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Xp-Pen Artist 12 2nd Gen [Artist Review]

Xp-Pen Artist 12 2nd Gen [Artist Review]

Are you looking for an in-depth review of the latest XP Pen Artist 12 2nd Gen? Then you have come to the right source as we have done some hands on testing of this pen tablet.

Drawing and graphics tablets are very useful for creatives. Whether you are a photographer, designer or artist, the brand new XP Artist 12 2nd gen could be the device you need.

If you are not familiar with XP Pen yet, you should know that the brand is one of the most popular manufacturers of graphics tablets. The second generation XP Pen Artist 12 2nd genis also a very popular choice among creatives who need a smooth drawing and editing experience.

In our hands on test that fueled this Xp pen artist 12 2nd gen review, we found the x3 smart chip technology provided significant improvements compared to previous models as well as older competitor drawing tablet models we’ve tested. 

I really like the fact that it supports a 3-in1-1 USB-C connection as well as a vibrant colors (green, blue, pink, and even black). The 60 degrees of tilt support on photoshop, Krita, and other softwares is also essential for us as serious artists.

Related: 7 Best Digital Art Tablets for Beginner Artists

During our test, we explored every feature of this XP Pen device: from the screen resolution, to the technology hidden in the active pen, to the keyboard shortcuts, compatibility and extras.

If you need a budget drawing tablet with a built-in screen that offers a premium experience, XP Pen Artist 12 gen 2 might be for you. Let us explain the reasons why.

More expensive alternative to to XP Pen Artist 12 2nd gen: Wacom One creative pen tablet 13.3 – Students and Designers

What is the XP Pen artist 12 2nd Gen?

What is the XP Pen Artist 12 2nd Gen

In a few words, the XP Pen Artist 12 2nd Gen is a brand new pen display and the predecessor to the 1st gen Artist 12. When we first received the device, we immediately knew that it was a unique device. In fact, the 12-inch edition of the Artist reminded us of straight forward drawing pads like the Wacom Intuos.

But looks are its only similarity to entry-level tablets. For starters, the XP Pen Artist 12 2nd Gen has a beautiful, full HD built-in display with a resolution of 5080 LPI. It’s also very lightweight, making it perfect for designers on the go. The Artist 12 2nd Gen is actually an improved edition of the Artist 12 1st Gen.

There’s also the new XP Pen model here, it does not have a screen:

The lack of parallax combined wit ha fully laminated display was very appealing to us.

Related: 7 Best Drawing Tablets with Screen Built-in (Artist Picks)

Also, many pen tablets don’t draw well on the edge of the display. We found the Xp Pen artist 12 did not have any issues with this and worked flawlessly in this regard.

More specifically, XP Pen has improved the color accuracy of the display (94% Adobe RGB, 90% NTSC, 127% sRGB color gamut). Also, the new Artist 12 has 8 shortcut keys instead of 6 and a 60-degree tilt support.

But the most important improvement is all about the pen’s brand new X3 Smart Chip technology, which offers a fantastic drawing and editing experience. Let us take a closer look at this feature.

What is the X3 Smart Chip Technology in the XP Pen Artist 12 2nd Gen

X3 Smart Chip Technology

The Artist 12 2nd Gen is one of the few XP Pen products that actually uses the brand’s new X3 technology. The X3 is an advanced microchip that XP Pen has included into its latest smart pen. This chip makes the pen more sensitive to your strokes by increasing IAF sensitivity.

It also makes the overall experience more realistic as the X3 technology reduces the response distance to 0.6mm. That’s two times better than the regular XP Pen and most active pens on the market.

Finally, the X3 Smart Chip technology has also improved the stability of the latest pen, while XP Pen states that this pen is twice as durable as the previous model. It’s clear that the X3 technology is a game changer for XP Pen devices. Best of all, it’s not just theory.

Inexpensive alternative to an XP-Pen Artist 12: Gaomon S620 – Graphics Tablet Review [Artist Review]

Related: 7 Best Stylus for Procreate (iPad Air/Pro)

We fully understood the difference when using the latest XP Pen Artist 12 2nd Gen. With its improved response distance, 60-degree tilt support, and 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, this pen offered one of the best drawing experiences we have ever had.

