10 Best Tablets for Graphic Design in 2021

Arek Dvornechcuck
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I'm a strategist and designer based in New York who help brands grow by crafting distinctive brand identities, backed by strategy. Need help with your project?—Get in touch

Designers use drawing tablets mostly for digital illustration or photo retouching work, it makes it easier and more fun than just using a mouse.

Searching the best tablet for your graphic design needs is certainly not easy, because there are so many options available on the market.

Many creatives, whether illustrators, artists or graphic designers in general turn towards using tablets more these days to be able to complete their projects wherever and whenever—even away from office.

Having a drawing tablet will make your life as a designer so much easier and more enjoyable.

As a graphic designer the question I get asked the most is:

What's the best tablet for graphic design in 2021?

I‘ve checked out various brands, from specialized ones like Wacom,to more versatile options like iPad Pro and Galaxy Tabs, to very affordable ones like XP-Pen and Huion.

Every graphic designer will have different requirements, so I made sure my list includes a variety of drawing tablets that you can buy in 2021.

Do graphic designers need a tablet?

Not every designer needs a graphics tablet, it’s certainly an option, not a requirement.

However, many artists, illustrators, and graphic designers in general started to turn towards using tablets to be able to complete their projects faster and easier.

Tablets offer a more natural way for designers to draw and retouch than just using a mouse or a touchpad.

Think about the type of work you will be required to do as a graphic designer in order to determine what qualities you should look for in a tablet.

If you don’t do complex illustrations or photo retouching work, you won’t necessarily need an expensive tablet with a screen.

What is the difference between a graphic tablet and a drawing tablet?

A graphic tablet is the one that you'll need to attach to a screen in order to see your work whole a drawing tablet has in-built screen so that you can just draw straight on the display.

Below you will find my list of 10 best tablets for graphic designers: 6 tablets with and 4 without the screen.

Tablet with a screen is not always needed, but having one will definitely make your job much more enjoyable.

10 Best Tablets for Graphic Design

  1. Wacom Cintiq 22—Best overall
  2. Apple iPad Pro (2020)—Best for iOS
  3. Huion H610PRO V2—For beginners
  4. XP-PEN Artist12—Most budget-friendly
  5. Huion Kamvas Pro 13—Most compact
  6. Wacom Mobile Studio Pro—Best performance
  7. Wacom Intuos Pro—Good for everyone
  8. GAOMON PD1560—Best alternative
  9. One by Wacom Student—Best for students
  10. Huion Inspiroy H640P—Most affordable

Every designer has different budget and different needs, therefore some tablets are going to suit you better than others.

How do I choose a graphics tablet?

While every tablet may have comparable benefits, not all tablets are created equal—so which tablet is best for drawing & art?

The cost of a drawing tablet can vary greatly—flat tablets (no screen) will be much cheaper than those with a display.

Additionally, some of them are more precise and with a larger drawing area, while others are small and basic in specs.

So the first choice you need to make is to decide whether you want a simple graphics tablet (without screen) or a pen display (with the screen) or a tablet computer (iPad Pro or Galaxy Tab).

How to choose a tablet for graphic design.

Once you’ve made this decision, then the next step would be to focus on key features and functionalities you’re looking for.

There are various things you need to keep in mind as a graphic designer when buying your first tablet, but the key ones are:

  1. Active area
  2. Pressure sensitivity
  3. Resolution
  4. Hotkeys
  5. Stylus
  6. Scrollers
  7. Connection

Now, let’s shortly  discuss these things one by one.

1. Active Area

A smart move is to think about the screen size prior to purchasing your tablet.

Some of fore mentioned tablets come in multiple size, while others don’t.

So make sure you choose the size that best fits your needs, because the last thing you’d want to happen is to end up with disappointment.

2. Pressure Sensitivity

Everyone has a different drawing or illustration style, so depending on yours, you may want to choose a tablet with an ultra-sensitive and responsive surface.

Pressure levels on tables start at about 300 levels of pressure and go up to around 3000.

The optimal pressure level to look for on a tablet is around the 1,000 range.

3. Resolution

Picking a tablet with a high LPI would be better for you if you work in a sector where you need to produce very high-resolution images or sharp graphics.

Think about LPI the same way people think of the resolution of 4K seen on TVs and computer monitors.

