting that Asus relies on a total of two TByte of fast SSD hard disk storage in the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15.
This comes in the form of two 1 TByte SSDs each in a RAID-0 array.
This means increased transfer rates because the hard disks involved can process tasks in parallel.
The interfaces available are 3 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB type C with Thunderbolt 3 protocol – on the back there is also a classic HDMI port as well as the good old 1 GBit/s network connection.
Wireless communication is via Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 and the headset included in the scope of delivery can be paired via a jack socket.
The power socket always in view
As with any gaming notebook, you shouldn’t have too high expectations regarding battery life.
This also applies to the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 – because here, 4K resolution, second screen and of course the energy-hungry hardware take their toll.
Thus, the 90 watt hour battery delivers a video runtime of 05:30 hours and a working day runtime of only 02:30 hours.
By the way, gaming without a power outlet doesn’t make sense, because without a power connection the Zephyrus doesn’t even call up the full power of the CPU and GPU.
Practically, Asus includes two power supplies at once – a 220 gram light 65 watt power supply for on the go and an 800 gram 240 watt power supply for gaming at home.
Verdict: Best Laptop for Design Students
When closed, the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 looks quite unimpressive.
It doesn’t only deliver very good performance and equipment values in the test, but also scores with two very good displays.
This extends over the entire width of the keyboard.
So much screen space goes at the expense of battery life in addition to the energy-hungry, powerful hardware.
A flaw, which however is inherent in every gaming laptop.
All in all, the ROG Zephyrus 15 is the Best Laptop for Design Students by a large margin.
2nd Best Laptop for Design Students: ASUS ExpertBook B9450
- Outstanding battery life
- Numeric keypad integrated in touchpad
- Large SSD storage space
- Overall amazing performance
- Cooling system with weaknesses
2nd Best Laptop for Design Students
The , admittedly comes with a somewhat bulky product name, but convinces with a simple but very elegant design and a high-quality finish.
Asus uses a magnesium-lithium case in order to keep the weight as low as possible, so that the 14 inch device ultimately weighs just under 2.0 lbs.
The built-in fingerprint sensor is quite small, but works very reliably.
A fine design highlight: The battery status LED is located in the recessed grip of the display on the base, and is thus very easy to see.
Pleasant keyboard and a touchpad with special features:
The ExpertBook’s keyboard and mouse pad were fully convincing in our test.
The long stroke distance and the crisp counter pressure are immediately noticeable, despite the flat case.
Unlike many other manufacturers, you don’t have the feeling that the keyboard had to suffer a lot from the case having to be as thin as possible – very nicely solved by Asus.
The touchpad has a very smooth, nice and wide and pleasant surface.
It also offers a very practical gimmick – a short click on the function area in the upper right corner and the Num-Pad appears on the clickpad.
The mouse replacement remains ready for use and can be further operated with wipe and click gestures, while the numeric keypad only reacts to typing touches.
One battery for the 2nd Best Laptop for Design Students
The Asus Ultrabook’s 66 watt hours strong battery delivers an amazing 24 hours and 29 minutes of playback time.
This is easily enough to watch all Star Wars movies in a row. (By the way, we recommend the following sequence: A Star Wars Story: Solo, A Star Wars Story Rogue One, Episode IV, Episode V, Episode I, Episode II, Episode III, Episode VI, Episode VII, Episode VIII and Episode IX)
Productive contemporaries can of course also use the enormous battery life for working.
Thus, our battery life test PCMark 8 Work, which simulates common surfing behavior, text editing, as well as spreadsheets and video chat, results in an outstandingly good 12 hours and 11 minutes.
After half an hour on the power supply, the battery is charged again from 5 to 44 percent of its nominal capacity.
The smartphone becomes a second screen with the 2nd Best Laptops for Design Students
The 14 inch display, which resolves with Full-HD (1,920 by 1,080 pixels), also convinced us in the test.
It offers a brightness of 296 candelas per square meter and a checkerboard contrast of 174 to 1, whereby both rates should turn out a bit better.
The color space coverage for this is a sufficient 98.9 percent sRGB and 76.2 percent Adobe.
The built-in webcam can be physically blocked with a privacy shutter (webcam cover).
Via the supported software “Link to myASUS”, any Android smartphone can be mirrored onto the laptop – or the mobile phone can be used as a second screen.
You can make phone calls on ExpertBook, scroll through the smartphone on the notebook, or bring a desktop window to the mobile phone as a second screen.
A practical feature, whereby the second screen function sometimes jerks a little.
By the way, data transfer is also possible, phone numbers and contacts can be dialled via PC app on the PC.
