Review: XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 (2021)

Review united provided by XP-Pen

This is the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16, the latest pen display from XP-Pen that features a new pen with X3 Smart Chip designed to improve drawing performance. In this review you'll find out how good the drawing performance really is, and whether it's an improvement over the pens that come with previous pen displays.


Official retail price is US $449.99 and the product comes with 18 months warranty.


Items included in the box are

  • Pen display
  • USB wall charger with country specific plugs
  • 3-to-1 USB cable (full-size HDMI + USB-A), 1.8m long
  • USB extension cable
  • Pen and case
  • 9x replacement nibs
  • Artist glove
  • Microfiber cleaning cloth
  • Warranty card
  • Quick start guide


There's a piece of paper with instructions telling you to peel off the protective film on the matte screen protector.


Peel off the glossy one. Do not to peel off the matte screen protector.


Design of the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 looks similar to last year's XP-Pen Innovator 16 (US $399) with the main difference being the darker metal vs silver metal. It's a good looking design.

The body is made with metal, front and back.


There are 8 physical shortcut buttons, a touchpad and dial which are all customisable. The buttons have firm click and nice feedback.


You can run your finger in a circular motion on the touchpad (black) to adjust settings. There's also the exterior dial (silver) that can be turned to adjust settings. These controllers are called rollers in the driver. Each roller can be customised with 4 shortcuts.


On the left side are USB-C port for the cable, power button and brightness buttons.


This pen display is just 9mm thick, and is thinner than the included pen.

The pen display being so thin may confuse people and make them think that this is a tablet. This is not a tablet but a monitor so you have connect this to a computer in order to use it.


It's so thin that if you apply pressure on the side bezels, there will be ripple effect on the LCD. Doesn't happen when you press the top and bottom bezels though.


There's nothing on the matte textured back, not even any rubber feet.


No stand is included with the purchase. XP-Pen does sell their own stands, such as the AC18, AC41 and AC42. The stand shown above is the Parblo PR100 stand that I recommend because it's a well built stand that can be easily adjusted to any angle you want.


I do not recommend using the pen display flat on the table because it's not good for posture and you can scratch the back because there are no rubber feet on the back.


The 3-to-1 cable is 1.8m long. One end has a USB-C like connector that goes to the pen display. The other end has HDMI, USB-A for data, and USB-A (red) for power.

The pen display does not support USB-C to USB-C connection.


My Macbook Air only has USB-C ports so I had to use a USB-C hub to connect to the HDMI and USB.


The single USB port is able to power the pen display but not to the maximum brightness. When you power with a single USB port, the pen display's connection will produce an electric buzzing noise. You have to connect the red USB connector to a power source to get maximum brightness and remove the electric buzzing noise.


The display measures 15.4-inches diagonal and supports a resolution of 1920 x 1080 so there's going to be noticeable pixelation.


1080P is still a very usable resolution. You can have palettes on the left and right and still have enough canvas space to work with. The display area is shorter but wider than A4-sized paper. A 15.4-inch display is a comfortable size to draw on.


Colours look good out of the box. With colour calibration using a Spyder5Pro, I measured colour support for 97% sRGB, 99% AdobeRGB, 96% NTSC, 90% P3 and a maximum brightness of 173 nits. Colour accuracy is quite good. The brightness is adequate for indoor use but I wish it could be brighter. The brightness is actually lower than XP-Pen Innovator 16.


The display uses an IPS panel so viewing angles are good. There is minimal colour shift and slight drop in brightness when viewed from the side.

The anti-glare is quite aggressive but as long as you don't have light source pointed directly at the display, you won't see any of the white haze.

This display uses a matte screen protector to provide a nice texture to draw on. Matte screen protectors will eventually scratch though so just be aware. XP-Pen sells replacement screen protectors but applying such a huge screen protector accurately is challenging.


The laminated display has no gap between the drawing surface and the LCD beneath. When drawing, there's no gap between the line and the pen tip. There's no misalignment and no parallax.

Pen


The included pen case has matte textured metal exterior and sold build quality. 9 replacement nibs are included.


Be careful not to scratch the pen against the interior of the pen case.


This is the X3 Elite Plus pen that supports tilt and 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. There are two side buttons and an eraser at the back. All buttons are customisable.


The pen feels solid, has a matte textured body that's comfortable to hold and has just the right weight.

Pen nib has minimal movement (0.6mm).

This pen uses the new X3 Smart Chip and is said to have a reduced initial activation force to just 3g.

Driver

The drivers I've tested are Mac driver v3.2.0_210814 and Windows driver v3.2.0.210805. There are Linux drivers too.

Driver functionality for Mac and Windows is almost similar except Windows has this Windows Ink feature which you may have to toggle on or off if pressure is not working as expected.


If there's cursor offset from the pen tip, you can do calibration here.


If you're left handed, you can change the orientation here. To change colour temperature, RGB, brightness and contrast, click the Display Settings button.

For some reason, sometimes the Display Settings button may not be there. I had to restart to get the button back. It's a minor issue because you just have to change the settings once.


These options are not available for MacOS. With MacOS, you can only adjust the brightness using the physical buttons on the pen display.


All three buttons on the pen can be customised. Pressure sensitivity curve can be adjusted by moving the three control points.


The 8 physical shortcut buttons can be customised here.


These are the possible shortcut customisation.

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You can customise 4 shortcuts to each roller for a total of 8. I don't use that many so I disable 6.

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I've one of the rollers mapped to rotate the canvas.

Drawing performance


1. Initial activation force is very low. I was able to draw a thin line with barely any pressure applied. This is the most sensitive pen XP-Pen has made so far.

