The concept of photo editing extends beyond the occasional smartphone hacks. As a photographer, you need to rely on competent, resourceful, and relevant computers for applying filters, retouching, and color editing images to suit your clientele. However, with the laptop market expanding at an unimaginable pace, finding the best photo editing laptop can be an overwhelming experience.
As you think about every requirement, preference, and possibility before making a purchase will guarantee that you make the right choice and get yourself a computer you can use for years. For instance, it is important to concentrate on machines featuring multi-core processors, preferably Intel i7 or i9. The additional cores help execute processes in parallel, a feature that supersedes single-core clock speeds.
Also, it is best advised to opt for a CPU that strikes the perfect balance between cores and clock speed to speed up color editing, gradient adjustments, and other complex photo editing processes. Besides, you also need to consider the RAM as every image that is being edited is stored on it to speed up retrievals. Furthermore, it must also come with beefed-up storage space, preferably a model that comes with SSD or dual-storage (SSD and HDD)
The arrangement also keeps the laptop costs within permissible limits, without you having to worry about the capacity while processing RAW images. Coming to the graphics-support, you would require a dedicated GPU only if you are a power user with an inclination towards color-accurate viewport rendering, GPU-accelerated processes like blurring, advanced layering, face detection, preset usage, exclusive filer usage, 3D enhancements, and AI-based photo editing.
In case you are a productivity-focused professional, screen size, preferably 15-inch or 17-inch screen resolution, and at least 90 percent of sRGB color gamut are some of the other preferred requirements. Moreover, your choice of the operating system, i.e., macOS or Windows 10, is backed by your individual preferences. However, if you regularly juggle between platform-independent application programs like DxO Photo Lab, GIMP, Inkscape, Adobe Photoshop, and more, the choice of OS isn’t all that important.
If you are a professional photographer who needs to edit wedding, reception, anniversary, real-estate and portfolio images for a living, there are several other software like Lightroom, Luminar, and Photo Studio Ultimate to consider.
Finally, our experts would suggest you opt for machines having a wealth of functional ports, including HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 3 port, or more. They would allow you to set up external workflows if required whilst ensuring faster data transfers, as required by photo editors.
- Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
- 12 Best Laptops for Photo Editing in 2021
- 1. Best Overall: MSI Creator 15
- 2. Best Runner Up: Razer Blade 15
- 3. Best with AMD Ryzen 7: Asus ROG Zephyrus G15
- 4. Best with MacOS: Apple MacBook Pro
- 5. Best for Professionals: Dell XPS 15 9500
- 6. Best 2-in-1 Convertible: HP Spectre x360
- 7. Best 4K Under Budget: Asus ZenBook 15
- 8. Best with Dual Storage: Dell G5 15
- 9. Best Value for Money: Acer Aspire 7
- 10. Best Under Budget: Lenovo IdeaPad L340
- 11. Best for Rendering: MSI GF63 Thin
- 12. Cheapest Photo Editing Laptop: Acer Aspire 5
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Why do professional photo editors prefer processors with multiple cores?
- Why is GPU still an important resource for photo editors?
- What is the most adequate storage setup for Photo editing requirements?
- What is the best RAM configuration for photo editing indulgences?
- Which is the best photo editing tool to consider in case you want to manipulate certain images?
- What is the display attribute for your photo editing indulgences?
- Which is the best form of display for the creative editors?
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
Photo Editing gadgets featuring minimum system specifications are still excellent choices for recreational photographers and part-time enthusiasts. However, laptops featuring spec sheets comparable to or higher than the recommended specifications are meant for power users, full-time photographers, and even professionals who are more into graphic designing, 3D modeling, drawing, art studies, architecture, and other resource-intensive indulgences, etc..
|Minimum System Requirements||Recommended System Requirements|
|CPU||10th Gen Intel Core i5||9th Gen Intel Core i7|
|Storage||256GB SSD||512GB SSD|
|Display||14-inch FHD IPS (1920 × 1080)||15.6-inch FHD IPS (1920 x 1080)|
|GPU||2GB NVIDIA GeForce MX350||4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650|
|Battery||Up to 5 hours||Up to 8 hours|
12 Best Laptops for Photo Editing in 2021
Finding a laptop can be a bit tricky if you aren’t aware of the professional requirements and skill sets. This is why our experts have spent 14 weeks testing around 71 gadgets from different laptop brands, only to come up with a list of the 12 best machines for photo editing.
Each of them caters to a specific professional consortium and budget whilst allowing you to select specifications based on the work-related possibilities. Not just that, during the course of the discussion, our experts have also considered enlisting gadgets based on the type of editing session, display quality, processing conglomerate, nature of editing, type of images, software platform, gadget portability, and a host of other related aspects.
1. Best Overall: MSI Creator 15
As per the specs sheet and the aligned assortments, the MSI Creator 15 is easily the best professional notebook to consider if photo editing is one of your priorities. While this gadget can be used for 3D modeling, video editing, and other demanding activities, the portability, screen quality, and battery backup make it the best possible choice for photographers.
