The best laptops for Photoshop

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Apple/ASUS laptops for Photoshop

(Image credit: Apple/ASUS)

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1. Best overall: MacBook Air (M2)
2. Best for Windows: ASUS ProArt
3. Best power: MacBook Pro (M3)
4. Best under £650: Acer Chromebook Plus
5. Best for portability: Dell XPS 13
6. Dual screen: Zenbook Pro Duo
7. Best for stylus: Surface Laptop Studio 2
Also tested
How to choose
How we test
FAQs

To use all of Photoshop's newest and most power-hungry features, you'll need a powerful machine. And can also be true if you work with a lot of layers. But not everyone's workflows will need so much power from Photoshop, so this list includes a mix of laptops that should suit the needs of diverse users.

We've tested every laptop on this page, putting them through demanding benchmark tests to define what kind of user they will work best for. Our team of expert reviewers have assessed the display quality, screen size, speed, battery life and more when adding the picks to this list, which includes options from Apple to ASUS. Of course, if you need more from a screen, the best monitors for photo editing will be a great companion. 

If you want a laptop but don't yet have the software, make sure to check out our Adobe Creative Cloud discount page, and our best photo editing software. We'd also recommend considering the best drawing tablets if you prefer editing with a stylus.

Quick list

Best laptop for Photoshop

MacBook Air laptop in an office on a black desk

(Image credit: Future)
The best overall laptop for Photoshop

Specifications

CPU: M2 with 8-core CPU
Graphics: M2 with 8-core/10-core GPU
RAM: 8GB, 16GB, 24GB
Screen: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 4, 1x MagSafe 3, 1x 3.5mm headphone jack

Reasons to buy

+
Great new design
+
Excellent battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than previous model
-
Gets hot when under pressure

We specifically tested the MacBook Air M2 on Photoshop before giving it a glowing near-perfect report. That's why we're convinced that this is the best laptop out there for Adobe's flagship software.

Though the MacBook Air isn't the most powerful of Apple's lineup, it's more than capable of running demanding Photoshop workflows – including the new AI tools, and as many layers as you can throw at it. 

It also has an acceptably bright (500 nits) LED-backlit display, which comes in 13-inch or 15-inches. There are brighter out there, but we think this is perfect for all Photoshop tasks. Add to that an amazing battery life that lasted over 16 hours in our tests, and you've got yourself a cracking laptop. 

When we had hands on this laptop, it was a brand new model, with a brand new price tag that didn't equate to great value for money. However, two years after it's release, you'll be able to find some good bargain on it, and it's consistantly around $150 under the original retail price.  

Find out more in our full MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review.

Best Windows laptop for Photoshop

A grey ASUS ProArt Studiobook OLED sitting on a desk

(Image credit: Future)
The best Windows laptop for Photoshop

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i9-13980HX
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 (8GB)
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 16.0-inch, glasses-free 3D OLED display, 3.2K (3200 x 2000) resolution
Storage: Up to 8TB (2x4TB SSD)
Ports: Thunderbolt 4, USB 3.2 Gen 2, SD Express reader, HDMI 2.1, 3.5mm headset jack, Ethernet

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent spec
+
Runs cool and quiet
+
Thunderbolt 4

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Keyboard may take a bit of getting used to
-
Battery life a little low

If you’re serious about working in Photoshop and need a laptop that can offer as much power as you can handle, look no further than the ASUS ProArt Studiobook OLED (H7604). It’s loaded with powerful components that should be able to perform almost any task asked of it in Photoshop.

It offers an Intel Core i9 CPU, one of the most powerful processors on the market. It’s perfect for chewing through large batches of photos and AI-powered image edits in Adobe’s popular app. And with up to 64GB of memory backing it up, you shouldn’t experience slowdowns, however many layers you've added to the document.

The large OLED display is gorgeous to look at and its high resolution is ideally suited to editing your images in close detail, with 100% DCI-P3 colour coverage making sure the images pop as they should. And there’s even up to 8TB of storage – enough for the heftiest photo libraries.

Read our ASUS ProArt Studiobook OLED (H7604) review for more information.

