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The best third-party pens for PCs with Windows Ink support

The best third-party pens for PCs with Windows Ink support

Windows Ink is one of the coolest features Microsoft introduced with Windows 10, making it easier to take notes and draw on your PC using a digital active pen. Many convertibles, tablets, and some of the best laptops support Windows Ink nowadays, but whether they don’t come with pens included or you happen to misplace yours, you may find yourself in need of a replacement. To help you out, we’ve rounded up some of the best active pens you can buy for Windows PCs that support Windows Ink.

While there are plenty of laptops that support Windows Ink, they don’t all work the same way. Active pens work thanks to dedicated digitizers, and they’re not universal. There are two primary digitizer technologies used on Windows PCs: the Microsoft Pen Protocol (MPP), which is the result of Microsoft buying N-Trig a few years ago, and Wacom AES. These two protocols aren’t compatible with each other, so if you’re buying a pen, it’s important to make sure it matches the protocol supported by your PC.

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Best hybrid pens for Windows PCs

While we just said that MPP and AES pens aren’t inter-compatible, there are thankfully some pens that support both protocols. If you want a safe bet that the pen you buy will almost certainly work with your laptop, these are the best ones you can go with. Strangely enough, Wacom itself makes a few pens that support both its own AES protocol and MPP, so you have some high-profile pens here.

    Solid all-around pen

    The Wacom Bamboo Ink pen features 4,096 levels of pressure and a premium metal design. It's compatible with both Wacom AES and MPP PCs

    Tilt support

    If you want a slightly more advanced pen, the Lazarite M Pen Black comes complete with tilt support, 4,096 levels of pressure and equally wide compatibility.

    Premium rechargeable pen

    This high-end Wacom pen comes in an extra sleek design and includes a recheargeable battery, replacement tips, and tilt support. It's somewhat expensive, though.

Best MPP pens

If you know what you’re buying for and you want to save some money, you can find cheaper options by specifically looking at pens designed for the Microsoft Pen Protocol. Support varies from device to device, but MPP-enabled devices include Microsoft’s Surface lineup, most of HP’s laptops for consumers (some business laptops use Wacom AES), and many Dell laptops. This is just general guidance — we recommend looking into what your laptop specifically supports.

    Budget-friendly option

    This is a relatively basic Windows Ink-capable pen supporting 1,024 levels of pressure and palm rejection. It includes a replaceable tip in the box, too. It's a solid budget option for basic note-taking and doodling.

    Advanced and affordable

    For a more advanced experience, the Uogic Ink 581 pen comes with support for 4,096 levels of pressure, tilt support, and a magnetic design so it can snap on the side of devices like the Surface Go family and older Surface Pro models.

    Bluetooth support

    This pen includes all the advanced inking features you'd expect like tilt support and 4,096 levels of pressure, but also Bluetooth, so you can assign shortcuts to its buttons. It's rechargeable via USB-C, too.

Best Wacom AES pens

There are plenty of laptops that support the Wacom AES protocol, too. These include most Lenovo and Acer laptops, the LG gram 2-in-1 models, and some select models for other brands. Some of LG’s smartphones also support Wacom AES pens. Again, it’s worth checking to make sure you’re getting a compatible pen, or you can go with the hybrid pens at the top that work with both protocols.

    High-end AES pen

    This LG pen is designed to work with its smartphones and laptops, but it'll work with any AES laptop. It supports 4,096 levels of pressure, tilt, and it includes two replacement tips in the box.

    Sleek design

    The Lenovo Active Pen 2 supports 4,096 levels of pressure and it comes in a fairly streamlined design. It also includes Bluetooth support for quick shortcuts in Windows 10 and 11. Plus, it comes with three replacement tips.

    Affordable alternative

    If you want something more affordable, this Tesha pen supports 2,048 levels of pressure for Wacom AES laptops and palm rejection to prevent accidental touches. It comes with an extra replacement tip.

Those are our recommendations for the best active digital pens you can get for your Windows PC. Of course, our biggest recommendations go to the hybrid pens, not only because they’re a safer bet if you don’t exactly what your laptop supports, but also because they’re more likely to work with your next laptop when you buy a new one. However, some of the other options are more affordable, so it might be worth looking into them, too.

If you’re looking for pens for your Chromebook, keep in mind they use a different protocol. We have a list of the best USI pens for Chromebooks you may want to check out.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Editor at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.

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