At the core, MSI accommodates the octa-core, Intel Core i7-10875H processor. Moreover, the 16-threaded architecture ensures that the CPU is more than capable of managing collaboration features, collages, image manipulation, lighting effects, retouching, vignette enhancements, and other photo editing processes. Besides, the single-core turbo clock speed of up to 5.1GHz is a reliable processing resource in case you are making several additions to a single image.
Application programs like Adobe Lightroom support GPU-acceleration for several relevant photo editing processes like using Radial filters, image straightening, and more. Each of the mentioned processes is supported by the pre-existing RTX 2070 Super GPU. Moreover, 8GB of integrated VRAM also helps improve blurring and texture-based tasks whilst improving the quality of viewport rendering. Then again, the dedicated graphics card also offers you a gaming edge in case you want to indulge in leisure activities.
Being one of the top-rated 32GB RAM laptops, it allows you to edit even truckloads of RAW images with simultaneous precision. As every image is temporarily stored in the RAM while being edited, the system memory size directly impacts the processing speeds. Edited files, application programs, plugins, and the Windows 10 Pro are housed in the 1TB SSD module, boasting NVMe-compatibility.
The MSI Creator 15 can make a few heads roll when the display is concerned. While the 15.6-inch panel is on the expected lines, it is the True Pixel visual enhancement that offers a creative edge to the Creator 15 owners.
This laptop also makes room for a 100 percent aRGB color gamut, which furthers the color accuracy. Not just that, the screen is adequately bright, courtesy of the 4K (3840×2160 pixels) screen resolution.
Besides being a 4K gaming laptop, MSI doesn’t underplay the visual brilliance as the Factory Calibrated panel also brings slimmer bezels into the mix. However, creatives can use the responsive touch screen support and the exceptional 180-degree hinge that allows you to use the Creator 12 as a tablet of sorts.
Other productive features include an ergonomic keyboard with backlit support, a glass-based trackpad clubbed with a responsive fingerprint scanner, an HD webcam with Windows Hello and IR support, and high-fidelity, Nahimic speakers. In addition to the diverse bells and whistles, MSI also stacks in a decent-enough thermal layout, best characterized by triple fans and 6 heat pipes.
The structural marvel is aesthetically crafted and weighs a mere 4.63 pounds, despite the inclusion of the empowering Cooler Boost technology. Furthermore, there aren’t any connectivity compromises as the laptop accommodates Thunderbolt 3 port, Type-C, high-speed UHS slot, and other wired and wireless attributes.
The battery unit is more than capable of lasting up to 10 hours, making this one of the most portable laptops on the list.
Overall, the MSI Creator 15 is a heaven-sent laptop for photographers with a dedicated Creator Center to rely on for achieving optimal performances. Therefore, if you are a seasoned professional and planning to use resource-intensive programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, GIMP, and more, this is the perfect gadget to invest in.
- 10th gen Octa-Core processor
- Exceptional display
- Brilliant cooling technology
- Thunderbolt 3 support
- Light and portable
- 32GB, high-speed RAM
- Shallow keyboard
2. Best Runner Up: Razer Blade 15
While most gaming laptops are perfectly equipped when it comes to handling photo editing requirements, the Razer Blade 15 takes professional productivity to a whole new level, courtesy of the color accurate screen and competent processing conglomerate.
Under the hood, Razer houses the Intel Core i7-10750H CPU, boasting 6 cores and a turbo clock speed of up to 5GHz. Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong to state that this processor strikes the perfect balance between power and efficiency whilst allowing you to handle diverse photo editing tasks like refined brush usage, layering, masking, and RAW image processing with precision.
Graphics-intensive processes like lens blurring, viewport image projection, and texture-based editing are subtly handled by the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, working in tandem with 6GB of dedicated VRAM. Based on the Turing architecture, this graphics card is more than capable of handling AI-enhanced retouching and other GPU-accelerated processes pertaining to Lightroom, Photoshop, and other Adobe Creative Cloud applications.
As far as multitasking and specific-editing processes are concerned, being a 16GB RAM laptop, this laptop allows you to do high-level multi-tasking and processing. However, our experts were fascinated by the ultrafast, dual-channel RAM module that processes files, data, and editing activities at 2933MHz.
The 512GB of SSD storage capacity is middling, to say the least, provided you are invested in editing large-sized RAW images. That said, Razer offers 4 PCIe 3.0 slots for upgrading the storage space, if and when necessary.
When it comes to the operating system, you get hold of the Windows 10, supplied right out the box. However, the OS looks even better, with Razer featuring a 15.6-inch screen for the creatives to work with. The existing panel exhibits 1920 x 1080 pixels as the overall resolution and flaunts the much-anticipated, 100 percent sRGB color gamut. What stands out is the 144Hz refresh rate, a feature that can help you out in case you are interested in frame-centric photo editing.
