It’s not a secret among photographers that photo editing is a big part of the job. Modern camera sensors have grown so much that it’s almost a crime not to take photos in RAW and then take them into a photo editor to eke out all the detail you can from them and make them look as great as possible.
To get into serious photo editing, however, you need a good laptop. The best laptops for photo editing are those with a good combination of CPU and GPU, as both are important in running the top photo editing software available today.
Laptops for Photo Editing
Before we go on the search for the best laptop for photo editing, let’s take a look at some important characteristics that a laptop for photo editing should have:
When looking at a CPU, higher clock speeds are better for higher performance. You should also look at the core count in a CPU. Laptop CPUs usually come in U-series and HQ-series models. The former has 2 cores while the latter has 4 cores. The higher end laptops for photo editing may have even 6-core CPUs. The more the cores, the better your laptop will perform.
If you’re looking for the best budget laptop for Photoshop and other software, you may have to stick with Intel’s integrated GPUs. These perform well enough, but if you want better performance and quicker operation, you should spend a little more to get an NVIDIA or AMD discreet GPU.
Both disk space and RAM are important to run photo editing software. You should ideally get a laptop with an SSD where you can install your program of choice, and a larger hard drive for storing your files. For RAM, it is advised to have at least 8GB to make sure your laptop doesn’t slow down while multitasking or working on multiple images.
The best laptop for photo editing needs to have a screen that is large enough to see the details of your work easily. It should also be color accurate to ensure that what you’re seeing on the screen is not way off than what other people will see. If you’re looking for the best laptops under $800, then the screen will mostly not be color accurate so you might want to get an external monitor.
With that out of the way, let’s now have a look at the best laptops for photo editing in different price ranges.
The Best Laptop for Photo Editing at a Price
The highest end laptops will have good screens, solid CPU/GPU combos, and a fast SSD to make photo editing a breeze. Here are some of the best laptops for photographers if money is no object:
- Apple Macbook Pro
The Apple MacBook Pro 2018 is considered by many as the best laptop for photo editing. It comes with the monstrous Intel Core i9 8950HK processor that has 6 cores and a base clock speed of 2.9GHz. There’s 32GB RAM and a fast SSD here too, making it the best laptop for Lightroom. The only thing that annoys people with this is the very bad connectivity due to the lack of many ports and the fact that it doesn’t have a touchscreen. Also, quite expensive. But despite these shortcomings, people looking for the best laptops for photo editing will always consider Macbook as the best overall option.
- Microsoft Surface Book 2
The best laptop for photo editing on the go might just be the Surface Book 2 because of its use as both a laptop and a tablet. This characteristic also makes it the best laptop for graphic design, especially with the Surface Pen in your hands. This laptop comes with Intel’s 8th generation U-series processors that are both powerful and power efficient. There’s plenty of RAM and fast SSDs here too and coupled with the excellent screen, that makes for a powerful package. However, the Surface Book 2 is expensive which may put some people off.
- HP 15.6” ZBook Studio x360 G5
The HP’s display comes at a 4K resolution and with great colors and clarity. The laptop is also very durable, making it one of the best laptops for photographers who like to go out into the wild often. The ZBook comes with an Intel Xeon processor which is designed for content creators and also has a Quadro GPU, making it a consideration for the best laptop for graphic design as well as photography. It’s expensive though, and the webcam is just bad.
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga
Lenovo ThinkPad X1Yoga is a lightweight, portable laptop with a foldable design that pairs the latest 8th generation processors with fast SSD to make it one of the best laptops for Photoshop. The Lenovo monitor on the laptop is also very good, but the higher price and average battery life are things that might be enough to make you decide otherwise. However, for people who think that the best laptops for photo editing must be versatile enough to be used for graphic design as well, the Yoga will be a great choice.
- ASUS VivoBook Pro 4K
Perhaps the best 15-inch laptop for your needs, the ASUS VivoBook Pro is a healthy mix of features that make it an ideal choice for many people. The 4K screen is bright and punchy, the ports are plenty, and the battery life is good. However, the touchpad on the laptop isn’t all that great so if you consider this as part of your best laptop for photography shortlist, make sure to consider adding a good mouse to the price as well.
