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What’s The Best Laptop for Photo Editing?

20 or 30-odd years ago, if we told you that laptops were going to be used for something other than doing office work, you’d probably scoff at the thought. After all, a laptop is a compact version of a personal computer and because of its size, you wouldn’t expect it to house powerful hardware. At least, this was what people thought 20 years ago.

Now, laptops have gone above and beyond doing office work. With all the advancements made in personal computing, we now have GPUs and CPUs designed for laptops. This means that whatever PC specs you could build, you’ll find a laptop that has similar or more powerful specs.

The downside to high-end laptops is their battery life and usage. By default, laptops will automatically switch to the integrated graphics card (iGPU) when it’s unplugged rather than use the discrete GPU for anything that needs graphics processing power. You’ll still be able to use the laptop for photo editing, but don’t expect the battery to last you an hour or so.

And speaking of laptops for photo editing, that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about in this article. Even though you’re just editing photos, the processing power required by photo editing software is a bit higher than what you’d need for gaming.

The photo editing laptops we will be listing in this article all have higher-than-average specs and a hefty price tag. If you’re getting started with photo editing as a career, or if you want to improve your current setup to become more mobile, then these photo editing laptops are up for consideration.

What Is The Best Laptop For Photo Editing?

These laptops are not arranged in any particular order, so the decision on what’s the best photo editing laptop will ultimately boil down to what you need and how much you’re willing to shell out.

MacBook Pro M1 – $2,099 to $2,499

A High-End MacBook For Photo Editing and More

MacBook Pro M1 Best Laptop for Photo Editing

Specs Cheat Sheet

  • CPU: up to 10-core Apple M1 Max
  • GPU: up to 32-core Apple M1 Max GPU
  • RAM: 16GB, with option to upgrade up to 64GB
  • Screen: 16-inch Retina Display with True Tone
  • Storage: Options for 1TB up to 8TB

Why Consider It?

  • Apple M1 Max chips have incredible performance
  • Up to 64GB RAM on a laptop
  • Amazing screen display

Why Avoid It?

  • Expensive!

We’re not playing favorites here, but if you just want to get the best laptop for photo editing, video editing, and other tasks, then the MacBook Pro M1 is a solid pick if you have no qualms with spending about $2,000.

The MacBook Pro M1 is better than its 2020 predecessors by a mile, breaking through the RAM restrictions and display size. With a 16-inch screen and an option to upgrade to as much as 64GB, photo editors will be more than happy to put this minimalist beast to the test.

And as for battery life and combined with the M1 chip architecture, you’d be surprised to know that the battery life on the MacBook Pro M1 can go as high as 21 hours even when you’re doing video editing or photo editing.

MacBook Pro M2– $1,269 to $1,279

A Decent Alternative To The MacBook Pro M1

MacBook Pro M2 Best Laptop for Photo Editing

Specs Cheat Sheet

  • CPU: 8-Core Apple M2
  • GPU: 10-Core Apple M2 GPU
  • RAM: 8GB default, can be upgraded to as high as 24GB
  • Screen: 13.3-inch Retina Display with True Tone
  • Storage: 256GB base storage space, upgradeable to 2TB SSD

Why Consider It?

  • Amazing screen quality
  • Excellent performance and portability

Why Avoid It?

  • 2 USB ports may not be enough for photo editors
  • Small screen size, may not be enough for photo editors or video editors

If the MacBook Air is way too expensive for you but you still want to go for something made by Apple, then you can’t go wrong choosing the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Even with specs that’re a bit underwhelming compared to the Macbook Air, the MacBook Pro still does a great job for powering through photo editing tasks, video editing tasks, and more.

And with a price tag that’s almost 50% less than what the MacBook Air would cost you, we believe that the MacBook Pro gives you the best bang for your buck.

Razer Blade 17 – $3,899 to $5,599

An All-Around High-End Laptop For Photo Editing and More

Razer Blade 17 Best Laptop for Photo Editing

Specs Cheat Sheet

  • CPU: Choice of Intel Core i7 12th Gen or Intel Core i9 12th Gen
  • GPU: Choice of Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070Ti, or Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080Ti
  • RAM: 32GB
  • Screen: 17.3-inch screen at 2,560×1440 pixel resolution
  • Storage: 1TB SSD

Why Consider It?

