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XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 Review: The Ultimate Drawing Tablet for Digital Art Professionals?

As a digital artist and technology enthusiast, I‘m always on the lookout for tools that can take my creative work to the next level. The XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 promises just that, with a impressive array of features and cutting-edge technology packed into a sleek design. I spent the last month putting this premium drawing tablet through its paces to see if it lives up to the hype.

Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 Specifications

Let‘s start with the hard numbers. Here are the key specs of the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 Gen 2:

Spec Artist Pro 16 Gen 2
Display Size 15.6" diagonal
Resolution 2560 x 1600 pixels (2.5K)
Color Gamut 99% sRGB, 90% AdobeRGB
Display Brightness 220 cd/m²
Contrast Ratio 1200:1
Pen Technology X3 Elite Plus Stylus
Pressure Sensitivity 16,384 levels
Pen Tilt ±60°
Shortcut Keys 8 programmable
Touch Dial Programmable as Scroll/Zoom/Brush Size
Connectivity USB-C, Wireless Bluetooth (for remote control)
Compatibility Windows 10/8/7, macOS 10.10+, Linux, Android 6.0+
Dimensions 436 x 270 x 11.2 mm
Weight 1.2 kg (2.65 lbs)

Just looking at the specs, the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 is equipped to handle anything professional digital artists and designers can throw at it. The 2.5K resolution display with 99% sRGB color coverage ensures your work looks razor-sharp and color-accurate. And the X3 Elite Plus Pen with 16,384 pressure levels and ±60° of tilt sensitivity promises an incredibly natural and responsive drawing experience.

Let‘s see how those promises hold up in practice.

X3 Elite Plus Stylus: The Ultimate Digital Pen?

The heart of any great drawing tablet is of course the stylus, and the X3 Elite Plus does not disappoint. Developed in partnership with Wacom, it‘s one of the most advanced tablet pens on the market.

The huge leap in pressure sensitivity to 16,384 levels (up from 8192) was immediately noticeable during my testing. The stylus responds to even the slightest changes in pressure, allowing for incredibly precise and expressive linework – from delicate hairlines to thick, bold strokes. It really feels like you‘re using a traditional pencil or brush.

The ±60° of tilt sensitivity is another game-changer, recognizing the angle of the pen for natural shading techniques. As someone who often uses tilt with real pencils, this made sketching on the tablet much more intuitive. There was virtually no lag or jitter either, even with the pen nearly parallel to the screen.

I also appreciate that the stylus is completely battery-free, so it‘s lightweight and you never have to worry about charging it. The two programmable shortcut buttons on the pen came in handy as well, letting me quickly access undo/redo or my eraser tool without breaking my flow.

The included pen stand is a nice premium touch too. Made of aluminum just like the tablet itself, it provides a sleek and secure place to store the stylus and spare nibs when not in use. With 9 replacement nibs included (3 standard, 3 felt, 3 spring) you won‘t need to buy extras anytime soon.

Design & Build Quality

The first thing you notice about the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 is the refined, minimalist design. The all-black aluminum alloy chassis looks and feels incredibly sleek and professional. At just 11.2 mm thick, it‘s one of the thinnest 16" drawing tablets on the market – noticeably slimmer than the Wacom Cintiq Pro 16 (16 mm) and even the previous Artist Pro 16 (12 mm).

Despite the slim profile, the tablet feels rock-solid and well constructed, with no creaks or weak points. This is backed up by the upgraded 8H scratch-resistant screen and toughened glass, which should hold up well to daily use and travel. The VESA-compatible mounting holes on the back are also appreciated for those wanting to integrate the tablet into a permanent desktop setup.

The built-in adjustable stand is a small but welcome feature, letting you quickly prop the tablet up at a comfortable 20° angle for drawing. When not in use, it folds flat against the back, maintaining the sleek profile. XP-Pen also includes a nice leather-like carrying sleeve to protect the tablet in transit.

If I had one critique, it‘s that at 1.2 kg (2.65 lbs), the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 is not the lightest 16" tablet out there. The extra weight does contribute to the premium feel, but those frequently taking a tablet on the go may prefer something more portable like the 1.3-lb Huion Kamvas Pro 16.

