Trying to figure out which are the best laptops for photographers? Photo editing software can be pretty demanding, especially if you’re working on high resolution raw files and utilizing advanced effects, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re investing in a laptop that has all the makings of a powerful photo editing tool.
At the end of the day, the best laptops for photographers can rival traditional desktop hardware when it comes to raw horsepower. Additionally, unlike laptops of old, many boast pixel-perfect displays with stunning color, as well as wide contrast to keep highlight and shadow detail consistently visible.
We put together a list of the best laptops for photographers and photo editing for you. In this guide, we’ll go through all the best laptops and Ultrabooks that can help photographers, no matter which photo editors you’re using – whether it’s Adobe Photoshop or GIMP.
1. Apple Macbook Pro with touchbar
The best Macbook Pro ever, reborn for 2018
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, (2,560 x 1,600) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
The best Macbook Pro ever
Super fast performance
Disappointing battery life
If you’re after the latest and greatest laptop from Apple, then this year’s 13-inch Macbook Pro with touchbar is a brilliant choice if you’re looking for a laptop to edit photos on. It’s the best laptop Apple has ever made, and builds new features into the classic design. Of course the headline feature is the Touch Bar – it’s a thin OLED display at the top of the keyboard which can be used for any number of things, whether that be auto-suggesting words as you type or offering Touch ID so you can log in with just your fingerprint. This makes it an excellent laptop for photographers using Photoshop, as it has a number of Photoshop shortcuts, such as being able to quickly select a color or change the opacity of a layer by swiping your finger, features that all the other laptops on this list lack.
Read the full review: Apple Macbook with touchbar (13-inch 2018)
2. MacBook Pro 15-inch
Same body, big leap in power
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: Radeon Pro 555X – Radeon Pro 560X | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch 2,880 x 1,800 (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology | Storage: up to 4TB SSD
True Tone works well when you want it
Touch Bar is improving
Lack of ports
Keyboard still feels a little flat
With Apple having recently fitted its MacBook Pro 15-inch with Intel’s latest 9th-generation processors, these laptops are better and more powerful than ever, which means it’s just the ticket for demanding post-processing tasks. Of course, the fact that it boasts Touch ID and an improved Touch Bar, and is upgradeable to 4TB of SSD storage means that you can have a more seamless experience doing so. Although you will have to adjust to not having an SD card port and only two Thunderbolt 3, this is still one of the best laptops for photographers.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro 15-inch
3. HP Spectre x360 15T
Powerful performance, head-turning design
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch UHD (3,160 x 2,140) LCD touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD – 2TB SSD
Sharp 4K display
Problematic vent placement
Combining elegance with performance, the HP Spectre x360 15T boasts the same great features inherent to the Spectre line, but also takes things to a whole new level. Touting an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics and 8GB of RAM in its base configuration, this 2-in-1 can handle anything your daily workload throws at it – and then some (like a bit of light gaming like playing Anno 2070, for example). The fact that it’s a 2-in-1 and HP Pen compatible means that you can use Lightroom and Photoshop in tablet mode, if that’s more convenient for your workflow.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 15T (2019)
4. Huawei MateBook X Pro
A brilliant laptop for photographers
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX150 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.9-inch 3000 x 2000 LTPS | Storage: 512GB SSD
Terrific battery life
No SD card slot
Webcam not great
The Huawei MateBook X Pro has proved to be a truly brilliant contender to more established brands like Apple and Dell. This is a gorgeously-designed laptop with a stunning screen (albeit with a rather odd aspect ratio). Better yet, it comes packed with cutting edge components that allow it to perform brilliantly, and a battery life that runs rings around many of its rivals. It’s also competitively priced, giving you excellent features, design and performance for less. The combination of brilliant screen, powerful components and (relatively) affordable price makes this one of the best laptops for photographers in 2019.
