The best laptops for photo editing will have many similar features and qualities, but that doesn't mean that each individual model doesn't have something unique to offer. Instead, it means that the market is full of potential offerings across a wide range of budgets and niche requirements - but with so much choice available its easy to get confused.
Luckily we're here to help. Many of the options on the list below will support professional-standard colour gamuts, reassuring you that even if you cant manually calibrate the display you know you're getting accurate colours and tones when editing images in applications such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom.
Speaking of Adobe, we've also made sure that all of the models can support and run all of the most commonly used applications for photo editing so you don't need to worry too much about how much power you'll have at your fingertips. From the latest processors and a healthy portion of RAM memory, through to fast SSD storage and even dedicated graphics cards, there's a laptop for every photographer and photo editor within this list.
We've evaluated each device specifically for photo editing, with the majority of models tested hands-on (see how we test laptops for more). While we've endeavoured to include some affordable models for those with a tight budget you might need to check out some of our other lists If you're after something smaller, such as our guide for the best tablets for photo and video editing or the best laptops for students if you're heading off to learn the skill from scratch. Once you've made your choice, then you might want to pick up the best photo editing software or best photo apps too.
The best laptops for photo editing available now
The MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is our top choice for not just photographers and photo editors, but also much of the wider creative industry in general. The M1 Max version of the laptop is a tad overpowered for most editing needs so you can save yourself some cash by sticking with either the original M1 or M1 Pro version of the processor, and this will still ensure that your applications boot up quickly and run smoothly without complaint.
Despite all that power this is a fanless MacBook so you can use it on remote shoot locations or edit in quiet environments without causing too much noise. Apple also re-introduced beloved ports such as the HDMI and a memory card slot, which removes the need for an additional adapter or dongle.
You can connect up to two additional 6K displays if you want some more screen real-estate for editing, and even though it's an absolute powerhouse you're not compromising on battery life as you would with many Windows-based portable workstations. In our tests it ran for almost 20 hours on a single charge, which means this is a laptop you can use out in the field without keeping an eye out for power outlets.
To top it off, the display feels like it's been designed with photographers and photo editors in mind, with a 16.2-inch mini LED screen and P3 wide colour support, along with a higher 3456 x 2234 pixel ratio, which ensures your photos look incredible. You're even getting a whopping 1,600 nits of brightness, over triple what the Dell XPS 17 offers (at around 500 nits, which is still considered over-average).
There's no arguing that this is going to be the absolute best choice for most photographers, from novice all the way through to professionals. The lofty price tag can be a hard pill to swallow, but rest assured that its worth every penny.
See our full MacBook Pro 16-inch review for more details.
The MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) is almost identical to its larger 16-inch sibling, only in a smaller package which makes it better for those who don't like to lug a large device around with them all day. This can be especially useful if you also have to carry around your photography equipment and you can rest easy knowing It's powered by the same M1 Pro or M1 Max Apple chips found in the 16-inch model, so it offers a similar level of performance to the bigger laptop.
While the display is smaller, it offers the same pixel density as the 16-inch model so you're not sacrificing image quality. In fact, you're getting the same mini-LED screen and 1,600 nits of peak brightness, alongside support for the P3 wide colour gamut so the only feature that should sell you on the smaller 14-inch MacBook Pro is that it's better for portability, and a smidge cheaper than the larger model.
Ports are also identical, providing a built-in SD card slot, HDMI port, and three Thunderbolt 4 ports, so you won't have to hunt around for a compatible dongle to upload images or connect to another display. A final point we really love to shout about is that despite all this power, the 14-inch MacBook Pro is completely fanless. In our tests it didn't make a peep, regardless of what applications we ran, and nor did it seem to overheat or struggle with the work at hand.
See our MacBook Pro 14-inch review for more details.
The Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED is the perfect creative workstation laptop for anyone that uses Adobe applications thanks to not only its powerful components and dazzlingly beautiful display, but also a unique feature built directly onto the device itself: the innovative Asus Dial.
The dial can be used within software such as Photoshop and Lightroom to quickly run through different features or tools, which makes it the ideal companion for those applications. It'll take some getting used to, but once you've mastered it this can be an invaluable productivity tool for photo editing.
When we reviewed it, we found it to be equipped to handle almost every other editing application too, thanks to the latest generation of Nvidia RTX graphics cards, an AMD Ryzen 5000 series processor and plenty of RAM. The OLED display is perfect for photographers and editors who appreciate rich blacks and that 4K resolution also has 100% DCI-P3 and sRGB colour gamut coverage, as well as 97% AdobeRGB.
Read our hands-on Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED review for all the details.
The Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) is one of the most powerful laptops for creative professionals on the market right now, and while a few of its components are starting to show their age, the capabilities of this beast shouldn't be overlooked by photographers.
In fact, the Aero 17 was created specifically for creative professionals who needed a lot of power to run applications for 3D sculpting and animation, but that also makes it a great choice for editing both photographs and video footage if you're unable to get to a full desktop PC.
It's available with a 10th generation Intel i9 processor which has since been superseded by the 11th and 12th gen products, but don't let its age fool you - this is still one of the most powerful CPUs you can shove into a laptop. You're also getting an Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics card which is more commonly found in high-end gaming laptops, but this provides all the graphical power you could ever need.
All the focus on raw power doesn't mean this lacks must-have features for photographers though as it's rocking a stunning 4K HDR screen with a Pantone-certified 100% Adobe RGB coverage. When we reviewed it, we found this to be something of a 'desktop replacement', handling every task and test we ran on it with ease so if you're needing to move away from a traditional tower PC onto something more portable, look no further than the Gigabyte Aero 17.
See our Gigabyte Aero 17 review for more information.
The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) is a fantastic choice for photographers and photo editors who don't need all the raw power of the larger 14-inch and 16-inch models, but also love many of the Pro features that aren't available on the entry-level MacBook Air.
While the M1 chip inside the 13-inch MacBook Pro isn't as powerful as the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, it still does a brilliant job for photo editing without any noisy fans or overheating, and you also get the added benefit of having the controversial Touch Bar at your disposal, a feature that's since been removed on every other MacBook model. While divisive, many photographers have found it useful in their work so if you wanted to keep using it, you'll need to snap up the 13-inch model.
Our tests also proved that Apple's claims regarding its incredible battery life were accurate, lasting around 13 and a half hours on a single charge, so you can work in peace without keeping an eye out for a power outlet.
A new M2-powered MacBook Pro 13 has just been released, but for most photographers, the M1 chip will do just fine and you'll have more chance on picking up this earlier model at a discount price.
Also read: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) review
The Dell XPS 17 (2021) is a great choice if you're looking to buy a laptop running Windows 11. In fact, it's one of the products we would suggest for people who are looking for something like a MacBook Pro but can't get along with macOS or the wider Apple ecosystem. It's an all-round reliable portable workstation that's well optimized for creative and business professionals alike.
It fits well into most standard-sized backpacks despite its large 17-inch display, and that taller 16:10 aspect ratio screen is ideal for photographers as it offers more vertical space than standard 16:9 widescreen displays. You can even opt for a configuration that's equipped with a 4K Ultra HD+ resolution of 3,840 x 2,400 which will give you plenty of pixels to play with on high-resolution photographs.
The display supports 100% Adobe RGB and 94% DCI-P3 colour gamuts, providing accurate on-screen colours without the need to calibrate as you would with many desktop monitors. The only area that managed to disappoint us when we reviewed it was battery life, as the Dell XPS 17 only managed to squeeze out around 5 hours and 45 minutes during our tests, but this shouldn't be too much of an issue if you shoot and edit in an area with plenty of free power sockets.
See our full Dell XPS 17 (2021) review for more details.
The Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED (2022) is a rather quirky offering, but hear us out on this. If you find that you hate your display being taken up by various windows within editing software, this laptop has an innovative solution to plugging in a second monitor: it has a slim, built-in display right under its main screen which is great for photographers and editors as free display real-estate.
Not only that, but it's rocking an OLED display and 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut, as well as plenty of power thanks to its 12th-generation Intel processor (with configuration options up to the flagship Core i9), as well as plenty of RAM and the option of a GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU for those that like to use applications boosted by Nvidia graphics cards.
That second display can make typing a bit of a pain, and those powerful components demand a lot of...well, power, so battery life is also disappointing, but these are the only two criticisms we can provide for this unusually designed laptop.
It has plenty of ports, including an HDMI and built-in SD card reader which are useful for photographers who want additional display and hate using adapters to import their images. In short, this is a creatively designed device that feels purpose-made for the wider creative market and photographers of any skill level can appreciate the fun design innovations it provides.
Read our complete Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED review for more details.
The Razer Blade 17 (2022) is yet another powerful creative workstation laptop that's been designed to handle any task you throw at it, which makes it ideal for photographers who want all the power of a desktop PC, in a portable format.
In fact, we actually put this to the test in our review by hooking up an entire desktop setup including an additional display, keyboard, mouse and a graphics drawing tablet, and we still had ports left over for additional peripherals without needing to grab a USB hub or docking station.