Razer also accommodates several professionally inclined specs, including the backlit keyboard, precision glass trackpad, powerful acoustics, and a serviceable webcam. The anodized aluminum-clad chassis sits atop a standard yet efficient thermal layout. Despite the celebratory hardware configuration, the gadget weighs a respectable 4.70 pounds, to be exact.
The connectivity suite is pretty diversified, with the Blade 15 making way for Thunderbolt 3 with USB-charging support, USB Type-C, HDMI, Wi-Fi 6, Gig Ethernet, and other resourceful attributes. In terms of autonomy, Razer churns out almost 7 hours of battery backup before requiring a refill.
To sum it up, the Razer Blade 15 is best characterized by an extensive professional suite, powerful processor, and top-of-the-line GPU, making it highly suitable for not just editing pictures, but also for editing videos, machine learning, GIS work, accounting, engineering studies, CAD, etc.
- Hexa-core processor
- High-end GPU with RTRT support
- Thunderbolt 3 support
- Wi-Fi 6 support
- Vibrant display
- Upgradeable memory
- The keyboard lacks sufficient travel
3. Best with AMD Ryzen 7: Asus ROG Zephyrus G15
This ultra-slim notebook ditches Intel and persists with an AMD-powered, Ryzen 7 4800HS processor. This octa-core CPU boasts Simultaneous HyperThreading technology, which empowers the same for handling some of the more complex photo editing tasks like multi-layer editing, retouching, and lens blurring, and more. Although the AMD-chipset heats a fair bit, it is enviably fast and equipped enough to handle 3D rendering, modeling, and other DCC activities with precision.
As a professional photo editor, you can reap the benefits of the Turing-based NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card. The GPU allows you to manage several GPU-accelerated Lightroom tasks like viewport rendering, radial filtering, spot healing, zooming, certain forms of retouching, and more. Moreover, the ROG Zephyrus G15 also stacks in 16GB of RAM, capable of processing edits, filters, and images at 3200MHz.
Despite the competitive price point, Asus still incorporates a 1TB solid-state drive, based on NVMe-technology. The existing SSD module is ultrafast and helps you retrieve images and files at more than 1400MBps. Furthermore, the excellent read and write speeds of the storage drive allow you to boot-up the pre-existing Windows 10 Home OS at enviable speeds.
The 15.6-inch display exhibited by the ROG Zephyrus G15 is exceedingly bright and assumes the highest possible levels of color accuracy. What stands out is the reliable screen-to-chassis ratio of 81 percent that allows Asus to stack in a 15-inch screen in a 14-inch form factor. Most importantly, as a creative professional, the widescreen visual experience is expected to come in handy.
Asus doesn’t turn its back on productivity and manages to stack in a gamer-friendly, backlit keyboard. Apart from that, you also get access to a smooth trackpad, a decent professional suite comprising a serviceable webcam and powerful front-firing speakers, and the much-anticipated ROG ‘Intelligent’ cooling technology, led by ADC tunnels, innovative heat-dissipating vents, and symmetrical fans.
Despite packing an 83-blade, heat-dissipating fan, and stealth heat pipes, the ROG Zephyrus G15 is still quite light at 4.85 pounds. In terms of connectivity, you get access to Type-C, HDMI, and the impactful Gig+ Wi-Fi 6 connectivity standard. The featured set of ports supports external workflows, faster image transfers, and USB charging. However, the gadget isn’t a battery monger and offers 9 hours’ worth of autonomy on a single charge.
Overall, the ROG Zephyrus G15 from Asus is one of the most thermally-equipped laptops, best suited for professional photo editing at a highly competitive price point.
- Powerful octa-core processor
- High-end GPU with 1536 CUDA cores
- Stellar display
- Excellent cooling technology
- Ultrafast RAM
- Long-lasting battery
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3 support
4. Best with MacOS: Apple MacBook Pro
A MacBook is probably the best gadget any photo editor can have, courtesy of the software-hardware cohesion on display. The MacBook Pro 16 lives up to the expectations and comes forth as a highly resourceful gadget, best known for the excellent display, professional perks, and innate photo editing resources.
When it comes to the processing power, you get access to the Intel Core i7-9750H chipset, best characterized by six cores and the Hyper-threading technology. While the multiple cores allow you to manage multiple edits, layering, and filtering at once, the highest possible single-core turbo clock speed of up to 4.5GHz allows you to process RAW files with minimal hassle.
Graphics-intensive processes relevant to Lightroom and Photoshop, like layering, spot healing, lens blurring, and brush adjustments, are handled to perfection with the workstation-grade AMD Radeon Pro 5300M GPU. Texture-intensive, viewport rendering is made possible by the 4GB, integrated VRAM that works alongside the dedicated graphics card.
As far as RAM allotment is concerned, you get a fast, 16GB module to rely on for loading hefty RAW images in no time. Storage-wise, you get access to a 512GB SSD unit, which is slightly restrictive when capacity is concerned. However, the sequential data reading speeds of up to 3200MBps ensure that the storage drive loads processed files, images, installed programs, and the macOS Catalina in a heartbeat.
