The best Wacom tablets are designed for digital sketching, drawing and painting, but they're also brilliant for editing photos with precision. So whether you're an artist or photographer, or do a bit of both, these devices have a lot to offer.
Navigating the Wacom tablet lineup, unfortunately, can be a tad bewildering due to their confusing naming conventions and frequent updates. For instance, in 2021 they revamped the Cintiq Pro 16 but it still has the exact same name!
Fear not, though, because we're here to simplify things. In our guide, we'll walk you through the current Wacom tablet landscape, highlighting the key differences between models. To start, it's important to know that there are two fundamental types of Wacom tablets.
First, there are non-screen tablets. These devices don't have screens of their own but connect to a larger laptop or desktop monitor. This setup allows you to work with intricate detail, just like having a digital canvas at your fingertips
Second, there are screen tablets. As the name suggests, these come with built-in displays, resembling something closer to an iPad. The experience is also akin to using a physical pen and paper, but with the advantage of being able to edit your work.
Below we've curated a list that includes both types, ensuring you find the best Wacom tablet to bring your creative visions to life. So, let's embark on this journey and help you discover your ideal Wacom companion.
The best Wacom tablets in 2023
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When shopping for a Wacom, you need to strike a balance between functionality and affordability. Most people don't need the highest specs possible, and are best off with a mid-range model at an affordable price.
If that's you, we'd recommend the Wacom Intuos Medium, which offers an 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. That means the picture you create using its cordless, battery free pen will closely match the movements of your hand. Overall, it's a great all-rounder.
If you don't need something quite so big, the Wacom Intuos Small will be the best value for you. At seven inches in diameter, it's a great size for notes, sketches and smaller drawings, and otherwise you get all the great features of the Wacom Intuos Medium, for a bit less money. Another great value buy.
Tilt sensitivity is a feature that makes your tablet sensitive to the angle of the pen over the surface. It’s not offered by the first device on our list, the Wacom Intuos family, but it is included in the Wacom Intuos Pro series of tablets.
These more advanced Wacom tablets also offer higher resolutions, greater levels of pressure sensitivity and Bluetooth as standard. In other words, they’re a better bet for more detailed and refined drawings, and thus a better fit for semi-pro artists and designers. Be aware, though, that they are more expensive, as well as being quite a bit heavier. This model also comes with four extra pen color rings and a texture sheet sample card.
If you want the added features but not the size, a smaller option is available. With a 7.4in screen and weighing less than a pound, the Wacom Intuos Pro Small is wonderfully portable. Be aware, though, that unlike the medium and large versions of this model, you won’t get the extra pen color rings and texture sheet sample card.
See our full Wacom Intuos Pro Medium review
The Wacom Intuos Pro Paper tablets don’t just allow you to draw digitally. You can also place a piece of paper directly on the screen, draw on this with a real ink pen, and the device will translate your drawing into a digital one. Smart, huh? You get all the tools you need for this in the pack, including a finetip pen, paper clip, accessory case, 10 A5 paper sheets, and three finetip ink refills.
The above specs detail the medium-sized device, but this is also available to purchase in a large size. This Wacom Intuos Pro Paper large tablet comes with the exact same tech and accessories as its smaller sibling, except the 10 paper sheets are A4 size rather than A5.
Looking to buy a Wacom tablet at a knockdown price? The Wacom One range is designed for artists who are watching the pennies. And while it’s not the most advanced or powerful Wacom tablet on this list, it still offers a quality drawing experience, with easy setup, a nice sized screen and decent resolution. Plus, as well as Windows PCs and Macs, it works with Chromebooks too.
Happy with a smaller, seven-inch screen? Then you can save even more cash on the aptly named Wacom One Small, and get a tablet that’s very portable, lightweight and handy for travel.