Cooling system with weaknesses for the Second Best Laptop for Design Students
Inside, the Intel Core i7-10510U is a current Intel processor of the tenth generation, which is great for the 2nd Best Laptop for Design Students.
The quad-core clocks with 1,800 MHz in standard mode and can also accelerate to a maximum of 4,900 MHz for short periods of time for performance peaks.
However, the cooling capacity quickly reaches its limits – there is no short break before the next boost can start.
That doesn’t mean that the performance of ExpertBook is insufficient, though.
Manufacturer Asus does without a separate graphics solution in this model and relies instead on the Intel UHD Graphics 620 graphics chipset integrated in the processor.
16 GBytes of RAM are also built in. Thus, the Asus ExpertBook achieves a very good score of 4,850 points in the PCMark 8 Creative Benchmark – in comparison:
The current performance king of the premium best-of-breed list, the Lenovo Yoga C940-14IIL, achieves 6,020 points.
So the performance is easily sufficient for all everyday tasks up to casual gaming and simple image editing.
The Asus ExpertBook is especially suitable for those who are on the go a lot and need a long battery life.
What else is in the 2nd Best Laptops for Design Students?
Two M.2 SSDs with 1 TByte each are used as data storage.
Wireless is via Bluetooth 5.0 and WLAN-ax module and 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A as well as 2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 and another HDMI port are available for haptic connectivity.
In addition, a LAN adapter and a notebook protective cover are included in the scope of delivery.
By the way, charging is also done via USB type C – very practical, so most smartphones can also be charged with the notebook’s power supply.
Verdict: 2nd Best Laptop for Design Students
The Asus ExpertBook B9450 sets new standards in the test, especially in terms of battery life.
The display is also on a very good level and the ergonomics are convincing with a very good workmanship and a whole special touchpad.
Only in the configuration a few wishes remain open in comparison to the competition.
In the video we tell you what you should look out for when buying a premium notebook.
All in all, it was enough for the second rank among the Best Laptops for Design Students.
3rd Best Laptop for Design Students: Huawei Matebook D14
- Very good battery life
- Valuable housing
- Crisp keyboard with illumination
- Angle stable display with 180 degree hinge
- Slow USB C socket
- Unusual viewing angle of the webcam
Third Best Laptop for Design Students
Without a doubt: The case of the 14-inch Huawei notebook is great.
Thanks to the built-in aluminum, haptics and optics are right, because you have a valuable device in your hand.
The backlit keyboard is pleasant to use, the clickpad offers no cause for criticism and the Full HD display is stable from a viewing angle.
The device has its ups and downs in terms of features:
A fast, 512 gigabyte SSD and 8 gigabyte RAM are fully sufficient for one of the Best Laptops for Design Students.
A large HDMI socket establishes the signal connection to monitors or televisions and radio is transmitted via Wi-Fi 5 (ac-WLAN).
An SD card reader and wired network connection (RJ45) are missing.
USB-technically, we’re not quite so happy: Once USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 in type A version (classic USB stick port) are not up to date in terms of speed and number.
The device also offers a USB-C port.
However, it is loaded over it and the port is often blocked with it, and furthermore the transfer rate is also low, as only USB 2.0 is used.
We also tested the identical device with Ryzen 5 processor.
The 3rd Best Laptop for Design Students is Absolutely suitable for everyday use
The Huawei MateBook D 14 (53010WXN) presented here has a Ryzen 7 3700U installed.
Compared to the Ryzen 5 processor, we had actually hoped for an even higher performance.
But this is not the case, as the Ryzen 5 processor in the sister model already gives very good performance.
As far as performance is concerned, in the end it’s only nuances that don’t make a difference in everyday life and are therefore not worth mentioning.
The battery life is also very similar, but here the system with Ryzen 7 is a little more frugal, so that it lasts about half an hour longer in everyday use.
In addition, the battery could be charged more in 30 minutes.
Surprisingly, Huawei built a different display panel into the Ryzen 7 model.
This is a bit darker in direct comparison (256 instead of 281 cd/m²) and offers a slightly worse, but still good chessboard contrast (188 instead of 200 to 1).
In the end, the Huawei MateBook D 14, even in a Ryzen 7 configuration, proves to be coherent and very good.
The consistent performance, the slightly worse display and the slightly longer battery life can’t justify the surcharge in our opinion, though.
In the end, it is still around 140 euro. Here the article about the Ryzen 5 model.
Verdict: 3rd Best Laptop for Design Students
The Huawei MateBook D 14 (53010WXN) can score in the test with a very good handling and equally good performance.
All in all it is enough for the 3rd place in the Best Laptops for Design Students.
The chic case accommodates a sufficiently large battery for very good runtimes.
