Best laptops for photo editing of 2024: top picks for photographers and designers

Finding the best laptops for photo editing is a fine art of marrying portability with robust performance, ensuring it remains cool and quick no matter the workload. 

For photographers, artists, and designers who often transition between various workspaces—from home, to studio, to fieldwork—a superior photo editing laptop is indispensable, enabling creativity and innovation on the fly. 

The hallmark of an efficient photo editing laptop lies in its ability to facilitate uninterrupted design workflows, necessitating a baseline of 16GB RAM, 512GB storage, and a potent processor to adeptly handle demanding software like Adobe Photoshop.

Our expert team has meticulously tested, reviewed, and compared key specifications such as CPU, GPU, and RAM, alongside performance benchmarks to find the best of the best. Factors such as weight, size, thermal management, screen excellence, and portability have been scrutinized to spotlight laptops that offer the perfect blend of speed and lightness, ensuring they meet the dynamic needs of any photography project.

Quick list

The best laptop for photo editing: FAQs

Do I need a 4K laptop for photo editing?

You don't need the best 4K monitor on a photography laptop, but it's a good idea if it's within your budget. When it comes to photo editing - or any other visual creative medium - the high the resolution, the better you can see the details in your images and deliver more accurate designs.  The cost of 4K displays is falling, too, making them more accessible to photographers at every stage in their career. In our view, the best MacBook Pro laptops have some of the top screens for any content creation, and if you need a second display, there's always the best monitors for photo editing.

What is the best size screen for a photo editing laptop?

This will most certainly come down to how portable you want your machine to be, as a bigger screen will lead to a more pleasant image editing experience, but you’ll need a larger bag to stash it in. If your needs are more on the lightweight side of the spectrum, you’ll need a smaller screen. Lookout for clever engineers who manage to cram a larger screen in a smaller chassis, for the best of both worlds on that front.

What GPU should the best photo editing laptops have?

As a general rule of thumb, since your creative work generally demands the best graphics card, try to avoid any integrated systems, like the Iris Xe. Although those do help when it comes to battery life, they rarely, if ever, hold a candle to separate GPUs. As with everything in computing, the more you can afford, the beefier your machine will be, and the quicker you’ll be able to get work done.

How to choose the best laptop for photo editing

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk running resource intensive apps

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Choosing the ideal photo editing laptop requires navigating through a maze of technical jargon to identify key features that align with your creative workflow. Whether you're using Adobe Creative Suite or one of the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives and the best Adobe Lightroom alternatives, the specifications of your laptop should support intensive photo editing software without compromising performance. 

Like graphic design laptops (and generally unlike video editing laptops), photo editing laptops need a robust processor, as most photo editing tasks are CPU-intensive. A durable mobile workstation or business laptop can serve well, provided it has a high-quality FHD display with excellent contrast and brightness, along with appropriate color gamut coverage like DCI-P3. 

RAM is crucial for handling complex photo editing projects, and while the GPU might not be as critical for photo editing alone, it becomes essential for tasks like 3D modeling and running the best video editing software, which can sometimes find itself in your workflow when you least suspect it. 

A color-accurate IPS display with high contrast, brightness, and a wide color gamut is ideal. Fast SSD storage is necessary for quick file access and ample storage space, and a sufficient number of ports ensure you can connect all your devices without needing an additional docking station. 

While MacBooks are popular among photographers for their performance and display quality, Windows laptops offer competitive features and better upgradability at similar price points.

How we test the best laptops for photo editing

We've tested hardware built for a range of creative industries and professions. This includes the best laptops for graphic designbest video editing laptops best laptops for writers, and best laptops for music production

When we test laptops that are good for photo editing, we're assessing factors such as performance, portability, display type, value for money, and overall design. 

Photo editors can often be resource-intensive, especially when working on large, complex projects. So, we test each to see how well they perform when running photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop. Laptops designed for photographers should have no trouble with the industry-standard editing tool. 

Creative workflows are unique - so we evaluate each on the individual merits and how well they meet the expectations of their intended users. For example, the Dell XPS 13 will be ideal for users editing images on the go, while the 16-inch MacBook Pro is much-more suited to those who need a creative powerhouse. 

See what goes into our tests in How we test laptops and desktops: our reviewing process explained.

The best laptop for photo editing: Top picks

The best laptop for photo editing in 2024

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Below you'll find detailed write-ups for all our top picks for the best laptop for photo editing. We've tested each extensively, so you can trust that we're offering you the best assessment of each device for your specific needs and budget.

