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The best laptops for photo editing in 2020

best laptops for photo editing
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Buying one of the best laptops for photo editing is one of the most important purchases you can make if you're a photographer. Laptops are important tools for making sure your digital photos are looking their best, and the photo editing laptops on this page will help, offering cutting edge performance, sleek designs and in many cases professionally-calibrated screens.

When looking for the best laptop for photo editing, you'll want to make sure it has a bright and vibrant screen, along with a powerful processor and plenty of RAM to help run photo editing apps with ease. While a dedicated graphics card isn't completely necessary, we recommend it if you're going to be working with very high resolution photos. It's also likely you'll want to get decent software to go with any device you choose – check out our guide to the best photo editing software if so.

For more information on what to consider when buying the best laptop for photo editing, jump to the what to consider section

Read on for our pick of the best photo editing laptops available today.

The best laptops for photo editing available now

MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

01. MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

The best all-round laptop for photo editing

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – 10th-generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 | RAM: up to 32GB | Screen: 13-inch Retina display with True Tone | Storage: 256GB – 4TB SSD

Improved specs
Larger capacity SSD
Great keyboard 
8th gen Intel CPU
Thunderbolt 3 ports only

If you're after the best all-round laptop for photo editing, then Apple's iconic MacBook remains the laptop to get. While we've also listed the 16-inch further down our list, the MacBook Pro 13-inch's portability makes it more appealing. 

It has a gorgeous screen that will make your photographs look fantastic while offering a sleek and stylish design that Apple is renowned for. The Touch Bar, a slim OLED display that runs along the top of the keyboard, is a great feature for photographers, as it displays context-sensitive buttons and shortcuts that change depending on the app you're using, and it works with key photo editing software like Photoshop. It can really make a big difference to your workflow.

The new 2020 model of the MacBook Pro 13-inch also comes with a new and improved keyboard, which fixes the issues some people were reporting with the previous keyboard, as well as updated Intel processors and speedier RAM on the high end model. This means the MacBook Pro 13-inch 2020 model is now an even more powerful photo editing laptop.

Dell XPS 15

(Image credit: Dell)

02. Dell XPS 15 (2020)

The best Windows 10 photo editing laptop

CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Screen: 15.6" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 15.6" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display | Storage: 256GB – 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe

Amazing speakers
Beautiful display
Comfy keyboard
GTX 1650 Ti is a little weak

Dell has done it again with the 2020 model of the XPS 15 - this is easily the best Windows 10 laptop right now for photo editing. 

If you don't want a Mac, this is the laptop to get - it comes with some of the best mobile components money can buy, all packed into a stylish body that's thin and light - making it ideal for photographers who are often working out and about. Its screen is bright and vibrant, and at 15.6-inches, it's large enough to comfortably edit photos on throughout the day. 

It's backed up by a comfortable keyboard and excellent speakers, plus Dell's famous build quality and support. It's expensive, but worth it.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1

03. Lenovo ThinkPad P1

The best laptop for professional photographers

CPU: Intel Core i5, Core i7 or Core i9 or Xeon | RAM: 8GB or 16GB DDR4 | Graphics: Nvidia Quadro P1000 / P2000 | Screen: 15.6-inch Full HD 300nits (4K and HDR optional) | Storage: 256 - 4TB SSD

Amazing display
Incredible performance 
High-end model is very pricey

The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is one of the best laptops we’ve ever used, with some features that make it an absolute dream for any kind of graphics work, including image manipulation and photo editing. It’s a workstation so it's a real powerhouse, with graphics and processor performance that can go head-to-head against any desktop computer. 

It does all this while still being remarkably small - the chassis measures just 18.4mm thick and it weighs just 1.7kg, dimensions far closer to an Ultrabook or mini laptop than you’d expect from a computer that offers this much performance. It can be configured with a four or six-core Intel Core i7 or Core i9 processor, an Nvidia Quadro P1000 or P2000 graphics card, up to 64GB of memory and up to 4TB of internal solid-state storage.

The ThinkPad P1 can also be configured with a fantastic 15-inch 4K colour-accurate display that supports 100 per cent of the AdobeRGB colour space, something you don’t find on many other laptops. 

MacBook Pro 16-inch

(Image credit: Apple)

04. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

A superb high-end laptop - but it comes at a high price

CPU: Intel Core i7, Intel Core i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M or Radeon Pro 5500M | RAM: 16GB to 64GB | Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone | Storage: 512GB to 8TB SSD

Excellent 16-inch display
Much-improved keyboard
AMD graphics
Very expensive

While we eulogised about the 13-inch MacBook Pro above, there's no denying that the real powerhouse of the Apple range is the relatively-new 16-inch MacBook Pro that replaced the 15-inch model in late 2019.

It's almost a workstation laptop in scope and, as such, you pay through the nose for its features. Factory upgrades are also expensive and yet it's highly likely that if you're a Mac user now, this is what you'll go for. 

The design has been improved, too, to accommodate that slightly larger display in a chassis that's not really bigger than the outgoing model. AMD graphics power as standard also gives this model a performance edge alongside recent Intel Core i7 and i9 chips. This will make a real speed difference with the most complex of visual edits and plug-ins in Adobe Photoshop, particularly when working with high-resolution imagery.

It also has a redesigned keyboard as well which hopes to banish some of the problems that have plagued recent MacBook keyboards. The early indications are that this re-working has been successful. 

macOS works fantastically well with images too. If you have an iPhone for snaps and use iCloud Photo Library, every one of your photos will be uploaded from your phone into iCloud, then downloaded straight to your Mac automatically.

