With Photoshop and other photo editing software, you can edit images anywhere – even on your smartphone!
However, more advanced editing work requires an equally advanced computer.
If you’re a photographer on the go, a photo editing laptop may be the best option. In this list, we’ve compiled our best laptop for Photoshop picks!
But if you find yourself with editing work that’s just too tough to do – even with the best computer for photo editing – you can always call a professional. If you’re having difficulties retouching old photos of treasured memories, get in touch today to get bespoke photo restorations for an extremely affordable price!
While it sounds simple, photo editing can’t be done on any computer. Because image editing and graphic design can take up a lot of resources, you need a powerful computer to match that demand for power – usually more power than what a budget laptop offers.
Most laptops’ internal parts cannot be modified or replaced, so you need to make sure that the computer you buy fits your needs perfectly. In this section, we’ll break down the key requirements for your photo editing laptop.
A computer’s processing power is governed by a central processing unit (CPU). The CPU acts as the brains of your laptop, making sure that your input is processed properly to provide the desired output.
Photo editing uses many components of your computer to process your inputs, make changes to the image, save it to disk, and display it on your screen. Therefore, you need a relatively powerful CPU on your photo editing laptop.
Screen size is an essential consideration when getting your photo editing laptop because you need to balance between portability and ease of editing. Most laptops have screens sized between 11 and 17 inches, measured from the top corner to the opposite bottom corner. A larger screen helps you see images better and makes it easier to access editing tools, but you’ll be sacrificing mobility because of the larger body and heavier weight. Likewise, small screens trade ease of editing with portability. As a compromise, we recommend getting a 13-inch or 15-inch photo editing laptop to balance screen size and portability. Another important consideration is the screen’s resolution – a measure of how many pixels exist on the screen. The more pixels you have, the sharper your image will look. A 1920×1080 resolution – otherwise known as 1080p HD – is the minimum you should be looking for on laptops for photo editing.
All the data in a computer is stored on a disk. They come in two major types: solid-state drive (SSD) and hard disk drive (HDD).
HDDs use mechanical disks read by magnets. These offer larger storage for cheaper prices, but they tend to be slower. SSDs, on the other hand, have no moving parts and are much faster, although they’re much more expensive compared to HDDs.
If you want your laptop to read and write files faster, we recommend you choose a laptop for photo editing that comes with an SSD drive. If you’re worried about an SSD-only laptop being too small in terms of space, some laptops offer the option to have a small SSD and a larger HDD in one computer.
In addition to a hard drive, a computer also has random access memory (RAM) storage. Any data stored in your RAM is deleted once you turn off the computer, so they’re typically used to store data needed from moment to moment. Without enough memory, the computer will use the hard drive to store this temporary data – slowing down your computer.
Most modern laptops are packaged with 4 to 16GB of RAM, but more advanced laptops can have up to 64GB. You’ll likely need at least 8GB to edit photos so you can guarantee stable performance. However, if you’re going to edit very large photos and raw files, you may benefit from upgrading your memory so your laptop for photo editing can load the larger files easier.
A laptop’s graphics card or graphics processing unit (GPU) controls what your screen displays. Most laptops for photo editing usually offer you the choice between a discrete graphics card or an integrated graphics card.
If you choose an integrated graphics card, your CPU will be the one that does the work to display images for you. While this is enough for the average user on a budget laptop, it may not be enough if you frequently edit large images and videos. In that case, you may need a discrete graphics card that takes the workload off the CPU and helps your laptop for photo editing run faster.
However, discrete graphics cards may take up more power and can lower your battery performance. Because it’s an added component on your laptop for photo editing, this can also make your computer more expensive. While discrete GPUs can be useful, you’ll need to consider whether the performance increase is worth trading off your laptop’s battery life and lower price.
To provide connectivity with other devices, laptops use ports. These ports can range from USB ports for storage to headphone ports to HDMI ports for external connection.
The availability, number, and types of ports can make or break a laptop purchase. For example, you may find that a laptop doesn’t have enough ports to plug in your USB mouse and external hard drive at the same time. You may also find that a laptop doesn’t have an HDMI port, so you can’t plug in your external monitor.
2019’s entry in the long-running Apple MacBook Pro line remains one of the best laptops for photo editing. This edition of Apple MacBook Pro features improvements in heat dissipation to allow its Core i7 processor to run even faster. The Retina display on this MacBook Pro also boasts a 3072×1920 resolution, ensuring the greatest detail for photo editors. Additionally, Apple has improved the battery life on this MacBook Pro, promising 11 hours of battery life doing non-intensive tasks on its 100Wh battery.
Improving on previous editions, Apple gives the 2019 MacBook Pro 16-Inch an improved and more reliable keyboard based on the iMac’s Magic Keyboard. This MacBook also features Apple’s signature Touch Bar that replaces the function keys on Windows laptops. The bar’s display changes with the programs you’re running and serves various purposes, and you can also access Siri using this bar.
One caveat of the 16-inch MacBook Pro is its weight – at 4.3 pounds, it may be slightly weighty compared to other Apple laptops like the MacBook Air.
The most recent entry in the Dell XPS line remains one of the best laptops for photo editing in the 15-inch class. The Dell XPS 15 features 16GB of memory, a 512GB SSD, and a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor. For better graphic processing performance, it comes with an Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics card.
Dell also offers the option to modify the hardware configuration of your Dell XPS 15 laptops. All you need to do is to go to their online store and choose the specifications you need. This means you can either shell out more cash for a more powerful laptop or tune down the specifications for affordability.
While its weight of 4.5 pounds may be on the heavy side, it features an advantage over the previous year’s model by having a smaller chassis. Another thing that you may need to keep in mind is that the laptop fans may sound too loud when doing more intense photo editing. It also tends to run a little hotter than most laptops.
If weight and size are your concern, they also offer the smaller Dell XPS 13. While the smaller laptop is slightly less powerful than its larger cousin, the Dell XPS 13 still features respectable performance, and some models even come with a touch screen.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is another worthy competitor in our list of best laptops for photo editing. While it’s not a Retina display, the 14-inch screen laptop features an FHD display with a touchscreen option.
Its base model features an Intel Core i5, 8GB of memory, and a 256 SSD, but you can spend more to increase its performance. The keyboard on this laptop still upholds the terrific ThinkPad standards, with snappy typing that also gives you the option of using a touchpad or a mini joystick. An addition not typically found on other touchpads is that it features three mouse buttons instead of the regular two.
Featuring the signature matte-black look of the ThinkPad series, Lenovo boasts that this laptop has passed 810G torture tests against shock and vibrations. Despite its slightly bulkier frame, its weight of 4 pounds is lighter than its close competitor, the Dell XPS 15. This laptop, however, can stand to improve its battery performance. Compared to the XPS 15 and MacBook Pro, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon still falls behind on battery life.
If you’re looking to upgrade from the X1 Carbon, Lenovo also offers the more powerful Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme featuring the stronger Intel Core i9 CPU for better performance.