The best laptops for photo editing will likely share a few common features: a high-quality display, plenty of storage for your files and the latest components to keep your editing applications running smoothly. That said, it can still be confusing to navigate the market and find the best device to suit your own individual needs as photo editing laptops can vary wilding in price and features.
The best offerings will contain at least 8GB of RAM (though 16GB is preferred), a high-resolution screen and a wide gamut support for accurate colours. Some displays even come with factory calibration to ensure image quality is as good as possible, though its possible to adjust the quality of your display using a colourimeter if you have one handy.
Some photo editing suites, especially those from Adobe, can make use of AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning with some of their tools to help reduce repetitive tasks and add more impressive and realistic effects, so while applications like Photoshop don't need a discrete GPU to run, they can offer a great productivity boost.
RAW images tend to take up a lot of space, so a large storage capacity is also a bonus if you don't have access to an external hard drive or similar storage. Almost all modern laptops feature SSD storage, rather than traditional hard drives, and this offers much faster performance, while also being more robust when being moved around - which is essential for laptops.
Battery life is also something to consider if you do a lot of editing during remote shoots or field work, and the above-mentioned features can be pretty demanding on your device so unless you prioritize it, you might find that your laptop of choice runs empty after only a few hours.
All of this might sound fairly expensive, but luckily applications like Adobe Photoshop will run reasonably well on even a low-powered machine. Laptops running slightly older hardware or less powerful specifications are typically a lot more affordable than their more powerful counterparts, which is great news for students or those on a tight budget who are new to the hobby or profession.
So, read on for our pick of the best photo editing laptops available today, and if you're after something smaller, see our pick of the best tablets for photo and video editing. Once you've made your choice, then you might want to pick up some tools to help you on your photo editing journey – see our best photo editing software or best photo apps for some options.
The best laptops for photo editing available now
The MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is hands down one of the best laptops for photographers, which comes as no surprise given the entire MacBook Pro range has long been the laptop of choice for creative professionals. We didn't award it first place on reputation alone though - its results in our tests and benchmarks more than secured it as the reigning champion for photo editing despite a lot of competition on the market.
We would recommend sticking with the original M1 or M1 Pro version of the processor, rather than the more powerful M1 Max model as the additional expense won't net you many benefits and the Pro version of the processor is more than capable enough of running enough apps to knock your socks off. This will ensure that macOS runs incredibly smoothly, and any photo editing app launches immediately and loads up your images with ease.
That 16.2-inch screen is packed with new tech, such as a mini LED screen and P3 wide colour support, along with a higher 3456 x 2234 pixel ratio, which ensures your photos look incredible. Sure, it's not an OLED screen, but this is still one of the best displays you'll find on a laptop that doesn't include that technology and with a whopping 1,600 nits of brightness you can even edit images in broad daylight outside.
Apple thankfully also reintroduced most of the ports that were removed from the previous MacBook Pro model, including HDMI and a memory card slot, so you can plug in external monitors, or copy photos from a camera, without needing an adaptor. It also boasts incredible battery life, lasting almost 20 hours in our tests, which means this is a laptop you can use out in the field without worrying about having to find a power supply.
Also read: MacBook Pro 16-inch review
The MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) is ideal if you loved the sound of the 16-inch model above, but you need something a little smaller to carry around with you. It offers an amazing mini-LED screen that supports 1,600 nits of peak brightness and the P3 wide colour gamut, making it easily one of the best laptops for video editing in the world, but with a smaller, more portable, design.
The smaller 14-inch model doesn't lose out on anything that would impact its photo-editing capabilities though, so this makes it the best laptops for photographers who are looking for a device they can easily carry around, while still offering plenty of power for editing photos. It's powered by the same M1 Pro or M1 Max Apple chips found in the 16-inch model, so it offers a similar level of performance to the bigger laptop.
It's also powered by the new M1 Pro and M1 Max Apple chip, the same as the 16-inch model, which means it offers a similar level of performance to the bigger laptop. Although it has a smaller screen, it remains incredibly high resolution, so the 14-inch MacBook Pro offers the same pixel density as the 16-inch model. This means that you're not sacrificing image quality if you want to go for the smaller (and slightly cheaper) MacBook Pro.
The smaller size also doesn't mean it misses out on the new design elements Apple added to the 16-inch model, as it comes with the same amount of ports, including an SD card slot, an HDMI port, and three Thunderbolt 4 ports. It's also completely fanless and we never heard it making any noise during our tests, so you can work in peace and quiet with the reassurance that your new device isn't going to overheat.
Also read: MacBook Pro 14-inch review
The Dell XPS 15 (2021) is one of the best laptops on the market for just about everybody, let alone photographers. If you don't want a Mac, and can't get to grips with macOS, then this is the laptop for you as it runs either Windows 10 or Windows 11 (depending on if you choose to use the free upgrade), either of which will grant you access to all the best photo editing applications around.
What's more, Dell has packed the XPS 15 with some of the most powerful mobile components you'll find in any laptop right now, so opening, editing and saving photos is incredibly quick and smooth.
