Wondering whether to pay the big bucks for a Cintiq? This could be the best drawing tablet for you if it is within your budget. Let’s take a look at why the Cintiq is considered Wacom’s top of the line model. Here is an in-depth review of the most talked about graphics tablet. You’ll find supporters who think this is the best graphics tablet and those who think that a drawing tablet should be more reasonably priced. Read on and decide for yourself.
This is the big daddy of all tablets: the top of the line offering from Wacom— a tablet that allows you to draw directly on the screen. I’ll be comparing this to the Huion GT190 and Yiynova MSP19U+ (or MVP22U, it’s just a different screen size), as they are all aiming at the same market, albeit with very different price points. I have only used the 13HD extensively since I own the 13HD model. I’ve used the other sizes briefly at expos that have a Wacom booth, so I’ll be touching on some topics regarding the other sizes only a little bit. But for intents and purposes, all the sizes function the same and the only thing that changes is the size and weight.
All the models have the same video ports: HDMI, USB 2.0, DVI-I,. To use DVI-D, VGA or Mac Mini Display you have to buy an adapter. You can buy them almost anywhere, like eBay, Amazon or any other online store. Usually big box electronic stores won’t stock there, so you’ll have to do your research and buy it online.
Here are examples of what some of the adapters look like:
If you don’t see it on this list, just search for the two types of ports that you’re trying to convert. Just make sure the the male side is a port type that is on the tablet and the female side is the connector you have.
This is similar to the Yiynova MSP19U+ (DVI-I and USB ports only, comes with adapters) and the Huion GT190 (DVI-I, VGA, USB, no adapters but you can buy it separately). The back has a bunch of holes to vent the heat from the tablet. These holes are arranged in two rows (Cintiq 27QHD), as opposed to the Huion (1 side covered in vents, large vent size) and Yiynova (3 sides covered in vents, small vent size). The smaller 13HD has no vent holes, but doesn’t need them because of it’s size. The 22HD has small circular holes in 4 rows all around the back of the tablet.
The box it came in is a cool matte black color. Seems like they put in a lot of effort into the box, with its slick graphics showing an HD13 drawing one of their fantasy promotional images. This image with the travelers on a tree looking at the clouds is the same one from their old commercials, when they first launched the 13HD. Much, much nicer box that the one fron Huion and Yiynova. Looks like they really wanted to give you the whole unboxing experience. Maybe that’s why the price is so high??? Just kidding! There’s really a bunch more functional differences in the Cintiq, scroll down to the Controls and Functionality section to read all the details.
The Cintiq is compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10; Mac OS 10.8 and Mac OS 10.10. or higher. Works with software like CorelDraw, Corel Painter, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Fireworks, Macromedia Flash, Manga Studio, Stratos3D Max, AutoDesk Maya and ZBrush— basically supports anything. I’ve never had issues with compatibility on any of these softwares (except for the ones I don’t use like Fireworks, Flash and Stratos3D, I can’t give any advice on those). All the other ones I have used immediately recognized the Cintiq and I was able to manipulate all the controls perfectly. Unlike some other tablets, which may have some issues with specific tasks. For example, I’ve found some Huion and Yiynova tablets that don’t let me configure brush options, etc.
To find updated drivers for Cintiq, click HERE.
Controls and Functionality
The drawing surface of the 13HD is 13.3″, the 22HD is 21.5″, the 27HD is 27″. These models also come in the “Touch” Model, that allows you to manipulate it with your fingers. I would caution you against getting the touch version. You’re going to touch it accidentally a lot, sometimes it’ll register a touch even with a drawing glove on. I still use a drawing gloves on the non-Touch Cintiq, just to keep the skin oils off the screen, but I don’t get my flow interrupted by something dumb like the screen zipping around and zooming because my hand touched it.
Unless you’re the kind of person who really likes to use gestures– then by all means, get the Touch version, as it can really speed up your work flow if you know what you’re doing. The issue with Touch activating through the glove might still be a thing for you though.