Best laptop for photo editing overall

MacBook Pro 16-inch with screen open in an office

(Image credit: Future)
The most powerful MacBook ever

Specifications

CPU: Apple M3 Pro - Apple M3 Max
Graphics: Up to Integrated 40-core GPU
RAM: Up to 48GB
Screen: 16-inch, 3456 x 2234 Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: Up to 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible performance
+
Plays games
+
Space Black is a welcome new color

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Only nine months since last version

As with previous models, you can choose a variety of configurations to kit out your 16-inch MacBook Pro, including M3 Pro or M3 Max chips, and up to 128GB of unified memory – but you’ll want to make sure you nail your options before you buy, as you can’t upgrade your laptop afterwards. Of course, the better specs you go for, the more money this already-expensive laptop is going to cost.

Performance-wise, this is an impeccable workstation. There wasn’t a task the new 16-inch MacBook Pro couldn’t handle during our testing, even when editing 4K footage with multiple 4K and 8K video files, and it also did an impressive job of running the latest games. The MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) doesn’t do anything new design-wise, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. Why tinker with such a great design? Sure, Apple could have added a touchscreen, or even resurrect the Touch Bar, but this would just be tweaking for tweaking’s sake.

The MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3) has the potential to rival many of the best gaming laptops based on its amazing performance. Impressively, while the fans did kick in, they never got as loud as most gaming laptops, though the part of the chassis just above the keyboard did get noticeably hot to touch.

Read our full Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Max) review.

Best photo editing laptop for those on a budget

New MacBook Air 13-inch with M3 being used in a cafe

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

Specifications

CPU: Apple M3 chip
RAM: 8GB – 24GB unified memory
Screen: 13.6-inch Retina display
Storage: up to 2TB

Reasons to buy

+
Great performance
+
Very good value
+
Stellar battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Base specs are somewhat outdated
-
Not a lot of ports

The Apple MacBook Air (M3, 2024) stands out as the ultimate value laptop for photo editing, boasting an elegant, modern design that makes it incredibly sleek and lightweight, perfect for on-the-go creativity.

Its enhanced portability is a key feature for anyone in need of a powerful yet easy-to-carry editing tool. With reduced bezels, the MacBook Air offers a larger, brighter, and more vibrant display, providing a captivating visual experience that enhances photo editing tasks without sacrificing the laptop’s slim profile.

Performance-wise, the MacBook Air (M3, 2024) exceeds expectations with fast boot times and seamless application performance, catering to the intensive demands of photo editing software.

What's more, the MacBook Air impresses with up to 16 hours of battery life on a single charge, enabling uninterrupted photo editing sessions well beyond the typical workday and even during extended travel. This combination of portability, powerful performance, and long-lasting battery life, alongside its captivating display, positions the MacBook Air (M3, 2024) as the best value laptop for photo editing on the market.

Read our full Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) review

Best Windows laptop for photo editing

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
The top choice for Windows users

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core Ultra 7 155H
RAM: Up to 64GB DDR5
Screen: Up to 14.5-inch 3.2K OLED touchscreen
Storage: Up to 4TB

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful new processor
+
Stunning 3.2k OLED
+
Holds its own against the MacBook Pro 14-inch

Reasons to avoid

-
Gets expensive quickly
-
Touchbar and trackpad are accessibility challenges

The Dell XPS 14 distinguishes itself as the best Windows laptop for photo editing within the acclaimed XPS lineup, offering unparalleled features starting at $1,499. It is equipped with a state-of-the-art processor and the option for a stunning 3.2K OLED display, all housed within a beautifully crafted chassis that sets a new standard in laptop aesthetics.

While the base model might necessitate upgrades such as the dedicated Nvidia RTX 4050 GPU and OLED display with 100% DCI-P3 coverage, these enhancements, albeit at a higher cost, ensure that the laptop remains cutting-edge for years.

The XPS 14 boasts several design advancements from its predecessors, including superior top-mounted speakers that offer improved audio quality without sacrificing keyboard space. Its slim bezels not only contribute to its sleek design but also house a 1080p webcam, enhancing its functionality for photo editors.

Its robust performance, combined with its striking design and portability, makes it the ideal choice for photo editing professionals seeking a reliable, high-performance, and stylish Windows laptop.

