Getting Creative On The Go - The Best Laptops and Tablets for Art


Written by @Julia_V

Looking for new tech to power your creative ambitions? As a 3D art student and digital artist, I am always looking out for machines that can handle content creation software such as Blender, Adobe Premiere Pro, or Game Development tools such as Unreal Engine. There are a ton of laptops and tablets on the market, and the choices can be overwhelming. So, I want to highlight a couple of machines that are great for various creative professionals and hobbyists who are looking to make digital artwork and create content. 

Photo by @Rye_Bread

Illustration and Rendering - ASUS ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED Laptop Computer - Black

The ProArt Studiobook is one of the best-in-class for creative applications on the Windows platform. If you are an artist who wants to cover all of your bases, from 3D rendering, to video editing, to photo editing, and even illustration, this laptop is a stellar choice. The ProArt Studiobook comes with an Intel i7-12700H, 16 GB of DDR5 RAM that is expandable to 64 GB, a 2TB NVMe SSD, and a 16GB GeForce RTX 3080 Ti. These specs allow for high-end complex visual processing, as well as running simulations or analysis applications. The display of the laptop is exceptional - a 16:10 4K OLED display with a true-to-life 100% DCI-P3 industry standard color gamut. The OLED screen allows for deep blacks and vivid visual experiences. You can also adjust the colors on the display: switch between sRGB for web content creation or browsing, or DCI-P3 for cinema-grade content. 

The ProArt Studiobook has quite a few unique creative features. There is an ASUS Dial located near the top left corner of the trackpad, and three separate buttons under the trackpad for better 3D controls. The ASUS Dial allows you to precisely control the parameters in your creative apps such as Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and more. An incredibly unique feature of the Studiobook is the stylus-supported touchpad, which supports up to 1024 pressure levels for use with a stylus. Meaning you may also make illustrations on the same laptop without adding a separate device for pen tracking. 

There is also a large assortment of high-speed connectivity options for the laptop making connecting the laptop to any studio peripherals fast and easy. There are two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, two USB Gen 2x2 ports with Power Delivery, an Ethernet RJ45 Gigabit LAN Port, as well as an SD Express 7.0 card reader port. WIFI 6E is also built into the laptop to ensure maximum speed for on-the-go internet connectivity. 


Illustration - Apple iPad Pro 12.9” 5th Generation

The Apple iPad Pro 12.9” is one of my favorite picks for illustration tablets. The 5th Generation iPads come with the Liquid Retina XDR Display with ProMotion technology and True Tone, ensuring the best possible experience with viewing and drawing. This version of the iPad also takes advantage of the new M1 8-Core CPU, combined with an 8-Core GPU. With the high-performing internal specs, illustrating, editing, as well as animating becomes a streamlined process with the iPad. 

One of my favorite applications that exclusively runs on iOS is Procreate. With Procreate, you can make quick sketches, make elaborate and fully rendered illustrations, and even animate to your heart’s content. The iPad Pro really shines when paired with the Gen 2 Apple Pencil. The tracking, precision, and latency on the Gen 2 Apple Pencil is significantly improved from its Gen 1 counterpart. Additionally, the Pen neatly attaches to the side of the iPad, and charges wirelessly through the iPad itself. This feature allows you to sketch on the go, without worrying about recharging the pen. If you have another Apple device, such as an iPhone or a MacBook, transferring files between the devices becomes extremely easy through AirDrop. For instance, you could take a photo reference, import it into the iPad to create an illustration, then import the drawing to the MacBook to make some final touches with Adobe Photoshop.


Game Dev/3D modeling - ASUS ZenBook Pro 14 Duo OLED 

The ASUS ZenBook Pro 14 Duo is the solid combination of portability and performance. Coming in at the super-light 3.86 pounds, this machine packs an i9-12900H, 32GB DDR5 RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti. The 2.8K, 120hz OLED screen uses a 16:10 aspect ratio, with true-to-life colors and amazing contrast. The high-power i9 processor combined with the graphic processing power of the 3050 Ti reduces rendering times – Meaning you have more time for productivity and creation. The dual Thunderbolt 4 ports allow for external expandability and fast transfer speeds between external devices and the laptop. 

I love the ZenBook Pro 14 Duo’s unique design with two touch screens–one main monitor and one secondary monitor. Almost 3/4th of the total visible area of the laptop is interactive monitor space. The second screen is tilted at an angle when the laptop opens for a better viewing experience. For those interested in game dev or 3D modeling work, this machine simplifies your workflow by allowing you to put the main editing space on the top screen, and any references and secondary panels on the bottom screen. If you use 3D procedural modeling software such as Adobe Substance or Painter, the primary screen is perfect for all the main interfaces, and the secondary screen is perfect for looking up real-world references while you model. Great color accuracy on the dual screens also helps with creating accurate, true-to-life representations of your 3D projects. For video or photo editing software, the secondary screen also allows you to expand the primary workspace by dragging and rearranging the visible windows in the program. In summary, this laptop is perfect for on-the-go asset creation and 3D editing.

The Jack of All Trades - Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 14 

If you want a daily use productivity laptop combined with an ergonomic 2-in-1 drawing tablet, the Microsoft Surface Studio Laptop might be the perfect fit for you. While there are a few different variants for memory capacity and storage space, the specific Surface Studio Laptop I introduce in this article packs an i7-11370H processor, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, 16 GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and a 3:2 aspect ratio PixelSense touchscreen. This unique screen ratio allows for greater sketching real estate. With the powerful processor and a discrete GPU, photo and video editing can be done as well. Additionally, the webcam is full HD at 1080p, giving you the ability to make high-quality video calls. There are dual Thunderbolt 4 ports on the laptop, which enables you to use the Surface Docking station and connect to external monitors. 

The Surface Studio also has the ability to shift between different “modes”, depending on what you need the laptop for at that moment. There is, of course, a standard laptop configuration with keyboard, but if you tilt the screen to cover everything but the trackpad, it enters Stage Mode. Finally, you can lay the screen flat over the whole keyboard and trackpad to enter Studio Mode. While in the standard laptop configuration, you can type documents, browse the web, and perform everyday computing tasks. Stage mode is designed for movies, and games, and is a great way to present your ideas to an audience. Then, when the Surface is shifted to the canvas mode, it becomes a drawing table, perfect for illustrations and editing work. Paired with the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2 with superior tracking, you can easily create drawings and designs directly on the laptop screen itself without needing any external devices. 

Still not sure which creative tool is right for you? Stop in at any of our stores nationwide and our associates will be happy to make sure you get the device that fits your needs!

More from the Micro Center Community:

Looking for more computer buying guides? We’ve got a full section dedicated to reviews and buying guides as well as The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Gaming LaptopThe Essential Creator Laptop Buying GuideThe Best Laptops for Under $1000, and reviews of the Maingear Vector Pro Series. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to post a new discussion and the Community will be happy to help!


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