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The best laptops for Photoshop in 2021

A man using one of the best laptops for photoshop while working in a cafe
(Image credit: Dipu Thakuria / Shutterstock)

If looking to buy one of the best laptops for photoshop on the market then chances are you're a a photographer or graphic designer who needs a portable solution to edit photos. Where similarly demanding applications were once mostly reserved to desktop PCs, advancements have been made to laptops, ultrabooks and 2-in-1 devices over the last few years that allow you to work remotely where needed.

Adobe Photoshop is one of the best photo editing software applications, offering features and tools that many of its competitors simply can't, including AI-powered tools that make adding advanced effects, or performing what was once time-consuming editing tasks, impressively easy. However, while these features make Photoshop stand out from the crowd, it also means that it's quite a demanding piece of software, so getting yourself a well-optimized laptop will help the application run smoothly.

If this all sounds a little daunting, then don't worry, buying any of the laptops in our best laptops for Photoshop guide will guarantee you'll be getting a laptop that runs Photoshop perfectly. If you're planning to hook your machine up to a second screen, make sure you pick up one of the best monitors for photo editing too, and if you're a student on a budget, you should also check out our best student laptops

Still need to sign up to Creative Cloud? Take a look at our guide to the best Adobe Creative Cloud discounts to make sure you get the best price, or download Photoshop for a free trial.

The best laptops for Photoshop available now

A MacBook Pro 16 from the top, against a solid white backdropcb badge

(Image credit: Apple)

The best MacBook for Photoshop in 2021

Specifications
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9
Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M – Radeon Pro 5500M
RAM: 16GB – 64GB
Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone
Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Stunning 16-inch screen+New and improved keyboard+Fantastic AMD GPU
Reasons to avoid
-Not affordable for many-Limited to four Thunderbolt 3 ports-Older design

The MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) might be a little older than other devices on this list, but with so many creative professionals and photographers hooked on the Apple ecosystem, this is the absolute best choice for Mac-loving Photoshop users.

Not only does Photoshop run smoothly thanks to the powerful components Apple has included in the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but the larger, higher resolution screen means you can edit your photos comfortably, and they'll look their very best as well.

Perhaps most impressively, despite the 16-inch MacBook Pro coming with a larger screen, the size and weight of the entire laptop isn't much larger than the older 15-inch models, so you're not sacrificing portability for extra screen space.

And that larger screen really does make a difference when you're editing photos in Photoshop. Apple also brought in a much-improved keyboard with the 16-inch model, replacing the older keyboard which was prone to issues.

The new keyboard is more reliable and very comfortable to type on, and it's now been included in Apple's updated 13-inch MacBook Pro and new MacBook Air as well. The only issue is that it is pricey, though you can configure the MacBook Pro to best suit your needs and budget, and it lacks ports such as USB and a card reader, so you need to rely on Thunderbolt 3 connections.

For more details, read our MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019) review.

Dell XPS 17 (2021) opened halfway against a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

02. Dell XPS 17 (2021)

The best Windows laptop for photoshop in 2021

Specifications
CPU: Up to 11th Generation Intel Core i9-11980HK
Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6
RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4-3200MHz
Screen: 17.0" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 17.0" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit
Storage: Up to 4TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
Reasons to buy
+Great performance and powerful configurations+Gorgeous design+Fantastic display with slim bezals
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of port variety

If you're not too keen on using macOS, the Dell XPS 17 (2021) is an ideal Windows 10 alternative to Apple's MacBooks. Its large display is bright and vibrant with a 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. 

Perhaps most importantly, the screen supports 100% Adobe RGB and 94% DCI-P3 color gamuts, which means this offers accurate colors as well. This means it's an excellent choice for professional photographers or anyone who wants their photos to look their very best when editing them in Photoshop. 

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.

Two Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021), one with its back on the camera, against a white background

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

03. Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021)

A powerhouse made for creative professionals

Specifications
CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9
Graphics: Nvidia RTX 3060 - RTX 3080
RAM: 16GB – 64GB
Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone
Reasons to buy
+Plenty of ports+Fantastic 4K OLED display+Surprisingly affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life is a tad mediocre-Fans run loud and hot

Following a theme for raw power, the Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) is packing some beefy components, a gorgeous display, and plenty of ports to dock any additional displays or peripherals. What makes the Aero special though is how surprisingly affordable it is for what you get, especially when stacked up against rival offerings, with prices starting at $1,599 (about £1,170) for the base model that comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-10870H with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 with Max-Q, 16GB 2,933Hz DDR4 RAM, 1TB SSD, and a 17.3-inch full HD 300Hz display.

