The best Wacom tablets have an outstanding reputation within the artist community. They're basically considered the best drawing tablets you can get, bar none. No, not even iPads come close for sketching, drawing, illustration and design work. That's because using a stylus on a Wacom is as close as you can get to the feel of drawing on paper.
There's just one drawback: Wacom offers such a wide range of tablets, it can be tough to know which one to buy. For example, many don't have a screen of their own, so your art is displayed not on the Wacom itself but on a larger laptop screen or desktop monitor you've connected it to. That lets you see your drawing in far more detail, but which you prefer is entirely a matter of personal choice.
There are many other, more subtle differences between the best Wacom tablets, and it can all get quite complicated. So in this article, we go through each tablet in turn, and tell you what you need to know.
How to choose the best Wacom tablet
So when choosing the best Wacom tablet for your 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.
The best Wacom tablet in 2021
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're happy with a smaller tablet that’s easier to carry, the Wacom Intuos Small will be the best value for you. At 7 inches in diameter, it's is 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.
Note, however, that this cheaper version doesn't come with Bluetooth functionality. If you want that, there's a slightly pricier version, below.
Want to pair your tablet to a computer via Bluetooth? Then this variation of the Wacom Intuos Small (number 2 on our list) offers this added functionality, along with all the specs and features of the standard model
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 three devices 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’re interested in the greater creative control offered by the Wacom Intuos Pro series, but are happy with a smaller tablet, then this compact little beauty is your best bet. With a 7.4in screen and weighing less than a pound, it’s wonderfully portable. Be aware, though, that unlike the M and L versions of this model, you won’t get the four extra pen color rings and texture sheet sample card.
Want the fine control and picture detail of the Wacom Intuos Pro series plus the drawing area possible? Then the Wacom Intuos Pro L provides you with a generous 311 x 216mm (12.1 x 8.4in). Bear in mind the size and weight jumps up considerably to accommodate it, though. Like the M version, this model comes with four extra pen color rings and a texture sheet sample card.
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.
Want to draw on A4 rather than A5 paper? There’s a Wacom tablet for that, too. This larger version of the Wacom Intuos Pro Paper tablet (number 7 on our list) comes with the exact same tech and accessories, 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 struggling 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, 7in screen? Then you can save even more cash on this diminutive version of the Wacom One, 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 to number 11 on our list. It has a still-generous screen diagonal of 23.6in, plus the same 4K resolution and 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity.
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). In short, this is the Rolls Royce of Wacom tablets for demanding creatives.
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. Basically, you can't get better than this.