Photo editing can be demanding, requiring great attention to detail and a keen eye for composition, color, and contrast. The right laptop for you will depend on your professional capacity, needs, and budget.
A high-res image editor working on multiple applications concurrently will need superior processors and much more space than a casual hobbyist.
9 Best Photo Editing Laptops 2023
What we love most about this space right now is the availability of numerous options for all budgets. From just over $1000 to heavy-duty devices costing almost $3,000, multimedia machines vary widely in price, specs, and features.
ASUS StudioBooks for intuitive editing
Arguably one of the finest photo editing machines in the market is the 16″ ASUS 2023 ProArt StudioBook. This capable, intuitive laptop with a military-grade build is choc-a-bloc with tailored features for multimedia editors. ASUS uses powerful specs for this range, including Intel Core i9 CPUs, RTX 4070 graphics cards, 32GB RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage.
Photo editors demand detail-heavy displays, and ASUS delivers with high resolutions (3.2K OLED), vast color gamut (100% DCI-P3), and brilliant color accuracy (Pantone validation and Delta E <2). The stylus on StudioBooks – also supported on the haptic touchpads – is particularly precise and responsive.
Unsurprisingly, it is an expensive series priced at around $2,500. But devoted photo editors with the budget and the desire to push the envelope will find plenty to savor.
The classic MacBook Pro
Apple devices have stood the test of time in the multimedia category. The 16.2″ MacBook Pro 2023 is a hyper-competent device powered by an M2 Pro or M2 Max chip, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. Its liquid retina XDR screen looks gorgeous, with 1000 nits of brightness and a stunning HDR rendition. Apple ensures thorough connectivity with three Thunderbolt 4 ports and plenty of unplugged life (22 hours of battery backup). The “Magic” keyboards with Touch ID are also welcome once you get the hang of them.
These MacBooks cost over $2,600, making them one of the pricier picks on this list. But this brand shows clear wins in security, dependability, and user-friendliness.
You can consider the 14.2″ option if you are okay with a smaller display. It is slightly cheaper – around $2,000 – and offers almost similar specs with around 18 hours of battery backup.
Dell XPS for extreme power
Over the years, Dell has become a company to reckon with for true-blue multimedia or gaming prowess. The XPS 15 costs around $2,000 but is a superb choice for creative professionals, photographers, photo editors, etc. Users can choose up to an Intel Core i9 processor, RTX 4070 graphics, 64GB RAM, and a magnificent 8GB of SSD storage. You will never be short on space again!
Dell lets you opt for a 3.5K display if your requirements demand. Moreover, the real estate is expansive, thanks to the over 90% screen-to-body ratio. You can also experience the difference created by Waves Nx 3D audio and a scintillating backlit keyboard that lights up in sync with your efforts.
Affordable photo editing options by HP, Acer & Microsoft
The Spectre series is worth exploring for A/V editors seeking a budget-friendly but competent laptop. For instance, the 16″ HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 will cost you around $1,500.00 – considerably lower than other picks we have covered. But it runs on an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. It has a 3K+ touch screen that’s taller to facilitate less scrolling and higher engagement. Color accuracy of Delta E <2, a 100% sRGB gamut, and Bang & Olufsen sound ensure perfect detailing for demanding projects.
The HP brand, known for durability and long battery backup, lives up to its reputation in these convertibles (over 15 hours of unplugged use). We also like the thoughtful reminders on screen time – so as not to lose ourselves in editing and ignore well-being.
Another affordable choice is the Acer Predator Triton range. The 14″ model uses an Intel Core i7 processor, RTX 4050 graphics, and a WUXGA display with a 165Hz refresh rate. It is sustainable and performance-oriented with effective heat dissipation (AeroBlade 3D fan), Killer Wi-Fi 6E, and DTS:X Ultra audio. This alternative will cost you around $1,339.99.
Check the Microsoft Surface 5 if you wish to get an even cheaper deal with cinematic audio video (Dolby Vision and Atmos) and oodles of style (Alcantara fabric and color options). It costs just a tad over $1,000. An Intel i7 CPU, up to 17 hours of battery backup, and a weight of only around 3 lbs make it perfect for modern professionals who need the freedom to work from anywhere. A bright touchscreen simplifies productive and convenient editing,
Razer Blade: Powerful yet portable
A terrific offering from the Razer umbrella is the Razer Blade 16 – a thrilling device for photo editors or gamers. It has stellar specs: an Intel Core i9 CPU, RTX 4060 graphics, and a QHD+ screen with a 240Hz refresh rate. The available memory and storage – 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD – are easily upgradable per your requirements. It is also immensely portable – even the adapter – which is uncommon for laptops in this category.
A Razer Blade of this caliber can cost approximately $2,700, making it suitable for professional editors who have the budget and need the additional muscle.
ASUS Zenbooks for the secondary screen advantage
A flexible choice for multimedia editing is an ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo. The 14.5″ model has a secondary touchscreen with a tilt mechanism to create more seamless and smoother user interaction with the main display (2.8K OLED HDR). It also boasts an impressive configuration with an Intel i9 CPU, RTX 4060 graphics, 32GB of RAM, and a 2TB SSD.
ASUS is dedicated to a glorious visual experience, providing Pantone validation and a 100% DCI-P3 color gamut. It is a reliable yet more affordable alternative for immersive A/V projects.
MSI Creator for enhanced ease of sharing
Photo editors frequently liaise with other departments and must share their work with peers or clients. The MSI Creator M16 has a 180-degree lay-flat hinge to facilitate this. Besides, it has a sharp QHD+ screen with 100% DCI-P3 and a 90% screen-t0-body ratio.
The Creator line-up boasts top-notch specs and features like an Intel Core i7 CPU, RTX 4060 graphics, 32GB RAM, and Hi-Res audio. MSI continues its focus on durability with a military-grade build – ideal for travel-oriented lifestyles.
How much RAM do you require for photo editing?
We recommend 16GB RAM since you will run Creative Cloud applications like Photoshop. Starting up and working in parallel on these programs can be highly resource-intensive. It is future-proof to purchase an upgradable laptop that lets you up the specs to 32GB as your requirements escalate.
Which screen size is suitable for a photo editing laptop?
The most common screen size is 15″. It is rich in detail but still portable. You can go for a 17″ display if you get a desktop-replacement machine and don’t plan to travel with it. Screen options like 14″ have also become popular lately. Once you have finalized the screen size, we suggest exploring crucial details like the color gamut, brightness, accuracy, finish (matte, anti-glare, etc.), and blue light emissions.
Besides processing capacity, what should you look for in a photo editing laptop?
The availability of connectivity options like Thunderbolt ports, SD card slots, Wi-Fi 6, etc., is vital. Editors need access to their A/V paraphernalia and must also collaborate with others. Consider the available battery life and portability to work on the go. Another vital consideration is a comfortable and ergonomic keyboard with a suitable key-travel distance (longer is preferred by many) and productivity-enhancing features like shortcuts, Touch ID, etc.