Guide to Finding the Best Cheap Drawing Tablet on a Affordable Budget

As designers, artists and creative’s, we don’t always require the best, highest spec’d, and most expensive tools to carry out our work on a day to day basis, and when choosing a new drawing and graphics tablet, there are many very good cheaper alternatives to the more expensive models we review here in our; Guide To Finding The Best Drawing Tablet

That said, there is trade off for a reduced price, and many of the best cheaper tablets do not come with a built in screen, which some users may find difficult. However for the most part many are willing to make this trade off.

We have a separate page for the best drawing tablets with screens here: How To Find The Best Drawing Tablet With A Screen

This guide begins with a list and review of our recommended top 8 best cheap drawing tablets, and is followed by an in depth guide to identifying the most important aspects and elements that need to be considered before buying.

The Best Cheap Drawing Tablets Are…

Firstly for speed and efficiency we only review and shortlist our top results (there’s no need for 10 best of this and the 10 best of that!), and the below tablets form an updated list of what we consider to be some of the best cheap drawing tablets currently available:

Best Overall Budget Tablet Winner: Huion H610 Pro Graphic Drawing Tablet

Best Runner Up: XP-PEN Deco

Best Upgrade: Wacom Intuos Medium Graphics Drawing Tablet

Best Drawing Performance: Wacom Intuos Small Graphics Drawing Tablet

Best For Developing Artists: HUION Inspiroy H640P

Best For Large Working Areas: GAOMON M10K PRO

Best For Novices and First Timers: GAOMON M1230

Best Cheap digital screen display: HUION Kamvas 13

Our pick

HUION HS610 Graphics Drawing Tablet
Pros:
  • Large drawing area
  • Lots of express keys
  • Compatible with Mac OS, PC, and Android
  • Great value for money, considering the price
Cons:
  • Touch ring and express keys don’t work with Android
  • No iOS compatibility
  • Android devices restricted to smaller working area
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The Huion HS610 is an excellent budget option for anyone looking for a powerful and full-featured graphics tablet. Not only does it have lots of functionality, but it is also compatible with Windows, MacOS, and Android devices.

Runner up

XP-PEN Deco Graphics Tablet
Pros:
  • Batter-free pen
  • High pressure sensitivity
  • Android compatibility
Cons:
  • No rubber cover on the stylus
  • Some users have experienced lag
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This second iteration of the famous XP Pen Deco 01 does not disappoint. This model includes a battery-free pen and Android compatibility on top of Windows and MacOS compatibility. The battery-free pen also supports tilt functionality.

Looking for an upgrade?

Wacom Intuos Medium Graphics Drawing Tablet
Pros:
  • Bluetooth compatibility
  • Great build quality
  • 15-hour battery life
Cons:
  • Drawing surface scratches easily with standard nibs
  • Multi-touch functionality missing
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The Wacom Intuos Medium does its job very well. So well, in fact, that they had to remove multi-touch functionality to differentiate it from more expensive models. While this model is pricier than the other ones on this list, it is well worth a purchase if you’re looking to upgrade.

Tablet reviews…

Huion HS610 Pro Graphic Drawing Tablet – Best Overall Winner

HUION HS610 Graphics Drawing Tablet
Pros:
  • Large drawing area
  • Lots of express keys
  • Compatible with Mac OS, PC, and Android
  • Great value for money, considering the price
Cons:
  • Touch ring and express keys don’t work with Android
  • No iOS compatibility
  • Android devices restricted to smaller working area
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Dimensions: 13.78 by 8.3 inches | Display Area: 10 by 5 inches | Display Resolution: 5080 LPI | Item Weight: 600 grams | Camera: No | Connection Type: Micro USB | Compatible with Keyboard: No

Who is this for?

Considering its price tag (under $100), the Huion HS610 offers many cool features for anyone looking for a powerful budget graphics tablet. It’s easy to use, with a simple and intuitive interface and quick setup procedures.

It is also compatible with Mac, PC, and even Android devices. If you’re looking for something simple that allows you to get started drawing immediately, it’s hard to do much better than this affordable tablet. It also has many capable features, as we will mention below.

Why we like it

The Huion HS610 comes in at 13.75 by 8.25 inches, making it a sizeable tablet for drawing in any size. The drawing surface is also textured to emulate the feel of paper and make the drawing process more fun and familiar.