All this power is packed into a stylish body that's thin and light - making it ideal for photographers who are often working out and about. You can get an OLED InfinityEdge display for crisp blacks and vivid colours, 11th-generation Intel processors and the latest Nvidia RTX 3050 or 3050 Ti graphics cards, though Intel UHD is also an option for anyone looking to save some cash. While it's not a gaming laptop by any means, the Nvidia RTX graphics card is powerful enough to run older and less demanding titles, so you could even crack out a round of Fortnite or two on your lunch break.
It's backed up by a comfortable keyboard and excellent speakers, plus Dell's famous build quality and support. It's expensive, but worth it if you can afford to get one.
The Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) is one of the most powerful laptops for photo editing you'll find at the moment, combining a 10th generation Intel i9 processor with 8-cores, along with the Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics card, which is one of the most powerful GPUs you'll find in a laptop right now.
Where the Dell XPS 15 shines as a professional, portable workstation, the Aero 17 was created with creatives in mind for demanding work with those powerful components, such as 3D sculpting, animation and both photo and video editing.
Essentially, this is a jack-of-all-trades device that somehow also manages to be a master of all, offering sheer power and performance to blast through any task you can think of. This could even replace many desktop setups if they've not been created with similarly beefy components.
What really makes it stand out for photo editing, however, is the fact that it offers a stunning 4K HDR screen, with 100% Adobe RGB coverage, and which is Pantone-certified as well. This ensures that any photo you edit on this laptop is going to look its very best, and keeps the colours as accurate as possible.
It also packs loads of ports, so you should be able to plug in your memory cards and any peripherals without having to worry about using adaptors. It may be overkill for many people, but if you want cutting edge performance, this is the laptop to get.
See our Gigabyte Aero 17 review for more information.
The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) pretty much revolutionized the portable workstation market overnight when it was released back in 2020, thanks to the unbelievable performance of that M1 chip.
While the M1 chip inside the 13-inch MacBook Pro isn't as powerful as the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips that come with the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, it still does a brilliant job for photo editing, making the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) a more affordable choice for photographers that want a powerful MacBook, but don't want to spend a fortune.
As is usual with MacBooks, it also has a gorgeous Retina screen that will make your photographs look fantastic while offering a sleek and stylish design that Apple is renowned for. The Touch Bar may have been removed from all other MacBook devices on the market, but it still features on this 13-inch model which is a win for those who actually loved and used it, and it works with key photo editing software like Photoshop. It can really make a big difference to your workflow.
Best of all, we found in our tests that the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) has an incredibly long battery life, allowing you to work all day without anxiously watching the battery percentage on your screen. For photographers who do a, this still one of the best laptops you can buy, even with the refreshed MacBook Pro models considered in.
Also read: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) review
The Dell XPS 17 (2021) is another ideal Windows 10 alternative to Apple's MacBooks for photographers looking for a large-screen laptop for photo editing. You're getting the high standard of build quality we've come to expect from Dell over the years, with a 17-inch display, 16:10 aspect ratio screen that's ideal for photographers, as it offers more vertical space than standard 16:9 widescreen displays, and it can be configured with a 4K Ultra HD+ resolution of 3,840 x 2,400.
Despite this being larger than the 15-inch model listed higher on this ranking, it's still well-sized enough to fit into most standard backpacks, and its elegant and professional design will suit any office or studio environment.
Perhaps most importantly, the screen supports 100% Adobe RGB and 94% DCI-P3 colour gamuts, which means this offers accurate colours as well, and that makes it an excellent choice for professional photographers who want to edit their photos in the best possible conditions. If Windows 10 doesn't suit your needs, the Dell XPS 17 is also eligible for the free Windows 11 update so you can use the very latest Microsoft operating system without making any other adjustments to your hardware.
It's also packed with some of the best mobile components out there, and can even be fitted with a powerful graphics card as well. Plus, for a 17-inch laptop, as well as being impressively thin and light to boot.
The Razer Blade 17 (2022) is a laptop of many talents thanks to its extremely powerful components and features. It’s little wonder then that this has been awarded the Nvidia Studio laptop badge, a motif created to help creatives find the best possible devices on the market to suit their needs even if they don’t have much technical knowledge.
There are several different display types to choose from depending on your profession or requirements that make it ideal for photographers and photo editing. While you can't configure the Razer Blade 17, it has a handful of different versions that all scale in power and price, from an affordable model rocking an RTX 3060 GPU and a 17.3" 165Hz QHD display, to a seriously powerful RTX 3080 Ti and a full 4K 144Hz version that could replace most modern desktop computers with ease.
It's not just a laptop, but also works well as a full replacement for a desktop setup, with enough ports for you to plug in all of your accessories and peripherals without requiring an additional dock. We managed to hook up an entire desktop setup including an additional display, keyboard, mouse and audio mixer with ports to spare during our tests, which is mindboggling for a modern laptop.