Read the full review: Huawei MateBook X Pro
5. Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)
An amazing laptop that does even more as a tablet
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5” 3000 x 2000 PixelSense Display with touchscreen | Storage: 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe SSD
Seamless tablet integration
No Surface Pen included
The Surface Book 2 is Microsoft’s followup to its popular 2-in-1 device, and it’s definitely one of the best laptops for photographers. With a full version of Windows 10 installed, it can run Photoshop with any issues. It comes with boosted components, and its screen remains gorgeous. Only Apple’s marginally better colour calibration gives the MacBook’s image quality the edge, but Microsoft fights back with a superior 3,000 x 2,000 resolution and an ideal aspect ratio for viewing APS-C and full-frame images. The screen’s touch-sensitive, but its real party trick is its ability to detach from the rest of the laptop to become a tablet. It’s a shame that the Surface Pen stylus doesn’t come included, as we’d definitely recommend buying for your photo editing sessions.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)
6. Dell XPS 15
The best 15-inch laptop available this year
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – 9th-generation Intel Core i9 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080) – 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge Anti-Glare Non-touch IPS | Storage: up to 2TB SSD
Poor webcam position
Packing the same InfinityEdge technology as the smaller XPS 13, the 15-inch screen extends right to the edge of the machine which means it’s as small as it’s possible for a 15-inch laptop. It’s quite expensive, depending on which version you get, but the very top end version has a 4K color-accurate display, which makes it one of the best laptops for photographers. You’ll be able to see your photos in crisp detail as you edit them, and the impressive specifications mean it will keep up with all the edits you make to the largest photos in your collection.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 15
7. Dell XPS 13
Touchscreen can streamline photo browsing and culling
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3″ FHD (1920 x 1080) – 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge Anti-Glare Non-touch IPS | Storage: up to 2TB SSD
Decent power and screen
Mediocre battery life
This laptop’s claim to fame is being the smallest 13.3-inch laptop on the market. It’s slim screen bezel helps contribute to a svelte 304mm x 200mm x 15mm form that needs to be held to be truly appreciated. But it’s also among the best laptops for photographers. The XPS 13’s screen is touch-sensitive, and it boasts a similar resolution and pixel density to the MacBook and Surface Book. Image quality is more in line with the ZenBook though, falling slightly short on colour and contrast intensity compared to Apple and Microsoft’s displays. A highly portable package with little compromise other than battery life.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
8. HP Spectre x360
A best 2-in-1 gets better
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch full HD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) touchscreen | Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe SSD
Very well built
Powerful and thin
Sartorially-conscious photographers will love the look of this 13-inch stunner, sure. But the 2019 Spectre x360 also takes things to another level, power-wise. With its gem cut design and sleek profile, it’s this one of the most beautiful laptops on the market right now. However, HP also fitted this with powerful Intel Whiskey Lake processors and long battery life, which means that you’re getting one of the best laptops for photographers.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 (2019)
9. Lenovo Yoga C930
2-in-1 with little to no compromise
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.9-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IPS Glossy Multi-touch | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Strong build quality
Robust feature set
Excellent battery life
Weak graphics performance
Pricey upgrade options
Sleek, slim and with solid specs to boot, the new Lenovo Yoga C930 not only deserves to be voted one of the best 2-in-1 laptops to date, but it’s also a worthy addition in our best laptops for photographers list. That’s without mentioning the fact that it now touts a 4K display model, which is just excellent for editing those high resolution full-frame shots. This 2-in-1 is a strong contender for photographers on the budget, but if you do decide to go for gold, you might have to break the bank.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga C930
10. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
A brilliant sequel from Microsoft
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD
Competitive power level
Lovely new black color scheme
No Thunderbolt 3 option
Too few ports for its size
While it doesn’t represent a huge improvement of the original Surface Laptop, the Surface Laptop 2 offers enhancements in all the areas we were hoping for, including updated hardware that brings solid performance upgrades. This is a laptop that finally delivers on what Microsoft set out to do with the original: a pure, powerful Windows 10 laptop experience. If you’re not sold on the 2-in-1 nature of the Surface Book 2, but love Microsoft’s premium build quality and design, then the Surface Laptop 2 is the laptop for you, especially if you’re looking for the best laptops for photographers.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
Key things to look out for
Watch the video above for the top 7 things to consider when buying a laptop.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the tech and spec soup of computer terminology, but there are a couple of key areas photographers need to think about.
The first is the quality of the screen. This used to be more eye-sore than eye-candy, with appalling contrast and viewing angles, but thankfully IPS display tech fixes this and you shouldn’t settle for anything less.
An SSD (solid state drive) is a must as your primary storage in any new laptop. A conventional hard disk drive will bottleneck performance like flat tires on a Ferrari, and while dedicated graphics cards are great for gaming, they’re not a necessity here. Today’s processors can fill in for them, and they pack enough pixel-pushing punch for photo editing.
The MacBook is favoured by many photographers, and for good reason. But don’t rule out comparably priced laptop PCs, which can offer more bang per buck with better upgradability.
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