4. Hotkeys

It's becoming more and more popular to see tablets that come with HotKeys built right into is (also known as shortcut keys).

These extra keys that are usually on the side are designed to help you save time and streamline your work process.

Instead of manually switching between tabs, apps, or simply selecting brushes in Photoshop hotkeys will help you save a lot of time.

5. Stylus

Stylus (pen) comes in two forms: battery-operated (AES) and electromagnetic resonance (EMR), but they’re both designed to mimic the feel of pen on paper.

EMR styluses can quickly discern between pen and touch inputs, and this makes for a very smooth pen experience.

AES styluses have significant performance advantages over EMR, though require some getting used to and compensation.

6. Scrollers

Moving around the screen on your tablet using stylus can be inefficient especially if you work on large artwork using a small tablet.

Thankfully, many tablets have a scroller built into it, so that you can zoom in and out, and move around your artwork quickly.

7. Connection

Tablets come in two forms of connection: regular corder one, and wireless bluetooth connection.

While a wired tablet won’t present any connectivity issues and will be cheaper, it might be frustrating always having to connect the cables.

Wireless tablets, on the other hand, will give you the freedom of movement that a corded one definitely won’t.

However, I have reviewed them all, so whether you are a beginner or a pro—I hope you’ll find something interesting.

1. Wacom Cintiq 22

Wacom is a well-known brand that specializes in drawing tablets (with screens and without) and I remember buying my first Wacom tablet about 10 years ago.

The best tablet overall for any professional graphic designer.

This is a tablet with display, so that you can draw directly on the screen which comes in 2 sizes: small (15.6”) and medium (21.5”).

Price: $1,151.47

Wacom Cintiq 22 is the best tablet overall for any graphic designer.
Wacom Cintiq 22—Best tablet overall.

With a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 HD, it is the third-largest model of all Wacom drawing boards.

It comes with the Wacom Pro Pen 2, just like its previous versions.

This pen has a whooping 192 pressure levels, low activation force and tilt recognition, which all gives you an amazing precision for most natural drawing experience.

If you’re option for Wacom Cintiq 22 in medium size, your will get a wide full-HD screen that provides you with clarity to see every detail of your work.

The display is very vibrant (16.7 million colors) and is a highly recommended option for any drawing work.

An interesting feature is the battery-free pen that charges off the screen while you’re working.

The pen works really well, and apart from the graphics job, it can be used for other purposes.

This is a perfect tablet for graphic designer who love to draw, or students seeking a premium on-screen experience.

Wacom Cintiq 22 is a great choice if you need a large tablet that can handle long hours of working without heating up or throttling.

Pros

➕ Large screen display
➕ Natural pen flow
➕ Free design software

Cons

➖ No extra nibs
➖ VESA incompatible

2. Apple iPad Pro (2020)

If you love Apple products (like most designers do) you might consider getting the new iPad Pro—a great choice if you're looking for a drawing tablet with screen.

The best tablet for iOS users and those who need a tablet/computer hybrid.

iPad pro can be used not only as a drawing tablet, but as a quite powerful laptop as well.

Price starts at: $999.00

Apple iPad Pro (2020)—The best tablet for iOS users and those who need a tablet/computer hybrid.
Apple iPad Pro (2020)—Best for iOS.

The 12.9” all-screen Liquid Retina display with ProMotion and True Tone will make everything look very clear and sharp.

The pen (Apple Pencil) also charges magnetically just like the Wacom’s one, however you will have to buy it separately of course.

If you own other Apple products—you sort of know what to expect: up to 10 hours of battery life, Face ID, LiDAR Scanner, plus quality cameras and speakers.

You can also buy additional accessories like, for example, a keyboard with a trackpad which will turn you tablet into a laptop.

This is a great option for designers who like to draw, but also need to run other apps simultaneously on one device.

If that’s the case, then with the iPad Pro, you can browse photographs and surf online while drawing at the same time.

A great option for designers who like to have all-in-one device.

Pros

All-in-one device
Top quality and performance

Cons

➖ Pretty expensive
Pen sold separately

3. Huion H610PRO V2

If you are looking for tablets that are competitively priced but don't compromise the quality, then the Huion H610PRO V2 is the best choice for you.

The best tablet for beginners out there.

This tablet showcases a nice range of features, including its eight express keys and 16 soft keys.