What stands out as a potent creative resource is the 16-inch Retina display, boasting excellent color accuracy levels. Enviable visual clarity and true-to-life experiences are some of the more justifiable reasons for persisting with the MacBook Pro 16 for photo editing. Besides, Apple sweetens the pot further with an enhanced screen resolution of 3072 x 1920 pixels and an extensive P3 color gamut.
If you are planning to select a photo editing laptop purely based on the display quality, the MacBook Pro 16 will be atop the pecking order for the deepest blacks and excellent quality of projected whites.
Apple is also considerate towards multi-faceted content creators, featuring a Magic Keyboard with 1mm key travel, force trackpad, six-speaker system, studio-grade microphones, and an optimal cooling technology sitting on top of an aesthetic, thermal layout. Despite being a 16-inch behemoth, the MacBook Pro 16 weighs a mere 4.3 pounds.
As a professional photo editor, the top-notch arrangement of ports is expected to come in handy with Apple accommodating, 4 Thunderbolt 3 slots, and a solitary USB 3.1 Gen 2 port for connecting 4K workflows, external rigs, high-speed data repositories, and more. Apple is one of the few OEMs to feature automatic graphics switching support, allowing photo editors to juggle between the discrete and integrated UHD graphics 630, depending on the nature of the edits.
Besides this elusive attribute, the MacBook Pro 16 is also loaded with several wired and wireless connectivity standards, including Wi-Fi AC, Bluetooth 5.0, and more. The battery on offer is more than capable of lasting for up to 11 hours on standard usage.
However, the specific set of functional attributes make the MacBook Pro 16 a photo editing asset. These include a secured Touch ID, an innovative T2 chipset for encrypting the storage, and a usable Touch Bar for easier app access. Therefore, if you plan to opt for the most productive photo editing gadget in the market, the MacBook Pro 16 certainly fits the bill.
That said, if you have a penchant for ultraportables, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is also up for grabs. While Apple houses a moderately-powerful i5 processor, this variant accommodates 8GB of RAM, 2 Thunderbolt ports, and an integrated 8-core GPU to achieve basic photo editing levels. However, the True Tone Retina display technology is persisted with despite Apple flaunting a smallish 13.3-inch screen.
- Sharp and color-accurate display
- Ultrafast RAM
- Fast storage module
- Professional-grade GPU
- Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Restricted storage space
- Not enough legacy ports
5. Best for Professionals: Dell XPS 15 9500
The 15-inch Dell XPS 15 9500 is a better-looking photo editing laptop on the list, boasting of a class-defining processing conglomerate and a host of other relevant specifications.
For starters, you get access to a future-proof 10th gen Intel i7 processor capable of reaching the highest possible clock speeds of up to 5GHz. However, it is the hexa-core architecture that makes photo editing worth your time and effort, allowing you to process some of the most intricate enhancements and touch-ups at once. Graphics support is lent by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU that works closely with 4GB VRAM.
The 128-bit data bus associated with this discrete graphics card makes it quite a resourceful attribute for diverse GPU-accelerated photo editing including Select Focus, Camera RAW processing, and rendering.
When it comes to handling sizable images and preparing them for processing, the 16GB RAM comes in as an excellent editing resource. Moreover, the processing speeds of up to 2933MHz ensure that the processed images and partially modified temporary files are retrieved in no time. Dell offers a 512GB SSD storage unit for your images, projects, and the Windows 10 Home edition OS, thereby facilitating faster boot-ups.
Next in line is the brilliant InfinityEdge display with Dell flaunting a literally bezel-less, 15.6-inch Full HD+ screen. The overall resolution of 3840 x 2400 pixels is a refreshing break from the monotony and even adds to the visual clarity and color accuracy standards. It also brings forth anti-glare properties followed by the exciting Dolby Vision and DisplayHDR 400 technologies for achieving the highest possible levels of color reproduction.
As far as productivity is concerned, you get access to a Chiclet-style backlit keyboard, larger-than-usual touchpad, integrated Waves NX-enhanced quad speakers for improved music listening experience, and the screen-protecting Gorilla Glass 6.
The metal-clad Dell XPS 15 9500 might be pretty light at 4.50 pounds, but it doesn’t underplay thermal relevance, courtesy of the dual pipes, strategic vent placements, and slimmest-possible fans.
Connectivity-wise, you can make the best use of 2 Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Type-C, and other relevant slots, followed by USB charging and Wi-Fi 6 support. Furthermore, Dell XPS 15 9500 scores additional points when gadget autonomy is concerned with the battery lasting for up to 12.5 hours on basic usage.
To sum it up, this ultrabook from Dell is more of a handpicked resource for photo editors, best known for the highest portability standards on display.
- Masterfully crafted
- 10th gen processor
- GPU is based on the Turing Architecture
- Ultrafast RAM
- 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Not meant for heavy gamers
6. Best 2-in-1 Convertible: HP Spectre x360
Convertibles best serve professional photo editors at their disposal, and this is where the HP Spectre x360 comes into the mix.
