One by Wacom vs Intuos - what are the differences?

Comparing Wacom's screenless drawing tablets

Written: 
December 11, 2020
Last Updated: 
June 16, 2021
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Wacom has a few types of pen tablet, and honestly, it can be hard to tell why one tablet is so much more expensive than another. Does a bigger price tag provide a better experience, or are you better off going cheaper and saving money?
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Wacom One

Note: This article is not about the Wacom One pen display, which I've noticed a lot of people come to this article looking for information on - I'll work on writing a comparison.

From first impressions I think the Wacom One looks like a decent tablet, but I personally recommend the Huion Kamvas Pro 16 instead - Huion's quality is now up with Wacom's, but it has similar specs and a bigger screen for the same price!

One by Wacom or Intuos, what do I recommend?

I'll list the specific differences between the tablets further down this article, but first I want to give my recommendations up-front.

One by Wacom
If you're new to digital art and on a tight budget, I'd recommend One by Wacom

The difference between One by Wacom and an Intuos Small is tiny - 99% of digital artists wont use the Intuos's buttons or notice the marginally better pen.

If you're on a budget and don't care about wireless, save money and go for the cheaper One by Wacom. If you want a wireless Wacom tablet, go for the Intuos Small with Bluetooth.

Intuos Medium
If you have a larger budget and plan to use your tablet daily, I would get a larger tablet like the Intuos Medium
Drawing for long periods is easier and healthier on a larger tablet.

Drawing from the shoulder is healthier and less tiring than drawing with your wrist, but it's harder to draw from the shoulder on a small tablet. This wont become a problem if you only use your tablet occasionally, but if you plan to put in the hours I would recommend something larger like an Intuos Medium.

Intuos Pro Large
I would only recommend an Intuos Pro tablet to a professional artist with a large budget, who is absolutely sure they don't want a tablet with a screen.

Intuos Pro tablets are expensive for what they offer.

In my opinion, the Intuos Pro Small and Medium don't offer very much over the standard Intuos - better buttons and stylus, but most people wont even notice the difference so I would just get a standard Intuos instead.

The Intuos Pro Large is a much larger pen tablet than all the others so it has that going for it, but for around the same money you can buy a larger tablet with a screen, which most artists would prefer.

Similarities between One by Wacom and Intuos

Since One by Wacom and Wacom Intuos are fairly similar pen tablets, let's just get the similarities out of the way so we can move on to the differences:

1. One by Wacom, Intuos and Intuos Pro have no display

All of these Wacom tablets are pen tablets, which means they have no display at all.

As all of these are non-screen tablets, I want to mention the hand-screen disconnect, and how it might affect your decision making.

If you previously haven't worked with a screenless drawing tablet, or have only done traditional art, you might struggle at the very beginning, because of having to draw on the tablet while looking up at a screen .

This issue is very rarely a lasting one - after around a week of practice most people get used to looking away from the surface they draw on.

2. All have similar build quality

Wacom is the leading brand in the pen tablet industry, and their products are pricey - but you know that you're paying for quality and durability.

3. All come with spare nibs

All of these tablets come with extra nibs - some of them with 3 extra standard nibs, some of them with additional varieties.

4. You can make the same quality of art on them all

No matter which of these tablets you use, you can achieve a very similar quality of art with all of them.

Yes there are size differences, and some of them have buttons that make your workflow smoother.

There's also a pen pressure difference that can make a difference to specific workflows.

But in the end, these are more quality of life differences than anything else - they essentially will do the same job and produce the same results, just perhaps the process will be slightly easier on a more expensive tablet.

Advantages of Wacom Intuos

1. Most Intuos have wireless Bluetooth connection

There are three models of Intuos to choose from, and all but one can be used wirelessly via Bluetooth - all Intuos Pro models come with Bluetooth connectivity.

While this might not seem a major deal, as Intuos can also be plugged in, comes with an average length wire and works with 3rd party USB cables, working wirelessly really adds to quality-of-life when making art for long hours.

Being able to move around and work in lots of positions easily is a massive boon to those who make a lot of digital art.