On the left is a touch ring for easy control. Note that the dial doesn’t actually rotate, but rather is touch-sensitive. You can use it to scroll pages, adjust brush sizes, zoom in and out of canvasses, and much more.

Above and below the touch ring is a set of 12 hard express keys, and a further 16 soft express keys along the top edge. All of these are programmable, so you should be able to set up a shortcut for pretty much any function you’d like.

There is also a micro USB port on the side, which plays many roles. Apart from using it to charge the tablet, you can also use it to connect the tablet to an Android device or a computer.

The stylus is also quite capable, with 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity and 60 degrees of tilt detection. It’s battery-free, so you don’t have to worry about charging it or replacing the batteries.

It also has replaceable nibs and comes with extras in the box, so you can replace them as they get worn off. The tip functions as both a brush and eraser and you can switch between the two using a button on the side of the pen.

An ink well holds the pen when not in use, as well as the extra nibs.

Setting up the HS610 is quite easy. You’ll first need to charge it using the provided micro USB port and cable. An LED light will tell you the charging status, turning green when the tablet is fully charged.

Once charged, you will need to install the tablet’s drivers on Mac OS and PC devices. You won’t need to install drivers on Android devices, but the device should run on Android OS 6.0 or higher. There is also an included OTG adapter for Micro USB and USB-C devices.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Unfortunately, the touch ring and express keys do not work with Android devices, which is unfortunate, considering how much power and control they offer over the drawing process.

We also noted that the tiny status LED was rather too tiny. It can be hard sometimes to figure out whether it is alight at all, at least until it turns green and you know for sure your device is charged. This can be an issue for people with sight issues.

We also didn’t like the fact that we were restricted to using the left third of the tablet’s drawing surface when working with Android devices. We understand this is because of the aspect ratio of Android screens, but it can still feel limiting sometimes.

XP-Pen Deco Drawing Tablet – Best Runner Up

XP-PEN Deco Graphics Tablet
Pros:
  • Batter-free pen
  • High pressure sensitivity
  • Android compatibility
Cons:
  • No rubber cover on the stylus
  • Some users have experienced lag
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Dimensions: 13.82 by 8.54 inches | Display Area: 10 by 6.25 inches | Display Resolution: 5080 LPI | Item Weight: 2.2 pounds | Camera: No | Connection Type: USB-C | Compatible with Keyboard: No

Who is this for?

If you’re looking for a high-quality graphics tablet with an easy price tag, the XP-Pen Deco 01 V2 is the perfect candidate. It is not only compatible with PC and macOS devices but with Android 6.0 and above as well, a new feature in the second version of this iconic model.

Why we like it

One of the greatest realizations we came to when reviewing the Deco 01 V2 was how affordable high-quality graphics tablets are getting these days. For the amounts we’re paying these days, we would have got low-quality, probably counterfeit devices, just a few years back.

And even with that in mind, the Deco 01 tablet has a build quality and array of features that surpass its peers in this price category. It represents an excellent bargain.

To be sure, the XP-Pen Deco 01 V2 is the second iteration of the popular XP-Pen Deco 01, which we reviewed before, and which had great features. This version comes with Android support, as well as a wider and more robust list of capabilities.

The design is modern and minimalistic, which we have come to associate with the Deco line. The tablet has an incredibly slim form factor, with the functional drawing area taking up most of the space on the front, its bounds marked by four arrows that glow green when active.

8 shortcut buttons sit on the left of the drawing. Left-handed artists can rotate the tablets so that the shortcut buttons are on the right and press the right hand-mode button to get the new orientation to work. The 8 express keys are also all programmable, giving you lots of options for setting your most useful shortcuts.

The base of the tablet has 4 rubber pads to prevent slippage on a flat surface. Construction consists of high-quality plastic, and the buttons give a satisfying click when you press them. The drawing surface is scratch-resistant, yet with a textured tip for a pleasant drawing experience.

The stylus is wider near the tip, tapering toward the back. It has a balanced feel for good ergonomics and is made of high-quality plastic with a matte finish. It has 2 handy shortcut buttons located on the side.

It has 8192 shades of pressure sensitivity, as well as up to 60 degrees of title sensitivity either way (forwards or backward). We love that the stylus is battery-free, so no need to worry about batteries or charging, thanks to EMR technology.

