Whether you’re a hobbyist or professional photographer, you need a good photo editing laptop to make your pictures look their best. While most of the work is done in a program like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, you still need to choose a laptop with a screen that accurately produces colors and has enough storage space for raw and rendered files.
If you’re shopping for the best laptop for photo editing, here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Price – Narrowing down your budget not only helps to keep you from overspending, but it also helps you find the best features at the best price. While many high-end and premium laptops come with steep price tags, you can still find solid, budget-friendly options with great screen resolution, color volume, and processing power.
- Screen Size – While you’re working on raw photo files, you need to make sure you have enough space to actually see what you’re doing. Many laptops geared toward creative professionals have either 15 or 17-inch screens, giving you plenty of room to work. Many models with smaller screens also have ultra-narrow bezels so you can get the best screen-to-body size ratio.
- Screen Resolution – Resolution is another important deciding factor. While a 1080p screen is great for minor edits and touching up your family vacation photos, professional photographers will want to opt for a laptop that has a 4K option. And for even better detailing and color, there are OLED and AMOLED screen options available.
- CPU – Your new laptop has to have enough processing power to render finished photographs. We recommend choosing a laptop with an Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU or an AMD Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7. Pair it with at least 8GB of RAM, and you’ll have a pretty decent photo editing laptop.
- Storage Space – Storage space is key, especially if you have a large number of raw photo files. We recommend a storage drive with at least 512GB of space, though you can find configurations with 1 or even 2TB of space; which is great if you deal with a lot of 4K files or 3D modeling.
- Connectivity – How your laptop connects to your cameras and other accessories is important. You’ll want to choose a model with an SD card reader for direct transfers from your camera’s memory cards, USB-C ports for fast transfers from external storage devices, and even an HDMI input or USB-C with DisplayPort support for setting up secondary displays. Bluetooth is also important for wireless peripherals like styluses, mice, and headsets.
We want to help you find the best photo editing laptop your budget can get you, so we’ve rounded up 10 of the top picks from brands like Samsung, ASUS, and Apple. You can keep reading below to check out their features and price points to find which one is right for you.
1. MacBook Pro M1 16-Inch
The MacBook Pro has cemented itself as the go-to laptop for creative professionals and photographers, and the new M1 version is no exception. You can configure the 2021 MacBook Pro with up to 64GB of RAM and an SSD with up to 8TB of space; more than enough room and power to handle everything from color correction and raw files to full 3D rendering. The 16-inch screen has a maximum brightness of 1600 nits and uses Apple’s Liquid Retina technology to produce stunning 4K resolution, colors, and details.
The Thunderbolt 4 connections allow for blazing fast file transfer as well as support for up to 3 external 4K monitors when you need to multitask. The integrated battery gives you up to 21 hours of use on a full charge, letting you work all day, or several days, worry-free.
2. Dell XPS 15 9500
For photographers who prefer a Windows-based laptop, the Dell XPS 15 9500 is a very close second to the M1 MacBook. It’s powered by an Intel Core i9-10885H CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650Ti graphics card, 32 GB of RAM, and a 1TB M.2 SSD. The 15-inch screen supports touch inputs so you can use your favorite stylus for pixel-perfect editing or pinch, zoom, pan, and scroll like you would with your smartphone or tablet. It also produces 100 percent Adobe RGB and 94 percent DCI-P3 color volume, so your images look as true-to-life as possible.
The XPS 9500 has built-in blue light filters to help protect your eyes from strain and fatigue, which is good news for anyone who has to stare at a computer for long hours. The two Thunderbolt 3 inputs let you quickly transfer raw photo files and also support external displays, and the built-in SD card reader lets you upload raw photos directly from your camera’s memory. The battery gives you almost 12.5 hours of use on a full charge, meaning you can work from morning to well into the night without having to plug in.
3. Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition
The Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition has one of the best displays you can get on a laptop. The 15-inch screen uses OLED technology to provide 100 percent DCI-P3 color volume, incredible native 4K resolution, and unparalleled contrast. It also supports touch inputs so you can use a stylus for pixel-precise edits and color correction. It’s powered by an Intel Core i7-10875H CPU, Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 graphics card, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD.
WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 give you blazing fast internet speeds and reliable connections to wireless peripherals, while the Thunderbolt 3 ports let you quickly transfer files or set up a second monitor for when you need to multitask or require a bigger screen. All of this comes at a price though; not only will you have to shell out a ton of cash, the battery only gives you up to 4.5 hours of use on a full charge, so you’ll need to stay near a wall outlet to get through your workday.
4. HP Spectre x360
The HP Spectre x360 lets you streamline your workflow by combining the best of both a traditional laptop and a tablet. The hinge lets you switch between laptop, tablet, and tent modes quickly and easily to suit your work style and projects. The 15-inch screen uses AMOLED technology for better color volume, detailing, and 4K resolution. It also supports touch inputs from your hands or the included stylus for pixel-precise edits. It’s powered by an Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU, integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, and 16GB of RAM for all of the power you need to work on raw photo files and render finished projects.
You can configure your two-in-one laptop with an SSD with up to 2TB of storage space, giving you plenty of room for all of your files and programs. You can also choose to purchase a 1-year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud to jumpstart your photo editing. The battery gives you up to 13 hours of use on a single charge, and with fast charging technology, with just 30 minutes of charging time, you’ll get up to 50 percent battery; which is perfect for when you forget to charge overnight.
