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A Quick Overview of the Best Laptops for UX Design
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If you don’t feel like reading the entire buying guide, we’d like you to know that we recommend the Apple MacBook Pro as the best laptop for UX Design! However, if you’re a Windows user, the Dell Inspiron 17 delivers a bang for your buck with much better specs than any other laptop in its price range!
New Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 16GB RAM, 512GB Storage) - Space Gray
Dell Inspiron 3793 17.3" FHD Laptop Computer, 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7, 32GB RAM, 1TB HDD+ 1TB SSD, Intel Iris Plus Graphics, Bluetooth, DVD-RW, HDMI, Win 10, Black, 32GB SnowBell USB Card
Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop, Intel i7-10750H, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB, 15.6" Full HD 144Hz 3ms IPS Display, 16GB Dual-Channel DDR4, 512GB NVMe SSD, Wi-Fi 6, RGB Keyboard, PH315-53-72XD
User Experience Design is all about creating digital or physical designs that help enhance products (websites, apps or anything with a display) by making them more attractive, usually for easy navigation and marketing purposes. If you’re a UX designer looking for a laptop to run software such as Photoshop, SketchUp, Illustrator, InDesign or XD, then you’re at the right place. This guide will help you shortlist and choose the best laptop for UX Design.
The first thing you want to consider is the processing power. While you will need a decent processor, you should know that you don’t have to get something super expensive. A modern i5 or even an older i7 would be fine. But since you’re buying a new laptop, we would recommend getting something with good build quality and modern specs, since that will future proof your laptop and you wouldn’t need to go buy a new machine after 2 or 3 years. This is especially true if you’re involved in more advanced stuff such as prototyping with Adobe After Effects or something similar.
As for the graphical processing, you’d be surprised to know that you actually don’t need a dedicated GPU. Integrated Graphics have become really good over time and are more than enough for your purposes. However, if you’re into 3D modeling, then a dedicated GPU will be really useful, otherwise you can definitely skip that. This also means that there is no need to buy a gaming laptop, unless of course you’re also a gamer.
One of the most important aspects to consider when buying a Laptop for UX design is RAM. Even if you’re only using your software of choice with no programs running in the background, you’ll still be using a lot of memory. Most software would require you to get a minimum of 8 GB of RAM, which would certainly be enough. But we recommend having a minimum of 16 GB, or you could get 32 GB if your budget allows. With this much RAM you’ll definitely be able to run any program smoothly, even if you have a lot of apps open in the background.
The last aspect we will talk about is the display since visuals are crucial for artists! This is only applicable for people who don’t use an external monitor. We would always recommend getting an external monitor since it gives you a lot more real estate as well as an amazing looking display. Color accuracy is something that matters a lot. You need to make sure that your designs look good on all types of monitors since people will view them on different screens. Having a bright and color accurate display is really helpful in that sense.
Top Laptops for UX Design [Reviews]
Apple MacBook Pro
Most UX enthusiasts will tell you that the Apple MacBook Pro is an excellent choice. MacBooks provide so many useful features that it’s hard to not recommend them. If you own an iPhone or any other Apple product, then these are a no brainer for you. We will be specifically talking about the MacBook Pro as it is the best of the lineup and is made for professional work.
As the “Pro” in the name suggests, MacBooks come with one of the best configurations out there. For the processor you get to choose between the 2.6GHz 6-core 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processor or the 2.3GHz 8-core 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor. Both of these are the best laptop processors that Intel has to offer, so you wouldn’t have trouble with either of them. They will easily last you the next 4 years with little to no performance issues.
As for the GPU, you get the AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory with the i7 model and the AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory with the i9 one. Both of these are amazing and are a great pairing with the processors. For those who aren’t familiar with the Radeon lineup of Graphic cards, both of these are comparable to the RTX 2060 mobile from Nvidia. It’s safe to say that both the CPU and GPU will be more than capable of any kind of task you throw at it.
Along with that, you get 16GB of 2666MHz DDR4 memory with both the models, which is just about the perfect amount of RAM for your usage. As for the storage, you get either 512 GB of SSD with the i7 model or 1 TB with the i9. Your choice will depend on a few factors such as which processor you’re going for, what’s your budget and what your actual requirements are. For most people 512 GB should be plenty, but if your budget allows, then you can definitely spec up to the 1 TB model.
As for the display you get a Stunning 16-inch Retina Display with True Tone technology. Apple might, on paper, offer the same 1080p panel as every other manufacturer, but theirs is calibrated much better than the rest. The retina displays are one of the best and most color-accurate in the market and are perfect for color graded work. It covers the wide P3 color gamete and has a 500 nits display, which is enough to not hinder your visibility in even brightly lit environments. It’s large enough for multitasking, while also being not too large. Overall, it’s one of the best displays you can get on the market and is especially amazing for UX design.
