Received XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP from XP-Pen for a review & give my impressions on, and I ended up quite liking it. It’s not what I consider an affordable pen display, but it’s still affordable compared to Wacom equivalent offering. I liked the smooth drawing surface, drawing on it was a pleasure, and it can ensure that the pen nibs are preserved for quite some time. It’s nice to have 4K resolution on a Wacom’s competitor product, as it allows you to work on high resolution images & see the final image pixel by pixel. The laminated display caused much less parallax compared to my other pen displays.
Trying XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP with various drawing programs, I managed to work with all of them, although I couldn’t take advantage of touch features in some of them. I enjoyed the touch features in the programs that supported them well, other than that, I had to turn them off or leave them as they are.
The PH02 pen was my least favorite thing about XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP, since I didn’t like how it only had one button on the side, but it has an eraser on the side. Since there’s no hot keys on XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP, you will have to use either the keyboard or some other device for inputting shortcuts.
Having 2 fully-functional USB-C on XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP means that you could connect it to your computer using various configurations. You get almost everything you need for most configurations inside the box. You only need to buy one USB-C to USB-A to take advantage of some of the configurations if you want to.
Quickly go to:-
- Pros Of XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP
- Cons Of XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP
- Technical Specifications
- Installation & Setup
- The Screen
- Drawing Experience
- Trying XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP With Many Drawing Programs
- No Hot Keys
- Connecting XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP To Your Computer In Various Ways
- Connecting XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP Using The 2-In-1 Cable, And USB-C For Power From The Wall
- Connecting XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP Using The 2-In-1 Port, And Use The USB-C To Get Power From The Computer Instead Of Power Adapter
- Connecting XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP Using The 2-In-1 Port, And Using A USB-C To USB-A Cable For Power
- Connecting XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP Using 2 USB-C Ports (Using The Power Adapter For Power)
- Connecting XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP Using 2 USB-C Ports To The Computer
- Connecting XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP With 1 USB-C Port Only
- Connecting XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP Using 1 USB-C Cables, To A Computer With 1 USB-C Port
- Configurations That Didn’t Work
- What’s In The Box?
- And Finally
- Provides smooth drawing surface
- The USB-C ports gives a lot of flexibility & ways to connect it to your computer.
- Very well-made touch features.
- Less parallax.
- The screen is an Anti-Glare display, which reflects less light when you draw in bright areas.
- The pen only has one button on the side.
- Sometimes the touch get in the way while drawing.
- Model Number:- MD160U
- Dimensions:- 406.4 x 263.1 x 15.4mm
- Display Area:- 345.6 X 194.4mm (or 13.6 X 7.6 inch).
- Display Resolution:- 3840 x 2160 (UHD)
- Color gamut:- Adobe RGB 92%, NTSC 88, sRGB 124%.
- The pen is battery-free, and requires no charging or battery.
- Pressure sensitivity:- 8192 levels
- Tilt Sensitivity:- 60°
- Screen Contrast:- 1000:1
- Report Rate:- ≥ 220RPS
- Resolution:- 5080 LPI
- Accuracy:- ±0.5mm (center), ±1.5mm (corner).
- Ports:- 2 x USB-C
- Viewing Angle:- 178°
- Screen Aspect Ratio:- 16:9
- Supports touch & multi-touch gestures.
- Anti-glare Glass on the screen.
- The screen is fully laminated, which results in less parallax.
- Operating System Compatibility (Windows):- Windows 7, 8 & 10.
- Operating System (MacOS):- Mac OS X 10.10 (or later)
- Compatible with Android
When I first unboxed XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP, my first impression of it was that it felt like a giant iPad. For most of the tests, I used my MSI gaming laptop for this review, with Windows 10 Pro edition installed on it. I used other computers for other configurations, as illustrated at a later part of this review.
To connect XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP to your computer, you need to connect 2 cables:- One USB-C for power, and another for the display signal & the tablet data. I used the included 2-in-1 cable for the latter. That cable splits into HDMI & USB type-A from one side, and has USB-C on the other. So there are no issue connecting it to almost any modern computer. Giving the flexibility USB-C gives us, there are many other ways to connect XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP to your computer, depending on the ports you have on your computer. I dedicated a separate section to talk about that in this review.
Once I connected everything & turned the display on, I got signal right away.
