Best cheap drawing tablets: our favorites for 2017-2018
Starving artist seeking the best cheap drawing tablets? Look no farther. Going digital without breaking the bank is a question on the minds of many. I’ve been lucky to be able to test quite a few cheap tablets and I’m a believer. I do not agree with reviewers who say you have to buy a Cintiq.
Here are top picks and links to our reviews.
|CHEAP GRAPHICS PADS FOR PC OR MAC|
|Huion 610 Pro ||Read Huion 610 Pro review||International customers|
|Wacom Intuos Draw||Read Intuos Draw review||International customers|
|Wacom Intuos Art Pen & Touch||Read Intuos Pen & Touch review||International customers|
|BUDGET PEN DISPLAYS|
|XP-Pen Artist 22E||Read XP-Pen Artist 22E review||International customers|
|PNBOO PN2150||Read PNBOO PN2150 review||UK customers|
(only in US and UK right now)
|Ugee 1910B||Read Ugee 1910B review||International customers|
|Artisul D13||Artisul D13 review||International customers|
|STANDALONE MOBILE AND 2-in-1s|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen||Read Galaxy Tab A with S Pen review||International customers|
|Lenovo Yoga Book||Read Yoga Book review||International customers|
|Lenovo Miix 320||Read about Miix 320||International customers|
I’ve made a list that includes the 3 different types: cheap graphics tablets without screens, budget tablet monitors, and cheap drawing tablets with screen–Android tablets or cheap 2-in-1 tablet PCs. All come with an active pen.
If we were talking about traditional art supplies, I would say to spend more, because of factors such as pigment, fillers, and lightfastness. But pixels are pixels. It’s the experience of using the tablet, and its reliability, that matter the most.
A good cheap drawing tablet does most of the same thing as an expensive drawing tablet. Some might say you shouldn’t penny pinch, but the price difference can be huge.
Below I go over the differences and want to look for.
Ultra cheap pen display
I’ve tested and reviewed this PNBoo PN10 as a small ultra-cheap tablet monitor. It has Express Keys. I think this is a good choice for a small cheap drawing tablet with screen.
A cheaper graphics tablet is the Turcom TS 6610, which is similar (with small hardware and driver differences) to the Huion 610Pro. If you use the Huion driver, you’re better off.
Cheap tablets vs. Wacom
Cheap drawing tablets, and their pens, are made mostly of plastic and thus are lighter. Parts are metal, including the stand. Expensive drawing tablets have more metal alloy and tend to weigh more.
Features and hardware
These budget brands, and most others, use EMR, which is the same type of technology that Wacom uses in their digitizers. EMR is highly sensitive, so you will not be missing out in terms of pen responsiveness.
Lower-cost tablets usually have no tilt sensitivity, no multitouch (ability to finger paint). A cheap drawing tablet won’t get pressure sensitivity in vector programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape.
For vector art, the best option is to use Clip Studio Paint, where you can get pressure sensitivity with a budget tablet. Though those files stay in their native file type and can’t be exported to .eps or .ai files.
Cheap graphics tablets don’t have a wireless kit the way the Intuos non-Pro models do (note, that costs extra).
Most budget tablet monitors lack external, customizable Express Keys. Some do, though.
Cheap tablet monitors come with a stand, but the stand doesn’t swivel the way Wacoms do.
Budget tablets usually have 2048 levels of pressure and Wacoms have up to 8192, though some still have 1024. All are fine.
Generally, a cheap drawing tablet won’t come with bundled art software. Wacom Intuoses do, though.
Wacom Intuos as a cheap drawing tablet
As you can see, two Wacom Intuoses are named as a best cheap graphics tablet. That may seem strange, but the small non-Pro Intuoses really aren’t that expensive. They don’t have all the features of the Pro line, but that’s OK for most people. I think Medium is the best size for drawing, but it depends. With the Intuos you get bundled art software.
(See best Wacom tablets.)
Drivers for budget tablet brands do not offer as much customization as more expensive ones. They can also be harder to install or have occasional hiccups.
Wacom drivers are not immune from hiccups, but the installation process takes you by the hand more. Usually I find the budget ones to install quickly, but now and then there’s a hitch.
Low-cost tablets usually do not come with bundled art software. Wacom’s do, so that adds value.
Other differences are simply in the packaging. Some budget pen displays come in plain boxes without printing on them. The manuals may not be written in perfect English or may say “works with Windows 8” when the world is on Windows 10.
Don’t worry about that. Companies keep the drivers updated even if they don’t always keep the printed matter up to date. Download the drivers from their sites.
The screen tends to be smooth; there’s no texture as there is on some Cintiqs.
Many of the budget graphics pads and pen displays come with a generous assortment of accessories such as a drawing glove, bag, screen protector, and extra pen.
A lot of the low-cost tablet brands have interchangeable drivers, meaning those from one company can work on another’s. That’s a positive. If you have trouble with a driver, you can sometimes download a driver from a different site. In some of my reviews, I’ve noted where I had difficulties with drivers and tried alternative ones that worked better.
As far as support, most of the companies have ways of reaching them online, including forums, phone, and Skype chats. Some have offices in the U.S. and other countries and some don’t. Not all have Facebook pages and Twitter, as some are in countries where those are blocked. So you may need to use email or Skype.
Buying on Amazon is probably your best bet since you will have their return policy and guarantees.
Most of these are for sale only online, except the Wacoms. You won’t find cheap drawing tablets at Best Buy or other big box stores.
What to look for (and look out for) in an affordable art tablet:
Drivers should install without a struggle. Be sure you have deleted all previously installed tablet drivers first. (If you’re on a tablet PC, you can leave the tablet PC software. Only delete drivers that you or someone else installed onto the computer.)
If you do have a struggle, contact support of that particular company. You can also try deleting and reinstalling. It seems to me that installation is getting easier.
Drivers should work well across programs and for Windows and Mac.
Ports should not be loose. Loose ports are even a problem in some Wacom tablets. Cables should fit snugly into ports.
Don’t be alarmed if the screen squeaks at first when you use the pen; rub the screen with your hands a few times to quiet it down.
Cheap Android and 2-in-1s
I’ve included standalone, direct drawing tablets on my list too, including the Lenovo Yoga Book and Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen, an excellent choice for a relatively cheap 10″ tablet.. There are some relatively inexpensive tablet PCs and Android tablets.
A lot of people want a 2-in-1. None are super powerful, though. If you want a lot of processing power at the lowest price, you may be better off using a PC with an attached graphics pad.
Students, beginners, hobbyists, and artists on a budget–including professional ones–all can benefit by saving money. Many people have been using these best cheap drawing tablets and are happy with them. I’ve been glad to have had the opportunity to try some.
You can always start out with an affordable option then move up. Or you may just decide to keep it.
You will find you can get good results without spending so much.
Read more drawing tablet reviews.
end of Best Cheap Drawing Tablets