The 4K OLED display is available for $3,699 (about £2,700), but for that you're getting an Intel Core i9-10980HK, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 , and a 17.3-inch 4K HDR400 OLED display with Pantone factory calibration for 100% Adobe RGB.

There are a few things that might bother you (such as unimpressive battery life and frustratingly loud cooling fans) so it's far from perfect, but considering how little you're paying to get a 4K OLED workstation designed specifically for creative professionals, you might want to let a few things slide.

A MacBook Pro 13-inch M1 with an abstract, colorful desktop backgroundcb badge

(Image credit: Apple)

The best 13-inch laptop for Photoshop

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 LED-backlit Retina display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm
Reasons to buy
+Huge battery life+Great performance+Can run iOS apps
Reasons to avoid
-Still lacks ports-No dedicated GPU

If you're looking to work on your photos on something that's easier to carry around, then the new MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) is the ideal candidate.

It features a smaller screen that's just as bright and vibrant as its larger sibling, along with the Touch Bar that runs across the top of the keyboard, giving you additional shortcuts for when you use Photoshop.

Best of all, the 13-inch MacBook Pro now comes with Apple's very own M1 chip (rather than an Intel processor), and this allows the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) to provide some seriously impressive performance, and the M1 version of Photoshop is seriously impressive.

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) also boasts the longest battery life ever seen in a MacBook. We've tested it ourselves and it's seriously impressive, allowing you to work all day and still have battery life left.

For more details, see our MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) review

A Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 on a white background, with a desktop displaying a mountain landscape

(Image credit: Microsoft)

05. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

Another stunning laptop from Microsoft

Specifications
CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 /AMD Ryzen 5 - 7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe / AMD Radeon
RAM: 8GB – 32GB
Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense (2,256 x 1,504) touch
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful screen+Excellent keyboard+Excellent, speedy performance
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks port variety-No powerful GPU option-Fabric material may not be for everyone

For quite a few years now, Microsoft has proved it's not just a software company, but is also capable of making excellent hardware, such as the Surface Laptop 4. If you're not keen on using a MacBook for Photoshop, then the Surface Laptop 4 is an ideal Windows alternative.

It's got a thin and light design that rivals Apple's best, with a gorgeous screen that makes working in Photoshop a joy. There's also a comfortable keyboard and an excellent battery life, so you can edit your photos on this laptop for hours on end without needing to plug it in.

It also packs some of the very best mobile hardware on the market today, which means Windows 10 runs brilliantly, and Photoshop (and other photo editing apps) also runs incredibly smoothly.

A Microsoft Surface Book 3, detaching it's display against a white background

(Image credit: Microsoft)

06. Microsoft Surface Book 3

A powerful laptop that doubles as a digital sketchbook

Specifications
Processor: Intel Core i5-i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics-NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
Screen: 13.5-inch 3000x2000 or 15-inch 3240x2160 PixelSense display
Storage: 256GB-2TB
Memory: Up to 32GB RAM
Dimensions: 312(w)mm x 232(d)mm x 23(h)mm
Weight: 1.6kg (3.62lbs)
Reasons to buy
+Excellent build quality and screen+Works well as a digital sketchbook+Seriously powerful
Reasons to avoid
-Needs a Surface Dock for true expansion-Display isn't as responsive as a graphics tablet

The Microsoft Surface Book 3 (13.5-Inch) is another brilliant Photoshop laptop from Microsoft, as it's a powerful device, with 10th generation Intel Core processors, and it can be configured to come with a graphics card by Nvidia as well.

Not only that, but you can choose between 13.5-inch and 15-inch screen sizes, and it has top-notch build quality as well.

It can also be used as a detachable tablet (by removing the keyboard) with a multi-touch display, which means you can use it as a digital sketchbook - something traditional laptops like the MacBook Pro just can't do.

Bear in mind, though, that there's only one non-Thunderbolt USB-C port so you'll probably need the extra Surface Dock for plugging in all of your peripherals.

