Best pen displays for 2019 and 2020

Here's the list of pros and cons for various pen displays and Cintiq alternatives I've tested for the past year.

This list is compiled from the lengthy reviews I've published on my blog and Youtube channel.

The list is not exhaustive but it's definitely more detailed and credible compared to anything else you can find online. To see actual drawing tests, and the full list of pros and cons, please visit the individual reviews by clicking on the titles.

XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro, Artist 13.3 Pro, Artist 15.6 Pro


XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro, Artist 13.3 Pro and Artist 12 Pro were released in 2019 to replace the 2018 models. There were many substantial improvements over the previous models to make these one of the best value pen displays in the market currently.

Pros and cons
+ Screen has good colour accuracy
+ Matte screen protector already installed
+ Battery-free pen
+ Pressure and tilt sensitivity works well
+ Drawing performance is great with MacOS
+ Stand included
+ Laminated screen, no parallax
- Some issues with drawing apps on Windows which can be solved by tweaking the driver settings

Availability of the XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro (Official retail price US $299)
XP-Pen online store | Amazon US | CA | UK | DE | FR | ES | IT | JP

Availability of the XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro (Official retail price US $249)
XP-Pen online store | Amazon US | CA | UK | DE | FR | ES | IT | JP

Huion KAMVAS Pro 16 and KAMVAS 16


These are the two 15.6-inch pen displays from Huion. The main difference between the KAMVAS Pro 16 and KAMVAS 16 is the build quality. KAMVAS Pro 16 has a metallic body which looks and feels premium compared to the plastic but still solid body of the KAMVAS 16. Colour accuracy is also better on the KAMVAS Pro 16. Surprising, the KAMVAS 16 actually has more physical shortcut buttons compared to the Pro 16.

Pros and cons
+ Screen has good colour accuracy (96% sRGB for Pro 16, 81% sRGB for non-Pro 16)
+ Matte screen protector already installed (Pro 16 has better texture)
+ Battery-free pen
+ Pressure and tilt sensitivity works well
+ Drawing performance is overall good on both Mac and Windows
+ Laminated screen, no parallax
- Stand not included
- Clip Studio Pen (Mac) has line tapering issues with non-Pro 16
- Mac has some issues detecting the pen display

Availability of the Huion KAMVAS Pro 16 (Official retail price US $469)
Huion online store | Amazon US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP

Availability of the Huion KAMVAS 16 (Official retail price US $379)
Huion online store | Amazon US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES

Parblo Mast22 Pen Display


The Parblo Mast22 is the most beautifully designed pen display I've reviewed in 2019. The uniform bezels, metal body, rounded corners just makes this pen display look so good. If you're looking for a large pen display, this is the one to consider.

Pros and cons
+ Beautiful design
+ Screen has good colour accuracy (100% sRGB)
+ Matte screen protector already installed
+ Pressure and tilt sensitivity works well
+ Drawing performance is overall good on both Mac and Windows
+ Laminated screen, no parallax
+ Built in stand
- Pen is powered by battery and needs to be charged
- Pressure doesn't work with Adobe Illustrator (Mac)
- Pen doesn't work with Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer

Availability (Official retail price US $559)
Parblo online store

Huion Kamvas 22 Pro


The large pen displays sold by Huion are either 19.5 or 22 inches. There are several models which can get confusing.

Here's the quick guide to the various models.

There are basically the Pro and the non-Pro models. For the Pro models, there are those released in 2019 vs those from 2018. Main difference is the 2019 models come with laminated screens and battery-free pens.

Pros and cons
+ Beautiful design
+ Screen has good colour accuracy (100% sRGB)
+ Anti-glare etched glass used instead of matte screen protector
+ Battery-free pen
+ Pressure and tilt sensitivity works well
+ Drawing performance is overall good on both Mac and Windows
+ Laminated screen, no parallax (applies to the 2019 model)
+ 20 physical shortcut buttons
+ Built in stand

Availability of the Huion KAMVAS Pro 22 (2019) (official retail price US $849)
Amazon US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES

Availability of the Huion KAMVAS Pro 20 (2019) (official retail price US $599)
Amazon US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES

Veikk VK1560


The Veikk pen display actually has a built in pen holder and it's actually quite convenient. That's the design element that helps it stand out against the crowd. Drawing performance overall it pretty good.

Pros and cons
+ Screen has good colour accuracy (99% sRGB)
+ Matte screen protector already installed
+ Battery-free pen
+ Build in pen holder quite convenient
+ Pressure works well
+ Drawing performance is good but depends on the apps you use
+ Built in stand
+ 7 physical shortcut buttons
- No tilt sensitivity
- Parallax exists
- Some issues with drawing apps

Availability
Gearbest (official retail price US $349)

Parblo Coast16 Pen Display


Parblo currently has the following lineup of pen displays: Mast 22, Mast 12, Coast10, Coast13, Coast16, Coast22. I've never really found out the difference between the Mast and Coast series of pen displays from Parblo. If you know, please leave a comment below.