After that, I downloaded XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP’s driver from XP-Pen website & installed it, and prompted you to restart your computer. Before I started drawing, I had to customize some of the settings to suit the way I like it. Like disabling the popups that appears every time you press the pen button. You can do that by checking the Disable Message from the driver options:-
I also disabled Windows Ink, as it causes issues with Photoshop & Windows 10 at times:-
To save the changes in XP-Pen driver, you have to click the OK button in the driver dialog, or else it will revert to the settings it had before once you restart your computer. I made that mistake with XP-Pen products before in the past, but not anymore.
After that, I was ready to start drawing with XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP, before that, let’s take a quick look at the screen we will draw on.
XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP has 15.6-Inch display with a 4K resolution (3840 x 2160). The colors are deep & vibrant. The viewing angles are good, and the colors almost stay the same when I view it from an sharp angle. I say mostly because there’s a slight change in them when you look at them from a sharp angle. I doubt anyone would look at it like that while drawing though.
The screen is Anti-Glare, which reduces reflects light, so it can be used in bright areas with less reflection. I tried placing it somewhere where light is shed directly on it. It reflected some light, but I could still clearly see everything on the screen. Despite that, I would still prefer to draw in a good spot with more ideal lighting.
The screen has the following color Gamuts, which I consider good for a pen display:-
- Adobe RGB 92%
- NTSC 88%
- sRGB 124%
There are buttons on the side & top for turning XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP on & off, adjusting the brightness & toggling between the different touch modes.
After spending some time drawing on XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP, I can confidently say that drawing on it is quite a bless. The surface is as smooth as butter. It’s so sensitive to the pen strokes that I can easily create some very thin & faint lines making the pen barely touches the screen surface, just like many of Wacom’s devices. This makes the 8192 pressure sensitivity feels more like it. In case that’s an issue for you, you can adjust & lower the pressure curve from the driver options. XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP also supports tilt sensitivity, so it’s possible to vary the strokes based on how you tilt the pen, just like traditional drawing tools. But your drawing program has to support that feature for that to work.
Because of the smoothness of the screen surface, the screen surface makes very little friction with the pen nib. That means each pen nib can last for a long time without having to be replaced. Unlike the case when the nib makes friction, which also has the advantage of making it easier to draw precise lines. Whether you like either kind of surface depends on your preferences. I like both but prefer the former. Generally speaking, I wouldn’t worry too much about nibs when it comes to XP-Pen products in particular, as they sell their nibs for cheap, and in packs of 100 nibs instead of the 10 other makers sell.
XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP has a laminated screen. To explain that briefly; Screens tend to have 3 layers:- touch layer, the display layer & a glass layer. Having all these layers creates some distance between the pen tip & the display where the strokes appear, which can cause parallax, where the strokes appears at an offset from where you drew them. Laminated displays tend to lower that offset by having all the 3 layers as one piece. You may not exactly need a laminated display if you’re only using it for viewing stuff, but for drawing, less parallax can make a different.
I have written a dedicated post about parallax in the past, which you can take a look here:-
Now, is parallax that bad? Since drawing programs tend to have a brush indicator to show you where the strokes will appear, you can get used to that after some time. Some people may not like parallax, as it creates a different drawing experience from traditional media.
I did some parallax testing on XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP. I calibrated the screen from the driver options, then examined whether it has parallax or not. Most of the time, the brush tip is so close to where the pen is. The only noticeable parallax was at the upper edge of the display. That’s better than the pen display I own.
You may be wondering whether you would need a 4K pen display for drawing. The short answer is no, but it’s a really nice feature to have. How much you like it depends entirely on your preference & how much you can see the pixels on low resolution monitors. They are better for drawing high resolution artworks. Generally speaking, 4K display something I recommend if you have the money for. One of the downsides of having such high resolution is how small the icons in your drawing program may appear. Changing the scaling in Windows 10 settings can fix that. Some programs like Photoshop has the option to scale the user interface on their own, and up to 200%.
Besides being able to draw on XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP using the pen, you can also use it as a touch screen. Where you can switch between the different tools by tapping on them, and use gestures to rotate the canvas, pan or zoom in & out. It’s a convenient way that could get you to use less shortcuts, except that your other hand may on the keyboard for that purpose. That’s where configuring something like the WiiMote may come in handy, so that I use my hand for the gestures while still have some shortcuts on hand. Using the same hand I hold the pen for gestures is another option.
