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The best laptops for photo editing in 2022

Included in this guide:

best laptops for photo editing
(Image credit: Matthew Leete on Getty Images )

If you're a photographer looking for the best laptops for photo editing, then we can help, as we've packed this page with the very top laptops and notebooks that you can use to edit your photos on.

When looking for a laptop for photo editing, you'll want a machine that can handle popular apps such as Adobe Photoshop. This means the laptop should have a modern processor, plenty of RAM, and a large SSD (solid state drive). This is where all your photos will be stored, so the larger the better. Solid state drives are faster than traditional hard drives, and that means opening up your images is even quicker.

You may also want to consider a laptop with a modern graphics card. Some photo editing suites, especially 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. A powerful GPU can help with this.

The best laptops for photo editing should also feature stunning high resolution screens, and some are even professionally calibrated and support wide colour gamuts, which ensure that your photos look their very best as you edit them.

So, read on for our pick of the best photo editing laptops available today, and if you're after something smaller, see our pick of the best tablets for photo and video editing. Once you've made your choice, then you might want to pick up some tools to help you on your photo editing journey – see our best photo editing software or best photo apps for some options.

The best laptops for photo editing available now

MacBook Pro 16-Inch (2021) against a white backgroundCB

(Image credit: Apple)

The best laptop for photo editing

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1 Pro 10-core – M1 Max 10-core
Graphics: Integrated 16-core – 32-core GPU
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: Up to 8TB
Reasons to buy
+Extremely long battery life+Plenty of ports
Reasons to avoid
-On the bigger side

The new MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) has arrived, bringing a huge amount of improvements, making it easily the best laptop for photo editing that you can buy in 2021. While we loved the 2019 model, the brand-new version improves on it in almost every way.

For a start, it's now got a larger 16.2-inch screen that's packed with new tech, such as mini LED and P3 wide colour support, along with a higher 3,456 x 2,234, which ensures your photos look incredible. It's the best screen you can get in a laptop, offering incredible detail and life like colours. The larger screen size also means working on your photos in editing apps such as Photoshop is much more comfortable than on smaller laptops.

Apple has also drastically increased the selection of ports, now including HDMI and a memory card slot, so you can plug in external monitors, or copy photos from a camera, without needing an adaptor. It also boasts incredible battery life, lasting almost 20 hours on a single charge, which means this is a laptop you can use out in the field without worrying about having to find a power supply.

Unlike the previous Intel-powered model, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) comes with a choice of Apple's own powerful M1 Pro or M1 Max chips. These ensure that macOS runs incredibly smoothly, and any photo editing app launches immediately and loads up your images with ease. To be honest, we recommend the M1 Pro version, as it performs brilliantly, while the more powerful - and expensive - M1 Max model is a bit overkill for editing photos.

It is rather large, however, so if you're after something more portable, check out the 14-inch model below. 

Also read: MacBook Pro 16-inch review

MacBook Pro 14 against a white backgroundCB endorsed

(Image credit: Apple)

The best photo editing laptop with a smaller screen

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1 Pro 8-core – M1 Max 10-core
Graphics: Integrated 14-core – 32-core GPU
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: Up to 8TB
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant performance+Best screen on a laptop
Reasons to avoid
-Screen may be a bit small for some

The MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) is a brand-new size from Apple, offering a decent bump in screen real estate over the older 13-inch MacBook Pro. Like the 16-inch model above, it offers an amazing mini-LED screen that supports 1,600 nits of peak brightness and the P3 wide color gamut. It's essentially the same as the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but with a smaller screen and more compact design.

This makes it the best photo editing laptop for people who are looking for a device they can easily carry around, while still offering plenty of power for editing photos. It's powered by the same M1 Pro and M1 Max Apple chips found in the 16-inch model, so it offers a similar level of performance to the bigger laptop. 

Although it has a smaller screen, it remains incredibly high resolution, so the 14-inch MacBook Pro offers the same pixel density as the 16-inch model. This means that you're not sacrificing image quality if you want to go for the smaller (and slightly cheaper) MacBook Pro.

The smaller size also doesn't mean it misses out on the new design elements Apple added to the 16-inch model, as it comes with the same amount of ports, including an SD card slot, an HDMI port, and three Thunderbolt 4 ports.

Also read: MacBook Pro 14-inch review

Dell XPS 15 with the screen open showing a colourful desktop wallpaper

(Image credit: Dell)

03. Dell XPS 15 (2020)

The best Windows 10 photo editing laptop

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Amazing speakers+Beautiful display
Reasons to avoid
-GTX 1650 Ti is a little weak

Dell has proved once again that it is the top dog when it comes to making slim, stylish and utterly desirable Windows 10 laptops with the XPS 15, and it's the best non-Apple laptop for photo editing.

If you don't want a Mac, and can't get to grips with macOS, then this is the laptop for you. Running the familiar Windows 10 (or new Windows 11), you have access to all the best photo editing applications around.

What's more, Dell has packed the XPS 15 with some of the most powerful mobile components you'll find in any laptop right now, so opening, editing and saving photos is incredibly quick and smooth.