While you can't configure the Razer Blade 17, it instead offers a few different pre-configured models to suit different styles of work, from an affordable model rocking an RTX 3060 GPU and a 17.3" 165Hz QHD display, to a seriously powerful RTX 3080 Ti and a full 4K 144Hz version. Any of these would make a suitable machine for a photographer, though we would recommend the flagship as it offers 400 nits of brightness and 100% coverage of the Adobe RGB colour gamut.
Our main complaint is that given you can't configure the components, some of the models are overkill for just photo-editing, but this system also doubles as a fantastic gaming laptop for those who want something for both work and play. You'll also need to keep an eye on power as battery life is very disappointing but considering all the power you're getting, we think it's a fair trade-off.
See our in-depth Razer Blade 17 review for more details.
The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is the final Apple product within our list of the best laptops for photo editing, and despite being the most affordable offering within the MacBook family, it comes pretty close to matching the performance of its pricer sibling, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020). Both laptops contain the same M1-chip, which provides plenty of power to run editing applications in complete silence thanks to its completely fanless design.
The only reason it isn't considered a Pro product in our eyes is that it lacks the divisive touch bar that still features on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and it has reduced support for only one 4K display rather than the two 6K monitors. You get support for the P3 colour gamut, so you can expect accurate colours on its gorgeous built-in display, and that lightweight design is easy to lug around if you also need to travel with expensive camera equipment.
A new M2-powered MacBook Air has just been released, and we might be replacing this entry on our list of the best laptops for photo editing with that newer model once we've tested it for ourselves. But on the other hand, you've got more chance of getting a good deal on this older model, and it's far from outdated.
See our full MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review for more.
The Surface Laptop Studio is the best laptop for photo editing if you're looking for a 2-in-1 laptop-tablet hybrid with a touch screen for stylus support. When we reviewed it, we were impressed with the hinge mechanism through which it converts from a laptop to an easel position and flat tablet position. That versatile touch screen is gorgeous and a real game changer for those who want the convenience of both a Windows 11 laptop with a super comfortable keyboard but also the ability to use use a stylus to edit photos
On top of the stunning, streamlined design, there's plenty of power under the hood – with lots of options available for configuration (you'll want one of the 16GB RAM configurations for photo editing). We found it to be a delight to use for working in Lightroom and Photoshop a joy, and battery life is excellent. Just note that the Microsoft Slim Pen 2 is sold separately, and there's no in-built SD card reader, although many recent cameras allow transfer by USB-C.
See our full Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review for more details.
We've already mentioned the Dell XPS 17 (2021) higher up in our list of the best laptops for photo editing. We reckon that device's big 17in screen gives it the edge for those who want to see their photos in all their glory while they edit. It's also impressively slim and portable for a 17in beast. But if you want a smaller Windows laptop for photo editing, the XPS 15 boasts most of the same advantages as its largest sibling in a more compact package, making it more practical for those who work on the road a lot.
You can configure this laptop with an OLED InfinityEdge display for enhanced contrast and vivid colours, while the powerful 11th-generation Intel processors mean you shouldn't have to suffer any lag exporting edits. Like the larger device, it is expensive but the base version with integrated Intel UHD should do fine for enthusiasts with less demanding workflows, while those with bigger demands can go for a Nvidia RTX 3050 or 3050 Ti GPU.
What laptop specs do I need for photo editing?
In terms of specs, you should consider 8GB of RAM a minimum for a laptop for photo editing, but ideally 16GB because software such as Lightroom can struggle with 8GB if you're editing high-resolution RAW images. You'll also want a modern Intel Core i5 processor (or AMD Ryzen 5) as a minimum. These processors come with decent integrated graphics which will be more than enough for photo editing.
You'll want the most colour accurate screen you can afford. We recommend 1080p displays, as they'll allow you to see more of your photos, but if your budget can stretch to it, a laptop with a 4K screen may be worth investing in. Some displays come with factory calibration to ensure image quality is as good as possible, though we also recommend adjusting your display using a colourimeter (see our guide to the best monitor calibrator tools)
As for storage space, the SSD drive should be 256GB as a minimum, too. Bigger is better if you'll be storing a lot of photos on the device – if you're editing RAW images, anything less than 1TB can fill up pretty quickly, but you can also use cloud storage.
One of the best things about using a laptop for photo editing is that it gives you the freedom to work on your photos almost anywhere rather than being stuck at a desk with a traditional PC. So, battery life is an important consideration, as you'll want something that will last for hours without needing to be plugged in
Some photo editing suites, especially those from Adobe, make use of AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning with some of their tools to help reduce repetitive tasks and add more impressive and realistic effects, so while applications like Photoshop don't need a discrete GPU to run, these can offer a great productivity boost. You may also want to see our guides to the best laptops for Photoshop and best laptops for graphic design.