The accessories are also great on this model. A functional pen holder keeps your pen secure when you’re not using it, while also holding the 8 replacement nibs that come free with your Deco 01. Other accessories include drawing gloves, a cleaning cloth, a stylus, and a USB cable.

Connectivity is via USB-C, and a driver exists for Mac and Windows compatibility. Android compatibility is native, and all you have to do is connect the tablet to an Android device using the USB adapter.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

There isn’t much to criticize in this pen, but there are a couple of things of note to consider. First, we think the pen would have been even better ergonomically if it had a rubber cover or something for better grip.

Depending on your device, there might also be some lag between drawing lines and seeing them appear on the screen. We also wish it were compatible with iOS devices.

Wacom Intuos Medium Drawing Tablet – Best Upgrade

Wacom Intuos Medium Graphics Drawing Tablet
Pros:
  • Bluetooth compatibility
  • Great build quality
  • 15-hour battery life
Cons:
  • Drawing surface scratches easily with standard nibs
  • Multi-touch functionality missing
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Dimensions: 10.4 by 7.8 inches | Display Area: 8.5 by 5.3 inches | Display Resolution: 2540 LPI | Item Weight: 410 grams | Camera: No | Connection Type: USB-C/Bluetooth | Compatible with Keyboard: No

Who is this for?

The Wacom Intuos M is a Wacom’s base tablet, with a budget price tag and surprisingly good features. This model is very popular among beginners and even experienced artists who want to have a Wacom in their tools set.

In fact, it’s so good that Wacom had to remove multi-touch functionality to distinguish it from more expensive models.

Why we like it

Perhaps the more appropriate question here is “why shouldn’t we like it?”

There’s a lot going for this tablet, from the 15-hour battery life to the incredibly smooth Bluetooth connectivity, to the large active drawing area that covers most of the surface. Build quality is very high, as would be expected of any Wacom device, and the stylus is battery-free – another plus.

The Wacom Intuos M is compatible with both Windows and macOS devices and is very easy to set up. To do so, you need to connect the device to the computer using a USB cable or Bluetooth.

You should then download the free driver and install it, and register your product for warranty tracking purposes. Another good reason to register your tablet is so that you can get Clip Studio Paint Pro, Corel Aftershot 3, and Corel Painter Essentials 6, all for free.

Once you’re done with the initial setup, you can easily customize the settings as you wish. If it’s your first time using a graphics tablet, this might involve a bit of a learning curve.

It’s normal for all beginners, however, and you’ll get the hang of it very quickly. When customizing the 4 shortcut buttons, be sure to have custom settings for the different art programs you might use. For example, one button can have multiple functions, depending on whether you’re in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom.

The tablet itself has a simple, yet elegant appearance, with a ridge along the top of the otherwise flat front surface. The four shortcut buttons, along with a power button, are built into that ridge, emulating its shape perfectly.

The drawing area covers most of the rest of the surface, extending 8.5 inches by 5.3 inches. The stylus has 4096 levels of pressure and is battery-free. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t have tilt sensitivity.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

There are lots of things going well for this tablet, but there is also some stuff that could be improved without taking away from the base design.

For starters, we think the multi-touch functionality should be present, as it allows you to use the tablet as a trackpad when not using the pen. The smooth plastic of the tablet also scratches too easily when using standard nibs.

If you’re the kind of digital artist who presses hard down on a surface with your pen, you might want to buy soft nibs.

Best Drawing Performance: Wacom Intuos Small Graphics Drawing Tablet

Wacom Intuos Drawing Tablet

Dimensions: 7.87 by 6.3 inches | Display Area: 6.0 by 3.7 inches | Display Resolution: 2540 LPI | Item Weight: 240 grams | Camera: No | Connection Type: USB-C/Bluetooth | Compatible with Keyboard: No

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Wacom’s introductory graphics tablet is a great choice for many beginners, and it comes with a humble price tag too. It’s pretty small at 7.87 inches by 6.3 inches, but it is also very reliable and is compatible with Windows and macOS devices.

Along the top are four programmable shortcut buttons. The pen is battery-free and offers 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, but no tilt detection. On the back are four rubber pads to prevent the drawing pad from sliding on a smooth surface.

The Intuos is also very light, at just 240 grams. If it weren’t for its size, you would be able to throw this tablet in your pocket and go about your day like normal!