Pros and cons
+ Screen looks good but sRGB support only 75%
+ Matte screen protector already installed
+ Battery-free pen
+ Nice pen case
+ Pressure works well
+ Drawing performance is good except for Krita (Mac) which has jittery lines
+ Built in stand
+ 8 physical shortcut buttons
- No tilt sensitivity
- Parallax exists

Availability (official retail price US $429)
Parblo | Amazon US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES

Artisul D16


Artisul currently has the following models of pen displays: D13S, D16 and D22.

Pros and cons
+ Screen has good colour accuracy (94% sRGB)
+ Matte screen protector already installed, a bit too reflective
+ Battery-free pen
+ Pressure works well
+Stand included
+ 7 physical shortcut buttons and wheel
- No tilt sensitivity
- Parallax exists
- Some issues with apps on both Mac and Windows. Some with fixes, some without.
- Bulbous design of the pen's tip holder may block off the sight of the tip at far corners

Availability (official retail price US $309)
Amazon US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP

Wacom Cintiq


Of course with have to mention Wacom, probably the most well known company and brand when it comes to graphic tablets and pen displays.

Wacom currently has the Cintiq Pro series which are their top of the line pen displays. Then there's the Cintiq (non-Pro) which is the somewhat budget pen display. These are the official prices for the various models.

Cintiq 16 - US $649.95
Cintiq 22 - $1,199
Cintiq Pro 13 - $699
Cintiq Pro 16 - $1,199
Cintiq Pro 24 - $1,999
Cintiq Pro 32 - $3,299

As you can see, the pricing is significantly higher compared to all the competing models from other brands. I've not use the new Cintiq Pros so I really can't say much but you can check out the hundreds of reviews on Amazon to get a good idea of their quality.

When it works, it works great, but I've seen numerous reviews complaining about driver issues and quality control. When your product is priced so high, people are naturally going to expect more and be more critical. In terms of specs, the Cintiq Pros definitely have better specs compared to the competition, such as having 4K resolution for their 16, 24 and 32 inch models. Their Wacom pen performance is also really good. There's also multi-touch finger support and the etched glass screen.

As to whether the Wacom Cintiqs are worth several hundreds more compared to the competition, it's questionable, especially quality of products from the competitors just keep getting better and better. Now almost all pen displays offer battery-less pens that support up to 8,000 over levels of pressure sensitivity, and some even have tilt support. Some of the more expensive models also have laminated screens with no parallax. And the designs are also looking really nice.

When a Cintiq Pro 22 is US $1,199 and there are alternatives like the Huion KAMVAS 22 Pro going for US $849 or the Parblo Mast22 going for $559, to say that you won't be tempted by the cheaper options would be difficult to believe.

I've reviewed many pen displays and I can say for certain that the user experience of using Cintiq alternatives has been getting better than satisfactory over the years. The Cintiq Pros target the professionals and those with deep pockets. But there's a whole bunch of artists and enthusiasts who just don't have that kind of budget but still want a good product, and that's who these Cintiq alternatives are for.

So what's my overall recommendation?

The XP-Pen Artist Pro series are good. I recommend getting at least a 13.3 inch display because it's more comfortable to draw on a larger area. The XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro at US $299 is a good choice. If you have limited budget, then consider the XP-Pen Artist 12 Pro.

If you want something bigger, the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro and Huion KAMVAS Pro 16 are good.

If you want something bigger but have limited budget, then consider the Huion KAMVAS 16 (IUS $379), Artisul D16 or Parblo Coast16 (US $429)

For displays 20-inches and larger, consider the Huion KAMVAS 22 Pro (US $849) or the KAMVAS 20 Pro (US $599) or the Parblo Mast22 (US $559).

And look for units that come with a laminated display if possible do that you don't have to deal with parallax.

Disclaimer: All links to Amazon in this article are affiliate links which means I earn a commission if you happen to buy anything through those links.

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1 Comment

You offered a great review of

You offered a great review of the various pen displays available on the market today. I was always a Wacom user until last year when I decided to buy a new pen display. I shopped around and did extensive research into the various brands and models available. I finally decided to give Huion a shot. I ordered a Kamvas Pro 13 to play it safe and evaluate Huion's quality. I was pleasantly surprised with the performance and the quality. A few months later I was using a Huion GT-221 Pro. I could not be happier with Huion's quality and performance. As a professional artist/illustrator I use my Huion pen display from 6 to 9 hours a day. It has never failed me and allows me to produce work my clients rave about. Compared to Wacom products, the quality and performance of Huion is very close. When compared in price the Huion is less expensive and allows more artists to be able to afford and buy a high quality pen display. For professional artists I recommend sticking to either Wacom or Huion as their Pro lines offer the best and most reliable results. If you are a casual or part-time artist and money is an issue, you may wish to consider the other brands. However, from my own personal experience I would recommend the Huion non-pro product line for the non-professional artists. That line is affordable, but still offers users a high quality product. That's my honest opinion. I hope it helps someone out there trying to make the best decision. Nothing more disappointing than buying an expensive product you are NOT satisfied with. As for me, this former Wacom user will stick with Huion as long as they maintain the high level of quality and performance.

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