I've been thinking about getting a laptop that is somehow 'optimized' or focused in design. I know it will never compare to a desktop, but I usually find myself having to work while travelling and it's become a bit of a struggle.

There is a similar question regarding screen size, but I was thinking perhaps in the line of (not only laptop requirements but) accessories that could make it easier to design on the go - since the screen is smaller, maybe for example a better mouse would be of help. Any suggestions?

  • Good question. I'm actually interested in building my own system and was wondering what pieces would be more important to a graphic designer. If the answers here skew more towards accessories, I might ask it as a separate question.
    – Brendan
    Apr 8, 2013 at 23:19
  • @Brendan Yes, I was thinking about graphic cards, processors and such, but to be honest my gaming laptop runs all my graphic software quite smoothly. Still, I hate working on it, and I'm sure there are some very interesting alternatives. I agree, though, maybe I should make this one about accessories and you could open another one about hardware.
    – Yisela
    Apr 8, 2013 at 23:23
  • The only work I can do on a laptop is either clerical or coding. Screen is just too small and limited for anything other than text for me. I tried a 15" laptop with a small WACOM tablet and couldn't even use that due to the screen size. (and no, my eyesight is excellent :) )
    – Scott
    Apr 8, 2013 at 23:32
  • 1
    What kind of work do you have to do while traveling? What is "work while traveling" to you? Do you have to work while traveling in the train, airplane or bus(god forbid the last one)? Or does it mean you have to work while on a trip, from the hotel, everchanging offices etc?
    – leugim
    Apr 9, 2013 at 0:44
  • @leugim Business trips, mostly holiday trips while freelancing (so it could be a hotel room or an airport). Might include some trains, I would definitely wait until I get whenever I need to go before using a computer on a bus! You accessories portion of the answer to Brendan's question would be a great one here.
    – Yisela
    Apr 9, 2013 at 0:47

1 Answer 1


A part of my answer is also included in:
What computer hardware matters to a graphic designer?

  • I look mostly at screen-resolution (the higher the better, although not for reading)
  • Decent amount of RAM
  • Consider batterylife vs performance (CPU and GPU) and weight.

I work freelance and typically a few days in a row with daily commutes. So I work at a lot of different locations throughout the year.

I pack a wireless mouse and sometimes also a keyboard.
Also Not strictly an accessory but nevertheless important on the go: batteries. Long trips with a lot of work, 2 fully charged batteries.
This is not relevant if you already have a energy efficient laptop with good battery life. (which mine is not) or if you need to merely transport the laptop to the location and not work on the move.

When I know I have to work at one location for a few days in a row I start requesting at once an additional monitor. That way I can get my eyes of the "small" 16,4inch laptop screen. Then I can use the external monitor as main and the laptop as secondary screen which is a lot more comfortable for any kind of work.

I have not been able to work with a tablet on the go or anywhere other than at home on my comfortable desktop PC with good monitor sizes. But that is mostly due to the kind of work. For illustrations and anything that requires the tablet, it's very important I'm 100% comfortable and in the "zone". So tablets on the go are out for me.

What I do a lot is keep a (mental)list of things I can't do while traveling and plan my time so I can do them later on. That also helps me to focus on the most important things.

On the go, as in the train or plane or ship I don't even get the mouse out. Exceptions are if I have to show or discuss something with another person. Then the wireless mouse is very handy. Mostly accompanied with verbal commands like "zoom in on that" and "let me move around a bit"

I have come to believe there is not a lot you can do while literally moving. I can only speak for myself, but my thoughts tend to wander A LOT when travelling so that more often than not, I end up snapping out of some very long train of thought (good luck remembering what those thoughts were) when the low battery warning pops up. Which is when I try to do everything in a couple of minutes just to avoid having to dig out that annoying charger and cords and go socket-hunting.


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