Display & Color Performance

One of the standout features of the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 is the gorgeous 2.5K (2560×1600) resolution display. That‘s a big step up from the typical 1920×1080 screens found on most 16" drawing tablets, even other "pro" models like the Huion Kamvas Pro 16 and XP-Pen‘s own previous generation Artist Pro 16.

In practice, the extra pixels make a huge difference. UI elements and text look incredibly crisp and defined. More importantly for artists, the higher pixel density means you can fit much more detail into your work before needing to zoom in, helping maintain a better sense of the overall composition. It‘s hard to go back to a lower-res screen after using this!

The 99% sRGB / 90% AdobeRGB color coverage is equally impressive, and a big selling point for professional users. During my testing with a colorimeter, I measured an actual 99.6% sRGB and 91.4% AdobeRGB – slightly beating XP-Pen‘s claims. Colors looked vibrant and true-to-life, with smooth gradients and no banding or artifacts. The factory calibration report in the box showed a great average Delta E < 2, confirming the high color accuracy.

The 220 nits of brightness won‘t break any records, but it‘s still a 10% increase over the previous Artist Pro 16 and perfectly usable under normal indoor lighting. I had no trouble seeing details clearly even in a brightly lit room. The 1200:1 contrast ratio also helps, providing deep blacks and good shadow detail.

One unique aspect of the display is the full lamination and optical bonding technology. By eliminating the air gap between the screen layers, it virtually eliminates parallax and provides a more natural "pen-on-paper" feel as you draw. The matte anti-glare coating also does a great job reducing reflections while still maintaining good image clarity. Drawing on a glossy tablet screen feels like drawing on glass – here it feels much more natural and "toothy" like real paper.

To put some numbers to the real-world drawing experience, I measured pen tracking latency around ~10ms on average, using a 240fps high-speed camera. That‘s on par with the latest Apple Pencil and iPad Pro, and roughly half the latency of the previous Artist Pro 16 generation. The pen input felt very fluid and responsive with no noticeable lag.

Connectivity & Compatibility

A drawing tablet is only as useful as what you can connect it to. Fortunately, the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 offers wide compatibility with Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android devices. I tested it successfully on:

  • Windows 10 desktop PC
  • 2021 M1 MacBook Pro running macOS Monterey
  • System76 Oryx Pro laptop running Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ tablet (with Android 12)

In all cases, the tablet was recognized instantly with no driver issues. The included USB-C cable makes setup a breeze on modern devices. XP-Pen also provides legacy USB-A and HDMI connections in the box if needed.

The Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 should work with any software that supports pressure-sensitive pen input. For my professional workflow, I use a combination of:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Clip Studio Paint
  • Krita
  • Blender (for texture painting)

Performance was flawless in each of these programs, with all the pressure/tilt features supported. I also tried some more specialized use cases like 3D sculpting in ZBrush and CAD sketching in Fusion 360, which worked great. Palm rejection was nearly perfect and the pen shortcuts fit well into my existing hotkey setups.

Connecting the tablet to my Android phone with a USB-C to USB-C cable, I was pleasantly surprised to find it recognized in several mobile drawing and note-taking apps like Autodesk Sketchbook and Squid. I could see this being handy for quick concept sketches on the go and syncing them to the cloud.

Remote Control & Productivity

The other big addition to the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 is the programmable Bluetooth remote control. Shaped like a jog wheel, it provides a quick and tactile way to access your most-used shortcuts, tools, and settings.

The 6 buttons can be programmed per-app via the driver settings, as can the central wheel‘s function (brush size, rotate, zoom). Having these physical controls right at your fingertips is fantastic, especially the brush resize wheel – it really speeds up my workflow not having to constantly reach for the keyboard or on-screen menus. The remote is lightweight but still has a quality feel, with a grippy rubberized coating.

Battery life for the remote has been excellent, easily lasting through multiple full workdays with heavy use. It conveniently charges over USB-C, with a full charge from empty taking about 2 hours in my testing.