As is expected of any Wacom device, drawing with this one is a joy. The pen is highly responsive and the matte finish on the drawing surface makes drawing feel natural and satisfying.

The light stylus has two extra buttons on the side which you can set to perform whatever function you want. The greatest plus for this tablet is also its greatest minus, as some artists might prefer a much larger drawing surface for their needs.

Best For Developing Artists: HUION Inspiroy H640P

HUION Inspiroy H640P Graphics Drawing Tablet

Dimensions: 260 by 147.7 mm | Display Area: 160 by 100 mm | Display Resolution: 5080 LPI | Item Weight: 277 grams | Camera: No | Connection Type: USB-C | Compatible with Keyboard: No

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The Huion Inspiroy 640p was the first graphics tablet by this manufacturer to offer a battery-free stylus, making it a great bargain compared to its price tag.

The design is quite simple, yet still elegant. It’s nothing more than a rectangle with rounded corners. It has decorative frames along the edges, making it look rather like a smartphone.

Whether that is a good design call or not is up to you. We love it a lot! At 2 inches thick, it’s a fairly thin tablet, though not the thinnest in the market. However, it is remarkably light at 1.35 pounds. The build is high-quality plastic with a matte case.

On the tablet, there are 6 shortcut keys, with the rest of the surface being taken up by the 6.3 by 3.9-inch drawing area. It has a micro-USB port for connecting to the computer on the left side, and that’s about it.

The surface is smooth and pleasant to touch, and the buttons are well-designed, with a satisfying click whenever they are pressed.

The stylus comes with 8192 pressure sensitivity levels, but no tilt detection Screen resolution stands at 5080LPI, and the report rate for the pen is 233PPS. All of these are remarkably good for such a cheap tablet, allowing you to do professional work on a small budget.

The setup is simple. Just connect the device to your PC and download and install the free driver. You can then program the shortcut keys however you wish and set the pressure sensitivity as well.

Note, however, that this device is only compatible with Windows and macOS devices.

Best For Large Working Areas: GAOMON M10K PRO

GAOMON M10K PRO

Dimensions: 360 x 240 x 10.5 mm | Display Area (Active Area): 255.06 x 159.84 mm | Item Weight: 695 g | Multi-Touch: No | Pen Pressure Level: 8192 Levels | Customizable Express Keys: 10 | Supported Software: Windows, Mac, Android | Battery Power: Yes | Connectivity Type: USB

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The Gaomon M10K Pro was released toward the end of 2020 and is a great budget drawing tablet. Its drawing area measures 10 inches by 6 inches and comes with some great features. It has a Micro USB port, as well as a USB-C adapter.

The battery-free pen has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity and up to 60 degrees of tilt sensitivity either way. Its rubber grip makes it feel firm in the hand, and its weight gives it a balanced feeling. There are two customizable side buttons on the stylus for common functions.

The tablet itself has a clean design with great build quality. It tapers toward the edges so you can comfortably rest your wrists on it. On the bottom, it has four rubber pads to prevent slippage on a smooth surface.

On the side is a fabric slot to hold the stylus when not in use. On the left of the surface are 10 shortcut buttons and a central touch-sensitive dial for continuous functionality. The shortcut buttons have a satisfying click when pressed.

While the drawing area is just 10 inches, the tablet itself is quite large at nearly 15 inches, making it especially bulky and heavy.

Drawing performance is fairly good across the most common applications, though some features don’t work too well on some apps. The Zoom function doesn’t work very well on Medibang Paint Pro, and some features don’t work on Android.

Note you should have Android 6 or greater to use this tablet with your Android device.

Best For Novices and First Timers: GAOMON M1230

GAOMON M1230 Graphics Drawing Pen Tablet

Dimensions: 335.8 by 206 mm | Display Area: 258.4 by 161.5 mm | Display Resolution: 5080 LPI | Item Weight: 1.89 pounds | Camera: No | Connection Type: USB-C | Compatible with Keyboard: No

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Gaomon is known for innovating in the pen tablet space, and it never disappoints. In 2021, the company has released its latest graphics tablet: the Gaomon Pen Tablet M1230. At just 7.5 mm and 510 grams, this tablet has a slim form factor and is very light.

It is also built of ABS plastic, which is high-quality plastic. The surface is sleek and stylish, with a  denim finish – one of the defining aspects of this iconic tablet’s design.