  • Quality display
  • Excellent overall laptop build
  • Powerful specifications packed inside a compact machine

Why Avoid It?

  • Expensive!

Probably one of the highest-performing laptops on this list, the Razer Blade 17’s reputation precedes itself for both gamers and creative professionals. With a price tag higher than that of both Apple products listed above combined, you’re getting what you pay for.

First, you’re getting either an Intel Core i7 or an Intel Core i9. Both are considered powerful processors for gaming, video editing, and more. Then you have the Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics cards for serious graphics processing performance. Tinkering with the options for upgrades, you’ll be spending close to $6,000 for an Intel Core i9 and an RTX 3080Ti combination.

But even with these specs, is this the best laptop for photo editing? If you don’t mind spending a lot of money on an all-around machine, then this is a solid pick. The hardware will definitely last you for more than five years, and you won’t ever feel the need to upgrade to a newer machine or model of the Razer Blade for the foreseeable future.

For the budding photo editing professional or creative professional, consider this a hefty but worthwhile investing for growing your career.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio – $1,399

A Hybrid Laptop/Tablet Combo For Photo Editing

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio Best Laptop for Photo Editing

Specs Cheat Sheet

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 11th Gen
  • GPU: Integrated Intel Irix XE
  • RAM: 16GB base RAM with option to upgrade to 32GB
  • Screen: 14.4-inch 2400×1600 resolution at 120Hz refresh rate
  • Storage: 256GB base SSD storage size with option to upgrade to 2TB SSD

Why Consider It?

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Excellent Retina display

Why Avoid It?

  • No HDMI port or memory card slot

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio is possibly one of the most minimalistic laptop/tablet combinations we’ve ever laid our eyes on, and maybe the best laptop for photo editing for the photographer on the go.

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio features a hybrid design so you can convert from laptop to tablet on the fly, but sadly, no 360-degree hinge. Rather, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio features a dual-hinge similar to traditional laptops and a secondary hinge located in the middle of the screen so you can prop up the screen.

Inside the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, we have the Intel Core i7 11th gen CPU and room for upgrading up to 32GB RAM and 2TB storage for a minimal cost. At most, you’re spending $1,399 to max out on upgrades.

Its portability is both its strength and weakness. The absence of a GPU, speakers, and webcam will definitely be a disappointment for those looking for more. But hey, you get what you pay for. This is a photo editing laptop at best with no added features.

Dell XPS 15 – $2,195 to $2,800

A Robust All-Around Photo Editing Laptop And More

Dell XPS 15 Best Laptop for Photo Editing

Specs Cheat Sheet

  • CPU: Intel Core i9 11th Generation
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti
  • RAM: 8GB stock RAM, with option to upgrade to 64GB
  • Screen: 15.6-inch IPS LCD screen at 3840×2400 resolution
  • Storage: 512GB SSD, upgradeable to 2TB SSD

Why Consider It?

  • Excellent performance
  • Decent number of available ports, including SD slot

Why Avoid It?

  • Mediocre battery life
  • Expensive

Dell is notoriously good at creating powerful hardware, from their gaming laptops to their prebuilt desktop PC lineups. Coming into this list is the Dell XPS 15, or Dell XPS 9000, and this Windows laptop is absolutely packed to the teeth.

For the Dell XPS 15, we got the Intel Core i9 processor and an RTX 3050 for excellent graphics performance for gaming and other stuff. The screen’s also what we’d consider to have one of the best configs for photo editors and other creative professionals. The Dell XPS 15 comes with a 4K resolution at a 16:10 ratio, with a 500-nit brightness.

But this is not a budget laptop either. You’ll need to mix and match certain upgrades to get the performance that you need. But regardless, the Dell XPS 15 is one of the best laptops for photo editing and more.

Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 14 – $1,079 to $1,217

An Uncompromising Laptop With Specs and Aesthetics To Match

Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 14 Best Laptop for Photo Editing

Specs Cheat Sheet

  • CPU: Intel Core i9 12th generation
  • GPU: Intel Iris XE
  • RAM: 8GB stock RAM, with option to upgrade to 32GB
  • Screen: 14.5-inch screen at 2880×1800 screen resolution
  • Storage: 512GB stock SSD storage, with option to upgrade to 1TB SSD

Why Consider It?