The display and equipment have minor disadvantages and the price is unattractive in comparison to the better MateBook D 14 with a Ryzen 5 processor.
The Best Laptops for Design Students – Buyer’s Guide
Good screen with precise colour representation
For photographers, of course, the screen is one of the most important points on a new computer, not just a laptop.
Here, even light distribution, precise colour rendition and sufficient brightness are of prime importance.
I recommend a laptop screen with IPS technology.
Depending on how often you transport the laptop, you can choose between 13, 15 and 17 inch sizes.
I recommend a 13 inch laptop and an external screen, more on this below.
In addition, the monitor should be calibrated so that your photo print looks as you saw it on the screen.
Below is a recommendation for a calibration device.
You can find more information on this topic in my article Calibrating your monitor.
Sufficient performance for smooth editing
This point is actually self-evident. If you edit pictures, your new laptop must be able to do a lot.
The more megapixels you get from your camera, the better hardware you’ll need.
Not only processor and memory are important, but also the graphics card is used extensively by Photoshop.
If you use Lightroom, you should at least look for a fast hard drive, I would rather recommend an SSD.
My recommendations for the components:
- Processor: Intel i7
- Working memory: 16 GB
- Graphics card: Good onboard or Nvidia Geforce
- Hard disk/SSD: 512 GB SSD
Perhaps these are first of all sporting requirements, especially in terms of price.
But if you consider that you will probably be using the laptop for the next 5 years, then it is worth investing a little more here.
Light weight for comfortable transport
You probably want to take your laptop with you from time to time.
For me, the weight then also plays a certain role.
Especially if you take your camera equipment and your laptop with you, you can put together a few kilos.
I wouldn’t buy a laptop weighing more than 3 lbs. today.
For me a 13.3 inch laptop is the optimal combination of size and weight.
Performance (processor, memory, graphics card)
The performance of a laptop or notebook in image processing is primarily measured by the processor (CPU), main memory (RAM) and graphics card (GPU or iGPU).
This is important for the Best Laptop for Design Students.
The minimum requirements for a laptop for image processing (or graphics) should be approximately as follows:
- CPU: current Intel Core i5 / i7
- Working memory: min. 8 GB RAM
- Graphics card: iGPU or better 2 GB VRAM
If you want to invest in a professional laptop for image processing, you should consider the following system requirements:
- CPU: current Intel Core i7
- Working memory: min. 16 GB RAM
- Graphics card: 2-4 GB VRAM
The respective key data are not just taken from thin air, but are also based on the system requirements of Photoshop and Lightroom.
These are the most frequently used software solutions for graphic designers and photographers.
In the past, when using Photoshop and Lightroom, the processor and memory were crucial.
Nowadays, however, the software also makes good use of graphics card features, so this should not be forgotten when making your choice.
When it comes to performance, the hard disk, which I will talk about in the next section, should also be considered.
SSD hard disks are significantly faster than conventional HDD hard disks both in terms of access times and data transfer.
Therefore, an SSD is always the first choice for photographers and graphic designers.
HDD and storage capacity of the Best Laptops for Design Students
In principle, an SSD hard disk is preferable for performance reasons.
It is true that laptops with an HDD hard disk have considerably more storage capacity for the same price.
However, an SSD can give the entire laptop system a performance boost.
In the meantime, NVMe is an even faster form of flash memory.
Although the storage technology is identical to that of an SSD, NVMe offers better connectivity.
As a general rule, photographers and graphic designers should not skimp on hard drive capacity – photos and image data take up a lot of storage space, even if you only keep an up-to-date archive on your laptop.
Therefore, it should be at least a 256 GB SSD or better equal to a 512 GB SSD in the Best Laptops for Design Students.
Many photographers will quickly reach the limit here.
That’s why one or more external hard drives are recommended as accessories, which can be used in conjunction with cloud storage for archiving images and graphics.
Display and screen diagonal of the Best Laptops for Design Students
As it is also the case for a “normal” monitor, an IPS panel is the best choice for image editing on a laptop.
Usually the Full HD resolution is sufficient.
But more and more laptops (especially in the pro segment) already rely on a 4K display.
One should pay attention to the coverage of the color space.
Meanwhile, there are high-end laptops whose display also supports Adobe RGB.
However, these laptops with Adobe RGB panel have their price.
Adobe RGB, however, is more a topic for professional photographers.
Many photographers (sensibly) work in sRGB workflow and can limit themselves to choosing a laptop for image editing that covers the sRGB colour space as completely as possible.
When it comes to the size of the display, the opinions differ.
The smaller the display, the more mobile and lighter the laptop or notebook is, of course.
For image editing, on the other hand, a large screen pays off.
