Powerful Processors, Stunning Screens, and Portability: The Best Photo Editing Laptops for Photoshop and Photographers
Choosing the best photo editing laptop used to be simple: you get the most expensive MacBook you can afford! This wasn’t just due to brand snobbery though, as Apple’s Retina display technology was almost unmatched in the PC laptop industry, meaning if you wanted ultra-sharp images with the widest angle contrast more consistent vision, had to try Apple.
But these days almost every major laptop maker offers a model with a high-spec 4K display with 100% sRGB color space coverage and ample contrast to keep highlight and shadow details constantly visible.
At a Glance
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Right now, we think the latest Macbook Pro is still the best laptop for photographers, as its Retina Display with Apple’s True Tone ambient light monitoring is stunning to look at and also highly color accurate.
But don’t rule out options like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon , spec’d with Lenovo’s excellent 4K Dolby Vision certified display. And if you like to play games and edit photos, the Razer Blade 15 has you covered.
Of course, the right laptop for you depends on exactly how you plan to use it. Will this be your main machine, for example, or is it a secondary device for moving around?
How important are power and speed versus portability and battery life? We recommend a 15-inch screen size as the best balance between portability and having a versatile Photoshop workspace, but consider a slightly smaller 14-inch laptop if you want to travel really light.
Here are the best photo editing laptops you can get right now…
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Best Photo Editing Laptops in 2022
1. Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch
Best Photo Editing Laptops overall
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Processor: Intel Core i9-9980HK (8 cores, 2.4GHz base frequency) | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | Display: 15-inch IPS LCD, 2880×1800
- Incredibly fast and amazing display
- Touch Bar genial con Photoshop
- poor connectivity
- no touch screen
This MacBook Pro is the best photo-editing laptop
Our Macbook Pro passed our benchmark tests and I felt lightning fast in Photoshop. At the top of the keyboard, you’ll find the Apple Touch Bar.
This row of virtual buttons dynamically changes according to your current application, and Photoshop makes great use of it. The Touch Bar automatically displays adjustment buttons and sliders based on the platform or tool selected.
The main Retina display has an aspect ratio closer to 3:2 than 16:9, making it more suitable for displaying photos from most cameras. The 2880 x 1800 resolution may be less than 4K, but it’s sharp enough.
It also features Apple’s True Tone technology that automatically adjusts screen color to compensate for ambient lighting. We disabled the feature for consistency and recorded an outstanding Delta-E figure of just 0.54.
Screen brightness uniformity also scores well, leaving just 84% Adobe RGB coverage behind some rival Windows laptops.
This particular top-of-the-range spec (Intel Core i9 8-core, 32GB RAM) isn’t cheap, but you can save a bundle by downgrading to the Intel Core i7 6-core 16GB RAM model and still have blazing speed. from Photoshop.
Whichever configuration you choose, though, you’ll only get Thunderbolt 3 ports, which means if you want to connect conventional USB devices you’ll need pesky adapters. Still, if budget isn’t an issue, this is one of the best photo editing laptops you can buy.
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2. Dell XPS 15 (2019)
Best Budget Photo Editing Laptops
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Processor: Intel Core i9-9980HK (8 cores, 2.4GHz base frequency) | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | Screen: 15.6-inch IPS LCD, 3840×2160, touch screen
- Top spec screen
- Blazing fast performance
- Good selection of ports, with SD slot
- Relatively small touchpad
- Very few settings with this screen
- Much more expensive than the equivalent XPS 2018
A great all-rounder and the best Windows laptop
The Dell XPS 15 range can be confusing: there are many different spec configurations to choose from, and prices can fluctuate frequently.
We believe that the best configuration for photographers is the one that includes Dell’s best 4K display, featuring 100% Adobe RGB coverage and touch sensitivity.
The only problem with that is that very few XPS 15 configurations come with this screen, and they’re inevitably at the pricier end of the range.
The extra money also gets you plenty of performance courtesy of an 8-core Intel Core i9 processor. We’d like 32GB of RAM for this kind of outlay, but the 16GB you get should be enough for Photoshop unless you’re working with giant stitched panoramas.
Port selection is also pretty good, with two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a single USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port, HDMI, and headphone jacks. There’s also a full-size SD slot; something that is sadly becoming a rarity in premium laptops.
3. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Gen
Best Lenovo Photo Editing Laptops
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Processor: Intel Core i7-8565U (4 cores, 1.8GHz base frequency) | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | Display: 14-inch IPS LCD, 2560×1440
- light and compact
- Good battery life
- Reasonably good screen
- Quite small trackpad
- Relatively disappointing speed
A great option for photographers on the go
The 7th generation Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon can be specified with various display options, all 14-inches, but don’t be tempted to save anything other than ‘IPS’, as contrast accuracy will be compromised.
Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolutions are available, but the added sharpness of our preferred 2560 x 1440 option offers a noticeably sharper viewing experience.
It’s a shame, though, that Lenovo dropped its high-end display from the sixth-gen X1 Carbon 2019, a Dolby Vision-certified panel, with 500-nit brightness and a huge 1,500:1 contrast ratio. ultra-high-end is now reserved for the ThinkPad X1 Extreme range, but they’re priced too close to MacBook Pro territory.
We think you should go for the 4-core Intel Core i7-8565U processor option as it offers a great balance of speed and battery life.
Naturally, the performance falls short of rival laptops that pack 6- and 8-core processors, but there’s still enough performance for all but the most intense Photoshop tasks.
If you need to travel light and won’t always have access to mains power, this X1 Carbon setup makes a lot of sense.
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4. Asus ZenBook Duo UX581
Best Asus Photo Editing Laptops
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Processor: Intel Core i9-8950HK (6 cores, 2.9GHz base frequency) | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | Screen: 15.6-inch IPS LCD, 3840×2160, touch screen
- top screen
- Very fast
- fair prices
- ScreenPad potential not yet fully utilized
- mediocre battery life
A laptop that’s stunning to behold and refreshingly innovative, if slightly compromised
The big talking point with the Zenbook Pro UX580 is its touchpad that doubles as a secondary screen.
Asus calls it the ScreenPad, and you can use it as a calculator, a media player interface, or just a virtual numpad extension of the main keyboard.
However, at the time of writing, Photoshop is not coded to take advantage of ScreenPad. It’s a missed opportunity that could give it similar versatility to the MacBook’s Touch Bar.
Fortunately, there are no flaws with the main screen. We verified its advertised 100% Adobe RGB color space coverage, and the quoted DeltaE <2 color accuracy is also accurate, as our calibration tool measured an impressive 1.07. The absolute brightness of the display isn’t quite on par with the MacBook’s Retina display, but you’re unlikely to notice it during real-world viewing.
The UX580 is powered by the same 6-core Intel Core i9 processor as the high-end MacBook Pro, and we achieved very similar benchmark scores.
This particular processor has a reputation for running so hot that its speed slows down to keep things cool. However, after a brief “throttle” period, our Zenbook fans kicked into high gear and maintained full performance under continuous load; important for video rendering.
There’s a good balance of two USB-C ports, two conventional USB ports, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack, though the Micro SD card slot is of limited use for photographers.
5. Razer Blade 15 4K
Best Razer Blade Photo Editing Laptops
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Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H (6 cores, 2.2GHz base frequency) | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | Screen: 15.6-inch IPS LCD, 3840×2160, touchscreen | Cinebench R15 CPU Score: 969 | Geekbench 4 multicore score: 19048
- Healthy performance
- Quality display and well made
- Fast graphics card is not that useful for photographers
The Blade is an impressive all-rounder if you work and play hard
Razer’s brand focus is on the gaming market, and the Blade 15 4K is primarily a gaming laptop, but the styling isn’t as sleek as many laptops aimed at gamers.
Only the illuminated green Razer logo on the front and the color-changing backlit keyboard give the game away, but the latter can be muted to keep things more sober.
What makes the Blade 15 such a good photo-editing machine is its 15.6-inch 4K display, which features 100% Adobe RGB coverage and factory color calibration.
It’s a gorgeous display very similar to that used by higher-end versions of the Dell XPS 15, and while its recorded 1.82 Delta-E score slightly follows the very high standard set by some rival displays, it’s still very color accurate and is a pleasure to see.
This particular Blade 15 configuration also comes equipped with a lightning-fast GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card.
That’s great for gaming at 4K resolution, where it will give a noticeable performance boost, but apps like Photoshop won’t really use the extra oomph.
Fortunately, the main Core i7 processor is fast enough, scoring within 20 percent of a top-tier Core i9 machine in our benchmarks, but using less power and generating less heat in the process.
We also appreciate the solid build quality with excellent thermal ventilation, as well as the three conventional USB ports (although the absence of an SD card slot is a shame).
