6 Best Budget Drawing Tablets For The Creative Ones Who Couldn’t Save Up [2020 Update]

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Creating digital art has become so much easier since graphic tablets came along. Unfortunately, a large group of artists is yet to be introduced to this amazing gadget. 

Many people do not consider getting a drawing tablet because they have only heard of Wacom’s Cintiq and it is quite pricey. Cintiq indeed is one of the best ones out there.

Perhaps you don’t want to express your creativity at the expense of making a hole in your purse. But I’ve got good news for you – you don’t have to!

There are other Chinese and Japanese manufacturers – like Gaomon, Huion, and more – making high-quality tablets affordable for everyone. Below, we have made a list of the best affordable drawing tablets you can find in the market today.

Before You Buy

You need to know what you will use your device for before you make the purchase. Now that these products have become more common, the functions vary vastly. Hence, the prices do too.

Keep your line of work in mind (what exactly you will be doing on your tab and what functions you need for it) and your personal preference (what you are comfortable with). There are two basic categories you can choose from:

  • With screen (also known as, pen display) – This works like a regular tablet but is specialized for drawing and illustrations.
  • Without screen – This means you draw on the tab and the result appears on the computer screen.

Both types have wired or wireless connectivity options, so you may have to connect it to a computer using cables or use Bluetooth connection.

Our list comprises what you can call ‘the best deal’ – the best features you can get within an affordable price range. Those without a screen come easily under $100, but a high-quality drawing tab with a screen can cost up to $800 or more. Hence, to ease the burden on your wallet, we have found some of the best tablets within $400.

Our Top Picks



System requirements

Power source

Wacom Intuos

Drawing tablet (without screen)

Compatible with Windows, Mac or Android


XP-PEN Artist12

Pen display

Compatible with Windows 7 or above (32/64 bit), and Mac OS X10.10 or higher

External power source required

XP-PEN Artist13.3 Pro

Pen display

Compatible with Windows 7 or above (32/64 bit), and Mac OS X10.10 or higher”

Powered through computer/laptop

HUION Kamvas Pro 13

Pen display

Compatible with Windows 7 or higher, and Mac OS X10.11 or higher

External power source required

Gaomon M10K-2018

Drawing tablet (without screen)

Compatible with Windows 7 or higher, and Mac OS X10.12 or higher

Powered through computer/laptop

Huion Kamvas GT-191

Pen display

Compatible with Windows 7 or higher, and Mac OS X10.11 or higher

External power source required

Wacom has done an impressive job in the tablet industry with its wide range of products. The Wacom Intuos is a wireless drawing tablet that falls into our ‘without screen’ category.

This tab comes in two sizes, the medium being slightly more expensive than the small. The small model also has two options you can choose from – with or without Bluetooth. Adding Bluetooth increases the price and weight of the tab slightly.

Device Specs:

  • Dimensions: 7.9 x 6.3 x 0.3 inches (200 x 160 x 8.8 mm) - small, 10.4 x 7.9 x 0.3 inches (264 x 200 x 8.8 mm) - medium
  • Working area: 6 x 3.7 inches (152 x 95 mm) - small, 8.5 x 5.3 inches (216 x 135 mm) - medium
  • Resolution: 2540 LPI
  • Weight: 0.5 pounds/ 0.55 pounds (230g/ 250g small), 0.9 pounds (410g medium)
  • Pen pressure levels: 4096
  • Express keys: 4 (at the top)
  • Connectivity: Wired / Bluetooth enabled
  • Battery life: 15 hours of continuous use on Bluetooth
  • In the box: Wacom Pen 4K, USB cable

The pen is not battery-powered, which is a plus point. If you’re working for long hours and the battery runs out, it can be time-consuming to recharge.

The good thing about it is that you can take off the cap at the back and there are 3 extra nibs hidden inside.

You can use it with any other creative software you prefer, such as Photoshop or Illustrator. There are 3 other programs that come installed in the device – Corel Painter Essentials, Corel AfterShot 3, CLIP STUDIO PAINT PRO. These are great for comic or magazine illustrations. This may be one of the cheapest drawing tablets with such great features.

What’s Great:

  • Light and portable – Both the medium and small sizes are very slim and lightweight. It is easy to carry around and will fit in your laptop bag.
  • Bluetooth enabled – This is the absolute best feature of this tablet. It does not need to be connected physically. You can switch to another computer without having to meddle with a bunch of cables. You can always use the cable if you want but it’s not a problem if you forget to carry them.
  • Usable by both hands – Since the express keys are at the top, the tab can be used the same way by both right-handed and left-handed users.

What’s Not-So-Great:

  • No eraser on the pen – Makes it a little inconvenient to switch from pen mode to eraser mode using the button. But this is based on preference, so you can do without it.
  • Non-replaceable battery – You know what that means. If the battery dies, the tablet dies.

The XP-PEN Artist12 is an 11.6” (295 mm) graphic drawing monitor. This is probably ‘the’ affordable drawing tablet with screen you were looking for.