5. HP Envy x360
The HP Envy x360 may not have all of the bells and whistles that its big brother, the Spectre x360, comes equipped with, but it’s still a great two-in-one laptop. You can configure it with an AMD Ryzen 5, AMD Ryzen 7, Intel Core i5-1135G7, or Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU with either Radeon or Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics. Both AMD and Intel models can have up to 16GB of RAM and an SSD with up to 1TB of storage space.
The 15-inch screen produced 1080p HD resolution, which is great for anyone just starting out or wanting a laptop to touch up family photos. It comes with a stylus for more precise editing as well as an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. The battery is a bit better than its big brother, giving you up to 18.5 hours of use on a full charge so you can work from morning to late at night without needing to be tethered to a wall outlet.
6. Samsung Galaxy Book Pro
BEST BATTERY LIFE
Whether you work in an office or on the go, having a long-lasting battery in your laptop is a must; and the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro has one of the best batteries on the market. A full charge gives you up to 20 hours of use, meaning you can work several typical office shifts without needing to plug in. The 15.6-inch AMOLED screen gives you 100 percent DCI-P3 color volume as well as excellent 1080p full HD resolution.
Built-in sensors monitor ambient light and automatically adjust screen brightness so you can easily see your work even in direct sunlight. You can configure the Galaxy Book Pro with an Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU, up to 512GB of storage space, and 8GB of RAM. It also pairs seamlessly with other Samsung Galaxy devices so you can almost instantly transfer photos and files from your tablet and smartphone to your laptop.
7. ASUS ZenBook Duo
BEST DUAL-SCREEN LAPTOP
This laptop has a unique design, giving you a 14-inch traditional screen as well as a 12.6-inch Screenpad. This configuration allows you to use your laptop like you would a multi-monitor desktop setup; the Screenpad supports touch-based inputs so you can create digital art and edit photos without needing to set up a dedicated drawing tablet. The Screenpad can also be used as a control panel for your laptop so you can adjust settings on the fly, a secondary screen for apps running in the background, or simply extra screen real estate for when you need more viewing area.
The two screens are PANTONE validated for color accuracy, ensuring that both your raw and finished photo files look their best. The laptop itself is powered by an 11th generation Intel Core i7 CPU, integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB solid-state drive. You’ll get a free, three-month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, giving you access to programs such as Lightroom and Photoshop to take your editing skills to the next level. The battery is fairly impressive as well, giving you just over 10.5 hours of use on a full charge so you can work all day without needing to recharge.
8. Acer Swift 3
The Acer Swift 3 proves that you don’t have to break the bank to get a great laptop for editing photos. It’s powered by an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU with integrated Radeon graphics, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD for plenty of photo storage and rendering power. You can connect external displays over USB-C or quickly transfer files with the same ports, allowing you to streamline your workflow and multitask with ease.
The 14-inch screen gives you full 1080p HD resolution, and Bluetooth 5.0 lets you wirelessly connect peripherals like mice, headsets, and drawing tablets. With Alexa built-in, you get hands-free controls over your new laptop, and you can keep your work and personal data safe from unauthorized access with a fingerprint reader as well as a Windows Hello-enabled webcam. The battery gives you up to 11.5 hours of use on a single charge, so you can work away, worry-free.
9. Gigabye Aero 17
If you prefer a larger screen on your laptop, the Gigabyte Aero 17 is the perfect option. This laptop is designed from the ground up for creative professionals. The screen is PANTONE and X-Rite certified for color accuracy, providing 100 percent Adobe RGB color volume, 4K resolution, and an anti-glare coating that improves visibility even at extreme angles. It’s powered by an Intel Core i7-11800H CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, making it one of the most powerful photo editing laptops available; it also supports Nvidia DLSS AI for machine-learning rendering of finished photo files and even 3D modeling.
A Thunderbolt 4 port lets you quickly transfer files or connect a secondary 4K display, and an SD card reader lets you import files directly from your camera’s memory storage so you can free up space quickly on off-site or lengthy photoshoots. With WiFi 6 and Gigabit+ compatibility, you’ll get blazing fast Ethernet and wireless internet speeds so you can upload files to cloud storage, take video calls with clients, and download studio software faster than ever. The battery gives you up to eight hours of use on a full charge, so you can work a typical office shift before you need to worry about plugging into a wall outlet.
10. Microsoft Surface Pro 8
The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is an ultra-powerful tablet that can double as a laptop when you need it to. The ultra-thin bezel allows it to fit a 13-inch screen in a 12-inch body, giving you more room to work. The integrated kickstand lets you set up the screen for the most comfortable working and viewing position. It’s powered by an Intel Evo i7 CPU, integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. The screen gives you 2K resolution with Dolby Vision support as well as a 120Hz refresh rate.
Weighing in at just under 2 pounds and measuring less than 2 inches thick with the available keyboard and cover, the Surface Pro 8 is thin and lightweight enough to slip into a backpack, tote bag, or carry-on bag for your commute, off-site client meeting, or work trip. The battery lasts up to 16 hours on a full charge, so you can work on long domestic or international flights, at creator conferences, or long days in the studio. There are also LTE connectivity options available so you can stay connected to the internet even without a WiFi network.