Huion H61PRO V2 - Best tablet for beginners
Huion H610PRO V2—For beginners.

Price: $42.49

The Huion H610PRO V2 gives you brilliant graphics with its 10 by 6.25 inches working are for a PC, while 3.9 by 6.25 inches for mobiles.

Apart from being Chromebook supported, this tablet is compatible with Mac (OS 10.12 and above), Windows, and Android devices.

Moreover, this tablet takes your designing into another level with its Innovative Tilt Control System, which gives you better prediction and accurate positioning of the cursor.

This tablet also comes with pen stand that includes 8 extra nibs, for a total of 9 nibs, including the one from the pen itself.

It also gives lefties the advantage to adjust with its driver that comes with a easy set up.

The Huion is made of black plastic and is lightweight, with a thickness of just more than a half inch at its thickest point, and has a curved shape.

There is a small contrast in feel between the Huion and the Wacom as the Wacom feels more flexible, while the Huion is more springy.

At around 635 grams, this is a tablet that you can carry easily and do your graphics work anywhere.

When it comes to protection, the Huion H610PRO V2 comes with asurface protector on.

While it may not offer as much as the pricey tablets, beginners can take advantage of this tablet's functionality and price.

Huion H610PRO V2 is a great choice if you're looking for an affordable tablet that is also comfortable to work on.

Pros

Battery-free stylus
Comes with pen
Compatibility
Affordable

Cons

Frequent cut off
Driver incompatibility

4. XP-PEN Artist12

If you’re looking for a tablet that won’t break the bank, but don’t mind connecting it to your computer—XP-PEN Artist 12 is a great alternative.

The most affordable screen tablet for graphic designers.

A friendly reminder—this drawing pen display must be used with a computer unlike other tablets mentioned above.

Price: $199.99

XP-PEN Artist12—The most affordable screen tablet for graphic designers.
XP-PEN Artist12—Most affordable tablet.

XP-PEN Artist 12 supports Windows 10/8/7(32/64bit) and MAC OS 10.10 or higher and is compatible with Photoshop, Illustrator, SketchBook Pro, MediBang, Clip Studio and many more.

It comes with with a 11.6” display area and is equipped with 8192-levels of pressure sensitivity.

The Full HD display paired with 72% NTSC (100% sRGB) Color Gamut will present vivid images, vibrant colors and extreme detail of your artwork.

The screen has also the anti-reflective coating so that you can use it any environment.

Whether you’re into drawing, photography, animation, fashion, sketching, image editing, 3D sculpting—this tablet will do the job.

It also features a slim touch bar that can be programmed to zoom in and out on your canvas, scroll up and down, and more.

Overall, this is an extremely affordable tablet for those who don’t mind using it with a computer or simply don’t need functionality of an iPad or Galaxy Tab.

A great choice for beginners and graphic design students who need a quality tablet for an affordable price.

Pros

Very responsive.
Great price!

Cons

➖ Work only with computer.
Nightmare to set up.

5. Huion Kamvas Pro 13

Huion's newest tablet, the Kamvas Pro 13, features a fully-laminated textured screen, a 120 percent sRGB color gamut, a battery-free camera, and pen tilt functionality.

The most compact tablet for graphic designers.

With its specifications, this tablet seems to be very promising, with top-of-the-line features around the board and a decent price.

The Huion Kamvas Pro 13 is tablet designed with a dark color scheme and a silver ring on it.

Price: $299

Huion Kamvas Pro 13 - Most compact tablet for graphic designers
Huion Kamvas Pro 13—Most compact tablet.

You can never go wrong with this compact tablet that has an active area of 11.5 by 6.5 inches, and 13.3 inch diagonal.

This tablet comes in the box with the tablet stand, battery-free pen, pen stand. and combined cable.

The Huion Kamvas Pro 13 boasts its smooth matte texture, which makes writing on it easier.

Moreover, this tablet is much lighter than any other tablets as it weighs about 2.01 lbs.

With its features, this tablet is a good alternative to the Wacom Cintiq 13HD, and maybe also a good alternative to the newer Wacom Cintiq Pro 13.

If you are looking for a drawing tablet that can fit into your bag or bring anywhere, then this compact tablet is the best choice for you.

This tablet includes four programmable buttons and a touch bar.