Read our full Dell XPS 14 review

Best Surface laptop for photo editing

Surface Laptop Studio 2 on the floor

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess)
Powerful enough for creative workflows and drawing

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060
RAM: 64GB
Screen: 14.4-inch PixelSense Flow (2400 x 1600)
Storage: 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Foldable sketching screen
+
Discrete gaming graphics
+
Onboard AI acceleration

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Lighter alternatives
-
No stylus included

For those that can afford this business laptop, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2’s unique touch capabilities pair nicely with the more powerful Intel 13th Gen and Nvidia 40 series components to ensure there’s no hardware limitations to your creativity. 

Battery life is reasonable for a Windows 11 creative workstation, lasting 6 hours and 37 minutes in light work tasks. The updated processors will ensure you have enough power and there’s a couple of smaller perks like a USB Type-A socket and microSD Card reader.

The hero here is its screen. Microsoft is using the same PixelSense Flow display at a 2400 x 1600 pixel resolution that it used on earlier devices. It can fold fully back on itself to offer a great drawing experience and is an impressive piece of technology for anyone hoping to use it to write notes for meetings, or create using a stylus. 

If you don’t mind paying a bit extra, opt for the configuration with a Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU. It’s much pricer than the 4050 model, but some of that is due to the added RAM and storage allocation which will help with professional applications.

Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 review

Best 2-in-1 laptop for photo editing

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8 on a coffee table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)
The best 2-in-1 laptop for photo editing

Specifications

CPU: 13th Gen Intel Core i7-1360P
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 16GB LPDDR5
Screen: Up to 14-inch 3840 x 2400 400-nit OLED touchscreen with 100% DCI-P3, VESA Certified DisplayHDR True Black 500, Dolby Vision
Storage: Up to 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Absolutely stunning design
+
Gorgeous display
+
Great battery life and performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Too expensive for most people
-
Display averages at 350 nits

The Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8 reigns supreme as the ultimate 2-in-1 laptop for photo editing, showcasing Lenovo's innovation with its rapid performance and premium features at a value surpassing its well-known competitors. This model captivates with its OLED display (covering 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut) that presents exceptional picture quality, making it perfect for detailed photo editing tasks. 

In performance benchmarks, the Yoga 9i Gen 8 outpaces counterparts like the Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro 360, especially in creative tasks. It impresses with its efficiency in processing and exporting a significant volume of high-resolution images in Adobe Lightroom, proving its prowess in handling demanding photo editing workflows. Battery life is another highlight, with the device lasting over 10 hours on a single charge during web browsing tests, ensuring prolonged productivity sessions for photo editors.

Although the OLED screen's brightness might not meet every expectation at around 350 nits, its vibrancy and touch responsiveness are undeniable, providing an intuitive and engaging editing experience. This blend of performance, portability, and precision positions the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8 as the best 2-in-1 laptop for photo editing on the market, offering creative professionals a versatile tool that excels in bringing their artistic visions to life.

Read our full Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8 review

Best photo editing laptop designed for creatives

(Image credit: Collin Probst // Future)
Built for creatives and creators

Specifications

CPU: 13th Gen Intel Core i9
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTXTM 4070 Laptop GPU 8GB GDDR6
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 16-inch, 4K UHD+ 3840x2400, OLED, 16:10
Storage: Up to 4TB

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic overall power
+
High-quality OLED screen with 16:10 aspect ratio
+
Great aesthetic look
+
Intuitive keyboard

Reasons to avoid

-
Odd port placement
-
Battery life could be better

The Gigabyte Aero line is specifically designed as a video and photo editing laptop for creatives. 

First impressions are great. An aluminum frame with a clean, simple design. An accurate, tactile keyboard. A striking 16:10 4K OLED display that promises plenty of room to play with images. For its size, it’s a surprisingly lightweight laptop for photographers.. 

Under the hood is no less impressive. You’ll find an RTX 4070 GPU, up to 4TB SSD storage, and up to 64GB RAM. A 13th-gen Intel Core i9 CPU powers the machine - and you’ll need it. Reviewing the device, we found the Aero 16 handled basic documents and web browsing effortlessly and noiselessly. When we moved on to video editing and photo editing, that’s when we noticed this laptop even start to rev its i9. 

On the downside, it’s not the most affordable option on the market, even when compared with Apple Macs. The battery lasted 8 hours and 23 minutes in our testing - frankly, we expected more. And the placement of ports to the rear, usually associated with mobile workstations, took some getting used to. Still, performance was good overall, scoring 7158 on the standard PCMark test we ran. 