We can’t get enough of all the shortcut keys on this tablet. It has 8 hard shortcut buttons. The hard buttons are split in two, four on either side, with a small circle of direction buttons and a selection button in their midst.

These are on the left side of the tablet, though you can also flip it around and have them on the right side if you’re left-handed. Along the top are 16 soft shortcut keys, which can also be used as multimedia keys, as indicated by their iconic labeling.

The stylus has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity and up to 60 degrees of tilt either way. It has a 266PPS+ report rate, minimizing the lag and giving a natural drawing experience.

The denim-like drawing surface is textured with AP32, giving a drawing experience very close to that of working with a pen on paper.

The M1230 is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Android devices, as well as supporting the latest drawing applications. It features a USB-C connection, as well as an OTG adapter for faster data transfer.

What is the best cheap drawing tablet with a screen?

When it comes to budget tablets with screens, the price can (and should)jump up significantly from the above graphics tablets to be in and around the $200 mark.

There are of course a few cheaper options available, but as with anything you get what you pay for, and we strongly advise against going for anything lower in price without the risk of significant loss of performance.

The cheapest drawing tablet with a screen we can recommend is the Parblo Coast10 10.1″ Digital Pen Tablet Display, followed by the slightly more expensive GAOMON PD1161 11.6 Inches Tilt Support Drawing Pen Display.

However the overall winner here is the below HUION Kamvas 13, with a 13 inch screen display. For its price, size, and brand reassurance, this tablet is fantastic value and perfect for anyone on a tight budget.

Best cheap drawing tablet with a screen winner…

HUION Kamvas 13 Drawing Tablet

Dimensions: 366.5 by 217.4 mm | Display Area: 293.76 by 165.24 mm | Display Resolution: 1920 by 1080 p | Item Weight: 980 grams | Camera: No | Connection Type: USB-C | Compatible with Keyboard: Yes

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The Huion Kamvas 13 is a drawing tablet of epic proportions, both literally and metaphorically, thanks to its large 13” drawing area. It has excellent design and build quality, with a sleek and modern look. Its 11.8 mm thickness contributes to its slim form factor, and it is also very light at just 2.1 pounds.

The display has great visuals, with a 1080p resolution, which is very crisp for a 13-inch screen. It also has great color accuracy, thanks to its 120% sRGB color gamut. Screen brightness is set at 220cd/m2, which puts it on a level with the best tablets in the market, including Wacom tablets.

The display has protective lamination on top, which significantly reduces parallax when drawing. It also makes the stylus highly accurate. It also has a textured surface for a more natural drawing experience.

Speaking of the stylus, it is one of the best on the market at this price range. It has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, and up to 60 degrees of tilt detection either way.

It also corrects for the initial activation force (the amount of force before a stylus registers a line) on its predecessors, making it very great to use. The stylus has two programmable shortcut buttons on its side and also features a pen holder that also serves as storage for the 10 extra nibs that come with the tablet.

The tablet itself has 8 shortcut buttons, which you can program individually and across multiple applications, making them highly versatile. The tablet itself is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Android devices.

Drawing tablets for novices

If you enjoy sketching, it’s highly likely that you have considered trying alternative medias to a pen and paper. Drawing tablets for example are an excellent way to enhance your art work whilst using all the benefits of working digitally. 

While shopping for this kind of equipment, the first thing to think about is whether you want a graphics or drawing tablet. Some people believe they are the same, but that is definitely not the case. 

New and amateur artists often find that a graphics tablet with a good pressure sensitivity is a solid starting point because they’re less expensive.

If you’re shopping for a drawing tablet, be prepared to spend more money, as these tablets are quite a bit more costly, though they offer a whole other user experience. 

We have a complete guide to finding the best tablet for new artists here in our “Guide To Finding The Best Drawing Tablets For Beginners

So what is the difference?

Graphics tablets

A graphics tablet has no actual screen. Instead, it connects to a separate monitor that shows your sketch in real-time. These tablets must link to an external PC or monitor to work.

Pros for graphics tablets:

  • No battery
  • No screen means no damage
  • Shockproof and longer-lasting
  • More natural sketching/writing
  • Faster operation backed by your PC’s processor
  • Compatible with Windows, MAC OS, and Android operating systems

Cons for graphics tablets:

  • Must use with a computer
  • No built-in computing power

Drawing tablet

A drawing tablet is the most common among today’s digital artists and offers an ideal canvas for sketching, and consequently provides the best drawing experience. This style of a tablet includes a fully-operational onboard computer and has a digital screen for drawing.