When it comes to compatibility, the Kamvas Pro 13 works well with Windows 7 or later and Mac OS 10.12 or later, and Chromebook (ChromeOS 88 and above).

If you’re looking for a compact tablet that won’t break the bank, then I believe that this one is the best for you.

Kamvas Pro 13 comes with a very color accurate, high resolution screen and all the features you need.

Pros

Battery-free pen
Matte screen

Cons

Non multi-touch

6. Wacom Mobile Studio Pro

If you’re leaning more towards a powerful tablet, but one that you can also use as a computer, then you should consider buying Wacom Mobile Studio Pro.

The best performance tablet with complete Windows inside.

Push the boundaries of creativity with the most advanced and powerful portable pen-computer from Wacom.

Price: $2,599.95

Wacom Mobile Studio Pro—The best performance tablet with complete Windows inside.
Wacom Mobile Studio Pro—Best performance tablet.

This is the most expensive tablet on my list, but as they say—you get what you pay for.

An awesome display, precise pen, enhanced computing power and a long-lasting battery lets you bring your projects to life whenever and wherever without disrupting your creative flow.

Wacom Mobile Studio Pro comes with Intel Core i7-8559U quad-core processor and Intel Iris Plus 655 graphic card that will meet all of your needs as a designer.

You will be able to work quickly and efficiently on illustrations or photo-editing using its super precise pen with over 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity.

And with its high-resolution WQHD display (up to 2560 x 1440) you’ll see the world in great detail.

Have complete control over your artwork and experience the nuance of every hue on the spectrum thanks to advanced color quality (82% Adobe RGB coverage).

With such a powerful machine, nothing can stand in the way of your creativity and even the most demanding designers won’t be disappointed!

A great choice for professionals and those who opt for quality hardware.

Pros

Extremely powerful.
Great display.
Complete Windows.

Cons

Quite expensive.
No keyboard.

7. Wacom Intuos Pro (PTH660)

As I mentioned before Wacom is a brand that specializes in all type of tablets, with and without the screen.

A solid, good pen tablet for any type of graphic design work.

This is probably the most popular drawing tablet among graphic designers.

Price: $379.95

Wacom Intuos Pro (PTH660)—A solid, good pen tablet for any type of graphic design work.
Wacom Intuos Pro (PTH660)—good for every designer.

Wacom Intuos Pro PTH660 is a good choice for any type of designer who spends hours on image editing, illustration or design work.

It works well with PC or MAC without any problems and you don’t even need any cables either, the built-in bluetooth will do the job.

This tablet comes in three sizes: small, medium and large—so that you can choose something that fits your preferences.

Wacom Intuos Pro has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity to give you the most accurate performance and realistic pen-on-paper feel.

The pen’s outstanding tilt recognition and virtually lag-free tracking will give you the ultimate control over your creative process.

Intous series is the Wacom’s finest pen tablet to date and it sets the standard for professional-grade pen tablets.

Film-makers, animators, industrial & fashion designers around the world continue to choose Wacom tablets.

I started my career as a graphic designer using this tablet as well (its predecessor) so I would definitely recommend it to everyone.

Wacom Intuos Pro is a great choice for those who're looking for a decent tablet with ergonomic design.

Pros

Different sizes.
Good quality/price ratio.

Cons

Problem with drivers.

8. GAOMON PD1560

With a 15.6-inch widescreen monitor and shorter Express Keys, it allows for a fairly long tablet with a sizable working area – not bad for a budget model.

The best alternative for graphic designers.

Considering how Huion or Wacom tablets can be, getting this tablet will never disappoint you.

Price: $299.99

GAOMON PD1560 - Best alternative tablet for graphic designers
GAOMON PD1560—Best alternative tablet.


The GAOMON PD1560 boasts a 15.6-inch IPS monitor that has a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a color gamut suitable for both amateur and advanced use.

The main case is made of relatively smooth acrylic, and the front surface is almost completely covered in glass. The left inch or so of the front, like the rest of the case, is made of plastic and houses eight big shortcut buttons as well as two much smaller ones.

Here’s the thing: what sets this tablet apart from its competitors the fact that it is s a sophisticated unit with that lets designers see what they’re drawing on the tablet itself.

It has a massive 13.5” x 7.6” drawing area that has a full HD screen with a sharp 1920 x 1080 resolution.