It is quite a slim device with 6 express keys and a narrow touchpad on the left-hand side. All the keys are customizable and the touchpad can be used to zoom in and out on the screen.

The full HD screen looks pretty good. It comes with an anti-glare film on the display that works as a good screen protector.

Device Specs:

  • Dimensions: 14.3 x 8.6 x 0.3 inches (364 x 219 x 7.8 mm)
  • Working area: 10 x 5.7 inches (256 x 144 mm) display
  • Resolution: 5080 LPI
  • Weight: 1.98 pounds (900g approx.)
  • Pen pressure levels: 8192
  • Express keys: 6 keys (on left-hand side), one touchpad
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • In the box: P06 Passive Pen, pen holder, USB cable, power adapter, drawing glove

The P06 Passive Pen that comes with the tab is our favorite. It has an eraser at the back, which makes it feel more like using a regular pencil. There is also a button on the side which is customizable.

The pen comes with a holder that has 8 extra replacement nibs. It is not battery-powered and is smooth to work with. There is very little parallax and just enough friction on the nib for a pencil-like experience.

There is a foldable stand XP-PEN has made for this device, but you need to buy it separately. It is worth the investment if you like to prop up your tab like a canvas. The device is only connectable by wires (a number of wires) which can be a bit cumbersome. If you don’t need to disconnect and reconnect again and again, this is no issue.

What’s Great:

  • Touchpad – Adding a touchpad with the express keys was a great idea.
  • The pen – Super comfortable and the hexagonal shape provides a very good grip. You can work for long hours without getting finger cramps.

What’s Not-So-Great:

  • Keys on one side – Having the express keys on the side makes it difficult for left-handed users to work.
  • Thick bezels – The display itself is quite large. But if the bezels were narrower, it would increase the actual working area of the display.

XP-PEN launched another device in 2017 that became quite popular – the Artist 13.3 Pro. It is a 13.3” (338 mm) pen display, much like the Artist12, but with a few upgrades.

It has 8 express keys on one side at the front of the monitor and a roller wheel. Now, this is unique and is great for navigation.

Device Specs:

  • Dimensions: 15.4 x 9.8 x 0.5 inches (390.4 x 249.98 x 12.9 mm)
  • Working area: 11.56 x 6.5 inches (293.76 x 165.24 mm)
  • Resolution: 5080 LPI
  • Pen pressure levels: 8192
  • Express keys: 8 keys (on left-hand side), one roller-wheel
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • In the box: PA2 Stylus, pen holder, foldable stand, USB cables, power adaptor, drawing glove

The device directly powers from the computer, so it is easy to use with a laptop without having a power source nearby. This one comes with a portable stand in the box, which is great news for many. However, the angle on the stand is not adjustable.

 The screen has a matte finish which makes the brightness seem a little low. But it does make drawing more comfortable.

The pen has over 8000 levels of pressure sensitivity and about 60 degrees of tilt support. The front of the pen is slightly wide, which allows for a good grip. There is a button on the side to switch between pen and eraser mode.

The stylus is easy to use and makes smooth and accurate lines without any artificial smoothing tool. XP-PEN lives up to its name and produces better pens with every new device.

What’s Great:

  • The pen/stylus – The tilt support and 8192 level of pressure sensitivity make for a very smooth drawing experience.
  • Resolution – The screen resolution is great. Images are clear and the colors are vivid.
  • Display size – The 13.3” (338 mm) size may not be the best for detailed work, but if you use a 13” laptop, you get an accurate scale.

What’s Not-So-Great:

  • Single angle on the stand – Having a stand is great. But if the angle it props up at is not comfortable for the user, it is basically no use.
  • Express keys – The keys are not customizable.

It seems as though Huion has been following Wacom, and that it’s trying to bring the same updated featured for a more affordable price. And they’re doing well at this.

The Huion Kamvas Pro 13 is a 13” (338 mm) pen display with a laminated screen. This really makes the parallax less prominent, although not negligible. 

Device Specs:

  • Dimensions: 15.3 x 8.6 x 0.43 inches (388 x 219 x 11 mm)
  • Working area: 11.5 x 6.5 inches (293.76 × 165.24 mm)
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Display type: IPS LCD
  • Weight: 2 pounds (910g)
  • Pen pressure levels: 8192
  • Express keys: 5 keys including the power button (on left-hand side), one touchpad
  • In the box: Pen PW507, 3-in-1 cable, power adapter, foldable stand, pen holder, drawing glove

The power button is on the front in line with the express keys, which can make things confusing if you need to use a shortcut in an emergency. The touchpad can be used for zooming in and out, scrolling or even changing the brush size.

The full HD screen and anti-glare glass work very well together. You can even use the tablet as a secondary monitor and watch videos to make the best of it.

The pen is not as great as the XP-PEN, but it works pretty well. The front half has a rubbery texture and provides good grip. The shape and size is very comfortable to hold, with two buttons on the side.

The pen holder, like many others, comes with extra nibs for the pen. There are 10 replacement nibs provided.