Pros for drawing tablets:

  • Various kinds of connectivity including HDMI, USB, and USB-C
  • Digital screen output
  • Compatible with Windows, MAC OS, and Android operating systems

Cons for drawing tablets:

  • Easily damaged
  • Less potent than PC-connected graphics tablet
  • More expensive
Best-cheap-drawing-tablet.jpg

How to find the best drawing tablet at an affordable price on a budget

Especially for first time buyers, choosing this type of equipment can involve a lot research and often quickly become quite overwhelming.

However to help you with this, we have prepared the below buyers guide and broken down the most important areas that need to be considered before making your purchase.

HotKeys / Shortcut keys

HotKeys are essentially shortcut keys that help to make the drawing process more efficient by providing a ‘shortcut’ to your most frequently used tools. Nowadays, drawing tablets often have these keys built right in, whilst in the past, they were only accessible directly via the artists PC or Mac.

For hotkeys to work to their fullest potential, they must be customizable and allow the artist to assign their own bespoke shortcuts. There are however tablets that automatically do this based on how frequently a tool is used, which can of course have its disadvantages.

The benefit of having a customizable work space is the freedom it provides to add and delete shortcut key as and when needed, as not every project requires the same drawing tools.

Connectivity

Your drawing tablet must connect to a PC and/or monitor for it to work, and there are several different key types of connection available:

  • USB:

The most common cable connection is via USB. This as with any cable connection comes with the limitation of needing to be physically connected to a PC and/or monitor for it to work, and so is not easily transportable. The benefit however is that the connection rarely (if at all) fails, and is therefore highly reliable when working. 

  • Wireless – Bluetooth:

Wireless technology as with a WiFi internet connection, eliminates the use of cables, and opens up a great amount of user freedom and flexibility. A wireless tablet can be treated much like a piece of paper, as for example can picked up, rotated, moved about on the desk, and passed around etc.

Price

When it comes to drawing tablets, it is larger priced models that have the higher specifications, and as mentioned and seen above, when looking for a drawing tablet on a budget, the cheaper options tend to not have their own screens.  

So find your price point and stick it, and be prepared for a trade off of price vs performance.

Pressure Sensitivity / Pressure Levels

The thickness of the pen stroke and therefore the lines being drawn are controlled via the pen pressure levels or level of pen pressure sensitivity the artist places upon the pen when drawing. The levels of pressure sensitivity are measured from 512 to 8192 levels, where the higher the number, the more subtle the strokes can be.

Fortunately this range of pen pressure sensitivity means that there are products for both light and heavy detailed strokes to ensure the best drawing experience. If required, most artists will find a 2048 pressure level will be sufficient for most tasks.

Scrollers

Scrolling on a drawing tablet can at first require a little getting used to, as many users find it challenging to transition from a mouse.

There are however two main ways to scroll, where one is to use a finger in a swiping motion and the other is to use the stylus (pen). 

Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and many artists transition between both, but please make sure that the stylus has been configured correctly for scrolling, and does not confuse it for pen strokes or vice versa.

Compatibility

Fortunately, for most products available today they are compatible with Windows, MAC OS, and often also Android operating systems, making them highly versatile in both the studio and at home.

Portability

Unfortunately where affordable tablet fail, is when the artist wants to sketch and/or draw whilst travelling, which due to the lack of a screen is impossible. Many users however also own an iPad, and the iPad Pro in particular comes with a pen with equal pen pressure sensitivity capabilities to most high level tablets for this very reason.

It also hopefully goes without saying that an iPad Pro also provides a very compact and fast personal computer, that can aid in far more than just drawing.

Drawing surface and active drawing area

When it comes to discussing a drawing tablets size, we are referencing the available active drawing area (drawing surface) as appose to its physical presence.

The active area is the surface where you draw. With a drawing tablet, this is the screen. But, with graphic tablets, the active area is covered with sensors that detect your strokes and then relay the image to a separate monitor using your PC. 

Tablets come in all manner of sizes, however when searching for cheaper models, we must be careful to not opt for a large drawing area over overall quality, as the best drawing output is not dependant on size.