2. Intuos tablets come with software of your choosing

With Intuos, Wacom has kindly bundled free software so you can get right to making art.

You get Corel Painter Essentials, Corel Aftershot 3, and Clip Studio Paint for free.

While you do pay bigger bucks for a Wacom tablet, this really adds a lot of value to the purchase - especially since Clip Studio Paint has become a great competitor to Photoshop.

3. Intuos comes with a Wacom Pen 4K

The Wacom Pen 4K has a few advantages over the Wacom Pen 2K.

Mainly it has higher pressure sensitivity than the 2K, hence its name, though some say that it's quite a small or even unnoticable difference.

Aside from this, the Wacom Pen 4K also comes with a nib remover and you can store 3 nibs inside the pen itself.

Additional advantages of an Intuos Pro

4. The Intuos Pro comes in Large!

The active areas of the small and medium versions of Intuos Pro are really, really close to the small and medium Intuos and also the One by Wacom.

However, Intuos Pro offers a Large version, with an active area of 12.1 x 8.4 inches.

The Intuos Pro Large has a huge drawing surface, allowing you to do large brushstrokes and easily use your whole arm, shoulder and elbow when drawing and painting, as well as make smaller delicate strokes a bit easier.

As far as portability though, travelling with a tablet this big might be too much of a hassle to recommend it - it only fits in the largest laptop bags designed for 17 inch laptops, and weighs over a kilo!

5. Intuos Pro has a better button layout

New models of Intuos tablets have their customizable keys at the top edge of the tablet.

While this might be an attempt to make the Intuos more accessible for both left handed and right handed people, having the buttons on the side makes them more accessible and easier to use - which is how they are on the Intuos Pro.

With Intuos Pro you're able to just rotate the tablet so the buttons are either on the left or right, and in the settings change the orientation of the tablet to left or right handed.

7. Intuos Pro gets the Wacom Pro Pen 2

Since as a digital artist your stylus is a huge amount of the process, it's important you have a good one - and the Wacom Pro Pen 2 is one of the best digital art styluses out there.

It comes with 8192 sensitivity levels, tilt, 2 customisable buttons, a nice rubbery grip, and it's nicely weighted - Wacom have really put effort into making this a quality stylus.

They also provided 4 little coloured pen rings that you can alter your stylus with, to give it a personal touch - it's a little thing but I like it!

8. Intuos Pro has texture sheets

None of the other tablets use texture sheets - if you're picky about the feel of your tools, this might be a game changer for you.

When you order your Intuos Pro (Intuos S is an exception, you cannot change the texture sheet on this size), in the box you receive three tiny samples of the texture sheets they offer.

You can choose from smooth, standard and rough, and all of them go for a price of $30 for the Medium and $40 for Large.

Disadvantages of Wacom Intuos

1. Intuos and Intuos Pro are more expensive than One by Wacom

When you compare both series of Intuos and One by Wacom side by side, it's clear that the Intuos and Pro's only disadvantage is price.

The cheapest Wacom Intuos sells for $80, whereas the One by Wacom Small sells for $70, and the One by Wacom Medium for £50 (about $70 - the Medium is not available in the Wacom USA online store).

If you want a larger wireless tablet, something like the Wacom Intuos Medium, you'll be spending $200 for it - at this point, the price difference between Intuos and One by Wacom is huge.

Intuos Pro is even worse - the price for a Pro starts at $250, and the Large version costs a whopping $500.

That's a month's rent in a lot of countries, and it's just a pen tablet without a screen!

If you're a beginner and this is your first tablet, you can't be 100% sure that you'll even enjoy digital art or using screenless tablets - and $250 to $500 is a massive amount of money to gamble.

Wacom is a recognisable and high end brand that's been around since 1983. It's become an industry standard, and anyone even remotely related to the field knows about their tablets, so it makes sense that they charge a premium.

But the issue is that lately Wacom's competitors, primarily Huion and Xp-Pen, have been catching up. There are people who argue that they aren't the same quality as Wacom, and I somewhat agree, but that gap is closing fast.