There are 3 modes for touch, you can toggle between them using the button on the left side:-
- Pen and Touch functions Mode:- Enables both the pen & touch features at the same time. From my experience, touch features can be activated even when the pen is hovering over XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP. However, if you’re in the middle of drawing a stroke, then touch won’t work until you lift the pen tip from the screen. This mode is only works on Windows.
- Pen Priority Mode:- This mode gives priority to the pen. Based on my experiments, you can only use touch features when the pen isn’t making a stroke or hovering. This mode is supported on Windows, Mac & Android.
- Disabling Touch:- This mode disables touch capabilities all the way. It’s useful in case they got in your way too much, or in case you’re not interested in using them at all.
In case you found out that touch got in the way, no matter what mode you use, and you still want to use the touch features. You can wear a glove in your main hand to prevent touch from activating on its own. XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP comes with one that covers the lower part of your hand, so that’s an option. This type of gloves makes it still possible to interact with the screen with your index & thumb fingers if you so liked.
To test it out, I have tried using XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP on some of the popular drawing & digital art programs I have. I tested both drawing with the pen & the touch gestures whenever possible. From my experience with other pen displays, XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP is likely doing to work on other programs I haven’t tested, at least for drawing.
Photoshop was the main program I tested XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP on, specially since I use it a lot. Everything worked very well on it. Drawing worked very well & was quite fun. Touch gestures was smooth as well.
The pen features worked quite well with Krtia, but at times, huge strokes appeared when I am on the Pen and Touch functions Mode. Things are better with the Pen Priority mode. You can work with Krita fine if you disabled touch, or if you wore the gloves that comes with XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP.
The pen worked quite well with Sai, I was satisfied with the experience. Sai doesn’t support touch gestures, so testing them wasn’t an option here.
After enabling pressure in GIMP (It wasn’t enabled by default), the pen worked quite well. GIMP doesn’t support touch gestures, so I didn’t get to test that. I could draw with my finger though.
The pen worked just fine. Touch features worked, but was far from smooth, this slowness could be issue in illustrator itself. Since that got in the way of drawing, I turned touch features off.
Clip Studio Paint worked very fine with XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP, but I had to check the Use mouse mode in setting of tablet driver (Z) in the Tablet section in Preferences:-
Once I checked that option, I was able to draw freely. Touch gestures worked well in general.
XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP comes with the PH2 pen (which X-Pen sometimes refers to as PH02). It’s a battery-free pen that doesn’t requires that you charge it or insert a battery in. It comes in an elegant case that slides to reveal it, along with 9 spare nibs & nibs removal base in the case itself.
Drawing with the pen feels like any other pen I reviewed. While I prefer thinner pens, I don’t think I can’t draw for hours with this one. The thing that actually annoyed me about it is the fact that it only has one button on the side. Almost every other graphics tablet & pen display I reviewed has two on the side. I am so used to setting those buttons to do Undo/Redo so that I can draw to my heart content. Also, the button is almost flush to the side of the pen, making it harder to locate without looking at it or keep my finger on it all the time. For the time being, I set the button to toggle between the brush & eraser tools, so that I could erase any mistake as I make them instead of undoing them. Another solution is to set it to do undo, which I use more than redo, and do redos from the keyboard. To compensate for the lack of the button, the PH2 pen has an eraser on the back. Unlike the side button, which you can customize to do a different shortcut based on the application you’re using, you can’t customize what the eraser does.
As a solution for the flush side button, I am thinking of creating & attaching a small triangular piece to it, so that pressing it would be much easier.
Other than the key & eraser on the pen, XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP has no other hot keys, so you need to have a keyboard on the side to switch between different tool and use shortcuts. Having a small keyboard on the side can be convenient for that. You can also use certain shortcut devices you can program as you like. I plan on trying that on a WiiMote as I mentioned earlier. Using the touch function can also help with the lack of hot keys.
Since XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP comes with 2 fully functional USB-C ports. Thanks to that, there are many ways to connect it to your computer. I have made few experiment with different configurations & computers, and I was quite amused by the flexibility of having the two ports, as opposed to the old way of having to connect 2-3 different cables in a specific way. Each USB-C ports is quite flexible, it can supply data, display signal & power, all at the same time. The nice thing is, they can supply power to & from XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP. This flexibility is tempting me to buy USB-C cable extensions to the cables longer. That way, I could move my XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP around & draw anywhere in my room. I know this works quite well with USB-A & HDMI extensions, since I did that before, so it’s interesting to see that happen with the thinner & more flexible USB-C.