For this reason, and as you will see from our recommendations above, several of the products come in quite modest sizes and active areas, as primarily it is your budget that will control the size options available to you..

Accessories

While the stylus is the most significant accessory to think about, there are other items that you might also consider. For example, buying a drawing tablet that includes a travel bag saves you having to invest in one separately. 

A case or screen protector is useful if you plan to frequently transport your tablet, as are cleaning cloths.

Some tablets also have additional nibs for the stylus. These can provide alternative stroke and pressure patterns for more detailed work, for example.

Support

There’s always the possibility that you will encounter a problem, or two while setting up your drawing tablet. You could even run into issues once you’re a seasoned user, and so it can be extremely useful for a tablet to include a regular support feature.

Having the added insurance of technical support means never having to worry about any issues. Whether its an operational problem, or a question about its features. Without access to a support network, you won’t be able to get the right solutions to your problems.

Stylus / Pen

The stylus is a critical element of your drawing tablet. With the right kind and through careful control of pen pressure sensitivity, you will draw more naturally and achieve subtle transitions between strokes. 

Most often, the stylus included with your drawing tablet will be sufficient for everyday use. However, if you’re a professional artist, you might find it lacks the necessary features.

Cheap-drawing-tablet.jpg

Why use a stylus?

Put simply, all the best drawing tablets come with and recommend that artists use a stylus and/or pen when drawing.

Using a stylus instead of your finger keeps your screen free from fingerprints, its soft thin tip prevents scratches, and provides a more accurate and precise stroke patterns through precise pressure levels. 

The following parts of your pen are worth thinking through before making your decision;

  • Style

There are two kinds available, the standard and the stylus pen. The difference is the stylus has a simple rubber tip, while the stylus pen includes both the rubber tip and writing instrument in one. 

  • Tip

The tip along with the pressure levels used is what decides the precision of your stroke. Just like a traditional paintbrush or drawing pencil, thicker tips are better for coloring and broader strokes. Whereas, thin tips give you more precise results and a smaller stroke.

Wacom Intuos vs XP-Pen Deco

Being industry leaders, Wacom tablets are very well known for their professional grade drawing experience. Whereas Xp-Pen are more commonly known for a slightly more budget friendly product that is packed full of features, and aimed at entry level artists.

Some artists will find that XP-Pen’s high amount of features and specifications compromise its overall quality in terms of its physical feel and sturdiness, and therefore tend to lean towards a slightly more durable product.

Wacom in this regard are a little more conservative with their tablet features and specifications, but balance this out with an overall higher quality drawing experience, that as a result has led to their widespread popularity amongst most (if not all) professional digital artists.

That all said, they both offer a very comparable stylus’ and overall have a similar drawing experience. But Wacom wins with superior hardware and durability.

Final verdict… Wacom

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This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Ash

    I feel that recommending 6 different tablets for 6 categories that even I’m struggling to find much difference between is done just for affiliate link clicks. Giving readers a choice of 6 instead of 1 certainly increases the chances they might buy one thru your links. You’ve put far more effort in than most others doing the same thing tho, which I have to respect. But it’s a respect borne out of today’s internet not supporting the user, that’s all.

    1. archi soup

      Hi Ash

      Thanks for reaching out and you’re absolutely right, there are an abundance of sites out there simply looking for clicks …and in fact, that was one of the main drivers behind creating this page, as we wanted to offer more.

      Which reading between the lines of your comment, hopefully we have, but are always open to improvement.

      As for showing five products over just one clear winner, this is a roundup article discussing what we consider to be the best options for lower budgets based on the huge catalog of products currently available.

      …which in short concludes that there is not one clear winner as each artist will have slightly different requirements and ways of working, that we hope at least one the above tablets helps to satisfy.

      That all said, the Huion H610 Pro Graphic Drawing Tablet is in our opinion a very worthy all-round winner, with the remaining four tablets each providing a slightly alternative specification that other readers may find more useful in terms of size, weight and/or price for example.

  2. qianshan

    thanks this was super helpful!

    Also is xp-pen https://www.xp-pen.com durable compared to Wacom? I wish to use it for 7-10 years. Would be bad if it breaks too soon.

    1. archisoup

      Hi Qianshan

      We’ve added a small subsection on this just above, but in short, when comparing Wacom and XP-PEN, Wacom comes out on top with an overall better build quality and durability.

      …We know of a few Wacom tablets that are +10 years old!