Read our full Gigabyte Aero 16 review 

Best mobile workstation for photo editing

(Image credit: Future)
For when power and performance are more important than portability

Specifications

CPU: 12th Gen Intel Core i7 - i9
Graphics: Nvidia RTX A2000 - A4500
RAM: 8GB – 32GB
Screen: Up to 16" WQUXGA (3840 x 2400), OLED, Anti-Reflection/Anti-Smudge, Dolby Vision™, Touch, 100% DCI-P3, 400 nits, 60Hz
Storage: 256GB - 512GB

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly powerful
+
Durable design and build
+
Full keyboard with numpad
+
Multi-touch, OLED display

Reasons to avoid

-
Very large size
-
Expensive compared to some of the competition

The Lenovo ThinkPad P16 is a big, bold mobile workstation - it’s well over twice the weight of a MacBook Air - so It’s not one to be carted around all day. But if you want a powerhouse machine, we found this one ripped right through every test we threw at it. 

Outside, the casing is sturdy and feels durable, the full-sized keyboard with numpad feels comfortable to type on. And the 4K OLED display is, we found, bright and clear - even in the middle of the day, we could easily see every area on our screen. 

Inside, you’ll find a serious work-horse of an engine. When we tested the photo editing laptop, with the 12th Gen Intel i9 configuration, it showed a strength for more complex creative or design projects and workflows. It’s not the absolute fastest, but it's close, scoring 7651 in our extended PCMark testing, which is comparable to similar devices. 

Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad P16 is well-built and ready for intense creative tasks, 3D modeling, and the like.

Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad P16 Mobile Workstation review .

Best dual-screen laptop for photo editing

A Lenovo Yoga Book 9i on a desk in an office

(Image credit: Future)
The best dual-screen laptop for photo-editing

Specifications

Processor: Intel Core i7
Screen size: 2 x 13.3-inch
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB - 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive dual displays
+
Multiple modes, plenty of features

Reasons to avoid

-
Takes a while to get used to
-
Expensive

The Lenovo Yoga Book 9i sets the standard as the premier dual-screen laptop for photo editing, boasting OLED displays that offer 100% DCI-P3 color coverage for unmatched visual fidelity. Its dual-screen capability introduces a revolutionary approach to photo editing, enabling extraordinary productivity and multitasking within a compact and sleek design. This unique feature mimics a multi-monitor setup, offering expansive screen real estate that is essential for managing complex photo editing tasks without sacrificing portability.

Tailored for the rigorous demands of photo editing, the Yoga Book 9i allows for a variety of customizable setups, ensuring that each user can find the optimal configuration for their workflow. Powered by an Intel Core i7-1355U processor, it provides robust performance for seamless application operation, effectively balancing power and efficiency to mitigate overheating—a common concern in slimmer laptops.

Remarkably, despite its dual OLED displays, the Yoga Book 9i achieves up to 9.5 hours of battery life, extendable to over 12 hours with a single screen in use. This longevity supports extended photo editing sessions without the need for frequent recharging.

Although priced at a premium, the Lenovo Yoga Book 9i justifies its cost through cutting-edge features such as its dual-screen design, superior portability, and efficient performance, making it an invaluable asset for photo editing professionals seeking the ultimate dual-screen laptop experience.

Read our full Lenovo Yoga Book 9i review

Best photo editing laptop for build quality

An MSI Creator Z17 on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
A portable but tough creative powerhouse

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i9
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
RAM: 64GB
Screen: 17.3-inch QHD+
Storage: 2 x 2TB

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent build quality
+
Great performance
+
Beautiful 17-inch screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Weak speakers
-
Tricky magnet on stylus

The MSI Creator Z17 is a slight vertical side-step forward for the Taiwanese manufacturer’s creative-leaning line of high-performance laptops; a bigger, beefier 17-inch laptop. Though MSI has a pedigree in the gaming laptop space, the MSI Creator Z17 takes a creatives-first approach. 

For photo and video editors, this laptop proved a joy to use, and it scored respectably well in our PugetBench Photoshop and Premiere Pro benchmark tests. Photoshop can handle high-resolution photos with multiple layers and export to various file types quickly, and pen performance when trying to colour in spots or use the healing brush was speedy as well.

Despite the upgrade in power, the Creator Z17 doesn’t sound as noisy as its predecessor when it comes to fan cooling. Be mindful that the quieter fans doesn’t help the audio quality of the Dynaudio speakers. Though there’s clarity in the sonic experience, the volume levels are exceptionally low even on the highest volume.

The MSI Creator Z17 is definitely expensive, which is par for the course for such a powerful and versatile laptop, as even its lowest configuration starts out more than most casual users would ever dream of spending on a laptop. 

Read our full MSI Creator Z17 review

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