New Laptops For Designers and Artists
Ignore Intel’s 10th-gen chips announcements – these are the new laptops you should be checking out.
It’s easy to get lost in all the tech announcements at and following the recent Computex trade show in Taiwan, especially if all you care about are computers for one specific task. So while Intel was making a lot of noise about its ’10th-gen’ Core chips for diddly little ultrabooks, you might have missed a series of new laptops aimed at creative pros from Dell, HP, MSI, Razer and more.
Underpinning these are the latest 9th-generation, up-to-8-core chips from Intel – as seen first in the new MacBook Pro – and a new set of graphics chips from Nvidia based on its RTX real-time rendering technology. Alongside these are some stylish, unusual laptops experimenting with new materials from HP.That the likes of Dell, HP and Lenovo are upgrading their current mobile workstations to the latest generations of processors is no surprise – though both Dell and HP’s announcements hint towards new mobile Xeon processors that haven’t been launched yet – so the biggest news is from Nvidia.
The graphics chip maker has introduced the Quadro RTX 3000, 4000 and 5000 GPUs – which it calls the most powerful GPUs in the world. These feature up to 16GB of RAM, and accelerate laptops to allow tasks like 8K video editing, real-time raytracing in 3D suites (and games) and VR creation and playback. Nvidia says that they can make a Windows laptop have “performance up to 7x faster than that of the MacBook Pro.”
Most manufacturers have only been able to fit these chips into larger 15- and 17-inch laptops with 9th-gen Core chips such as Dell’s Precision 7540 and 7740 mobile workstations; HP’s ZBook 15 G6 (above) and 17 G6; Lenovo’s ThinkPad P1 Gen 2, P43s, P53, P53s and P73; and MSI’s WS65, WS75 and WE75 – but Razer has managed to fit the full spec Quadro RTX 5000 into its new MacBook Pro-sized Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (as well as the larger Razer Blade Pro 17 Studio Edition).
The Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (above) has a 4K OLED touchscreen and a Core™ i7-9750H processor.
The Razer Blade Pro 17 Studio Edition (above) has a new 4K 120Hz display panel, a Core™ i9-9880H processor, which has eight cores and runs at 2.3GHz (or up to 4.8GHz using Turbo Boost).
Studio Edition refers to Nvidia’s new Studio Platform. This is a badge – and a marketing term – that it’s using for laptops that fit a certain set of minimum specs including a Quadro RTX 5000, 4000 and 3000 GPUs (or gamer versions including the GeForce RTX 2080, 2070 and 2060 GPU).
The other minimum specs are:
- GPU: RTX 2060, Quadro RTX 3000 or higher
- CPU: Intel Core i7 (H-series) or higher
- RAM: 16GB or higher
- SSD: 512GB or higher
- Display: 1080p or 4K
As well as the GPUs, Nvidia has rebranded its drivers and SDKs to use Studio too.
If you’re looking for a direct MacBook Pro 15 or Razer Blade 15 rival from one of the big PC brands, look to Dell’s Precision 5540 or Lenovo’s ThinkPad P1 Gen 2 (below, the second version of the Editor’s Choice-winning ThinkPad P1). Neither model has an RTX graphics chip – but the Quadro T2000 has 4GB of RAM and should be powerful enough for many artists, designer, animator and editors who don’t need maximum power. For the Dell model, there are two options for the 15.6-inch screen – the same 4K screen with 100% Adobe RGB colour gamut as its predecessor, the 5530, or a new OLED display that has the same DCI-P3 output as the MacBook Pro 15. The ThinkPad P1 has a single 4k option, the same spec OLED display as Dell’s – though Lenovo is also boasting that the display has been calibrated at the factory using X-rite technology for extreme colour accuracy.
The rest of the specs are up to 64GB RAM and “Intel Xeon E or 9th Gen Intel Core 8-core processors”, which seems carefully worded enough to suggest that there will be a new generation of mobile Xeon chips that have up to eight cores, but Intel hasn’t announced them yet. (HP refers to the chip offerings of its ZBook 15 and 17 G6 models as “9th Gen Intel Core and Intel Xeon processors”, which is equally vague).
None of the models mentioned above are shipping til “the summer”, so we’ll know over the next few months.
The rest of Lenovo’s range also features the P53 (below), which Lenovo describes as the most powerful 15-inch mobile workstation. This has a larger chassis than the P1, but this allows it to fit a RTX 5000 graphics chip inside. The P73 is a 17-inch model, while the range is rounded out with two budget models, the P43s and P53s.
Also debuting at Computex were updates to Dell and HP’s smaller and lower-end workstations – and HP’s VR Backpack (below).
Away from models directly aimed at creative pros, but perhaps appealing on style alone, HP has followed last year’s leather-bound laptop with the launch of a series of laptops with wooden inlays.
The Wood Edition of the Envy 13 is available either as a traditional laptop, or a ‘convertible’ where the screen rotates rounds to become a tablet. The 15-inch model is a convertible, while the 17-inch is a laptop. The 13- and 15-inch models are available with Pale Birch or Walnut, with the 17-inch coming with Walnut only.