Sadly, battery life does suffer in exchange for all that power, but that's hardly an issue unique to the Razer Blade 17. Providing you can stay near a power outlet (or get your editing done in a few hours), this is easily one of the most powerful Windows laptops on the market right now.
Also read: Razer Blade 17 review
The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is yet another Apple laptop that's excellent at Photoshop thanks to its powerful Apple-designed M1 chip - based on the same tech as the one powering the more expensive MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020).
This means it's the first time ever the more affordable MacBook Air can go toe-to-toe with the 13-inch MacBook Pro when it comes to Photoshop performance. You'll be able to open and edit high-resolution photos and projects, and swap between apps, with ease, and its fanless design also means that it is pretty much completely silent when in use.
As with previous MacBook Airs, it features a gorgeous thin and light design that makes it easy to carry around with you, and the M1 packs enough of a punch that you won't feel that moving to a more powerful MacBook model is required for even professional-quality photo editing. Simply put, this is the ideal laptop for most people, let alone photographers, thanks to its relatively affordable price tag (when compared to other MacBooks), allowing you to work on projects and edit images while streaming videos or listing to music on other applications and tabs.
Also, for the first time in a MacBook Air, the latest model supports the P3 colour gamut, which means the screen can display accurate colours, a consideration that is incredibly important for photographers using Photoshop. We're expecting a new MacBook Air in 2022, which might make it higher on our list, but the Apple March event has gone by and there's no news for now.
Also read: MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review
The Surface Laptop 4 is a great laptop for photo editing, as well as one of the best devices Microsoft has ever made. Consider this as Microsoft's own rival to the MacBook Air, complete with a gorgeous slimline design, a top-quality display and one of the nicest keyboards you'll ever use on a laptop device.
On top of that stunning design, it has plenty of power under the hood, and its large, high-resolution PixelSense touchscreen is perfect for editing photos on. We were frustrated by the lack of ports during our tests as this restricted us from using a display graphics tablet (over a standard drawing graphics tablet), but you can get a dongle if required for additional peripherals, and you're getting at least a single USB-C and USB-A.
It's also packing some of the latest mobile tech from both Intel and AMD, and comes in a variety of specifications, so it can easily run video editing software. It runs Windows 10, so all of your favourite apps can be used. The super-fast storage allows you to move large amounts of photos to and from this laptop, and every photo editing applicant we tried ran beautifully.
Best of all, it has one of the longest battery lives we've tested in a laptop, which allows you to work out and about without worrying about being plugged into a wall socket.
Also read: Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review
The new Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED might look quirky at first glance, but every design choice has been meticulously thought out to create the ultimate portable workstation for creatives.
The inclusion of an OLED display is perfect for photographers and editors who want precise colour accuracy and brightness, while the 'Asus Dial' offers an innovative way of using Adobe creative suite applications without the need for additional peripherals.
The dial can only be used on a handful of select Adobe Suite applications right now, but this covers Photoshop and Lightroom, and the additional boost of features it provides to these apps are incredible so this is far from being a quirky gimmick.
We can attest that the dial is a joy to use despite those restrictions, and the quality of the OLED display absolutely blew us away during our tests. It's also surprisingly portable for such a large device, measuring up at 109.2 x 264.1 x 20.3MM and weighing 2.5KG, and that massive chassis is hiding some pretty impressive hardware.
Powered by the latest generation of Nvidia RTX graphics cards, this isn't just perfect for video editors, but also digital illustrators and photographers. It's also rocking AMD Ryzen 5000 series processors and plenty of RAM to run all of your favourite applications.
Also read: Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED review
The best laptops for photo editing: What to consider
If you've been looking at the premium prices for most of this list with dismay, the Acer Swift 3 is your go-to pick of the best laptops for photo editing. Despite being highly budget-friendly, this affordable laptop workstation is more than capable of running demanding photo editing applications like Adobe Photoshop.
It's around half the price of the MacBook Pro - but it features a nice design that feels robust. Given many of the options we've shown you are also heavy-hitters regarding their components, you may think that what the Acer Swift 3 is offering is fairly weak by comparison. Don't be fooled though, as it comes with a quad-core Intel processor and 8GB of RAM, which is plenty for most photo editing apps to run efficiently.
Its 14-inch display is surprisingly good, with IPS technology that lets it really show off bright and vivid colours, and it boasts a full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution. The keyboard is great to work on too, making this a fantastic choice for anyone who wants the power to do serious photography work, without breaking the bank which makes it ideal for students or hobbyists looking to get started in photography editing on a tight budget.
What laptop specs do I need for photo editing?
In specs, you should consider 8GB of RAM a minimum for a laptop for photo editing, likewise a modern Intel Core i5 processor (or AMD Ryzen 5). These processors come with decent integrated graphics which will be more than enough for photo editing.
And your SSD drive should be 256GB as a minimum, too. Bigger is better if you'll be storing a lot of photos on the device, but you may be using cloud storage of course.
We recommend 1080p displays, as they'll allow you to see more of your photos, but if your budget can stretch to it, a laptop with a 4K screen may be worth investing in.