6. LG Gram 14Z980
Best LG Photo Editing Laptops
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Processor: Intel Core i5-8250U (4 cores, 1.6GHz base frequency) | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB SSD | Display: 14-inch IPS LCD, 1920×1080 | Cinebench R15 CPU Score: 523
- Extremely light and slim
- Good screen Great battery life
- Lacks absolute speed
- Screen specs aren’t the best Only 8GB RAM
Do you need to travel as light as possible? The 14-inch LG Gram could be for you
LG makes the Gram in three screen sizes: 13.3-inch, 14-inch, and 15.6-inch. We’ll miss the 13.3-inch version, as you’ll soon find the screen size restrictive for Photoshop, but the larger models are more tempting.
Both have Full HD 1920×1080 resolution; fewer than many rivals here, but it’s enough to produce a sharp viewing experience on our 14-inch Gram sampler.
The screen’s IPS LCD technology produces great viewing angles and punchy colors. We measure 100% sRGB color space coverage, and while an Adobe RGB figure of 79% isn’t great on paper, it won’t be a deal-breaker for amateur photographers.
Slightly more concerning is a Delta-E color accuracy of 2.01, which is worse than many of the other laptops here, but generally a figure of 2 or less is considered fairly accurate.
The Gram is all about portability. The 14-inch version has an advertised weight of 995g, and we measured ours at just 960g.
Compare this to the equally small 14in Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon which weighs around 1120g and the Gram is noticeably lighter in the hand.
The slim design still has room for a versatile selection of two USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and an HDMI port, plus a micro SD slot.
While it’s generally fast, the 4-core Intel Core-i5 processor in our Gram struggled in our speed benchmarks and it can take a while to apply more complex Photoshop filters.
The payoff to using a processor geared toward efficiency over outright speed, though, is stellar battery life: LG claims up to 21.5 hours per charge.
However, we would still like more RAM, as the installed 8GB is working very well for Photoshop work. At least 16 GB can be installed if handy with a screwdriver.
Factor in LG’s high prices for the Gram and it’s a tempting option if you value portability over speed.
7. HP Spectre x360 Convertible
Best HP Photo Editing Laptops
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Processor: Intel Core i7-8550U (4 cores, 1.8GHz base frequency) | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | Screen: 13.3-inch IPS LCD, 3840×2160, touchscreen | Cinebench R15 CPU Score: 500 | Geekbench 4 Multicore Score: 12076
- very portable
- Nifty tablet conversion
- Pen input for graphics applications
- Very limited port selection.
- Small screen to use Photoshop
An acceptable photo editing laptop if you prioritize portability above all else
If you regularly bring your laptop to shoots, the compact 30.6 x 21.8 x 1.36cm, 1.29kg HP Specter is a tempter.
The moniker x360 refers to the touchscreen’s ability to rotate 360 degrees so that the laptop can become a tablet.
Windows 10 automatically detects the position of the screen and adapts the interface to be more tactile, but the Specter isn’t particularly comfortable to hold in tablet mode.
The 13.3-inch screen may be good for portability, but it results in a restrictive Photoshop workspace that requires palettes to be minimized for an acceptable image area.
The touchpad is pretty small too, and we found it to have an annoying glitch, but we’re hoping it’s unique to our test sample.
A 4K resolution on a screen this size makes it extremely sharp, and while the screen’s Delta-E color accuracy score of 2.75 isn’t great, it improves to 1.22 after calibration.
However, overall brightness, uniformity, and 81% Adobe RGB coverage are average. The same can be said for performance, with the Intel i7-8550U processor geared towards energy efficiency at sheer speed.
We also recommend upgrading to 16 GB of RAM to ensure smooth Photoshop.
Only a single regular USB port is present, along with two USB-C ports and a Micro SD slot. At least we like the automatic facial recognition for Windows login.
Admittedly, this isn’t the best photo editing laptop on a performance level, but for portability and versatility, it scores highly.
How to choose the best photo editing laptop
1. Screen quality matters
Laptop screens used to be more painful than visuals, with appalling contrast and viewing angles. Fortunately, IPS display technology fixes this and you shouldn’t settle for less.
2. Quick storage
An SSD (Solid State Drive) is a must-have in any new laptop. All of our options in this buying guide include one, but don’t get stuck with a small capacity: 512GB is a minimum if you’re working with 4K video.
3. Graphic novelty
Dedicated graphics cards are great for gaming, but they’re not a necessity here. Today’s processors can replace them, and they pack enough of a pixel-pushing punch for photo editing.
4. Which processor (CPU)?
Laptop processor model numbers are virtually impossible to figure out. Just focus on the ‘base frequency’ (speed, measured in GHz) and the number of processing cores (two, four or six)
5. Mac o PC?
The MacBook is favored by many photographers, and for good reason. But don’t discount comparably priced notebook PCs, which may offer more bang for the buck, with better upgradeability.
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