At the core, HP houses the 9th gen Intel Core i7 processor, which is more than capable of driving exceptional photo editing performances. The Intel Core i7-9750H CPU is fortified with six cores and an excellent turbo boost clock speed limit of up to 4.5GHz. Therefore, if you are more inclined towards using resources like Luminar, Photoshop, ON1, and more with emphasis on editing RAW images using presets and filters, the processing conglomerate is more than adequate.
As far as the graphics-intensive aspects of editing are concerned, including rendering, Flick panning, scrubby zoom, and more, the GTX 1650 with 4GB RAM comes forth as a handy addition. Moreover, this Turing-based graphics card boasts of better CUDA core efficiency than the Pascal-centric GPUs like GTX 1060 and 1060 Ti.
Multitasking is never an issue with HP offering 16GB of DDR4 RAM to work with. The significant chunk of system memory is perfectly complemented by the 512GB, ultrafast, SSD module. To be precise, the storage space isn’t sufficient for professional editors and photographers who are most invested in RAW image editing. However, app and Windows 10 Pro OS loading speeds associated with the storage module make it one of the best computing resources.
On the other hand, creatives can make the most of the 15.6-inch UHD screen that exhibits an overall display resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. As HP features a touch screen with stylus support, there is a Corning Gorilla Glass protective layer to keep blemishes and cracks at bay. In case you are more into color accuracy, the display featured by the HP Spectre x360 is the best in the business, courtesy of the In-Plane switching technology and BrightView paneling.
As far as gadget productivity is concerned, HP flaunts an entire gamut of unhindered functionality, in the form of a Chiclet-style backlit keyboard, B&O speakers, TrueVision HD webcam, digital microphones, and gem-cut layout with heat-dissipating vents located at strategic points. Despite being a convertible with a stylus-compatible screen, the HP Spectre isn’t the lightest gadget in the market, weighing close to 4.80 pounds.
In case you are concerned about the connectivity suite, HP comes equipped with several functional resources, including Thunderbolt 3, USB Type-C, HDMI 2.0, and ultrafast wired and wireless standards.
As far as autonomy is concerned, the beefed-up battery module offers a 15-hour backup under usual circumstances. In conclusion, the HP Spectre x360 is one of the better convertibles in the market, provided you are a professional photo editor.
- Hexa-core processor
- Sharp display
- Ultra-fast storage
- Upgradeable dual-channel RAM
- Class-leading aesthetics
- Heavier for single-handed usage
7. Best 4K Under Budget: Asus ZenBook 15
If you are in the market for a sleek, 4K laptop that is more than capable of handling professional photo editing tasks, the Asus ZenBook 15 is the one to consider.
While some might consider the Intel Core i7-10510U processor to be slightly underpowered as compared to the H-series chipsets, it is still a reliable resource for your RAW files and relevant editing indulgences. The quad-core processor works better than expected and ensures that the gadget doesn’t heat up as much, courtesy of the lower TDP levels. Besides, the turbo clock speed of 4.9GHz is even better than the 9th gen H-series CPU and furthers the editing qualities almost significantly.
Graphics-dependent processes, editing tools, and GPU-accelerated tasks like Neural Filters, Blur Gallery, and more are subtly handled by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU. Unlike the vanilla variant, this graphics card features a slightly lower clock speed and manageable TDP levels, specifically to keep heat generation to a minimum.
As far as memory allocation is concerned, Asus offers 16GB of RAM to facilitate efficient multitasking. Storage-wise, you get access to a 512GB NVMe-compatible SSD unit, which can hold its own when faster image retrievals and Windows 10 OS boot-ups are concerned. However, it is the 15.6-inch NanoEdge screen that steals the show, exhibiting 3840 x 2160 as the overall resolution. Besides, creatives can dig into the brilliant widescreen, flaunting a screen-to-chassis ratio of almost 92 percent.
Furthermore, you also get access to an ergonomic keyboard that sits atop the ErgoLift design. This physical enhancement supports optimal typing and even amplifies cooling standards via seamless heat dissipation. Then again, the 5.65-inch, ScreenPad 2.0, is probably the most resourceful attribute for photo editors, who can use the same as an app switcher, navigator, or a secondary, touch-responsive, secondary display.
Also, the ZenBook 15 accommodates an IR-powered webcam, an Alexa-compatible acoustic setup, and the MIL-grade, durable chassis.
As expected, the ZenBook 15 is easily one of the lightest notebooks on the list at 3.6 pounds. However, as a resource-intensive photo editor, you can make the best use of the USB Type-C, USB 3.1 Gen 2, HDMI, and Gig Wi-Fi standard for accessing external workflows, online resources, and data repositories. The existing battery is a reliable resource that can last up to 9 hours on standard usage.
