Best budget laptop for graphic design 2022: Our top picks

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If you're looking for the best budget laptop for graphic design, you're in the right place.

There's certainly no shortage of laptops to choose from, with all the options seemingly packed with the same features.

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For running Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and other design programs, though, you need a powerful CPU and GPU that can handle all the processing required when editing.

Therefore, we'd recommend looking for a quad-core CPU with at least 1GHz of speed for design work.

Plus, you don't want an unresponsive laptop slowing your progress, so you need sufficient RAM and SSD storage to process all your applications at once.

Even if you're sticking to a budget, try to get 8GB of RAM to ensure a faster, more responsive performance. For storage, 128GB SSD or more is recommended to save all your creations.

When it comes to showcasing your work, you need a display that can deliver sharp visuals. Aiming for a 1920 x 1080p resolution or above should work well here to preview your creations in amazing detail.

Now that we know what specs to look for, let's have the budget talk. To ensure the best performance, it can sometimes feel like you have to spend a premium for the right bit of kit. However, you can still get a decent laptop for graphic design on a budget, but you might have to manage your expectations a little.

With that being said, we have listed the best budget laptop for graphic design right here. Let's begin...

Best budget laptop for graphic design

Best budget laptop for graphic design - HP Pavilion X360

HP pavilion x360
Credit: HP
Screen Size: 14-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB SSD | CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 (Quad-Core) | Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics Battery Life: 9 hours | Weight: 1.5 kg | Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5 | Ports: DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0, USB Type-C, USB Type-A, Audio Jack | Other Features: IPS Panel

It looks like HP's Pavilion X360 hybrid laptop was built with creators in mind. With a powerful graphics card, stylus, and long battery life, HP's device is definitely worth checking out in our opinion.

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To begin with, the laptop is powered by 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7, which comes with a max speed of 4.2 GHz. Furthermore, you get an integrated ‎Intel Iris Xe Graphics card, which HP boasts can deliver crystal-clear visuals.

For using your design software, you get 8GB RAM to work with. This, along with a 256GB SSD, should be enough to run your applications and store your creations.

Read More: Best video editing monitor

The laptop sports a 14-inch edge-to-edge display with a Full HD resolution. The glass display with an IPS panel is enabled for multi-touch, allowing you to take notes or sketch more easily than simply using a keyboard.

Also, on a single charge, you get an average battery life of 8 to 9 hours. This, combined with fast charging, should give you a day's worth of performance with little interruption.

If you want a budget hybrid laptop, then the HP Pavilion X360 could be a worthy purchase.

Best budget Apple laptop for graphic design - Apple MacBook Air

apple macbook air
Credit: Apple
Screen Size: 13.3-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | CPU: M1 Chip | Graphics: Integrated | Battery Life: 18 hours | Weight: 1.3 kg | Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5.0 | Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports | Other Features: Liquid Retina display, P3 wide color gamut

While Apple doesn't exactly rhyme with 'budget', the 2020 MacBook Air packs a powerful punch for a relatively inexpensive price tag.

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It comes with the Apple M1 chip that integrates CPU, GPU, and much more into it. The 8-core CPU delivers high performance with prolonged battery life, which should make it suitable for processor-intense tasks like video editing.

Meanwhile, 7-core GPU is said to be "lightning fast" with graphics, which means you can seamlessly create and edit content, and view it in 4K quality.

The laptop also comes in 8GB and 16GB variants - if your budget allows, we'd recommend the latter. As far as storage is concerned, you get a 256GB SSD. Again, if you can stretch your budget, the storage can go up to 512GB SSD (with the 16GB variant).

Read more: Best graphic design monitor

For designs, visuals are important, and this is where this Apple laptop wins. It sports a 2560 x 1600 Liquid Retina display. Considering the screen size of 13.3-inch, the resolution should deliver stunning, crisp visuals to showcase your work.

Furthermore, the laptop comes with a P3 wide color gamut, which produces 25% more colours than sRGB. For illustrators and designers, this gives access to a wider colour palette.

Coming to battery performance, MacBook Air has a battery that will last you for 18 hours. Further, the laptop weighs around just 1.3 kg, making it relatively lightweight and, therefore, more suitable for on-the-go designing.

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Best budget folding laptop for graphic design - Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5

lenovo ideapad flex 5
Credit: Lenovo
Screen Size: 14-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB | CPU: Ryzen 7 4700U (Octa-Core) | Graphics: AMD Radeon | Battery Life: 12 hours | Weight: 1.5 kg | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Ports: USB Type-C, HDMI | Other Features: Backlit keyboard

Lenovo's IdeaPad Flex series features those hybrid '2-in-1' laptops that double up as tablets, with the Flex 5 standing out to us as a great budget pick.

To begin with, the laptop is packed with Ryzen 7 4700U - an 8-core processor that delivers optimal performance at 4.1 GHz.