Right below, I have listed the experiments that worked for me. I also listed some experiments that didn’t work, but could work if I had the right computer or port. You can do almost any of the configurations below using the cables that come with XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP. In one or two specific cases, I have brought a cable on my own.
This is the default configuration most people are likely going to use. Specially for those who don’t have USB-C port with alternate mode (the kind that supports display signal). All I did was to connect XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP to the power adapter for power, then I connected it to the computer using the 2-in-1 cable.
Connecting XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP Using The 2-In-1 Port, And Use The USB-C To Get Power From The Computer Instead Of Power Adapter
This is the exact setting as the previous one, but instead of getting power from the power adapter, I connected the USB-C cable to the one on my laptop. The USB-C in the MSI laptop I used in this experiment doesn’t support external display, so I had to use the 2-in-1 cable for that here.
We use the 2-in-1 cable again in this experiment. But instead of taking power from a USB-C on the laptop, we do that from a regular USB-A port. For that, I used a USB-C to USB-A cable I already had before (It doesn’t come with XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP). This configuration is very easy to do on almost any laptop.
If the computer we have has a USB-C port that allows you to connect an external monitor is, we can use that instead of the 2-in-1 cable. To get power to XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP, we connect another USB-C cable to the power adapter. I used a Mac Mini 2018 for this experiment.
To be able to use this configuration, you will need a computer with 2 USB-C ports, one of them is capable of supplying power & display signal. So for this experiment, I used an Mac Mini 2018. Since it has 4 USB-C ports, which supports up to 2 4K displays from them (besides a 3rd monitor via HDMI, if needed). I connected the 2 USB-C cables between XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP & the Mac Mini. One cable for data & display signal, and the other for power.
Continuing with the Mac Mini, I wondered if I could use only one USB-C cable for everything, where XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP also takes its power from the port that’s already supplying data & display signal to the Mac Mini. Leaving the other USB-C port on XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP for other things I may need in the future. This configuration worked quite well, and it’s one of my favorite configurations listed here
Some laptops only have 1 USB-C that’s used for charging. That port is usually capable of power delivery (PD), signal & data. The thing is, if we used that port to connect XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP to it, then how are we going to charge the laptop? The solution:- Make XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP supply power to itself from the power adapter, and to supply power to the laptop using the other USB-C cable.
This configuration is useful for certain Macbook Pro models that only have a USB-C port. I don’t have one of these, but I managed to do this experiment with my Lenovo ThinkPad E580, which also has one USB-C for charging. I admit that I could have used some of the other configuration with this laptop, since it laptop already has a regular USB-A port & HDMI, but I quite liked the convenience of this configuration.
While I managed to connect XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP to various computers in multiple of ways. There are some configurations that didn’t work for me. Not necessarily because they are not valid, but because I probably don’t have the right computer & tools for them.
Connecting XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP to the computer using the 2-in-1 cable only.
If I was able to connect XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP using a single USB-C port, wouldn’t the 2-in-1 port work as well? That’s what I tried here. Unfortunately, none of the USB ports I have was able to supply it with enough power, hence the need to use the other USB-C port. I still think that’s possible with certain USB-A ports.
Connecting XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP to my Lenovo E580’s, while having a 10-to-1 USB-C hub attached to it
This was a bit of a crazy experiment, but I still went with it. Instead of supplying power to the laptop via the USB-C port on it, I tried to supply power to a 10-in-1 USB-C hub that I connected to the sole USB-C port in it. That worked fine, but since the hub wasn’t designed to get display signal from that USB-C port, I couldn’t get to get signal for data XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP.
I can still use XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP with that hub at the same time, but I will have to use the HDMI & USB-A ports in the hub itself.
- XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP itself
- The PH02 Pen
- PH02 Pen Case
- 9 Spare Nibs
- Nib removal base (inside the pen case).
- Screen cleaning cloth
- 3 power adapter plug converters
- Product manual & quick start guide.
- A happy holiday card (in my case at least)
- Drawing glove that covers the lower part of your hand.
- 1 X 2-in-1 cable.
- 2 X USB-C to USB-C cable.
Chinese pen displays have made some great strides in the last few years. There’s not much you would lose from using some of their product, which you can get for a good price. It’s quite nice to see some competition with Wacom, which dominated this space for quite some time. I have been expecting to have 4K pen displays from them for few years now, and I am glad we managed to have those now.