As for the port selection, you get 4 USB-C ports, each supporting Thunderbolt three. Despite USB-C being the standard, we would’ve still liked to see a USB-A port as it is really versatile as well. However, you can get a USB-C dock which would provide you with all the ports that you need. The reason why there aren’t many ports is because Apple likes to make their laptops as thin as possible, while also fitting in as many necessary features as they can.
Another important feature of the MacBook is the inclusion of the new keyboard. Apple’s previous generation butterfly key switches had a reputation for being problematic, that even hardcore Apple fans didn’t buy those with the butterfly switches. Luckily, Apple has moved past that and has now included the new scissor key switches and magic keyboard. These are amazing, and most people will be satisfied with them. You can get better ones for the price; however, most consumers will not notice the difference as these are still one of the best.
Some other features of this laptop include a touch bar for easier navigation through the UI, two color options, amazing speakers, one of the best trackpads on a laptop, airdrop for those with another Apple device and much more. It’s not the spec sheet of this laptop that makes it special, but rather the countless little features that make your user experience simply amazing.
The dimensions of this laptop are 0.64 x 14.09 x 9.69 inches and it weighs 4.3 pounds which is pretty light for a 16-inch laptop. However, that comes at a cost as the MacBook, despite being fairly sturdy is still prone to bending when pressure is applied. Apple advertises 11 hours of battery life which is actually pretty close to real world usage, with a heavy workflow you’re probably going to get somewhere around 8 – 10 hours of battery life. UX design is a much more battery intensive task, but it’s still comparable to other modern powerful laptops. One of the only problems with this laptop is that it’s slightly over priced, or has an “Apple Tax”, but considering this is one of the most unique products on the market, we think it’s justified.
Dell Inspiron 17 Laptop
If you’re looking for a Windows laptop for UX design, then you should look at the Dell Inspiron 17. It isn’t specifically designed to be used for UX design, but it has some pretty useful features that make it a good contender and an overall great laptop.
This laptop is an extremely powerful machine. It comes with 10th Gen Intel Quad-Core i7 1065G7 up to 3.9GHz, Intel UHD Graphics with shared graphics memory. This is one of the best processors you can get on a laptop. While the i9 on the MacBook looks like a much more tempting option, the gain in performance is so low that you won’t even notice the difference. It will certainly serve you well for the next 4 to 5 years.
As for storage, you get a ton of options. You can choose between a 512 GB, 1 TB or 2 TB PCIe SSD with attached HDD storage which is great for storing large projects. We would recommend getting at least 1 TB, as it will ensure that you won’t run out of storage anytime soon. You can obviously downgrade or upgrade based on your requirements, but 1 TB is a good middle value. It will be sufficient to store all your software, as well as any photos or videos you like to save natively on your device.
Each of the above options also comes with its own RAM configuration. With the 512 GB, you get 8 or 16 GB of RAM, with the 1 TB you get 16 GB or 32 GB and with the 2 TB you get either 32 GB or 64 GB. 8 GB is a bit too less for our liking and 64 GB is just overkill, so we think that either 16 GB or 32 GB should be sufficient, so you can choose either depending on your budget. We would highly recommend that if possible, get the 32 GB of RAM as computer requirements increase on an exponential level, and what might seem usable now might be the bare minimum a few years down the line.
As for the display, you get a 17.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare LED-Backlit Non-touch WVA Display. The extra screen real estate is especially useful when multitasking and provides great multimedia viewing experience. The quality of the screen is just about average, it gets sharp enough for most users while producing decent colors as well as being bright enough for most use cases. If you’ve ever used a dell laptop before then you would know exactly how this display looks. It’s a bit low quality for UX design so we would recommend having an external monitor, especially if you’re doing color accurate work like print.
A really great feature of this laptop is the port selection. A lot of manufacturers are removing ports to make their devices thinner. It’s good to see Dell hasn’t gone that route. You get 1x USB 2. 0, 2x USB 3. 1 Gen 1, 1x USB 3. 1 Type-C, 1x RJ-45(Ethernet), 1x HDMI, SD card slot and 1x Headphone output/Microphone input combo. As you can see the selection of ports is pretty nice, and you get multiple ports in case you want to have many accessories connected. It has many more features that make it a much more compelling buy such as the inclusion of an HD webcam with multiple microphones for better sound pick up. Although, the actual screen doesn’t support touch. The keyboard itself is pretty decent with good key travel, you don’t get a backlit keyboard. Luckily, the screen is bright enough for you to use the laptop in the dark.
The Dell Inspiron 17 comes in at 21.9 x 13.7 x 3 inches and weighs 6.1 pounds which is normal for a 17-inch laptop of this caliber. The battery is a 42-Watt Hour cell, rated to give about 5 hours of usage without plugging in, which is actually how much it would last in real world usage. It’s pretty decent considering the larger size of the display.