Most powerful laptop for Photoshop

A Space Black Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch M3 sitting on a grey/blue tableCB

(Image credit: Future)
The newest, biggest MacBook is ideal for Photoshop

Specifications

CPU: M3 Pro/M3 Max, 12-core/16-core CPU
Graphics: M3 Pro, 18-core GPU / M3 Max, 40-core GPU
RAM: M3 Pro, 16GB, 32GB / M3 Max, 64GB, 96G
Screen: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB
Ports: SDXC card slot, HDMI, headphone jack, MagSafe 3, 3 x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C)

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely long battery life
+
Plenty of ports
+
Beautiful big screen
+
Super powerful

Reasons to avoid

-
You pay for the M3 magic
-
Most users won't need the upgrade over the M2

If you're a power user the newest MacBook Pro is absolutely the best machine you can buy for Photoshop – if you want a big screen. The M3 chip will easily handle the most demanding workflow, which Rob put to the test with a host of software more demanding than Photoshop.

We love the display, which is perfect for photo editing, and reaches 1,600 nits of peak brightness (the average is 500 nits) – so there's no squinting to see the detail in your edits. The Liquid Retina XDR panel with mini-LED tech achieves deep blacks and bright whites, and a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio so you'll know your photos are as accurate as they can be.

We also love the 14-inch M2 model from 2023 if portability is more your priority, and a 13-inch version from 2022 as well – these will handle Photoshop with ease, and will be cheaper if that's a concern for you.

Read our full review of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M2, 2023) to find out more about why we rate this laptop.

Best laptop under $650 for Photoshop

A pair of silver Acer Chromebook Plus laptops on a white background

(Image credit: Acer)

04. Acer Chromebook Plus 515

A Chromebook for Photoshop. Yes, really.

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i3-1215U
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 15.6-inch 1080p, 16:9 aspect ratio
Storage: 128GB SSD
Ports: 1x USB-A, 2x USB-C, 1x HDMI, headset jack

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely affordable
+
Can run Photoshop for ChromeOS
+
More powerful than previous Chromebooks

Reasons to avoid

-
Not full Photoshop functionality
-
Small onboard storage

What? A Chromebook? For Photoshop? Have we finally lost it?

Nope, you can do that now, for real. The new Acer Chromebook Plus 515 has double the power of the previous generation of top-end Chromebooks, and now there's a ChromeOS-compatible version of Photoshop out to match that laptop perfectly. 

We're currently testing the new Chromebook Plus, but our initial impressions are positive enough to warrant it a place on here as the best Photoshop laptop you can score for under £650. In fact, at the time of writing, you can get this one for £/$499, which is a very good price for something that runs Photoshop without a hitch...

Best Photoshop laptop for portability

Dell XPS 13 9315 2-in-1 review: features

(Image credit: Rachael Phillips)
A highly flexible 2-in-1 for modest Photoshop work

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5-1230U, Intel Core i7-1250U
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 13-inch 3K (2880 x 1920) touchscreen
Storage: 512GB, 1TB
Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C)

Reasons to buy

+
Detachable screen
+
Excellent webcam
+
Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Folio is tricky to position
-
Flat keyboard
-
Stylus sold separately

The Dell XPS 13 9315 is a 2-in-1 laptop, meaning you can separate the display from the keyboard and use the former as a standalone tablet. That gives it a whole new perspective on Photoshop work. We found that Photoshop and Illustrator worked incredibly well on this device, and works well with all your usual web browsing and document creation.

You could use the detached screen as a reference screen for your main image-editing workstation, or get drawing on your creations using a stylus. It’s a laptop that can fit around the way you want to work.

It’s not the most powerful device in this round-up, but it’s also one of the more affordable offerings. Not everyone needs something to power through incredibly heavy-duty Photoshop workloads, after all; sometimes, your image-editing tasks are more lightweight. If that’s the case with you, Dell’s laptop could be perfect.

Read our full Dell XPS 13 9315 2-in-1 review for more.