With this, you draw would be visible in real time on the tablet's drawing surface. This is as similar to drawing or painting on paper or canvas as you can be.

Moreover, the GAOMON PD1560 allows you to find a perfect and comfortable position by dragging the switch to adjust the angle of pen display. This is made possible through its 178° viewing angle.

Also, this model has a resolution of 5080 LPI and a report rate of 233 PPS, all of which are seen on high-quality models, thus giving more realistic and fluid movements, resulting in crisper lines and better overall creations.

Although the Wacom or Huion products look like a more stable product overall, there's no doubt that the GAOMON PD1560's price point is a major consideration for someone who can't afford the former.

Pros

Affordable
With screen

Cons

Battery capacity

9. One by Wacom Student

As the name suggests, this tablet was made for graphic design students and especially for online education.

The best for students and online education.

If you’re looking for a digital pen to seamlessly collaborate, share work, and interact with other students and teachers—this is a great bargain!

Price: $59.95

One by Wacom Student
One by Wacom Student—Best for students.

Don’t expect too much for this price, but you will definitely move beyond the limitations of a mouse with the One by Wacom Student drawing tablet.

This tablet is an ideal choice for students and teachers seeking a digital pen for their computer to draw, edit photos, express ideas and interact in online classes.

The battery-free, pressure-sensitive pen is comfortable, sturdy, accurate, and it really feels like pen on paper.

As with other non-screen drawing tablet, you will have to use it with your laptop or computer (compatible with MacOS, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS)

One by Wacom has everything you need, and nothing that you don’t, so it’s easy to get started straight out of the box.

As you probably noticed this is the 3rd tablet from Wacom on my list as Wacom delivers the highest-quality products.

They have over 35 years of experience in digital pen technology, so you can trust Wacom to deliver reliable products and support (even for such a low price).

Overall, this is a perfect graphic tablet for drawing—a decent option for beginners.

Pros

Excellent for students.
Compatible with any OS.

Cons

Small drawing area.
No express keys.

10. Huion Inspiroy H640P

If you’re not impressed by by what you get for you money with the tablets listed above, then you can’t find a better deal than the Huion Inspiroy H640P.

The most affordable tablet for beginners and kids.

If you look at the price you might think this is a mistake, but it’s NOT—Basically for the price of a lunch you’ll get all of the basics that you need in a tablet.

Price: $33.99

Huion Inspiroy H640P is the most affordable tablet on the market.
Huion Inspiroy H640P—Most affordable tablet.

Huion Inspiroy H640P is not only compatible with Mac and Windows, but also supports Android which gives you freedom to use it with basically any computer.

This easy-to-use pen tablet is perfect for beginners who’re into drawing, animation,photo-editing or any other design work.

You will be able to use it with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Corel Draw, Sketchbook, Manga studio, Clip studio paint and other design software.

Huion Inspiroy H640P is ideal for online education where teachers and students can easily make handwritten edits, or take notes on virtual whiteboard like the one in Zoom.

The drawing area is pretty small, but the pen has enough sensitivity to provide a true feel that a graphic design tablet can offer.

It is perfect not only for taking notes, jotting down ideas and signing off documents, but will also do the job for light drawing and illustration.

You will probably quickly outgrow this tablet but if you just need basic functionality, or something to play with from time to time—give it a try.

Pros

Very cheap!
Great compatibility.
Express keys.

Cons

Pretty small.
Lesser quality.

Conclusions

With all of the tablet choices available out there it might be difficult to decide which one is best for your.

On my list you will find something for everyone, whether you’re a beginner, or professional graphic designer.

Having the right tools is a must for any artist, and when it comes to tablets—this is a device you will probably want to use daily.

With the various choices I’ve highlighted on my list, hopefully you can find something for yourself and take your graphic design career to the next level.

Do you use a tablet for your graphic design work?—Leave a comment below.

More Top Gear for Designers

Frequently Asked Questions About Tablets
Are Wacom tablets good for graphic design?
Yes, of course! Wacom is the pioneer of the tablet industry and is well known for quality products. Designers around the world depend on the Wacom brand and its tablets to help them work smarter, faster, and more efficiently.
What is the difference between a graphic tablet and a drawing tablet?
A graphic tablet is the one that you'll need to use with an external screen, while a drawing tablet has an in-built screen (you draw directly on the screen).
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