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Which drawing tablet is best?

Whether you’re a visual artist moving into graphic design or you just want to bring your illustrations to life in the digital realm, a drawing tablet is a great purchase. These devices let you draw directly on a screen or drawing pad with a stylus, allowing you to convert your drawings into image files, apply digital effects or experiment with new styles.  

When shopping for a drawing tablet, the most important details to look for are responsive surfaces and high resolution. The Wacom Cintiq 16 is an excellent choice for its screen sensitivity and ergonomic design. 

What to know before you buy a drawing tablet

Screen vs. screenless

A common debate among digital artists is whether a drawing tablet with a display screen is inherently better than a screenless one. A tablet with a built-in display is considerably more expensive but gives you better control and visibility. A screenless tablet is more durable and affordable but is typically smaller. It requires the artist to look at the computer screen constantly instead of their drawing hand. While it’s ultimately a matter of personal taste, it’s worth considering both options before making your purchase. 

Pressure sensitivity

Perhaps the most crucial detail to consider when choosing a drawing tablet, pressure sensitivity determines how accurately and quickly the tablet will follow the progress of your drawing. Most tablets can distinguish between 1,024 and 2,048 degrees of pressure applied by the stylus, while some high-end models can recognize nearly 10,000 levels of pressure. If you prefer to forgo the stylus and illustrate with your fingertip, look for a tablet that features touch capability. 

Active area

As opposed to the overall size of the tablet, the active area is the part of the surface or screen where you can draw. When checking for product dimensions, confirm the size of the active area first. The active area size should correspond with the tablet size in a practical way. For example, a large tablet isn’t particularly useful unless it also has a large active area. 

What to look for in a quality drawing tablet


A tablet’s stylus should be comfortable and light so it feels like a natural extension of your hand. Some styluses are connected to the tablet via a wire, making them harder to misplace, while wireless styluses are usually battery-powered and allow for increased freedom of movement. Some models use EMR technology to wirelessly send electromagnetic waves from the stylus to the tablet. This means that the EMR stylus requires no batteries and sends information quickly and accurately.

Resolution and tablet size

For display tablets, the resolution is measured in LPI, or lines per inch. A higher line per inch means better resolution and usually corresponds with the overall size of the tablet’s screen. The bigger the screen, the higher the resolution. Even if you don’t opt for a tablet with a display screen, a larger tablet is typically going to indicate a larger active area for your illustrations. If you’re looking for portability, however, smaller tablets are often optimized for this purpose and can be taken almost anywhere. 


Most simple drawing tablets connect via USB, but many models with a display screen connect with an HDMI cord. Depending on the size of your desk or work area, a long cord might be required. Alternatively, some high-end drawing tablets have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities. 

How much you can expect to spend on a drawing tablet

The price of a drawing tablet can vary dramatically from around $50 for a simple screenless tablet to over $400 for a professional model. Professional-level tablets measure at least 2,000 degrees of sensitivity and can offer a screen resolution of 5,000 LPI or higher. 

Drawing tablet FAQ

Do drawing tablets come with software?

A. You’ll usually need to install a driver onto your computer before the tablet can be used. A download link or installation disc is typically packaged with the tablet. Once that’s installed, you’re free to start using your tablet on the image editing software of your choice. 

Can I buy a replacement stylus for my drawing tablet?

A. Most brands sell stylus pens that can be purchased separately if yours ever wears down or breaks. If the nib (the rubber tip of the stylus) is broken, you can also save money by buying replacement nibs. 

Can you use a drawing tablet without a computer?

A. It depends on the tablet. Some drawing tablets are stand-alone tablets, which means they are built to work without a computer. However, other tablets — especially those that don’t include screens — need a computer to work. If this is something that’s important to you, be sure to check if the tablet you want has this capability before you buy it. 

Are drawing tablets worth it?

A. If you’re a graphic designer or artist who is planning on using one frequently, then yes! While drawing on a tablet is significantly different from drawing with a pencil and paper, it’s worth learning how to use it. Once you get the hang of it, it’s much easier to use than trying to draw with your mouse. If, however, you are just learning how to draw or paint, it might be best to start with more traditional media like pencils and paints. Also, they can be a bit expensive, so if you’re not planning on using your tablet a lot, it might not be a great investment. If art is your profession, though, it’s definitely worth getting a drawing tablet. 

Best drawing tablets with screens

Top drawing tablet with a screen

Best Wacom Cintiq 16 Drawing Tablet

Wacom Cintiq 16 Drawing Tablet

What you need to know: This professional-level display tablet recognizes 8,192 degrees of pressure on a vibrant HD screen. 

What you’ll love: This tablet is available in two sizes and is loaded with features. The large active area, tilt recognition and anti-glare screen mean you’ll capture accurate illustrations every time. You can buy it on its own or in a package with a remote, a pen or an adjustable stand. It’s available in both a medium and a small size.