Best dual-screen laptop for Photoshop

An Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED laptop on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future / Beth Crane)
Two screens are better than one

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i9-13900H (14-core)
Graphics: Up to Nvidia RTX 4060 (8GB)
RAM: 32GB DDR5
Screen: 14.5-inch 2880 x 1800 120Hz OLED, 12.7-inch 2880 x 864 IPS
Storage: Up to 2TB SSD
Ports: 2x USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 4, 1 x USB-A 3.2, SD card, HDMI 2.1, 3.5mm audio jack, SD card reader

Reasons to buy

+
Portable second monitor
+
Very good processor
+
Useful, customisable second screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Not ideal for lap use
-
Short battery life
-
Tiny right-handed touchpad

Most laptops only have one screen. Why would you need more? Well, Asus makes a very strong case for having two by way of its Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED laptop. Not only does it have a bright, beautiful 14.5-inch OLED display up top, but it adds a second 12.7-inch IPS screen below the main display and the keyboard. 

This second screen makes it a perfect Photoshop laptop. You can move a reference picture onto it while you work on image adjustments on the main display, for example. Or you can move your toolbars to the second screen and use it as a sort of control panel. It even has built-in settings for Photoshop, as well as a slate of other Adobe apps. It has a speedy processor, too, great for lovers of double-monitors who moves around a bit. 

2024 has brought us a new version of this laptop, with the new ASUS Zenbook Duo offering two full-size 14-inch touchscreens and a detachable keyboard. We're currently testing that model, and will update this entry as soon as we've got the verdict from our expert.

Read our Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED review for more details on the previous, and still excellent, model.

Best laptop with a stylus for Photoshop

A front view of the Surface Laptop Studio 2

(Image credit: Future)
A fantastic Photoshop machine for stylus input

Specifications

CPU: 13th Gen Intel Core H
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe / NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 and RTX 200 Ada  laptop GPU
RAM: 16GB - 64GB
Screen: PixelSense Flow 14.4in 2400 x 1600 120Hz touch display
Storage: 512GB – 1TB SSD
Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), 1x USB-A, 1x microSDXC card reader, 3.5mm audio, Surface connect

Reasons to buy

+
Great screen for drawing, with MPP stylus compatibility
+
Solid specs for image and graphics work

Reasons to avoid

-
A little heavy
-
Can get more power for the money elsewhere

If you like using your stylus when editing images in Photoshop, say hello to the very best choice. Boasting a super-sharp 3:2 screen with a slick 120Hz refresh rate and support for your choice of MPP stylus, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 has unusual ergonomics that's specifically great for stylus input – giving you far more potential angles for the screen than a simple clamshell laptop. This is an excellent option for graphic designers, digital artists, or pen-based photo editors.

Changing from the studio mode to using a stylus is obviously ideal for digital artists. There are RAM options from 16GB to 64GB. And along with those 13th Gen CPUs from Intel, you get a choice of Intel Xe graphics or an Nvidia RTX 4060 and RTX 2000 Ada professional GPUs, so there's plenty of power here, even if that does make for slightly bulky proportions. 

Of course, if it's just the performance you want, you can get it for less from other laptops – but you'd have to give up the drawing and input abilities that make this such a great pick for image editors and other creative pros in the first place.

Here's our full Surface Laptop Studio 2 review.

Also tested

Some of the laptops we have reviewed come very close to beating out the laptops above when it comes to performance and fit for Photoshop. As you'll see from the linked reviews, they often score high in our tests. So here are some other great options, should you not find what you're looking for above...

Dell Precision 5470

Dell Precision 5470
This model handles not just Photoshop with ease, but also more resource-intensive tasks like image editing and 3D rendering with no lag or performance issues to speak of. It can give the MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro a run for its money, even though that costs $1,000 more.
Read our 4.5-star review

Acer Swift Edge 16

Acer Swift Edge 16
The Acer Swift Edge 16 is an excellent all-around laptop with a strong CPU and plenty of RAM. Creative software runs well, and the screen is big and bright. It may lack the graphics power for 4K gaming or heavy 3D rendering tasks, but for Photoshop, it's more than plenty.
Read our 4.5-star review

Framework

Framework
Framework is great for Photoshop work, because it can evolve with you. As your image-editing needs change, so too can your laptop. The hot-swappable ports are super useful, especially if you have more than one place of work. For example, you can swap the HDMI port for a MicroSD port if you need to.
Read our 4.5-star review

How to choose a laptop for Photoshop

Photoshop is a creative application beloved by photographers and digital artists alike thanks to its varied toolset and wide range of features. It's far from the most demanding piece of software available, but it’s certainly one of the beefiest for photo editing. This means not every laptop can do a decent job of running it, but there are a few things to look out for when buying a laptop specifically for Adobe Photoshop.