Is the XP Pen artist 2nd generation better than its previous model?

Is the XP Pen artist 2nd gen better than its previous model

To answer that question briefly: absolutely. Within minutes of putting the XP Pen Artist 12 2nd Gen to work, we realized the vast improvement. For starters, the 12-inch display is much improved over its predecessor when it comes to the display. It offers much better color accuracy, which is very important especially for professional illustrators and designers.

But where the 2nd generation Artist really outshines any previous XP Pen model is the stylus. The battery-free X3 Elite pen proves to be a top-of-the-line active stylus. It offers better stabilization and is by far more accurate than its predecessor’s P06 stylus.

Also, the 60-degree tilt support will be very useful for many professional artists and photographers. Finally, for us designers, the shortcut keys are crucial. That’s why we really appreciated that XP Pen added two more shortcut keys on the left side of the screen.

Related: Lenovo ThinkBook vs ThinkPad: What are the differences?

In our testing, the XP Pen Artist 12 2nd Gen easily outperformed the previous Artist 12. However, that’s not all. The new Artist 12 outperforms more expensive drawing pads with ease. For this reason, we consider it a must-have for anyone looking for a reliable and affordable XP Pen pad.

How does the XP Pen artist 2nd gen compare to the Pro model?

How does the XP Pen artist 2nd gen compare to the pro model

Since the XP Pen Artist 2nd Gen and the Artist 12 Pro have similar prices, it is important to thoroughly review their features. This will help you figure out which device is best for your needs and preferences.

Let us start with the display: both devices offer a full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution. However, since the XP Pen Artist 12 is a newer model, it offers a better color gamut than the Pro (90% NTSC and 127% SRGB compared to 72% and 100%). So the Artist 12 provides a better interpretation of colors, resulting in a more accurate drawing and editing experience.

That being said, the XP Pen Artist 12 2nd gen comes with the X3 Elite Pen, while the Pro version includes the earlier P06 Active Stylus. That said, the Artist 12 offers a better drawing experience than the Artist 12 Pro.

On the flip side, the Pro version comes with a stand and has a more premium design.If you consider that both the screen and the pen are also great (though not as powerful as the 2nd gen’s ), the Pro is also a very reliable choice.

Related: 10 Best Drawing Tablets for Cricut Design Space

So, we can safely say that the Artist 12 2nd gen is the better choice for creatives who value color and pen accuracy. On the other hand, the Artist 12 Pro is the best choice if you can not draw digitally without a stand.

Pros and cons – Hands on testing of the Xp Pen Artist 12 2nd gen

Pros and cons – Hands on testing of the Xp Pen 2nd Gen

During our testing, the XP Pen Artist 12 2nd Gen proved to be a very reliable and powerful drawing pad. We had no problems connecting it to our Mac and Windows devices.

The pen works perfectly with any creative software like Photoshop, Krita, Sketchbook, Illustrator, Procreate and so on.

Related: Procreate iPad: Which iPad is Best for Procreate?

When it comes to the drawbacks of the device, we can say that we had a hard time finding any. For those familiar with drawing on larger screens, an upgrade to the latest XP Pen Artist 22 2nd gen. might be in order. But all in all, the latest Artist 12 is a great budget drawing pad that easily outshines more expensive alternatives.

Take a look at the pros and cons of the XP Pen Artist 12 2nd gen:

XP Pen Artist 12 (2nd gen) ProsXP Pen Artist 12 (2nd gen) Cons
Compatible with MacOS, Windows, Chrome OS, Linux, and AndroidRelatively small screen (12inch)
Many accessories and extras included (adaptors, 10 extra nibs, drawing glove, extension cord, and more)Not a standalone device
Full-HD built-in screen with great color gamut 
8192 levels of pressure sensitivity 
0.6mm response distance 
8x customizable shortcuts buttons 
More affordable than its competitors 
60-degree tilt support 



Design & Size

XP Pen has managed to create a beautiful and lightweight device. The dimensions of the pad are 346 x 209 x 12 mm and the active area is 263 x 148 mm. We really enjoyed using the device and the materials used feel high quality.