Overall, the Asus ZenBook 15 is a feature-packed photo editing laptop, best characterized by a brilliant display and the interactive ScreenPad 2.0, which doubles down as a touchpad, numeric keypad, or any other professional resource.
- 10th gen processor
- Long-lasting battery module
- ScreenPad 2.0
- Stellar 4K screen
- ErgoLift design
- Not meant for power CAD usage
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3 support
8. Best with Dual Storage: Dell G5 15
Despite the battery being downright average, the Dell G5 15 continues to be regarded as a decent photo editing laptop, courtesy of the extensive, creator-friendly specs sheet.
The first relatable feature has to be the powerful, hexa-core, Intel core i7-9750H processor. The H-series CPU corresponds to higher TDP levels but gets the job done, provided you are into simultaneous edits. While the multi-threaded architecture accounts for better editing quality, the turbo clock speed of up to 4.5GHz isn’t discounted for and speeds up the photo editing processes, like filter applications, layering, and more.
As far as graphics support is concerned, you get access to the conventional NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. Clubbed with 4GB VRAM, the discrete graphics card is more than adequate for better blurring, viewport rendering, and texture-intensive GPU-accelerated tasks. The 16GB DDR4 RAM is also a resourceful addition, as it allows you to process images, edit fractions, and RAW files at 2666MHz.
There is a dual storage setup to account for, with Dell featuring a 256GB SSD as the boot drive that houses the photo editing software sets, on-premise images, and the Windows 10 OS. You also get a 1TB hard disk drive for managing the more static files with considerable ease.
The 15.6-inch screen is a creative resource, boasting top-notch color accuracy, visual clarity, and a cumulative resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The LCD panel also exhibits anti-glare properties and slimmer bezels as additional visual attributes. Furthermore, it is stacked with the requisite resources, including a backlit, WASD-supported keyboard, ergonomic palm rest, dual speakers, and a serviceable webcam-microphone combo.
Dell also promises an advanced thermal layout, comprising dual fans and deftly placed vents. That said, the physical ruggedness and the thermal hardware readily add to the heft of this notebook, which weighs a considerable 5.95 pounds. On the other hand, the port arrangement adheres to the expectations with Dell accommodating USB 3.1, Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, and other functional resources.
Lastly, the featured battery module churns out a mere 5 hours on standard usage, which qualifies the Dell G5 15 as a desk-bound, photo editing laptop.
- Hexa-core processor
- Thunderbolt 3 support
- Advanced thermal layout
- Dual storage module
- GPU features the Turing Architecture
- Chunky laptop
- Sub-par battery
9. Best Value for Money: Acer Aspire 7
As a photo editing enthusiast, you can blindly rely on the budget-centric Acer Aspire 7 for your diverse assignments. Despite underplaying several features, this easily considered as a reliable sub-$800 laptop, provided you are willing to let go of the minor heat surges.
Acer houses the quad-core, AMD Ryzen 5 3550H under the hood, which is a reliable CPU for photo editors. What works well is the octa-threaded architecture that allows you to manage multi-layer and pro-level editing processes with precision. The Zen+ cores exhibit boosted clock speed of up to 3.7GHz, which ensures faster editing outputs.
The Aspire 7 also features the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, which is more than adequate for handling several GPU-accelerated and texture-intensive editing tasks with considerable ease. Furthermore, you also get access to 4GB VRAM that works in tandem with the featured graphics card and supports Neural Filter usage, 3D editing, and brush resizing.
When it comes to system memory, you get access to 8GB RAM. The existing chunk of system memory isn’t meant for the power users but comes across as adequate when high-speed image processing is desired. Storage-wise, the 512GB solid-state drive is a significant addition, best known for faster Windows 10 boot-ups, app loading, and file retrieval.
The 15-inch creative interface is exceedingly color accurate and assumes a screen-to-chassis ratio of almost 82 percent. Acer’s proprietary Color Intelligence and ExaColor technologies further enhance the quality of edits, allowing you to get a true-to-life representation of the images. Most importantly, the 1080p panel also flaunts a widescreen viewing experience, ensuring that you do not miss out on the minutest of details.
Acer also brings home a standard backlit keyboard with a numeric keypad, HD webcam, and other professionally-relevant resources housed within a sleek chassis. This gadget weighs a mere 4.74 pounds and makes room for all the relevant ports, including USB 3.2 Type-C, Gen 1, HDMI, and the USB charging support in the Power-off mode. The battery on offer is more than capable of lasting for up to 7 hours on standard usage.
Therefore, if you want an affordable laptop for your recreational photo editing indulgences, the Acer Aspire 7 is the one to invest in. It is also quite popular among college students pursuing various line of studies such as programming, medical studies, law school, nursing school, business studies, etc.
- Stellar display
- Mid-range GPU
- Sizable storage
- Gig Ethernet
- Only 8GB RAM
- Lacks Wi-Fi 6 standard
10. Best Under Budget: Lenovo IdeaPad L340
While a professional photographer might find the Lenovo IdeaPad L340 to be slightly underpowered for the likes of Lightroom, Photoshop, and GIMP, it is still an efficient laptop for recreational usage.