  • Impressive dual screen setup
  • Overall fantastic build

Why Avoid It?

  • Ergonomically complicated
  • Mediocre battery life

We’ve got the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 14 on this list for several reasons, and one of the happens to be its impressive touch-sensitive secondary screen nestled right above the keyboard. The ScreenPad Plus, as Asus named it, can be used as a second monitor so you can display another app. You can even split it into three columns to contain different apps.

The main monitor is an impressive 14.5-inch OLED display with 100% DCI-P3 color space coverage and a 550-nix max brightness combined with the most beautiful contrast setup you’ll ever gaze your eyes on.

The Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 14 is quite possibly one of the best laptops for photo editing not just for the screen but also the hardware powering it. The Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 14 comes with an Intel Core i9 Processor and room to upgrade up to 32GB RAM and 2TB SSD.

But there’s a tradeoff. The available screen real estate has made the ergonomics for keyboard and trackpad in a bit of an awkward spot. But so as long as you get used to the setup, it doesn’t really become that much of a bother. The screen quality of the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 14 still makes it a decent purchase, especially if you like having more screen real estate than regular Windows laptops.

HP Spectre x360 – $1,479 to $1,699

A Spectacular Laptop With Genuine Tablet Functionality

HP Spectre x360 Best Laptop for Photo Editing

Specs Cheat Sheet

  • CPU: Up to Intel Core i7 11th generation
  • GPU: Intel Integrated Graphics
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Screen: 13.5-inch OLED screen at 3000×2000 resolution
  • Storage: 512GB SSD

Why Consider It?

  • Laptop with OLED display
  • Incredible battery life
  • Usable tablet functionality

Why Avoid It?

  • Not even remotely cheap but not as expensive
  • Limited graphics performance

If the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio tickled your fancy, the HP Spectre x360 OLED might be a solid contender for best laptop for photo editing. This might be considered the best laptop for photo editing simply because of its OLED display, and once you go OLED, you’ll never want to settle for anything less.

For photo editing, the HP Spectre x360 OLED has enough processing power to run even the most demanding photo editing software. The HP Spectre x360 OLED’s build quality is excellent, and it’s actually a usable tablet bunled with input pen (with inking support). And in the tradition of HP laptops, the HP Spectre x360 OLED’s battery life is impressive even with an 11th generation Intel Core i7.

Razer Blade 15 – $1,938 to $2,213

An Impressive Gaming Laptop For All-Around Purpose

Razer Blade 15 Best Laptop for Photo Editing

Specs Cheat Sheet

  • CPU: Up to 10th-generation Intel Core i7
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, upgradeable to RTX 2070
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Screen: 15.6-inch OLED screen with 4K resolution (3840×2160) and touchscreen capabilities
  • Storage: Up to 1TB SSD

Why Consider It?

  • It’s a gaming laptop
  • Excellent build quality and performance
  • 4K OLED display

Why Avoid It?

  • A bit bulky to lunk around if you’re on the move a lot.

Razer Blade 17 made it to this list, but comes with a large price tag. If you want a compact laptop for photo editing, then the Razer Blade 15 is a solid pick. While it’s primarily a gaming laptop, and arguably one of the best built gaming laptops there is, the Razer Blade 15 packs enough power for editing photos, videos, and maybe some 3D work.

The reason why it’s a contender for the best laptops for photo editing is that it packs a 15.6-inch 4K OLED display. The colors, brightness, and contrast are as vibrant as you can get on a 15-6 inch screen. Oh, it’s got a 300Hz refresh rate and a touch-sensitive screen too. 

For this Razer laptop, we get the GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card (upgradeable to RTX 2070 or RTX 2080). It’s not one of the RTX 3000-series graphics cards, but it’s still considerably fast and the graphics processing power is impressive.

The Wrap Up

So which do you think is the best laptop for photo editing? Well, it boils down to what you need and how much you’re willing to spend. A couple thousand dollars might be over the top if you’re just getting started, but you can’t go wrong with investing in a future-proof gadget either.

James Stephenson

james stephenson profile picJames is a gaming and tech enthusiast. He has been playing computer games since the Commodore 64 days in the 80s. He has worked as a Broadcast Engineer with BBC News and knows a thing or two about building, fixing, and playing with PCs.