Finally, the latest XP Pen Artist 12 is available in four different colors (black, blue, pink and green).

Stylus pen

The XP Pen Artist 12 2nd gen is one of the most responsive tablets around, and that’s largely due to the included active stylus. To be exact, the brand new X3 Elite Pen is one of the most advanced pens we have ever tested.

The X3 chip technology makes this pen very responsive and improves the overall experience. In a few words, the X3 Elite Pen is the main reason why Artist 12 is a great choice for beginners and professionals alike.

Related: Lenovo Active Pen 2 vs 1 (Review & Compatibility Guide)

Pen Pressure sensitivity

When it comes to pen pressure sensitivity, the Artist 12 did not let us down. The X3 Elite Pen has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, allowing you to work on detailed drawings.

So if you need a balanced experience when applying low or high pressure to the drawing pad, the Artist 12 is for you.

Button & Shortcut keys

Another important aspect for any creative buying a drawing pad is shortcut buttons. The latest XP Pen Artist 12 2nd gen has 8 customizable shortcut keys on the left side of the display.

During our testing, we had no problems setting up the keys through the XP Pen software. Finally, the X3 Elite Pen also has 2 shortcut buttons that you can customize via the app.


If you have more than one device and want to connect your drawing pad to them, you can definitely do so with Artist 12. In fact, the device is fully compatible with all major operating systems: macOS, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS and Android.

It becomes clear that the Artist 12 2nd gen is a good choice for beginner and pro creatives who work on more than OS.

Is XP Pen 12 2nd gen good for beginner drawing?

Is XP Pen 12 2nd gen good for beginner drawing

Absolutely. The latest XP Pen 12 2nd gen is an affordable choice that offers numerous advanced drawing and editing features. In this price range, it simply doesn’t get any better than this.

The Artist 12 has an integrated display, an advanced active pen, and comes with a variety of extras. What’s more to ask if you are a beginner?

The only con we found was that if you plan to draw in direct sunlight, you may want a more bright display on your pen tablet than the xp pen artist 12 2nd gen provides. However, this is a very rare requirement from digital artists.

If you’re using apple products like the iPad for art, then you may want to see Apple Pencil 2 vs 1: What is the difference? (Compared)

How to use the Xp Pen 12 2nd gen

How to use the Xp Pen 12 2nd gen

Using the XP Pen 12 2nd gen is very simple. Since it is not a standalone device, you must first connect it to a computer. After connecting it to your PC, all you have to do is install the XP software from the official website of XP Pen and you are ready to go.

How to Connect the XP Pen 12 2nd gen to your computer or laptop

How to connect the XP Pen 12 2nd gen to your laptop

Using the XP Pen 12 2nd gen is very simple. All you have to do is connect the drawing device to your computer via an HDMI or USB cable.

The device has three connection ports (USB-A, USB-C, HDMI) and XP Pen has included all the cables you need to connect it to your computer.

Bottom Line

The Artist 12 2nd gen is a strong improvement and certainly provides the technology digital artists require with its X3 smart chip. With 127% sRGB wide color gamut and minimal parallax, I found this was a must-have for digital artists looking to upgrade from an older pen tablet.

Whether your a professional, or an illustrator hobbyist, the XP-Pen’s X3 smart chip is a game changer.

You can also see a newer model from XP Pen: The XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 (Gen 2), as it’s new technology provides a ton of performance.

The fact it works confidently with android, windows, and mac devices (in addition to GIMP, Krita, Photoshop, adobe suite, fire alpaca, and other 3d animation tools) makes it a reliable choice for graphic artists of all types.

About the author:

Photo of Paul Michael, Founder of MediaPeanut

Paul Michael

Paul Michael is a media and technology expert whose research reveals how technology and media are being used in the world today. He has expertise on computers, the internet, streaming, Roku, electronics, and education. He also enjoys graphic design & digital art. Paul has his Bachelors of Arts and Science(s) from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, NJ