The best Wacom tablets are popular among artists, designers, photographers, artworkers and image editors. They're quite simply the best drawing tablets you can get. So whether you're using a stylus to digitally draw, paint, sketch or edit photos, the experience is super-close to putting a real pencil to real paper.
There's only one problem with Wacom tablets: there are so darned many of them, and it's very confusing for the first-time buyer to know which to pick. Especially as models you may have used in the past keep getting updated. For example, last October it launched a 2021 version of its Cintiq Pro 16 drawing tablet with some significant design changes.
So where do you start? Well, first off, there are two basic types of Wacom tablet. One doesn't have a screen of its own, but connects to a larger laptop screen or desktop monitor. This allows you to see your work in greater detail. Others feature their own screen, so the experience is even closer to using physical pen and paper. Most people prefer one or the other, but it's an entirely personal thing.
Beyond that, the best Wacom tablets come in all shapes and sizes, offer different features and funtionality, and come in at a range of price points. So in this article, we'll tell you what you need to know and help you decide which is the best Wacom tablet for your specific needs.
The best Wacom tablet in 2022
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.
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, it was replaced by the new version, Cintiq Pro 16 2021. That means that if you see a good deal online for a "Cintiq Pro 16" it's important to check first you're buying the latest, 2021 version.
So what does this revitalized tablet offer? Well, while the internals haven't really changed, the new design offers improved 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.
Wacom has also introduced a physical switch to turn multitouch on and off. It's placed eight new 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. And the USB and HDMI connectors are now 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). 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.
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.