There are a few factors to consider when you're looking for the best laptop for Photoshop work. (Not least price – once you've read this buying guide, head over to our 2017 Black Friday deals page to see if you can find a bargain on the one you want this November.)
Firstly, think about where you will be doing most of your work. If you want a laptop for Photoshop that you can take out and about regularly, you’re always going to have to sacrifice a little portability. If you simply move from studio to studio – as a freelancer maybe – you can get away with a heavier, more performance-orientated machine. If you want a mixture of both, there are options for you as well. But don’t expect them to be cheap.
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We’ve rounded up five of the best laptops for running Photoshop that cover all of these bases – so read on and make your choice.
01. HP ZBook Studio G4 DreamColor
Power meets portability – a fantastic laptop for Photoshop
Processor: Intel Xeon CPU | Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro M1200 | Screen: 15.6-inch 3840x2160 | Storage: 512GB SSD | Memory: 32GB RAM | Ports: 2 x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort), 1 x HDMI, 1 x USB 3.0 | Dimensions: 375(w) x 255(d) x 18(h)mm | Weight: 2.09kg (4.6lbs)
If you’re looking for all-out power and price isn’t too much of a consideration, check out the rip-roaring HP ZBook Studio G4 – the latest in HP’s line of mobile workstations.
The top-end model isn’t cheap, but it packs incredible specs including a 15.6-inch 4K DreamColor display that can easily be colour calibrated, a blazing-fast Core Intel Xeon CPU, 32GB RAM, a 512GB SSD and NVIDIA Quadro M1200 dedicated graphics with 4GB VRAM. There’s also a healthy range of ports for peripherals and Bang & Olufsen speakers.
At just over 2kg (4.6lbs), it won’t break your back carrying it around, and it’s pretty thin at 18mm.
Read our sister site TechRadar’s HP ZBook 15 G4 review
02. MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
Great build quality with excellent Touch Bar functionality
Processor: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB memory | Screen: 15-inch 1920x1200 | Storage: 512GB SSD | Memory: 16GB RAM | Ports: 4 x Thunderbolt 3 | Dimensions: Starting at 349(w) x 240(d) x 15.5(h)mm | Weight: 1.95kg (4.3lbs)
We couldn’t avoid the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar in our list of the best laptops for Photoshop. It’s a phenomenal machine for running powerful programs for all kinds of creative work. The 15-inch model is our top pick, coming with a 2.9GHz i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, and four ThunderBolt 3 ports.
The Touch Bar – while perhaps not quite as cool as having a multi-touch display – is very useful with Photoshop, enabling you to perform quick actions, such as selecting a colour or changing the opacity of a layer, by swiping your finger along the bar.
It's expensive, but build quality is immaculate and the MacBook Pro is extremely portable.
Read TechRadar’s MacBook Pro with Touch review
03. Razer Blade 14
A gaming laptop that packs power for creative pros
Processor: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 6GB VRAM | Screen: 14-inch UHD screen | Storage: 1TB SSD | Memory: 16GB RAM | Ports: 1 x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), 1 x HDMI, 4 x USB 3.0 | Dimensions: Starting at 345(w) x 235(d) x 17.9(h) mm | Weight: 1.95kg (4.3lbs)
The Razer Blade may be a laptop built for gamers, but it’s an incredible machine for creative professionals as well. As well as seriously looking the part and being light and slim, it packs a huge punch, with a 4K multi-touch display, up to 1TB SSD, 16GB RAM and the latest Core i7 quad-core processor.
You also get Thunderbolt 3 connectivity (through USB-C), USB 3.0 and HDMI output. The GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB VRAM makes this machine sing for any kind of graphics work.
Oh, and we love the Razer keyboard – which has individually backlit keys, meaning you can create your own lighting effects (we’re sure you could do something creative with your most-used keyboard shortcuts).
Read TechRadar’s Razer Blade review.
04. Microsoft Surface Book
A powerful laptop that doubles as a digital sketchbook
Processor: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce | Screen: 13.5-inch 1920x1200 | Storage: 512GB SSD | Memory: 16GB RAM | Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x Mini DisplayPort | Dimensions: 312(w)mm x 232(d)mm x 22.8(h)mm | Weight: 1.52kg (115lbs)
The Surface Book is at the top of Microsoft's Surface range of products, and you get a load of power, with the convenience of a detachable tablet with multi-touch display that you can use as a digital sketchbook.
The 512GB SSD, Core i7, 16GB RAM, GeForce version is our favourite of the laptop models. And although it's pretty expensive, it’s stonkingly fast and has fantastic build quality.
Bear in mind, though, that you’re only getting a 13.5-inch screen – a fantastic 3000x2000, 267ppi screen – so factor in the cost for a monitor when you’re back at your desk (and indeed the extra Surface Dock for plugging in all of your peripherals).
Read our Microsoft Surface Book review.
05. Dell Precision 7720
Spec it up for a ton of 17-inch power
Processor: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro M1200 | Screen: 17-inch 3840x2160 | Storage: 512GB SSD | Memory: 16GB RAM | Ports: 1 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x HDMI, 4 x USB 3.0 | Dimensions: Starting at 417(w) x 281(d) x 28.5(h)mm | Weight: 3.4kg (7.5lbs)
In its most basic spec, the Dell Precision 7720 is a little underwhelming – it hasn’t even got a full HD display. But, if you’re prepared to spend a little more and get into the customisation options, you can build a dream Photoshop laptop.
For instance, we specced up the 17-inch mobile beast to have a UHD display, a 512GB SSD and a rapid Core i7 for a shade under £3,000 (or $3,130 on Dell's US site).
Sure, it's a lot of money, but remember you’re getting a 17-inch portable workstation here. Of course with that comes the weight: 3.4kg (7.5lbs) to be precise.
Read TechRadar’s Dell Precision hands-on review.