What’s Great:

  • Laminated screen – The resolution looks great and really reduces strain on eyes.
  • Sidebar and keys – The sidebar is narrow and express keys are tactile. The keys and the touchpad sit quite nicely. It is especially notable for left-handed users since the keys don’t pose as much of a strain as other tablets with similar features.

What’s Not-So-Great:

  • Back cover – The smooth rounded edges and back of the tablet look really good but are slippery. Hence, it’s difficult to use with the stand since it often slides off.

Gaomon here has made a slim and sleek gadget with its MK10-2018. It is a drawing tablet with 10 express keys, one function switch and a touch ring around it.

All the express keys are customizable. The touch enabled ring can be programmed – for zooming in and out, scrolling or adjusting the size of the brush.

The touch is quite responsive and easy to use. The function key in the middle is to switch between the three options – that is a pretty fine design.

Device Specs:

  • Dimensions: 14.2 x 9.45 x 0.41 inches (360 x 240 x 10.5 mm)
  • Working area: 10 x 6.3 inches (255 x 159.84 mm)
  • Resolution: 5080 LPI
  • Weight: 1.53 pounds (695g)
  • Pen pressure levels: 8192
  • Express keys: 10 express keys (on left-hand side), 1 function switch key, 1 touch ring
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • In the box: Artpaint AP31, pen holder, USB cable, drawing glove

The tablet does not require an external power source; it is powered by the connecting computer/laptop. It is easy to connect with the USB cable and once you download the driver from the website, the setup is a simple task. However, you need to be using Windows 7 or macOS 10.12 or above to use the tab.

Having the keys on one side usually makes it difficult for left-handed users to operate. The display can be rotated 180 degrees for left-handed users – so that’s a relief.

The ArtPaint AP31 is going to be your favorite accessory. It is light and has a smooth exterior design. The driver also allows you to customize the pen pressure and the buttons on the side of the pen.

The stylus has a 10mm sensing height, but no tilt support. There are extra replacement nibs and a nib remover that come in their own felt case. It comes with a bag too, but it’s just a carrying bag and not very protective.

The overall performance of the tab and the pen is great and the working area is spacious. This device is perfectly suited for professional work. This is the best budget graphic tablet in my opinion.

What’s Great:

  • Design – The tab is light and slim. It is easy to carry around and set up anywhere. The entire design of the device, the accessories, as well as the packaging is minimalistic. It makes a great first impression.
  • Customizable working area – It is doubtful that you would want to reduce your working area, but it is a unique feature that Gaomon has introduced. You can customize your actual working area.
  • Display rotation – This isn’t something you would find in every tablet and is a blessing for left-handed artists.

What’s Not-So-Great:

  • Pen grip – Some users find the stylus to be too light with a grip that’s not up to par.

This Huion tab is quite large but is a dream for artists and illustrators. The Huion Kamvas GT-191 is a 19.5” (495 mm) pen display – that’s huge – and has an IPS LCD screen.

The high resolution screen looks great and is suitable for professional artwork. There are no shortcut or express keys, so it really looks like an extra monitor.

Device Specs:

  • Dimensions: 18.7 x 11.7 x 1.4 inches (474.98 x 297.18 x 35.56 mm)
  • Working area: 17.1 x 9.4 inches (434.88 x 238.68 mm)
  • Display type: IPS PCD
  • Resolution: 5081LPI
  • Weight: 7.27 pounds (3.3kg with stand)
  • Pen pressure levels: 8192
  • In the box: Pen PE330, connecting and charging cables, screw driver and screws, power adapter, pen holder, drawing glove

This has a solid build quality. The display size seems too big but is great for detailed work – you hardly ever need to zoom in. You do need to connect the tablet to a power source so there will be a bunch of cables coming and out of it. It comes with an adjustable stand with a 20-80 degrees angle range that needs to be screwed on.

The PE330 pen is not the most high-end, but it works well. Very light strokes are not detected sometimes but you will eventually get an idea of the pressure you need to apply.

It has a plastic body with 2 buttons on the side. There is a 0.47" (12mm) sensing height but no tilt support. Initially, the nib seemed to have too much friction but that smoothed out with continuous use.

The pen does need to be charged so it can take up some of your drawing time if you run out of battery in the middle of using it. The pen holder, which also works as nib remover, has 8 extra replacement nibs in it.

What’s Great:

  • Slim bezels – Looks good and makes the working area even larger (not that it needs to be).
  • Adjustable stand – It’s simply great that the angle can be adjusted.

What’s Not-So-Great:

  • Not exactly portable – Since it is a large screen, it is quite heavy. Once you have set it up somewhere, you really don’t want to move it.
  • Port positioning – The connecting ports are at the lower back and does interfere with how the stand sits on your desk. It will need some adjusting, but can be fixed.

Final Thoughts

A good quality product does not need to be expensive. If you follow our tips, you will find a number of good cheap drawing tablets. If you want to spend less, you will often have to compromise on the features. Not all these devices have similar features, but you can get great value for money.

We have picked the best devices for a budget to make your decision easier.

What did you think of them? We would love to know your views. Leave a comment below!

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