All this power is 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.

two Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) laptops, back to back

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

A powerful laptop for photo editing

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i9-10980HK
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Max-Q 8GB
RAM: 64GB
Screen: 17.3-inch UHD 4K OLED, HDR400, 100% Adobe RGB, Pantone-certified
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous display+Plenty of ports
Reasons to avoid
-Gets hot

The Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) is one of the most powerful laptops for photo editing you'll find at the moment, combining a 10th generation Intel Core i9 processor with 8-cores, along with the Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics card, one of the most powerful GPUs you'll find in a laptop at the moment.

What really makes it stand out for photo editing, however, is the fact that it offers a stunning 4K HDR screen, with 100% Adobe RGB coverage, and which is Pantone-certified as well. This ensures that any photo you edit on this laptop is going to look its very best, and keeps the colours as accurate as possible.

It also packs loads of ports, so you should be able to plug in your memory cards and any peripherals without having to worry about using adaptors. It may be overkill for many people, but if you want cutting edge performance, this is the laptop to get.

See our Gigabyte Aero 17 review for more information.

MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020) with the screen open and displaying the keyboard and trackpad

(Image credit: Apple)

Another brilliant laptop for photo editing from Apple

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1 chip 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645
RAM: up to 32GB
Screen: 13-inch Retina display with True Tone
Storage: 256GB – 4TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Improved specs+Larger capacity SSD
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of ports

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) came out last year sporting a new Apple-designed M1 chip, rather than the Intel-powered hardware of previous models.

This gave the smaller MacBook Pro a real power boost, with the M1 chip performing brilliantly, especially when it came to running photo editing apps like Photoshop. Best of all, the MacBook Pro 13-inch now one of the longest battery lives in a MacBook. This thing is seriously impressive when it comes to battery, and means you can work on it all day editing photos, and you won't need to plug it in.

As is usual with MacBooks, it also has a gorgeous Retina 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 touch 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. Read more with our MacBook Pro 13-inch M1 review.

While the Retina screen of the 13-inch MacBook Pro is very good, it can't compete with the mini LED screens in the new MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) and MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021), which offer much higher resolutions and brighter, more vivid colours.

However, the 13-inch MacBook Pro remains a very good laptop, and it's more affordable than the two most recent models, making this a more viable purchase for many people.

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

(Image credit: Dell)

06. Dell XPS 17 (2021)

A brilliant large screen laptop for photo editing

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
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of port variety

The Dell XPS 17 (2021) is an ideal Windows 10 alternative to Apple's MacBooks for photographers looking for a large-screen laptop for photo editing. Its 17-inch 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, and that makes it an excellent choice for professional photographers who want to edit their photos in the best possible conditions. 

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.

Acer ConceptD 7 with the lid open

(Image credit: Acer)

A mobile workstation for creatives

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Very powerful+Cheaper than MacBook Pro
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

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 photo editing.

This is a laptop packed to the brim with powerful components which can easily run even the most demanding photo editing tools, and it's also got a gorgeous 4K IPS display that is Pantone-validated. This means straight out of the box, this screen will show your photos as they are meant to be seen with little to no need to calibrate it yourself.

The body is smart and professional, and it packs plenty of ports as well, so you can plug in your peripherals with ease. It's also easily portable, so you can carry it around with you if you spend a lot of time travelling and photo editing on the road.

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

MacBook Air (M1, 2020) with screen open showing a photo of a woman

(Image credit: Apple)

Another great photo editing laptop from Apple

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
Reasons to avoid
-No new design

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 colors, a consideration that is incredibly important for photographers using Photoshop.

Also read: MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review

Surface Laptop 4 with desktop wallpaper and white background

(Image credit: Microsoft)

A great photo editing 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
+Comfortable keyboard+Beautiful screen
Reasons to avoid
-Not enough ports

The Surface Laptop 4 is a great laptop for photo editing, and is one of the best devices Microsoft has ever made. It's got a gorgeous design, plenty of power under the hood, and its large, high resolution PixelSense touchscreen is perfect for editing photos on, ensuring your shots look their very best.

Microsoft has included the latest mobile tech from both Intel and AMD, so Windows 10, and any photo editing apps you want to use, run brilliantly. The super-fast storage allows you to move large amounts of photos to and from this laptop as well.

Best of all, it has one of the longest battery lives we've seen in a laptop, which allows you to work out and about without worrying about being plugged into a wall socket.

Acer Swift 3 with the screen open and the Windows 10 interface showing

10. Acer Swift 3 14-inch

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

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Powerful
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most stylish

Many of the laptops in this list are expensive, premium, devices, but what if you don't have that kind of budget? Then the Acer Swift 3 the Acer Swift 3 could be for you.

It's much more affordable than many other laptops on this page - it's around half the price of the MacBook Pro - but it features a nice design that feels robust, and comes with a quad-core Intel processor and 8GB of RAM, which is plenty for most photo editing apps.

Its 14-inch display is surprisingly good, with IPS technology that lets it really show off bright and vivid colours, and it boasts a full HD (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.

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 one of the best external hard drives 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. 

What laptop specs do I need for photo editing?

In  specs, you should consider 8GB of RAM a minimum for a laptop for photo editing, likewise a modern Intel Core i5 processor (or AMD Ryzen 5). These processors come with decent integrated graphics which will be more than enough for photo editing.

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. 

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.

You may also want to see our guides to the best laptops for Photoshop and best laptops for graphic design.

Read more:

A veteran from the days of the 8-bit ZX Spectrum, Orestis is always interested in the fastest, slickest way to make computers do new and exciting things.