This productivity boost extends to the 8 programmable shortcut keys on the side of the tablet itself. Combined with the remote, you can have 14 physical controls that can be customized for each app, in addition to the 2 pen buttons. While some other 16" tablets like the Huion Kamvas Pro 16 offer more keys (10), I found the 8 on the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 plenty for my core functions when paired with the remote.

One small software feature I‘ve come to appreciate is the "virtual bezel" – thin red lines that appear along the drawing area edges when your pen gets close. They don‘t get in the way but provide a subtle guide to prevent accidentally triggering the shortcut keys if your pen strays too close to the edge. Again, the attention to detail and polish here is impressive.

Comparisons & Value

As you‘d expect for the specs and feature set, the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 sits at the higher end of the drawing tablet price spectrum. At a $529 MSRP, it‘s a significant investment for hobbyists and budget-conscious artists.

However, compared to the main competition, I think there‘s a strong value argument:

Model Price Resolution Color Gamut Pen Pressure Tilt Extras
XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 $529 2560×1600 99% sRGB 16,384 ±60° Remote, sleeve
Wacom Cintiq Pro 16 $799 1920×1080 75% AdobeRGB 8192 ±60° None
Huion Kamvas Pro 16 $399 1920×1080 120% sRGB 8192 ±60° Adjustable stand
XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 (1st Gen) $329 1920×1080 92% sRGB 8192 None None

The Wacom Cintiq Pro 16 has long been the "gold standard" for professional drawing tablets, but it‘s hard to justify the $799 price when the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 offers a notably higher resolution display with better color coverage, double the pressure sensitivity, and extra accessories for $270 less.

The Huion Kamvas Pro 16 is a strong alternative at $399, with a great fully-laminated display and an included adjustable stand. But again the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2‘s higher 2.5K resolution, better color accuracy, and double the pressure levels – plus the unique remote control – give it a clear edge for discerning professional users. The 100-nit brighter screen and wireless remote also make the XP-Pen better suited for productivity/business use cases like sketching diagrams or presentations.

Even compared to the previous Artist Pro 16, you‘re getting a lot for the extra $200: double the pressure sensitivity, a higher-res and more color-accurate screen, 60 degrees of tilt recognition, a more precise stylus, the Bluetooth remote, a thinner and more premium metal design, and a nice carrying sleeve.

All this to say – the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 is absolutely not the cheapest 16" drawing tablet out there. But it offers top-tier, professional-grade features and performance at a price point still well below the "industry standard" Wacom Cintiq Pro, and I think that makes it a very compelling option for serious creatives. It feels like a premium device in every way.

Final Thoughts

As you can probably tell, I‘ve been thoroughly impressed with the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 during my testing. It takes everything that made the original Artist Pro 16 great and meaningfully improves on it in almost every way – better pen technology, better screen, better design, better productivity features. This really feels like the complete package for professional digital art workflows.

The 2.5K fully-laminated display with 99% sRGB color is gorgeous and a pleasure to draw on. The X3 Elite Plus stylus with its 16,384 pressure levels and battery-free design makes sketching and painting a buttery-smooth, lag-free experience. Build quality is top-notch, with a sleek aluminum body that looks great on a desk or in a studio.

Equally important for pros are the "quality of life" and productivity boosters like the programmable Bluetooth remote, shortcut keys, and included carrying sleeve for protection on the go. The wide compatibility with Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android is the icing on the cake, making it easy to fit into almost any creative workflow.

Of course, all this cutting-edge technology, premium build, and extra features come at a price. Budget-conscious hobbyists or those just starting out with digital art may be better served by one of XP-Pen‘s more affordable "Deco" or "Star" series tablets. And the 1.2 kg / 2.65 lb weight does make it slightly less portable than some other options, if that‘s a priority.

But if you‘re a professional designer, illustrator, painter, animator, photographer, or any other kind of serious digital creative, I think the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 is absolutely worth the investment. It‘s hands-down one of the best, most advanced, and most complete 16" drawing tablets on the market right now in this price range, and sets a new bar for what‘s possible with the category. Highly recommended.