The Best Laptop for Photo Editing in the Mid Range
If you want the best laptop for Photoshop but don’t want to spend too much money, then these are some of the best options for you:
- HP Spectre x360
The HP Spectre x360 comes with a beautiful screen and very good battery life combined with the 8th generation processors from Intel that are quad core. This definitely puts it in the list of the best laptops for photo editing. It also has an SSD, 8GB of RAM in the base model, and comes with the pen included. If you go for the base option with an i5 processor, you’re looking at perhaps the best laptop for photo editing under $1000.
- Dell XPS 13
Looking for the best laptop for photo editing under $1000 will surely bring the XPS 13 to your notice. This is an overall great, ultra-portable laptop that comes with the newest processors, a stunning display, fast SSD, and even a touchscreen if you pay more. Overall, the Dell XPS 13 is definitely one of the best laptops for photo editing. For many, the best laptops for photo editing have to be small, lightweight, and portable, and the XPS 13 is the perfect choice for that kind of people.
- Microsoft Surface Laptop
The Surface Laptop is a laptop for photo editing that is also super portable and minimalist. This makes it a great device for people who don’t want a heavy machine to carry around but rather something simpler. The display is excellent and the processor performs very well, but the hard drive included isn’t great so keep that in mind when considering this one. Despite that, this will be the best laptop for photo editing for many people simply because of the form factor and the fact that it comes directly from the maker of Windows.
- Huawei MateBook X Pro
The Huawei MateBook X Pro is made to rival the MacBook Pro as far as build quality and looks are concerned. It is also packed with the latest quad-core processors and a dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics (2GB GDDR5) to ensure great performance. The 256GB SSD and the 8GB of RAM help to make this one of the best laptops for Photoshop. The only problem with this is that you can’t buy it everywhere.
The Best Laptop for Photo Editing on a Budget
It used to be that laptops for photo editing couldn’t be bought on a low budget. With the latest processors from Intel and entry-level GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD, however, a laptop for photo editing can be bought at any budget. Some of the best laptops under $800 still come with quad-core processors and good screens enough these days, making the search for the best laptop for photo editing on a budget much easier.
- Dell Inspiron 13 7000
The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 series might just be the best laptop under $600 that is fairly capable of being used as the best laptop for photography in this price range. With a small footprint, lightweight yet sturdy build, and a touchscreen, this becomes a capable machine for multiple uses. You won’t be able to do very demanding work on it easily but if you’re more of an enthusiast photographer, this could be perfect.
- Acer Swift 3
The Acer Swift 3 perhaps tops the list of the best laptops under $800 for photo editors. It has 7th generation processors but it’s plenty powerful for how much it costs. It has all the ports you might need for moderate photo editing, so transferring photos to and from your computer isn’t an issue. The battery life is great, and so are the keyboard and trackpad. If you’re okay with using a last-gen processor, this is a serious contender for the best laptop for photo editing on a budget.
- Acer Aspire E15
Another one from the list of the best laptops under $800, the Aspire E15 might be the overall best laptop for photo editing on a budget. It comes with quad-core processors, 8GB of RAM, and an SSD out of the box. Couple that with dedicated MX150 graphics and good build quality, and you might have the best budget laptop for Photoshop at your hands.
- Asus Zenbook UX330UA-AH55
Rounding off this list of the best laptops for photographers, Asus Zenbook UX330UA comes in a small form factor that makes it the best laptop for photography if you are constantly traveling and need your laptop for photo editing with you at all times. It has the latest quad-core CPUs, 8GB of RAM, and a screen that is better than most Lenovo monitors that are known for their quality. This laptop is nothing but an impressive all-rounder, making it one of the best laptops for photo editing on the go.
So, from the best laptop under $600 to the overall best laptop for photography, whatever you’re looking for can be found in this list. The best laptops for photo editing are often thought to be very expensive but what is important to remember is that there are plenty of options in the mid-range and budget categories that might fit your individual description of the best laptop for photography. The laptop that costs $3000 might be the best laptop for photo editing you can buy, but it’s not always that expensive just because of its internals. The build materials, special features like detachable screens and other aspects of it will have a lot to do with the price. So, if you can find a laptop with the same internals but with a few compromises, you can easily cut the price down by a lot.
For details on the best laptops for photo editing as listed in this article, it’s always best to check out user reviews to make sure what you’re buying is exactly what you need.