Acer Predator Helios 300 Laptop
If you’re looking to use your laptop for gaming, along with UX design then we would recommend getting the Acer Predator Helios 300. It has a ton of features targeted towards gamers like the RGB or the design, but also has many features such as the performance and cooling which just make it an all-round great laptop. You should definitely consider this laptop for the features it provides, making it an ideal choice for UX design professionals.
The performance of this laptop is obviously the highlight as you get 10th Gen Intel i7-10750H, which can turbo boost clock speeds up to 5.0 GHz. Just like the Dell it’s one of the best processors you can get on a laptop. Moreover, you also get a dedicated graphic card in the form of the NVidia GeForce RTX 2060 Mobile 6GB, which is one of the best laptop graphic cards out there and can even be comparable to some of the last generation desktop GPUs. These specifications will be really useful for anyone wanting to get into 3D-modeling and will obviously play a big role if you like to game as well.
As for memory, you get 16GB of DDR4 SDRAM. This should be more than enough for everyone. You also have the option to upgrade if you ever want to breathe new life into your laptop 5 years down the line. The RAM itself is “gaming RAM’, which simply means that it supports high-bandwidth transfer speed, making it a bit snappier than regular RAMs.
As for the storage you get 512 GB of SSD, which is more than sufficient for anyone looking for a laptop. However we would recommend getting this laptop if you’re not into triple A gaming titles since they can take up more than 200 GB of space. Other than that, the laptop is pretty good, well suited for UX and the majority of all modern games.
This laptop has a 15. 6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) Widescreen LED-backlit IPS Display, a 144Hz Refresh Rate, 3ms Overdrive Response Time, 300nit Brightness & 72% NTSC. The high refresh rate will make it feel smoother, even if you’re not playing a game. The low response time will only be useful if you’re gaming. Otherwise, the screen is bright enough to be used in any conditions. It also produces great colors. The only problem is that despite the screen looking absolutely stunning, it isn’t really color accurate. If you’re working with print, then we would recommend having an external display if you don’t already.
Since gaming laptops are supposed to be as powerful as possible, there isn’t really a restriction on size. Which means they can be as large as desired, since consumers are not looking for portability. This also means that manufacturers fit in as many ports as they want. A similar case is seen here as the Acer has an excellent port selection. You get 1 USB-C, 3 USB-A, 1 HDMI, 1 mini display, 1 RJ45(Ethernet) and 1 charging port at the back. Its more than enough for your usage, even if you want to attach a supporting accessory like a graphic pad or external mouse. The feature list doesn’t stop here. There are a ton of other things that make this laptop a great deal for you. For example, you get an RGB backlit keyboard, a separate external mouse with RGB light, proper cooling fans for those using their device to its utmost limits, and even a decent webcam.
The size of this laptop is 14.3 x 10 x 0.9 inches and it weighs 5.07 pounds. It isn’t particularly portable, but isn’t designed for those looking for a thin and light machine. It’s there for those wanting the best when it comes to performance and that means sacrificing portability. One of the only downsides of this laptop is the battery. It provides close to 4 hours, which isn’t that impressive, but if you plan to use this only as a desktop replacement then it shouldn’t matter that much.
All three of the laptops we talked about were great. But only one of them will receive the recognition for being the best of the best for UX designs. In the following section we will talk about all three of these laptops individually, as well as their strengths and weakness, and then finally conclude by choosing the best one for you.
The first laptop we reviewed was the Apple MacBook Pro. It is the most expensive laptop on our list and for good reason. Firstly, it’s one of the most unique options out there. If you want to use MacOS and utilize its amazing features, then you have to go for this laptop no matter what. It also has some pretty impressive specifications making it one of the best choices for UX designers.
Next comes the Dell Inspiron 17. While not being specifically for UX or even graphic designers, this laptop is still great in many ways. It has one of the largest displays out of all the laptops, making it perfect for multitasking. You also get a ton of customizability options, as well as great specifications, making it a really good overall choice.
Lastly, we talked about the Acer Predator Helios 300. It is primarily a gaming laptop, which means that it has some monster specifications. For starters it’s one of the most powerful laptops that we reviewed, so heavy users will enjoy it. It also has other great features like a lot of storage and decent port selection. That’s why it makes it on our list of one of the best laptops for UX designers.
Its finally time to pick which one of these laptops was the best for you. We believe that the MacBook Pro is the best laptop for UX designers. It was specifically made keeping in mind people who work in technical professions. It has unique features such as the touch bar which give it an edge. Moreover, most of your colleagues that you will interact with will probably have MacBooks as well so you can utilize many Apple only features like Airdrop making your life much easier. If you own an iPhone then it just sweetens the deal for you, but regardless it’s an amazing laptop.
If you specifically want a Windows laptop then we would recommend getting the Dell Inspiron as it’s a really good all-around laptop. We wouldn’t recommend the Acer predator Helios, unless you’re a gamer, as it’s almost the same price as the Dell but has lower specs and the extra features it offers, like a dedicated GPU aren’t really useful for UX designers.
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