Huion and XP-Pen's products are vastly better than they were a few years ago, and for someone with limited budget they make functional and quality products that reliably do the job - at much lower price points than Intuos and Intuos Pro.

Advantages of One by Wacom

1. One by Wacom is substantially cheaper!

One by Wacom is the cheapest tablet that Wacom offers and it does the job.

No, it doesn't come with buttons or wireless or any of the other fancy stuff that Intuos or Intuos Pro provides.

The stylus isn't as good either.

But it's sturdy and functional, and a lot less money to risk on a purchase.

Disadvantages of One by Wacom

1. One doesn't have any buttons

One by Wacom doesn't have any buttons on the tablet.

The stylus included still has two buttons of course, but practically speaking you're limited in what you can do with just 2 buttons.

This makes a keyboard basically necessary when using the One to make digital art.

2. One doesn't have bluetooth

It's not a make or break issue, but being able to connect to your pc wirelessly can really come in handy, especially if your workspace is tiny and clutters up easily - one less wire can do wonders.

But in addition, this becomes a bigger issue because of the next disadvantage of One by Wacom...

3. One has a very short cable

One by Wacom uses a 1 meter long USB cable to connect to your workstation, which is extremely short

If you use a laptop, perhaps this isn't such a problem.

If you want to plug this into a desktop pc, you'll have to purchase a longer cable, or  pray you can figure out how to keep the tablet within 1m of the nearest usb slot!

4. One doesn't have nib storage

This won't be a big hassle for most, as even if you travel with the tablet just throwing the little nib bag in a case with your tablet will do the job.

But having the spare nibs in the pen itself (as Wacom Intuos has) or having a stand that stores your nibs (as with the Wacom Intuos Pro) is quite handy.

5. The One only comes in 2 smaller sizes

One by Wacom comes in only two sizes, and even then the bigger Medium isn't available in some countries.

Wacom Intuos only has two sizes too, but both of them are readily available in  all the regional Wacom online stores.

But the Intuos Pro has 3 sizes - if you really need a lot of real estate for your brush strokes, you'll have to go for the Intuos Pro Large.

Which should you go for?

Well, reading all this I'm sure you can tell that the most important differences are just size and price, and everything else is just a minor factor.

None will really affect your art - I can say first-hand that you can make quality art on basically any Wacom tablet.

Recently my expensive Wacom Cintiq broke and for about a month I had to use my inexpensive, old and battered Wacom Bamboo from 2009.

The smaller size of my budget tablet was a little less convenient to work on, but the art I made with it was indistinguishable from the art I made with my larger and more expensive Cintiq - and my clients were happy regardless.

So it's pretty clear I don't think a more expensive and fancier tablet will improve your art, but I do think the different tablets are suited better to certain people.

If you're a beginner that wants to test out the digital art waters and try out a graphics tablet, One by Wacom would be a great purchase. I'd only consider Intuos if you have the extra cash for it's small extra features, or if you really want a large screenless tablet like the Intuos Pro Large.

I would say only people with plenty of digital art experience should consider the Intuos Pro tablets, as the price tag is so big and the advantages so few.

Most beginners wouldn't even notice the main advantages of an Intuos Pro, and I think the money could be better spent on something that would make more of a difference - possibly even an entry level tablet with a screen.

Even for experienced artists, you should be asking yourself if an Intuos Pro is a good investment compared to a tablet with a screen, like a Wacom Cintiq - we also have an article comparing Intuos with Cintiq if you're interested!

I recommend:

One by Wacom

One by Wacom for people who are new to digital art and don't want to break the bank
Intuos Medium

Intuos Medium for artists who plan to use their tablets daily and have a larger budget
Intuos Pro Large

Intuos Pro Large for professional artists with a large budget, who know they don't want a tablet with a screen.

Hey, I'm Christopher

I started making digital art in 2009, and became a full-time freelance artist in 2016, able to work on my own schedule from anywhere in the world.

Now, I want to help young artists make the same journey!

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