Wacom recently released an updated version of its popular Cintiq Pro 16 Creative Pen Display. This release came as something of a surprise since many of us didn’t know the 2017 model had quietly been discontinued earlier this year. To see what was new, what was better, and how it faired against its predecessor, we took the updated Cintiq Pro 16 for a test drive.
Cintiq Pro 16 (2021): What’s New?
On paper, the new Cintiq Pro 16 doesn’t seem much different from its predecessor. Both feature a 4K display with a 13.6 x 7.6" active drawing area and have the same overall footprint. Both models come with Wacom’s most advanced stylus, the Pro Pen 2, which offers 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt recognition. The new Cintiq Pro 16 is slightly brighter than the original and claims to have marginally better color performance, but the difference isn’t so great you would automatically upgrade.
Seeing the similarities between the new model and the old, my first thought was, Well, if it ain’t broke, but I did have to wonder: So, what’s new, then?
According to Wacom, the new Cintiq Pro 16 was redesigned using customer feedback and input from the “creative community.” At first, I was a little unclear what changes that feedback would entail—the 2017 model, after all, was darn near perfect. Upon unboxing the display, I was pleased to see the changes were largely practical enhancements to the design.
For starters, Wacom placed a big emphasis on improving the Cintiq Pro 16’s ergonomics—which is a big deal, especially for those of us who spend hours hunched over a drawing tablet. The Cintiq Pro 16 now has a VESA mount on its back that can be used with any compatible stand, so you can set it to your ideal drawing angle. Wacom sells its own adjustable stand that’s great for working from a desk or table, but you can use third-party stands, as well, so long as they support VESA mounts. I’m someone who likes to recline when I draw, so I’ll be investing in a VESA-compatible arm mount soon.
Cintiq Pro 16 (2021): Now with ExpressKeys
Wacom also added eight ExpressKeys to the back of the display, four on each side. I’m grateful the company went this route instead of placing them on the front, of which I have never been a fan. When drawing, my posture and hand position have often been described as “contorted” and “boneless”—a consequence of which I am often unintentionally hitting buttons with my fingers or elbows. Placing the shortcut keys on the back ensures no accidental presses from other equally spastic artists. Plus, it keeps the design nice and clean.
Artist Recommendation: If you like using ExpressKeys for shortcuts, I recommend the ExpressKey Remote. You can customize it with up to 17 shortcuts, although I only use four or five regularly. It’s really convenient, though. I use it so much that I typically hold it in my hand when I’m drawing. Makes hitting that Undo command so much easier.
The other big design change Wacom made was to move all the cable connection ports to the top of the device. Now, if you’re thinking, Connection ports on the top, who cares?, well then, you have officially entered meme territory: Tell me you’ve never used a Wacom without telling me you’ve never used a Wacom. Cable placement on Wacom displays has never been great, especially for those of us who don’t sit still when we work (the word flail is directed at me quite a bit). Because of constant adjusting, the cables often get in my way and need to be brushed aside or repositioned. I am happy to say the updated port design on the new Cintiq Pro 16 keeps the cables from ever disrupting my workflow. It’s such a welcome improvement.
Because the changes to the new Cintiq Pro 16 were focused largely on enhancing ergonomics and design, there wasn’t much of a boost to performance. The good news is that there wasn’t really any need for a boost to performance. The Cintiq Pro 16 was and is a pro-caliber display that more than meets the needs of any working professional, especially photographers and digital artists. Its 4K resolution, excellent color performance, and best-in-class stylus are more than worthy of the Cintiq Pro 16’s flagship status.
Cintiq Pro 16 (2021): Is It Worth It?
Like its predecessor, we definitely recommend the Cintiq Pro 16 (2021) for professional content creators, photographers, and digital artists. When it comes to a pen display, you simply cannot do better. For hobbyists or anyone who doesn’t need the absolute best, we would likely recommend the “non-pro” Cintiq 16 as an alternative, which is a great pen display, but with a 1080p screen, as opposed to 4K.
Now, if you already own the 2017 model of the Cintiq Pro 16, it’s a tougher call. On the one hand, you’ll get the same drawing and editing experience, more or less. However, the ergonomic improvements on the new model are so nice. They really do translate to a more comfortable working experience. Personally, I can’t imagine going back, but that’s a decision you’ll need to consider for yourself. Bottom line, though: The Cintiq Pro 16 continues to be the premier 16" pen display and your best bet for a top-of-the-line, professional-level drawing tablet.
Are you a Cintiq user? Tell us why, in the Comments section.
I use a XPPen Artist Pro 16 screen drawing monitor and it's been brilliant. I'm always one to look at alternatives. I think the major brands really know how to push their price tickets up very high.