What you should consider: At nearly $650, it may be too pricey for many aspiring artists and hobbyists. It’s best suited for professional artists and graphic designers who want to make an investment in their career.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top drawing tablet with a screen for the money

Best XP-Pen Artist13.3 Pro

XP-Pen Artist13.3 Pro

What you need to know: This budget pick from XP-Pen performs with just as high of a quality as any other drawing tablet with a screen at a fraction of the price. 

What you’ll love: It has a gorgeous, high-definition laminated display and programmable buttons. It also has tilt support. You can get it in five different sizes, including 11.6 inches, 13.3 inches, 15.6 inches, 21.5 inches and 23.8 inches. It comes in a few different editions, including some that have up to eight programmable shortcut keys.

What you should consider: You can’t use this tablet as a stand-alone product. It needs to be connected to a computer for it to work. Some people also found the pen tip to be too squeaky.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best screenless drawing tablets

Top screenless drawing tablet

Best Wacom Intuos Pro

Wacom Intuos Pro

What you need to know: Versatile and boasting a sleek, ergonomic design, this high-end screenless tablet has a multi-touch surface and Bluetooth compatibility. 

What you’ll love: The tablet has three size options, an EMR stylus and up to 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. It also comes with a free download of premium image editing software Corel Painter 2022. if you register the tablet online. You can also buy it in a bundle with a drawing glove or a Pro Pen 3D (rather than the included Pro Pen 2). 

What you should consider: Some users say that the nibs on the EMR stylus wear out too quickly. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top screenless drawing tablet for the money

Best One by Wacom Student Drawing Tablet

One by Wacom Student Drawing Tablet

What you need to know: Durable, portable and precise, this screenless tablet is a solid choice for beginners. 

What you’ll love: This tablet is available in two affordable sizes and can connect to any computer with a USB port. It also uses an EMR stylus. Students and professionals alike will appreciate its compatibility with Mac, Chromebook and Windows computers. It includes a pressure-sensitive pen and measures 8.3 inches by 5.7 inches — just small enough to fit in your bag easily. It’s also very easy to use for beginners.

What you should consider: The tablet has a small active area and lacks buttons for additional control. It also doesn’t have a screen on it.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best portable drawing tablets

Top portable drawing tablet

Best Wacom Intuos Wireless Graphics Drawing Tablet

Wacom Intuos Wireless Graphics Drawing Tablet

What you need to know: This incredibly versatile tablet is perfect for students and professionals drawing on the go.

What you’ll love: Not only is it a great value for the price, but it is also portable and easy to use. It includes a built-in pen tray and has a slim design. The pen is light, battery-free and easy to control. It’s compatible with Windows, Mac, Android and Chromebook devices.

What you should consider: This tablet does not include a screen, so you’ll need to get a separate screen to see what you are drawing. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top portable drawing tablet for the money

Best XP-Pen Deco Mini7

XP-Pen Deco Mini7

What to know: This slim, lightweight tablet has proved to be a reliable one.

What you’ll love: Not only does it have 8,192 pressure levels, but it’s also easy to use. It’s got an intuitive plug-and-play design that anyone can learn to use. It works with several different software programs and has eight buttons that you can customize however you’d like. It comes in both wired and wireless options and three sizes.

What you should consider: You must connect it to a computer or a laptop for it to work because it doesn’t have a screen. Some people also had issues trying to get in contact with tech support when they had problems with it. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best drawing tablets for beginners

Top drawing tablet for beginners

Best XP-Pen Deco Pro Medium

XP-Pen Deco Pro Medium

What you should know: Not only is this tablet affordable — it’s also very touch responsive.

What you’ll love: It has two wheels and touchpad functionality, which you can use to adjust the brightness and other settings. It has 8,192 pressure levels and eight shortcut keys. The large 11-inch by 6-inch display allows you to have plenty of room to create your designs. While the display is large, though, it only weighs 4.09 pounds.

What you should consider: Some users had difficulty with the tablet’s drivers working properly when using the tablet with a Windows computer. There’s also no wireless option for this tablet, so you’ll need to plug it in with a cable. Additionally, you can’t use the scroll wheel or touch pad if you press down a shortcut button or apply pen pressure at the same time.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top drawing tablet for beginners for the money

Best Huion Inspiroy H430P

Huion Inspiroy H430P

What you should know: This low-priced tablet is the ideal option for any drawing tablet novice who wants to explore digital design.

What you’ll love: Its compact design means that you can take it anywhere. It has four programmable keys for shortcuts and the included stylus doesn’t need a battery. It’s also compatible with popular art programs like Corel Painter, CorelDraw and Adobe software.

What you should consider: It doesn’t have a wireless option, so you’ll need to connect it to a computer via a USB cable. The stylus only has 4,096 sensitivity levels (about half of a standard tablet stylus).

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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