The laptop comes with integrated AMD Radeon graphics, so you don't have to worry about getting a separate card for your visuals.

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Coming to RAM and storage, the laptop features 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD - which should be more than sufficient for designers. It should run Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and your other design programs without any slow processing speeds either.

In terms of size, it sports a 14-inch screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution, which, on a 14-inch display, should give you crisp visuals with good pixel density.

Read more: Best budget tablet for drawing

Along with the Full HD resolution, you get an IPS panel with 250 nits brightness to showcase your creations in vibrant, colourful detail.

For hybrid use, you get a glossy-finished touchscreen, making it flexible for graphic designers to draw and create. You can flip the laptop over and use it as a tablet.

If you're looking for a flexible laptop that can also be used as a tab, then this may just be the laptop for you.

Best 15-inch budget laptop for graphic design - HP Pavilion 15

HP pavilion 15
Credit: HP
Screen Size: 15.6-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7 (Quad-Core) | Graphics: ‎Intel Iris Xe Graphics | Battery Life: 8 hours | Weight: 1.5 kg | Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5.2 | Ports: USB Type-C, HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4 | Other Features: Micro-edge display, Storage Expansion Slot

If you're after a slightly larger screen for editing, then this HP Pavilion 15 is definitely one to consider.

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The laptop comes with an integrated graphics card, SSD storage drive, and, as touched on, a 15.6-inch display, which is the largest screen size we've featured so far.

However, let's explore the CPU and graphics first - the laptop is powered by Intel Core i7-1165G7, which runs at a 4.7 GHz speed. Meanwhile, to process your graphics, you get an Intel Iris Xe Graphics Coprocessor.

Coming to the visual specs, the HP laptop has a 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution with almost-there bezels, which should be more than sufficient for your visuals. You also get 250 nits of brightness, making it useful even in low-light conditions.

Read more: Best laptop for illustrators

The laptop is packed with 16GB RAM, so you'll likely find your design software programs open quickly and run smoothly thereafter. Furthermore, you get 512GB worth of SSD storage, which should be plenty of space to save your creations.

In terms of weight, the laptop weighs 1.7 kg, which is fairly light considering the 15.6-inch display. With an average battery life of 8 hours, you should be able to get your work done with a single charge.

Ultimately, if you're looking for a device with a larger screen, then make sure you check out this 15.6-inch HP Laptop.

Best portable budget laptop for graphic design - New Microsoft Surface Go 2

microsoft surface go 2
Credit: Microsoft
Screen Size: 10.5-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1280 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB CPU: Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y (Two Cores) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | Battery Life: 10 hours | Weight: 550 gm | Connectivity: Wi-Fi + LTE, Bluetooth | Ports: USB Type-C, Audio Jack | Other Features: WebCam

Microsoft's Surface Go 2 is another great option to consider if you're looking for a hybrid, lightweight device. In fact, it's a contender for being one of the best budget lightweight laptops around.

The 2-in-1 laptop sports a 10.5-inch screen with a 1920 x 1280 resolution. Considering the small screen size, a Full HD resolution should deliver sharp visuals with a ton of detail.

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Furthermore, the PixelSense Display enables you to touch and use the surface seamlessly. With the Surface Pen, you can draw and write, making content creation easier and more flexible.

Read More: Best photo editing monitor

Microsoft's laptop is backed by Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y, with speeds up to 1.1GHz. For your graphics, you get an integrated graphics card - Intel HD Graphics 615 designed to showcase your work in rich detail.

For running software, you get 8GB RAM, which should be enough depending on the programs you will be installing. In addition, you get 128GB SSD storage to save your work locally.

Coming to portability, the laptop outshines all the other options on the list. The device weighs 550g, making it the lightest option so far. Further, Microsoft boasts it has an average battery life of 10 hours, meaning it should last for on-the-go content creation, perhaps on a train journey, for example.

Frequently Asked Questions

While on the hunt for the best budget laptops for graphic design, you might encounter a few questions. Don't worry though, we've answered some of the most common queries right here.

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How much RAM is enough for graphic design?

For graphic design, you will need at least 8GB RAM. However, if there is any wiggle room in your budget, we'd recommend spending more to pack your laptop out with as much RAM as possible.

For a smoother experience and to reduce loading times, try to get 16GB or 32GB RAM, especially if you're planning to edit videos.

This is because RAM is a short-term storage system and, with more of it, you tend to find an increase in the speed at which your memory transfers information to other components in your laptop, thus speeding up processing times.

How many GHz do I need for graphic design?

Graphic designing can be a power-hungry process - so you should get a quad-core processor with at least 1GHz speed.

The cores in a processor affect the CPU performance, so more cores essentially equals faster output.

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So, if you can afford it, then try and aim for an even faster processor speed if possible to help maximise your design output.