Acer ConceptD 7

(Image credit: Acer)

05. Acer ConceptD 7

A mobile workstation for creatives

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 – 2080 | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.6" 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 16:9 IPS | Storage: 1TB

Very powerful
Cheaper than MacBook Pro
Good selection of ports
Expensive
Plain design
Not as thin and light as MacBook Pro

Acer is well known for making gaming laptops, but with the ConceptD 7, it's used its experience of building thin, light and powerful laptops to build a fantastic laptop for photographers and photographers. It has more than enough power to run even the most demanding of photo editing apps, and it comes with a stunning Pantone-validated 4K IPS display that lets you view your photos the way they are supposed to be seen.

It also comes with plenty of ports and a stylish and minimalist chassis, so it looks good in any studio, and it's easily portable, too.

It's expensive, but the level of performance this laptop offers means it's well worth the high price tag.

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

(Image credit: Razer)

06. Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

A seriously powerful laptop for photo editing

CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q – NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 Studio Edition | RAM: 32GB | Screen: 15.6" OLED 4K Touch 60Hz, factory calibrated | Storage: 1TB SSD

Powerful
Beautiful screen
Expensive

The Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition packs powerful components you'd usually find in a gaming laptop, into a device aimed at professional photographers and other digital creatives. 

Along with a powerful graphics card from Nvidia, it comes with a gorgeous 4K screen that's been factory calibrated. This means it's a great laptop for working on high resolution photographs without the need to plug in a separate monitor.  A powerful CPU and bags of RAM also ensures that any photo editing app you install on this beast will run brilliantly as well.

However, it is very expensive, so it's quite an investment for photographers. But, if you're looking to invest in an incredibly powerful photo editing laptop that you won't need to upgrade for years and years, then this is well worth considering.

Read the full review: Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

(Image credit: Microsoft)

07. Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)

A great Windows alternative to the MacBook

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
Unrivaled display
Pricey
No Surface Pen included

Microsoft has been steadily releasing some brilliant devices aimed at creatives and professionals for the past few years now, and the Surface Book 2 is one of its best - available in both 13.5 and 15-inch variants (though we prefer the 13.5-inch for photo editing because of the extra portability). 

It's a brilliant 2-in-1 device, with Windows 10 installed, which means you can use powerful apps like Photoshop without any issues – and the Surface Book 2 can be used as a tablet or as a traditional laptop PC.

The components inside the Surface Book 2 are excellent and can handle any photo editing task, but the real star of the show is its gorgeous display. The Surface Book 2 offers a high 3,000 x 2,000 resolution and an ideal aspect ratio for viewing APS-C and full-frame images. 

You can also buy the Surface Pen stylus and use it with the Surface Book 2's touchscreen for an incredibly versatile tool for photographers and designers.

Acer Swift 3 14”

08. Acer Swift 3 14-inch

If you're after a convertible, this is the best

CPU: 2 or 4 -core Intel Core i5 or Core i7 | Display: 14-inch Retina Display) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | Memory: 8GB - 16GB | Storage: 256GB - 4TB SSD

Affordable
Powerful
Ugly
Relatively thick frame

Coming decked in an all-aluminium chassis and a range of colours, the appearance of Acer’s new laptop range has divided opinion. But what’s clear is that you get a great specification for your money, making the Acer Swift 3 one of the best laptops for photo editing.

With a quad-core Intel processor and 8GB of memory as standard, even the mid-range model comes in at less than half the price of Apple’s MacBook Pros but can deliver roughly the same processing power. And the rest of the specification doesn’t skimp either – the 14-inch display uses IPS backlighting technology for wider viewing angles and brighter colours, and supports FHD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution.

The keyboard is great to work on too, making this a fantastic choice for anyone who wants the power to do serious photography work, without breaking the bank. And if you want a 4K screen, a laptop with that option is available too, again for less than competitors are asking.

Dell XPS laptop

(Image credit: Dell)

08. Dell XPS 15

With a super display, this is our favourite 15-incher

CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 15.6" FHD 1920x1080 Anti-Glare 100% sRGB InfinityEdge display | Storage: 1TB HD/32GB SSD

Superb screen
Sleek design
Nvidia graphics welcome
Can be expensive

Best laptops for photo editing: What to consider

The best photo editing laptops will offer plenty of speedy storage. Ideally an SSD (Solid State Drive) with 512GB or 1TB (or higher) storage. This gives you fast data transfer rates (handy for moving all your photos to and from an external hard drive or camera memory card), while also offering plenty of space to hold those large files.

Getting a decent laptop for photo editing doesn't mean you have to buy the most expensive thing out there. As you'll realise, basic photo editing like cropping, resizing and applying straightforward filters, can be performed on most devices. But we've prioritised graphically-capable laptops in this list because if you're looking for a photo-editing laptop specifically it's likely you'll want to do at least some advanced stuff. 

As we mentioned earlier, we've prioritised graphical power (from AMD and Nvidia) above other elements but a pixel-perfect screen is also a must. 

Many laptops now have IPS displays so you get brighter, bolder images, wider viewing angles and better colour reproduction. And resolutions are now higher than ever with Full HD now a minimum but even higher resolutions are standard on many. 4K is also a more regular option though it is still expensive.

Some laptops aimed at photographers have screens that support AdobeRGB and sRGB colour spaces, so it's worth looking out for those. 

In terms of other specs, you should consider 8GB of RAM a minimum, likewise an Intel Core i5 processor. And your SSD drive should be 256GB as a minimum, too. Bigger is better if you'll be storing a lot of photos on the device, but you may be using cloud storage of course. 

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