A pink MacBook Air M1 with a colorful desktop background

(Image credit: Apple)

New and improved

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1
Graphics: Integrated 7-core /8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch (diagonal) 2,560 x 1,600 LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61cm; W x D x H)
Reasons to buy
+Silent to use+Amazing battery life+Affordable for a Mac
Reasons to avoid
-No new design-Fanless design could impact performance

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 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.

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.

For more info, read our MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review.

The Asus ZenBook 13 on a white backdrop, with a desktop background of a colorful flower

(Image credit: Asus)

08. Asus ZenBook 13 (2021)

A brand-new laptop that's perfect for photoshop

Specifications
CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i3 – i7 / AMD Ryzen 5000
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics / AMD Radeon
RAM: 8GB - 32GB
Screen: 13.3-inch, OLED 1080p, 400 nits
Storage: 256GB - 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+The OLED display is gorgeous+Excellent battery life+Choice of AMD or Intel
Reasons to avoid
-No option for a powerful GPU-No 4K display-Base model is underwhelming

The Asus ZenBook 13 is the best laptop for Photoshop if you're after a thin and light device that is easy to carry around with you, yet offers plenty of power to run demanding applications in Adobe's suite of creative tools.

This new model comes with a choice of either an AMD Ryzen 5000 series processor, or Intel 11th gen CPU. These are cutting-edge components and ensure that this is one of the fastest laptops you can buy right now, and you can buy it with up to 32GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage - making it ideal for multitasking and holding all of your photos.

Perhaps best of all, it has an incredible 13.3-inch OLED screen. This makes your photos look absolutely stunning, and it's easily one of the best screens we've seen on a laptop. Add in the fact that it has a brilliant battery life, and you've got one heck of a laptop to do your photo editing on.

The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 displaying a colorful explosion against a white backdrop

(Image credit: Lenovo)

09. Lenovo ThinkPad P1

Expensive, but worth every penny

Specifications
CPU: Intel i5, i7, i9 or Xeon
Graphics: Nvidia Quadro P1000 or P2000
RAM: 8GB-64GB
Screen: Full HD or 4K display
Storage: 256-4TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant display with 100% AdobeRGB coverage+High performance
Reasons to avoid
-Out of most peoples budgets-Bland design

If you're looking for a Windows workstation that can power through Photoshop tasks, the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is an excellent choice. Rather than concentrating on being thin, light and stylish, like some of the other laptops on this list, the ThinkPad P1 is a pure productivity machine that puts performance above all else.

This means you can configure it with some seriously powerful professional components, such as Intel Xeon processors and Nvidia Quadro P2000 graphics, too, should you choose. You can also pair this with a high-quality 4K display giving you 100% AdobeRGB coverage. The design of this laptop is fairly standard Lenovo fare, but it's what's underneath that counts.

A HP Envy x360 13 in tablet mode on a white background

(Image credit: HP)

10. HP Envy x360 13 (2020)

The best affordable 2-in-1

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U
Graphics: Integrated Radeon Graphics
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 13.3" diagonal FHD IPS (1,920 x 1,080)
Storage: 256 GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic battery life+Rapid charging+Tablet mode and stylus compatibility
Reasons to avoid
-Limited pen pressure sensitivity-No 4K display option-Can feel a tad flimsy

The HP Envy x360 13 (2020) is a fantastic 2-in-1 laptop that makes use of the HP Stylus Pen and packs some fairly impressive components to boot. You can pick one up for just $799 / £799 which makes it one of the most affordable products on our list, so if the slim design and tablet functionality didn't win you over, the reduced blow to your wallet certainly might.

There are some limitations of course. You won't get the same pen sensitivity on the screen as you would with a display graphics tablet, but it's plenty enough to get by in Photoshop and similar editing applications. It's also one of the smallest devices we've ranked here, but that compact size makes for better portability. If you're a photographer or content creator who likes to do a lot of fieldwork, you don't want to be dragging around a hefty device alongside the rest of your equipment after all.

If you need something cheap and cheerful to get the job done, you could do much worse than the HP Envy x360 13.


What makes a laptop good for Adobe Photoshop?

This means not every laptop can do a decent job of running it. You'll want a modern processor and plenty of RAM (we recommend a minimum of 8GB), and even a dedicated graphics card if your budget can stretch to it. 

A laptop with a large SSD hard drive is also recommended, as it means you can store 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 traveling, 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-optimized 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 colors, so while they might be expensive, it's worth every penny to get one if you can splash the cash.

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