At the core, you get the Intel Core i5-9300H chipset, featuring 4 cores and a decent-enough turbo clock speed of up to 4.1GHz. Be it the number of cores or the respectable clock speed; the featured CPU is more than capable of handling multiple editing processes at decent speeds. Graphics-centric support is offered by the GTX 1650 GPU, which works closely with 4GB VRAM.
The discrete graphics card is equipped enough to handle GPU-accelerated editing tools and processes, as and when required for Lightroom and Photoshop access. Assisting the processor is the 8GB DDR4 RAM that is more than capable of retrieving images temporarily for faster photo editing. However, we would advise against working solely with RAW files as you might run out of system memory, real quick.
In case you want to store processed images onto your device, the 512GB SSD module with NVMe-storage support is expected to come in handy. As far as the operating platform is concerned, the Windows 10 OS offers the perfect platform for editing your images. Lenovo IdeaPad L340 introduces a 15.60-inch, standard screen that is perfectly complemented by a cumulative resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The color-accurate display also boasts of the innovative, Vantage ‘Eye Care’ mode.
Moreover, this isn’t just a creative computing resource for the photo editors but also doubles down as a mid-range gaming and professionally-equipped machine, courtesy of powerful speakers with Dolby Audio support, an Island-style backlit keyboard, and a functional webcam with a physical shutter. Besides, Lenovo also brings forth two separate modes, i.e., the Quick and Quiet, for the users to deploy as per functional preferences. This allows you to run the gadget in Quiet mode while editing images.
As far as the portability-quotient is concerned, this gadget weighs less than 5 pounds and brings forth a respectable battery, offering 6.5 hours of extended autonomy. The connectivity suite is still pretty basic, with USB Type-A, Type-C, and HDMI 2.0 ports being the standard inclusions, followed by Wi-Fi 5 standard.
To sum things up, the IdeaPad L340 from Lenovo is a budget photo editing laptop that can efficiently manage other professional tasks with seamless ease.
- Light and portable
- 9th gen quad-core processor
- Mid-range GPU based on Turing Architecture
- Ultrafast storage module
- Anti-glare display
- Restricted RAM module
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3 port
11. Best for Rendering: MSI GF63 Thin
We have been particularly fond of the MSI GF63 Thin notebook as one of the better photo editing resources, courtesy of the unmatched portability and a creatively-inspired display.
As a matter of fact, you get access to the Intel Core i5-9300H chipset, which is an acceptable processing ally, considering the moderately demanding editing tasks. Therefore, if you are starting out as a photographer or a photo editor, the featured i5 CPU with 4 cores and a maximum clock speed of up to 4.1GHz are crucial attributes to rely on.
GPU-accelerated editing tasks involving extensive Lightroom and Photoshop usage are taken care of by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. However, MSI fittingly incorporates the Max-Q version of the graphics card to ensure that it fits into a sleeker chassis with minimal heat generation. The 4GB VRAM is an underrated yet important resource in case render and edit quality are your concerns.
The dual-socket, 8GB RAM is a significant feature, capable of processing inputs and images at 2666MHz. In case you evolve professionally, the 64GB RAM upgradeability limit keeps you invested in this laptop. The 256GB solid-state storage capacity is a deal-breaker, despite the ultrafast processing and Windows 10 Home OS boot-up speeds.
It comes equipped with a 15.6-inch screen, exhibiting 1920 x 1080 pixels as the display resolution. The IPS screen is creatively stacked, courtesy of the respectable, 45 percent NTSC color gamut. The GF63 makes way for a standard, non-backlit keyboard followed by powerful speakers and a responsive, professional suite. The thermal layout deserves a special mention courtesy of the dual-fan setup.
Despite the beefed-up thermal layout, featuring 7 pipes and 4 exhaust vents, MSI GF63 Thin is adequately light at less than 4 pounds. What adds to the structural credibility is the aluminum-clad top cover. Regardless of the slimness, MSI accommodates a decent set of ports, including Type-C, USB 3.2 Gen 1, and other specs. The 51Whr battery offers up to 7 hours of backup, depending on the usage patterns.
Needless to say, the MSI GF 63 Thin does cut a few corners, but it still qualifies as a decent and reliable laptop for photo editors, especially the ones who are frequently on the move.
- Portable laptop
- Mid-range GPU
- 9th gen H-series processor
- Advanced thermal design
- Powerful 3W speakers
- Restricted storage space
- Lacks backlit support
12. Cheapest Photo Editing Laptop: Acer Aspire 5
The Acer Aspire 5 is strictly a budget notebook that cost less than $700, specifically manufactured for handling a significant professional workload. Besides, if you are into a recreational photo or video editing, this affordable laptop can drive decent performances.
When it comes to the processing requirements, you get access to a 10th gen Intel Core i5 processor. The Intel Core i5-1035G1 is strictly a graphics-optimized, low-power CPU, capable of processing a majority of demanding editing tasks like pro-level indulgences, usage of brushes and filters, retouching, and color-specific editing.