Either a display with 13 inch or 15 inch is recommendable for the Best Laptop for Design Students.
Smaller screens limit the image processing and a 17 inch laptop / notebook is often already too large and heavy.
Accessories for mobile image editing
Once the Best Laptop for Design Students for image editing has been found, a little more should be invested in accessories.
Image editing with the integrated trackpad is usually not much fun.
At least a good wireless mouse is therefore recommended.
This is already sufficient for Lightroom and other RAW converters.
If you regularly work with graphic design or image editing and use e.g. Photoshop, you will probably prefer a graphics tablet.
In Photoshop, the tablet really shows its strengths compared to the mouse.
Another important accessory is external data storage, as especially photographers often have large amounts of data in the form of image material.
Here, at least an external hard disk is recommended.
Some modern laptops or notebooks also have the modern interface USB-C, but in return no card reader (or card reader for SD cards).
In this case, a USB-C hub is recommended, which offers a card reader and, if desired, graphic interfaces such as HDMI or DisplayPort in addition to several other USB slots.
This is how you place the Best Laptops for Design Students optimally
You should always sit at the computer on the side of the window. If the window is behind your laptop, then you always have backlight.
This is quite exhausting for the eyes.
If the window is in your back, then the light is reflected in your screen.
So whenever possible, I recommend that you place the screen of your Best Laptop for Design Students to the side of the window.
These points also apply, of course, if you don’t use a laptop but a PC for image editing.
Notebooks, laptops and convertibles – fewer and fewer private users still buy a desktop PC. But what requirements must a good notebook actually meet?
PC, monitor, keyboard, mouse: What makes a computer was clearly defined for years.
But mobile computers have long since overtaken desktop PCs in the private sector – and are putting buyers in a difficult decision-making position because of the diversity of their concepts.
Anyone who buys a notebook without first thinking about its primary purpose runs the risk of getting the wrong device for the way he works.
15 inch or smaller for the Best Laptops for Design Students?
If the notebook is used almost exclusively at home, a 15 or 17 inch laptop is the best choice.
But these devices are also relatively heavy and therefore not easy to transport.
Those who use their notebook mainly on the road should therefore make sure that the weight does not exceed 3 lbs. and the screen diagonal does not exceed 14 inches.
There are also simple upper and lower limits for the equipment, which should be observed:
Large laptops for home use should have at least eight gigabytes (GB) of RAM and, if possible, 512 GB or 1 terabyte (TB) of fixed memory.
In general, it is always better to go for SSD memory, as it offers fast data transfer rates and thus increases the working speed noticeably.
How much SSD storage for the Best Laptops for Design Students
Most manufacturers offer their notebooks in different storage variants.
However, the price difference here can be very large – so it can also be worthwhile to get a device with 256 GB of memory and invest additional money in an external hard drive.
Even when on the move, the mass storage device should be at least 256 GB in size and ideally designed as an SSD.
As a lower limit for the battery life, the experts give 7.5 hours when playing videos (the manufacturers often calculate the maximum runtime with continuous video playback).
Whether it should be a classic ultrabook, a convertible with a 360 degree rotatable touchscreen display or a tablet with a detachable keyboard (Detachable) for on the go, remains a matter of taste.
Ultrabooks have the advantage that they are more practical for working on your lap than tablets with detachable keyboards.
Regarding the processor, the product testers recommend Intel’s Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs, regardless of the type of device.
Currently, the 8th generation is used here.
It is sometimes difficult to find out exactly which chip is involved, but it is worthwhile to look at the data sheet or the system information of the device and ask the seller.
There are also significant differences within the processor generations – for example, the economical chips of Intel’s Y-series are optimized for long runtimes, but their performance decreases noticeably under continuous load.
The U-series chips, on the other hand, are more powerful, but also require more energy.
What connections do I need in the Best Laptops for Design Students?
As with the processor, it’s worth taking a closer look at the interfaces and considering which connections you need and what you can do without.
For example, does the notebook have a USB-C slot or still the older USB-A variant?
Are there Thunderbolt interfaces? Is it charged via USB-C or with a separate charging cable?
Is there a card reader for micro SD or normal SD cards? Does the notebook have an HDMI port?
Here the needs of all users are different.
With the display, on the other hand, it’s a bit easier again:
Here you have the choice between matt and glossy displays. Matt displays are usually less brilliant and high-contrast, but they don’t reflect.
If an IPS display is installed, the display remains the same no matter what angle you look at the screen from – that’s actually always good.
In terms of resolution, it should be at least Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) – so a sharp picture is guaranteed even on a 15-inch screen.
There are also sharper screens – however, a high resolution also puts more strain on the battery, but a good screen is important for the Best Laptops for Design Students.