The weight of the 13HD is really nice at 2.6 lbs. The size and the weight combination make it really easy to take it with you without too much of a hassle. It’s about a 1/2″ thick. The next size up (22HD) is 2.2″ thick and weighs almost 19 lbs. The 27QHD is 2.1″ thick and weighs 55 lbs. The 22 and 27 are really only for permanent setups. Can you imagine lugging 55 lbs around? It is suuuuper nice though! I got to try both of them out at the Apple Expo and the 27QHD is massive. The display in the booth said it has 4x more resolution than HDTV, giving you a resolution of 2560 x 1440. I felt like I was working on a traditional canvas….The 13 and 22 both give you 1920 x 1080 max and don’t have QHD.
These tablets all come with 4 hotkeys and 1 ring. I’m a big, big fan of the ring. If you read my other reviews, you’ll know that I hate when tablets come with just hotkeys because when you map zoom to the keys, you can’t zoom in by increments. It always just zooms all the way out or blows it up super huge. These Cintiq rings are a little different than the Intuos ones, the Intuos are scroll only and the Cintiq ones are rocker rings. That means that you do have to push them, but you get zoom and pan at the same time and you can easily tell the difference. The Huion GT190 has no keys and the Yiynova comes with 8 keys all in a row on the back side of the tablet. I still prefer the original scroll ring though, the rocker ring makes it feel like I have less control over the motion. The 22 has 2 touch strips instead of the rocker ring and the 27 has the touch ring on a separate remote.
Drawing on the surface feels really good– it has great responsiveness which you can really see if you pick like a 2-3pixel size brush and lean your face in really closely. You’ll see that the pen deposits your brushstrokes like little grains of sand on a grid, which just sounds like it’s working as it should, but it’s actually pretty amazing technology. The Huion and Yiynova are pretty good, but you can tell that they cut some corners in order to cut the price. These other two tablets just don’t show this kind of responsiveness. If you’re a hobby artist and don’t mind this kind of behavior, you can start with a Huion or Yiynova. If you’re a professional or looking to go pro fairly soon, it’s worth it to invest in a Cintiq as it will absolutely deliver HD print quality paintings every single time.
The pen is a standard tablet pen with two buttons that you can map to any hotkey combo. Yiynova and Huion have the same pen, but the Wacom one has a rubber grip and the other ones don’t. Wacom also offers other pen options that you have to buy separately like the airbrush pen and the art pen (felt pen). They also make different shape/ texture nibs like felt nibs, chisel nibs, standard nibs and also offer a rubber handgrip upgrade if you prefer a thicker/ergonomic grip.
The stand gives you 4 positions because the bottom flaps of the stand collapse into each other. So you can pop out the smallest stand and do one angle and keep popping out more stands to increase the angle. The Huion and Yiynova actually give you incremental tilt and vertical control. These two tablets have a slider in the back for the stand, so you slide it up and down and then use the gray level to lock the position of the stand. The Yiynova goes from 15 degrees to 90 degrees. The Huion claims to do the same, but with the cords sticking out the bottom, they kind of get in the way, so I’m not sure what angle it goes to, but it’s less flat than the Yiynova gets.
One last warning… The 13HD is pretty good on cooling but the larger models get really, really hot. They do have those huge vent holes in the back, but try to draw in a place with cooler temp or buy an additional fan for the back to help it out.
What’s in the Bundle?
The tablet itself, and adjustable stand, a pen kit with the stylus and pen holder/nib holder, 3 color identification rings to customize your pen, 3 felt nibs, 3 chisel nibs, 3 standard nibs and 1 spring nib (also called stroke nibs for brush-like sensations when drawing). If you buy a Cintiq from Amazon, you can go to http://download.wacom.com and enter your Cintiq’s serial number to get Autodesk Sketchbook Express, Anime Studio, Corel Painter and NIK software plugins for Photoshop (Efex, Viveza, Sharpener, Dfine). (Don’t lose those rings if you want to use them, I haven’t been able to find a place that sells them by themselves anywhere).
- Serious artists/ Professional Artist/ Art Students looking to go pro
- realistic painting
- people who need HD print ready resolution
- people looking for an intuitive experience
- people with a lot of money to blow
Click HERE to learn about our grading criteria.
Obviously you don’t just produce a tablet with such attention to detail and price it so that mere mortals can buy it, so expect this tablet to be really expensive. If you can afford it, and are willing to spend the money, you can look forward to an almost religious experience drawing on this thing. Brilliant colors, 16.7 million of them, laserlike responsiveness and comes with great software right out of the box.