Firstly, you’ll want a modern processor. Both Intel and AMD list CPUs in numerical order regarding power, and the rule is generally ‘the bigger, the better’, so a 9th-generation Intel i5 won’t perform tasks as efficiently as an 11th-generation Intel i9. We recommend at least a 9th generation Intel i5 or a Ryzen 5 3600.

Memory (also known as RAM) is also important, so look for a minimum of 8GB (though 16GB is preferred), and even a dedicated graphics card if your budget can stretch to it.

A laptop with a large SSD storage drive is also recommended, as it means you can keep all the photos you’re editing on the device, while the speed of an SSD (compared to a slower traditional hard drive) means you can load up and edit the photos in a matter of seconds.

Because you’ll be spending lots of time working on your laptop, you’ll want to make sure it’s comfortable to use, so the trackpad and keyboard need to be well built, without adding too much bulk to the laptop. If you’re going to need a laptop for Photoshop to edit photos while travelling, a thin and light laptop should be your priority.

A 2-in-1 laptop can also be very advantageous, as it combines the fluid editing benefits of a graphics tablet with your laptop, though these tend to be less powerful than a larger, design-optimised laptop.

New developments have also appeared in recent months too, with more 4K OLED displays appearing on laptops specifically created with photographers and creatives in mind. An OLED screen will provide rich, deep blacks and beautiful colours, so while they might be expensive, it’s worth every penny to get one if you can splash the cash.

How we test laptops for Photoshop

When we test laptops for Photoshop, all-round performance is pretty important. For starters, a high-quality screen with decent resolution makes all the difference, though the bigger you go, the more you compromise portability.

With that in mind, we consider factors including pixel density, colour accuracy, contrast and more, to decide how well a screen performs for image editing. As for CPU and GPU performance, to an extent it will depend on your precise workflows, for instance the filters and effects you use, how critical each element is. Modern chips tend to be known quantities. However, laptop performance even with the same specs can vary wildly due to thermal properties. So, we test for both processor and graphics performance to make sure you'll get the grunt the specs imply.

Storage performance is important, too, especially when dealing with big batches of large images. So, we still test sequential throughput and random access to make sure you've got plenty of bandwidth for heavier workflows.

We also assess ergonomics, build and usability, including keyboard quality, chassis rigidity, trackpad response and more to build up a practical picture of how well a laptop performs in the real world rather than merely benchmarks.

Finally, battery life is critical for every laptop and it's also a measure by which different models can differ dramatically, both from each other and from the manufacturer claims. So, we pay close attention to real-world battery life each laptop delivers.

FAQs

What laptop do most photographers use?

This is entirely down to the personal preferences of each photographer. Many choose MacBook Pro devices, as they are some of the best-optimized laptops on the market for creative professionals. Windows-based laptops and 2-in-1 devices have come a long way, but Apple still reigns as the top choice.

This is thanks to a mix of great optimisation, long-lasting battery life, and that beloved Apple ecosystem, making it much easier to use other Apple devices together, such as a MacBook Pro alongside and iPad tablet.

Of course, if you don’t have a bunch of other Apple devices lying around in your home, Windows hardware is still a fantastic option for photographers and digital editors alike, especially if you’re not experienced using macOS. Apple also has yet to release a true 2-in-1 device or convertible laptop, which gives Windows an advantage for folks looking to leave a graphic drawing tablet at home and instead use a stylus directly with their laptop.

Adam Marshall
Content Director, Subscriptions and Services

Adam is the Content Director of Subscriptions and Services at Future, meaning that he oversees many of the articles the publisher produces about antivirus software, VPN, TV streaming, broadband and mobile phone contracts - from buying guides and deals news, to industry interest pieces and reviews. Leading and developing a great team, Adam can still be seen dusting his keyboard off to write articles for the likes of TechRadar, T3 and Tom's Guide, having started his career at consumer champions Which?.

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