As far as graphics-intensive processes are concerned, the GeForce MX350 GPU is one of the best resources in play. While the 64-bit memory bus seems like an underpowered inclusion, it is more than adequate for running GPU-accelerated editing tasks over Lightroom, GIMP, Photoshop, and more. The Aspire 5 also brings home 8GB of RAM for supporting multitasking sans lags or stutters.
However, if your concerns entail storing RAW and edited images on the device, the existing 512GB SSD module comes forth as a desirable feature. The NVMe-compatible solid-state drive boots up and loads the Windows 10 Home OS and other on-premise editing applications in no time. Acer, as expected, flaunts an exceptionally bright, 15.6-inch 1080p screen.
The widescreen display boasts of LED-backlit technology for better power efficiency whilst accommodating the Color Intelligence technology for better visual clarity. As a creative, you can work for hours together courtesy of the BlueLightShield equipped, anti-glare screen. Other resourceful specs include a backlit keyboard, studio-grade microphones, TrueHarmony speakers, and voice-purified microphones.
This laptop weighs a tad less than the 4-pound mark and ensures a decent accretion of ports, including Type-C, USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 2.0, HDMI, and more. Besides wired data transfers and external workflow creations, Acer also allows you to be more expressive with the internet connections, courtesy of the Wi-Fi AX support.
As reviewed by our experts, the battery lasts up to 8 hours, qualifying this as one of the most portable machines for photo editing enthusiasts.
- 10th gen processor
- Wi-Fi 6 support
- Light and portable
- A decent chunk of RAM
- Sizable storage support
- Not meant for the power users
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do professional photo editors prefer processors with multiple cores?
Photo editing requires you to initiate multiple tasks at once. This is where multiple cores and even the HyperThreading support comes into the mix, thereby allowing editors to process several images using diverse effects, brushes, and filters. However, the turbo clock speed is also a necessary attribute to consider as it determines the speed of edits.
Why is GPU still an important resource for photo editors?
While photo editing is more of a CPU-intensive task, certain aspects require the inclusion of a discrete graphics card. While the quality of viewport rendering is determined by the GPU, it is an important resource when GPU-accelerated tasks like neural filter usage, image size manipulation, smart sharpening using OpenCL acceleration, spot healing, brush adjustment, and other processes are concerned.
What is the most adequate storage setup for Photo editing requirements?
As a photo editor, you should aim for a minimum of 1TB storage capacity for storing RAW files and other processed images on the device. However, the best approach is to have two separate drives for getting the job done, including one SSD boot drive for housing the OS and editing applications followed by an HDD static storage unit. Besides, laptops with an additional chunk of Optane Memory can also be preferred.
What is the best RAM configuration for photo editing indulgences?
While recreational editors can make peace with even 8GB of high-speed RAM, there isn’t any upper limit for professional usage. You must understand that a RAW wedding folder might be as big as 10GB, and therefore editing multiple images at once can put massive pressure on your system memory. Therefore, if you are a professional, 16GB should be a bare minimum. Then again, it is advisable to consider gadgets with high-speed RAM modules, preferably 2933MHz or more.
Which is the best photo editing tool to consider in case you want to manipulate certain images?
While GIMP and Photoshop are some of the best photo editing software solutions, Lightroom happens to be our personal favorite as it also allows you to manipulate images rather than just edit them. Lightroom is more of an image management resource with restricted editing capabilities. Therefore, your choice of editing tasks can determine the efficacy of a particular application.
What is the display attribute for your photo editing indulgences?
In case you are looking at the laptop display for supplementing your photo editing resources, it is necessary to consider at least a 90 percent sRGB color gamut. You can also choose panels flaunting 72 percent NTSC color palettes, which guarantees enviable color accuracy levels.
Which is the best form of display for the creative editors?
While an OLED screen that too with a 4K resolution to account for is the best resource in terms of brightness levels and color accuracy, we would suggest in favor of an IPS panel. The latter strikes the perfect balance between visual clarity and viewing angles whilst guaranteeing decent brightness and color accuracy levels without costing a fortune.
The best-suited laptop for photo editing concerns several primary, secondary, and even tertiary aspects. While the budget and skillsets play an important role, you must keep an open mind towards portability, battery life, and other aligned attributes to make the most of the task at hand.
- The MSI Creator 15 is undoubtedly the most powerful gadget for a photo editing professional, if processing power, graphics support, and other memory-centric resources are concerned.
- If storage is one of your priorities, the Razer Blade 15 with four upgradeable slots is a reliable choice.
- The 16-inch MacBook Pro happens to be our favorite, considering the screen quality, portability, battery backup, and other resourceful attributes.
- Lastly, if you are interested in a budget notebook for recreational photo editing, the professionally-aligned Acer Aspire 5 is the one to place your bets on.
Haven’t found the right laptop yet? Comment below and one of our experts will help you pick one.