If you’re a professional artist, designer or architect, it’s worth investing in the best equipment, as it’s going to enable you to create better work, more quickly, and earn more money in the long run. And the best Wacom tablet for pro creatives is the Cintiq Pro 32 Touch. With a huge screen diagonal of 31.5in, you’re getting a lot of tablet for your money, including 4K resolution and a massive 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. Be aware, though, that at 13kg, this is strictly a tablet for studio use, rather than using on the go.
If you’re a pro but lack desk space, or travel at lot, you might prefer the more manageable size of the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24 Touch.
It has a still-generous screen diagonal of 23.6in, plus the same 4K resolution and 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity of its 32-inch counterpart.
Released in late 2022, this Wacom tablet will hit the sweet spot in terms of screen size for many, with its 27-inch screen splitting the difference between the 32- and 24-inchers featured above. It's quite heavy, and the price doesn't include a stand, which you have to buy separately. But it does offer up to 400 nits of brightness, 4K resolution, 120Hz refresh rate and very slim bezels; which means it's actually more compact than its 24-inch sibling. It comes with the latest Pro Pen 3, which offers greater customisation and accuracy than its predecessor. In short, while this isn't cheap, you are very much getting what you pay for.
The Cintiq Pro 16 has long been a popular Wacom tablet, as it offers a premium feel, a 4K display, a nicely compact size and weight, and support for the Pro Pen 2. In October 2021, it was replaced by a new version but they kept the same name. That means that if you see a good deal online for a "Cintiq Pro 16", particularly on a second-hand site, it's important to check first you're buying the latest, 2021 version.
The best thing about this tablet is the excellent ergonomics. Most notably, there's a new VESA mount that can be combined with its adjustable stand (or indeed any VESA-compatible arm or stand) to give you extra flexibility in positioning.
It also features a physical switch to turn multitouch on and off and there are eight ExpressKeys – for integrating and customizing keyboard shortcuts and modifiers into your workflow – on the rear edge sides of the display, with four on each side. Finally, the USB and HDMI connectors are at the top, keeping them nicely out of the way.
Not all professional creatives are made of money, and if you’re on a tight budget, we’d recommend the Wacom Cintiq 16. With HD resolution and a top-end 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, this offers fantastic value for the price, although note that it’s not a touchscreen.
Offering the same great specs as the Wacom Cintiq 16 (above), but with a larger screen boasting a 21.5in diameter, the Wacom Cintiq 22 also offers excellent value for cash-strapped pro artists and designers.
Money no object, and want the absolute best? Then consider the Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13, which is not just a drawing tablet but offers a full-blown computing experience. Yes, it’s expensive, but you can run full versions of software such as Photoshop, Illustrator and 3ds Max, thanks to its powerful specs (up to 16GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7 processor, Intel Iris 550 graphics and up to 512GB of fast storage). Essentially, you're getting something not dissimilar to a full desktop computer, but in the compact form of a drawing tablet.
Want the most powerful Wacom tablet with the biggest screen going? Then the Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 offers the same high-end specs as the 13, but with a bigger (15.6in) screen and 4K resolution. From the forward-facing 5MP camera to the multi-touch ExpressKeys (which are fully customizable and application-specific), you can't get better than this. The only downside is the price, and the fact that all that power does drain the battery quite quickly. For more details, see our full Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 review.
How do I choose the best Wacom tablet for my needs?
When choosing the best Wacom tablet for your specific needs, what should you looking for? Start with the number of levels of pressure sensitivity, which suggests how closely the drawing on screen will resemble your actual pen marks. The more, the better. If you're a beginner or casual drawer, you'll probably find the lower end of 2,048 perfectly fine, but if you're a pro or semi-pro you may prefer more more.
Also consider the size and weight of the tablet, especially if you expect to travel with it. And note the resolution, which Wacom generally measures in lines per inch (lpi). In practical terms, you need about 1,000lpi to see your drawing in high definition.
Finally, think about how big a drawing area you need. If you've never used a graphics tablet before, it may be worth trying one in a shop, or just practising on a piece of paper to get a sense of what works best.