      However for both, and to ensure their longevity, you will still require a screen protector and must ensure that you regularly replace nibs before they get too sharp.

      Thanks

  3. Abhishek Verma

    What would be the best pen tablet under 10000 for note making by student on its laptop???

    1. archisoup

      Hi Abhishek,

      We have a full breakdown of the tablets we recommend are the most suitable for note taking below…

      https://www.archisoup.com/studio-tools/best-tablets-for-note-taking

      But in short, for us the winner here is the iPad Pro, closely followed by the Microsoft Surface Pro depending on your overall requirements.

      Thanks

  4. Saeesh Nayak

    Hi Archisoup,

    Thanks for profiling the most affordable drawing tablets, to begin with.

    I am an animator looking to buy an affordable tablet for building low-cost 2D animations with minimal 3D functionalities. What would the best drawing tablet that you would like to recommend me with?

    1. archisoup

      Hi Saeesh,

      If your budget can stretch to a display tablet then the recommendation for a solid low cost model would be a GAOMON PD1560 …However, this is significantly more expensive than any of the above cheaper graphics tablets.

      In which case you might want to start out with a graphics tablet, and then upgrade at a later date if and when required.

      In which case the recommendation is a Wacom Intuos small or medium tablet …much more on this here…

      https://www.archisoup.com/studio-tools/best-drawing-tablets-for-animation

      Thanks

  5. G S

    Hey, I was wondering which tablet from this list would you recommend for manga.

    1. archisoup

      Hi GS,

      Would this be for drawing or reading manga?

      1. GS

        For drawing manga.

        1. archisoup

          Hi GS,

          In our opinion:

          Budget – Huion H610 Pro
          Beginner – Wacom Intuos
          Mid range – Huion KAMVAS Pro 16
          High range – Wacom Cintiq 22

          To be honest unless you’re carry out realistic brush work and require precise tilt recognition, any of the tablets features here (https://www.archisoup.com/best-drawing-tablets) would be more than capable.

          More commonly it is the choice of software that has the largest impact, and so firstly ensure that your chosen tablet is compatible.

          Thanks

  6. Sonia

    Hi archie,

    I would like to buy a tablet withscreen as my old laptop can’t manage the programs no more. At the same time I am thinking at buying a full desktop and a no rren tablet, thing is I havno ideea what kind of requirements are for thprograms to run properly and what kinof screen should I getlime the resolution and so on.
    If you could help me out with some info in this direction, which eould be a more proper investment for a beginner, iI would truly appreciate it!
    Great article btw, kep upthe good work!

    1. archisoup

      Hi Sonia,

      So this is highly dependent on the type of work you will be doing and therefore the type of programs you wish to run. But if you’re looking to replace and/or substitute your existing laptop with a drawing tablet, then your best and really only options are discussed in the below article:

      http://www.www.archisoup.com/studio-tools/best-standalone-drawing-tablet

      For a beginner looking for a tablet with a screen, as we highlight in this (www.www.archisoup.com/studio-tools/drawing-tablets-for-beginners) article, we consider the XP-PEN Artist15.6 Pro 15.6 to be a very worthy contender to higher end tablets.

      That said and as highlighted in the same article, as a beginner, you are best suited to a graphics tablet and putting the money saved towards to new laptop.

      Thanks

  7. andrew

    It’s sure confusing with all the different models out, I can’t tell the difference between them sometimes, especially starting from scratch in this field. I was initially looking at a Wacom because I have heard of it before but am looking at the HUIONS but there are so many models around that price range. Initially I saw this one, Huion New 1060Plus. Do you know if this model is better than the one you mention?

    1. archisoup

      Hi Andrew

      We actually review the Huion 1060Plus tablet on the below page:

      https://www.archisoup.com/studio-tools/drawing-tablets-for-beginners

      But in short and to compare the two tablets side by side, there are a few minor differences other than the price.

      The drawing functionality is essentially the same, but the new external cable design of the 1060 plus does help to keep it out of the way whilst using the tablet, and so has slightly improved usability.

      The primary difference is the 12 physical shortcut keys and 8GB microSD card on the 1060 plus, compared to the 8 express keys on the H610 Pro and no internal storage capacity.

      Design wise the 1060 plus has one seamless surface area, whereas the H610 Pro has a noticeable divide between the express keys and drawing area.

      Thanks

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