2. There's no or minimal jitter when drawing diagonal lines slowly. Anyway this problem usually affects portable tablets and not pen tablets or pen displays.

3. Lines are able to taper smoothly.

4. Line transition from thin to thick is good. I was able to get thinnest and thickest lines easily by varying the pressure. This means it is possible to use a single (thick) brush to complete a drawing without having to adjust brush size manually.

5. Drawing dots by just tapping the pen tip does not work consistently with Medibang Paint Pro. This problem does not exist when drawing with Photoshop, Krita or Clip Studio Paint.

6. It's easy to maintain consistent pressure to draw lines with consistent widths.

The various drawing software I've tested on both Mac and Windows are Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, Krita, Medibang Paint Pro and Clip Studio Paint. You can expect the same performance with all these software.

The old problem of tilt sensitivity not working when the pen is one inch away from the edge has been resolved. Tilt brushes can now be used up to the edge.


Cursor tracking at the extreme edge is excellent without any offset.

The X3 Elite Plus pen is sensitive and accurate. Lines always come out the way I want them to. Drawing performance is consistent and predictable.


Medibang Paint Pro (Win).


Clip Studio Paint (Win).


Photoshop (Win)


Medibang Paint Pro (Win)

Conclusion

The XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 is a well designed pen display with a colour accurate display, solid build quality and fantastic drawing performance. This pen display has the best drawing performance of all the XP-Pen pen displays I've ever tested. My overall drawing experience is very positive.

Traditionally it has always been pen tablets (those without displays) that have the best (lowest) initial activation force. The X3 Elite Plus pen now performs at the same level of sensitivity as those pen tablets.

I am actually surprised at how well the pen performed. This pen is so sensitive and accurate it feels like an extension of your arm.

The main downside is the maximum brightness of just 170+ nits. And there's no stand included.

XP-Pen has a great product on their hand. This is definitely a pen display I can recommend very easily.

Pro and cons at a glance
+ Excellent build quality
+ Beautiful design
+ 9mm thin
+ Pen does not require battery
+ Pen supports 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity
+ There's tilt sensitivity
+ Pen has very low initial activation force
+ Cursor tracking is excellent right up to the extreme edges
+ Drawing performance is fantastic with no glitches
+ Pen case included
+ 9 replacement tips included
+ Artist glove included
+ 8 shortcut buttons
+ 2 scroll wheels
+ Matte anti-glare screen protector nice to draw on
+ 1920 x 1080 resolution adequate for a 15.4-inch display
+ IPS panel colour support is good. 97% sRGB, 97% AdobeRGB
+ Viewing angles are good
+ Laminated display with no parallax
+ Does not produce much heat. Can be used for long periods of time without discomfort
+ Fantastic drawing performance on Mac and Windows
- Brightness could be better. Max at 173 nits is sufficient for indoor use
- No stand included
- Electric buzzing sound when pen display is powered by a single USB port

Where to buy

You can get the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 via these affiliate links below.

Additional 5% off coupon code for XP-Pen stores: XPPENTEOH

These are links to various XP-Pen online stores:
US: https://shrsl.com/32mhs
UK: https://bit.ly/3jbifCp
EU: https://bit.ly/2WpZZw3
AU: https://bit.ly/3sYfMid
SG: https://bit.ly/3jd9Zlu
PH: https://bit.ly/3ji7jTL
MY: https://bit.ly/3ztqCPi

And these are links to the various Amazon branches:
US | CA | UK | DE | FR | ES | IT | JP

I earn some commission from purchases made through the affiliate links, but at no extra cost to you. This helps me put more more reviews on my blog and Youtube channel

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11 Comments

Thanks for the great review!

Thanks for the great review! I have one question.
Are the Artist Pro 16 new pen compatible with previous XP-PEN tablets?
Will I be able to use the Artist Pro 16 pen to get optimal pressure on previous tablets?

Hi Teoh,

Hi Teoh,

Thanks for the review! Your website is so helpful.

I have a question, is the improved drawing experience the main draw of the artist 16 pro over the innovator 16? My local XP pen Ebay store has a secondhand innovator 16 for about $240 USD, and I'm considering getting that mostly for the excellent price. But am also curious about the new pen technology for the artist 16 pro, and am wondering if you think there's a big difference in drawing experience? Are there any other things that the artist 16 does better and is it a big improvement?

I'm upgrading from a very old Wacom bamboo tablet (with about 2000 levels of sensitivity) so either would be an upgrade already.

Really keen on hearing your thoughts!

Thanks for maintaining such a helpful blog with great reviews. Its truly an awesome resource for artists.

Much appreciated,
Quinn

Hi Teoh,

Hi Teoh,

I love your reviews by the way, always so thorough. I am in the market for a Pen Display and I am currently stuck between the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 and the Huion Kamvas 16 (2021).

I know that both Displays are reviewing really well and the specs are similar enough. My biggest question is on drawing experience. You have said that the drawing experience on both devices is very good, the new X3 pen from XP-Pen addresses many of your past concerns. However, if you had to choose one, which display would you choose?

I sadly missed the XP-Pen Anniversary Sale, otherwise I probably would have gone with the Artist Pro 16.

Kind Regards,

Jessie

Hi Teoh,

Hi Teoh,

Thank you for the prompt reply! I ended up ordering the Kamvas 16 as it was nearly $100 cheaper on Amazon. I'm not sure how much I would use the shortcut buttons since this is my first pen display and since both devices are so similar I decided to save a little money :). Thanks again for your advice!

Kind Regards,

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