The finest photo-editing laptops will not just be ideal for photographers who need to do some photo editing. A computer with a fast processor, plenty of RAM, and a large storage drive is also great for home-working; these slimline marvels will almost certainly surpass that dusty old desktop tower in your office!
Furthermore, adding a high-quality screen with consistent color and contrast will not only bring visuals to life but will also assist decrease eye strain and tiredness.
Almost every major laptop maker now provides a model with a top-spec 4K screen with 100 percent sRGB color space coverage and wide contrast to maintain highlight and shadow detail visible at all times.
We now believe that the MacBook Pro 16-inch is the best laptop for photo editing. It’s up to 70% quicker than the original 13-inch M1 MacBooks and comes with a massive 64GB RAM, thanks to Apple’s latest M1 Pro or M1 Max technology. Thanks to screen tech innovations acquired from Apple’s Pro Display XDR panel, an ultra-bright Liquid Retina XDR display keeps your photos appearing just magnificent.
However, the 2020 13-inch MacBook Air M1 is still worth considering. Its smaller size and less weight make it ideal for on-the-go image processing, while a 13-inch screen may be too tiny for extended editing sessions or normal homework.
1. MacBook Pro M1
diting, but it’s difficult not to be blown away by all it has to offer. We still like the original (13-inch) M1 MacBook, but with only 16GB of RAM, it will never be able to compete with the older Intel-powered MacBook Pro as a true futureproofed image/video-editing powerhouse. Not any longer! Apple has addressed these concerns extensively.
The current 2021 MacBook Pro not only overcomes any RAM constraints because of its Apple M1 Max CPU, which is available with 64GB RAM, but it also has a 16-inch screen, which is substantially more pleasant for extended editing sessions than a 13-inch panel. This remarkable Liquid Retina XDR display has an insane 1,600-nit peak brightness, which brings HDR material to life, as well as a high DCI-P3 color space coverage for realistic video editing. If you want to save money, the current 16-inch MacBook Pro is also available with an M1 Pro chip (rather than an M1 Max), albeit RAM capacity is limited to 16GB or 32GB and speed is slower.
Despite all of this power, the M1 chip architecture’s superlative efficiency, paired with a massive 100-watt-hour battery, results in a battery life of up to an amazing 21 hours.
The 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro isn’t cheap no matter how you configure it, but you’re getting one of the most technologically sophisticated laptops on the market right now. A less expensive alternative is a smaller MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021).
2. Dell XPS 15
The Dell XPS 15 lineup might be perplexing: there are numerous spec options to pick from, and pricing changes frequently. We believe the finest configuration for photographers comprises Dell’s greatest 4K+ (3840 x 2400) 16:10 screen with 500-nit brightness and touch sensitivity. The only downside is that only a few XPS 15 configurations include this display, and they are always at the higher end of the price range.
The extra cash gets you plenty of horsepowers thanks to an 11th-generation, 8-core Intel Core i9 processor, and you can choose from 16GB to a staggering 64GB of RAM, though we’d only recommend the latter if you’ll be editing high-resolution video as well as photos. RAM of 16GB or 32GB should be sufficient for image editing.
The connector selection is also rather strong, featuring Thunderbolt 4, USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, and adapters for USB-A and HDMI. There’s even a full-size SD card port, which is becoming increasingly rare in luxury laptops.
3. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9
Because of its enticing blend of high performance and sleek, lightweight design, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon has long been a terrific choice for on-the-go photo editing.
The current 9th generation X1 Carbon is available with a variety of 14-inch screen choices. All have at least a 1920 x 1200 resolution, a decent 400-nit maximum brightness, and 100 percent sRGB color coverage. The top-of-the-line display has a 3840 x 2400 resolution, a 500-nit brightness, and a highly remarkable 100 percent DCI-P3 color gamut coverage.
Elsewhere, cutting-edge 11th-generation Intel Core CPUs provide plenty of computing capability, and while RAM looks to be limited to 16GB, some X1 Carbon configurations may be customized to include 32GB. However, because the RAM is soldered to the motherboard, it cannot be switched out for larger capacity modules at a later date, therefore you would be foolish to settle for a base 8GB X1 Carbon.
4. Apple MacBook Air 13-inch M1
The MacBook Air 13-in M1 is amazing in three ways: first, in terms of design, quality, and ergonomics; second, in terms of sheer performance for a lightweight laptop; and third, in terms of value for money considering the first two. The M1 may not be as quick as a fully-loaded 16-inch MacBook Pro (above), but if you prioritize portability above ultimate performance, the M1 is a better pick.
Its Retina display is, as always, stunning. Apple claims a 25% larger color gamut than sRGB but doesn’t mention Adobe RGB, so we presume it’s somewhere in the center. The contrast, crispness, and brightness are excellent, and while the 2560 x 1600 resolution isn’t 4K, it’s a significant improvement over a standard 1920 x 1080 screen. It has that ‘Retina’ effect where you don’t notice the dots and creates a remarkable and subtle impact in the way you view, edit, and analyze digital photographs.
There are just two USB connections, which is inconvenient; it’s not much smaller than a conventional MacBook, despite appearances; and the 7-core entry-level model is an unusual idea, but these are minor quibbles. This is a wonderfully crafted notebook PC that is ideal for mobile picture editing if portability is more important than screen size.
5. Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio
The Microsoft Surface Notebook Studio is maybe the sleekest touchscreen laptop intended primarily for artists and others in creative areas. It has a hybrid design and can transform from a laptop to a tablet, but not via the standard 360-degree hinge. Instead, the Surface Laptop Studio has a dual-hinge that allows it to open like a conventional laptop, with a secondary hinge across the center of the display that allows you to slide the screen forwards so the bottom magnetically locks in place just above the touchpad. It can also sit flat where the lid would normally be. This gives you the “fat tablet” look of a 360-degree hinge without leaving the keyboard dangling down.
Inside, 11th-generation Intel processors and up to 32GB of RAM make image editing a breeze, despite the fact that the Surface Laptop Studio is far from the most powerful laptop on the market. However, as with other Surface laptops, it lacks quality overall, particularly areas that workstations frequently overlook, such as the speakers and webcam. Just be cautious when checking the option boxes when purchasing, as the price can soon escalate to amounts that are difficult to justify for the performance you’ll receive.
6. Asus Zenbook Duo 14 UX482
The ZenBook Duo’s main selling feature is its massive touch-sensitive secondary screen above the keyboard. It’s called the ScreenPad Plus by Asus, and it can be used as a true secondary monitor to display another program alongside the one on the main screen, or it can be divided into two or three columns, each carrying a distinct open app. There is even a screen extension feature that allows you to expand a single app across both screens.
This primary monitor is a 14-inch Full HD 1920 x 1080 display. That’s a touch low by today’s 4K standard, but it’s plenty to keep visuals clear on a screen this size. The fact that Asus has degraded the screen in other ways is even more disappointing. Whereas the larger, sadly discontinued 15.6-inch ZenBook Duo could be specified with a 4K OLED display that covered 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color space and had a 550-nit peak brightness, this 14-inch ZenBook Duo can only cover 100 percent of the more restrictive sRGB color space and has a maximum brightness of 400 nits.
At the very least, the quad-core Intel Core i7 processor options are powerful enough for serious picture processing, and you may specify up to 32GB RAM, which is sufficient for most usage cases. Dual Thunderbolt 4 ports are cutting-edge technology, and there’s also a standard USB Type-A port, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack.
7. Razer Blade 15
Razer’s brand focus is on the gaming industry, and the Blade 15 4K is essentially a gaming laptop, but the style doesn’t shout it as many gaming laptops do. Only the bright green Razer emblem on the front and the color-changing backlit keyboard hint at the game, but the latter can be turned off to keep things more serious.
The Blade 15’s 15.6-inch 4K screen, which in the top-tier Blade 15 Advanced edition is now an OLED panel, provides remarkable color vibrancy and contrast. Oh, and it’s touch-sensitive, with a super-fast refresh rate of 300Hz for ultra-smooth gaming if that’s your thing.
This Blade 15 configuration also includes a lightning-fast GeForce RTX 2080 Super graphics card. That’s wonderful for 4K gaming, where it will provide a substantial speed gain, but apps like Photoshop won’t benefit from the added power. The solid build quality, excellent heat ventilation, and three standard USB ports are easily ignored plus features, while the lack of an SD card slot is a disappointment.
Prices are listed here for all Blade 15 models, not just the flagship Advanced model, although even the ‘basic’ Blade 15 will be an image-editing powerhouse.
8: LG Gram 14″ 2021 (14Z90P)
LG offers three screen sizes for the Gram: 14-inch, 15-inch, and 17-inch. All have advantages and disadvantages in terms of mobility vs. viewing ease, but the slim 14-inch size makes the most sense if you need something genuinely portable. You get a Full HD 1920×1080 resolution, which isn’t the highest, but it does have a fantastic 99 percent DCI-P3 color space coverage, and the Full HD resolution is still adequate to offer a crisp viewing experience.
Furthermore, the 14-inch Gram weighs under 1kg; when compared to the similarly compact Lenovo 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which weighs roughly 1120g, the Gram feels substantially lighter in the hand. The thin design accommodates a varied selection of two USB-A ports, two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 connectors, an HDMI port, and a microSD card.
The Intel Core i7-1165G7 quad-core processor isn’t the most powerful laptop CPU available, but it is extremely power efficient, allowing for up to 25.5 hours of battery life per charge.
9. HP Spectre x360 14 OLED
Consider your options carefully before purchasing the HP Spectre x360 14 OLED. Because once you see its fantastic 13.5-inch OLED display in action, you’ll never want to go back to a dull old LCD panel. It truly is breathtaking. You receive a far greater response, contrast, and viewing angles than with almost any other LCD screen. Other standout features include outstanding build quality, genuinely useable tablet capability, a bundled input pen with inking support, long battery life, and good connectivity for a device in this class. Indeed, HP has given close attention to almost every aspect of this slick little laptop, including enlisting Bang & Olufsen to handle the speakers and incorporating face recognition with Windows Hello support. The Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor delivers good performance.
10. Acer Predator Helios 300
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is primarily a gaming laptop, but its processing speed and high-quality screen make it an excellent picture or video editing setup as well. We reviewed the 17-inch variant (a 15-inch model is also available), which means you’re giving up portability for screen size. Yes, you can take it around, but it’s a struggle – and don’t expect much in terms of battery life. The upshot is excellent overall speed and enough screen real estate for photo processing while multiple tool palettes are active. The keyboard and trackpad are very enjoyable to use, and the stereo speakers perform admirably. Overall, the Predator Helios 17″