Trying to figure out which are the best laptops for photographers? Photo editing software can be pretty demanding, especially if you're working on high resolution raw files and utilizing advanced effects, so you'll want to make sure that you’re investing in a laptop that has all the makings of a powerful photo editing tool.
At the end of the day, the best laptops for photographers can rival traditional desktop hardware when it comes to raw horsepower. Additionally, unlike laptops of old, many boast pixel-perfect displays with stunning color, as well as wide contrast to keep highlight and shadow detail consistently visible.
We put together a list of the best laptops for photographers and photo editing for you. In this guide, we’ll go through all the best laptops and Ultrabooks that can help photographers, no matter which photo editors you’re using – whether it’s Adobe Photoshop or GIMP.
Best laptops for photographers 2020 at a glance:
- MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
- MacBook Pro 15-inch
- Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019)
- Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)
- Dell XPS 15 (2019)
- Dell XPS 13
- HP Spectre x360
- Lenovo Yoga C930
- Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
1. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
The best Apple laptop for photographers
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
As thin, light and sleek as ever, the MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) doesn’t actually feel like a 16-inch behemoth. If you’re worried that this was going to be bulky and awkward to use, don’t be. Whether you’re a nomadic photographer or you have your own studio, this laptop will feel just as compact as the 15-inch MacBook Pros that preceded it. Only, you’re still getting that extra real estate on that stunning display, as well as the latest and greatest components behind it. Apple then rounds those out with amazing (and loud) speakers and a much, much better keyboard. This is truly the best laptop for photographers.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
2. MacBook Pro 15-inch
Same body, big leap in power
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: Radeon Pro 555X – Radeon Pro 560X | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch 2,880 x 1,800 (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology | Storage: up to 4TB SSD
With Apple having recently fitted its MacBook Pro 15-inch with Intel’s latest 9th-generation processors, these laptops are better and more powerful than ever, which means it’s just the ticket for demanding post-processing tasks. Of course, the fact that it boasts Touch ID and an improved Touch Bar, and is upgradeable to 4TB of SSD storage means that you can have a more seamless experience doing so. Although you will have to adjust to not having an SD card port and only two Thunderbolt 3, this is still one of the best laptops for photographers.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro 15-inch
3. Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition
A seriously powerful pro laptop
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
Razer’s idea of taking its famous gaming laptop and turning it into one of the best mobile creative workstations on offer has paid off. Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition takes the mantle from one of HP’s most powerful laptops as among the best laptops for photographers. Without a doubt, this model was designed with photographers – as well as video editors and game designers – in mind, rocking powerful graphics cards and an absolute stunner of a 4K display. You’ll be spending a lot of money to take this laptop home. But, make no mistake, it will be one of the smartest investments you’ll ever make.
Read the full review: Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition
4. MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019)
No longer a compromise
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina display | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD
If you already love the MacBook Pro 13-inch’s design, and you’re just looking to swap your aging model to a more powerful one, then you’re in luck. This MacBook now boasts 8th-generation processors, which makes also makes it a great upgrade if you’re tired of lugging around your 15-inch model. Unfortunately, you can no longer find a non-Touch Bar model, but with Apple adding more functionality to it, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And, of course, Apple rounds it all out with that premium, surprisingly robust build and excellent battery life.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019)
- See more like this: The best Macs and Macbooks 2018
5. Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)
An amazing laptop that does even more as a tablet
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
The Surface Book 2 is Microsoft's followup to its popular 2-in-1 device, and it’s definitely one of the best laptops for photographers. With a full version of Windows 10 installed, it can run Photoshop with any issues. It comes with boosted components, and its screen remains gorgeous. Only Apple's marginally better colour calibration gives the MacBook's image quality the edge, but Microsoft fights back with a superior 3,000 x 2,000 resolution and an ideal aspect ratio for viewing APS-C and full-frame images. The screen's touch-sensitive, but its real party trick is its ability to detach from the rest of the laptop to become a tablet. It's a shame that the Surface Pen stylus doesn't come included, as we'd definitely recommend buying for your photo editing sessions.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)
6. Dell XPS 15 (2019)
Big power, little change
CPU: 9th Generation Intel Core i5-9300H – i9-9980HK | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) InfinityEdge Anti-Glare Non-touch IPS – 15.6-inch 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) Anti-Reflective InfinityEdge Touch IPS | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
One of our top favorite laptops here at TechRadar must be Dell’s XPS line, thanks to their gorgeous displays and powerful components inside. So, it isn’t surprising that the Dell XPS 15 has made it to yet another list. There’s not much redesign here beyond Dell finally fixing that awful webcam placement, thank goodness, but as they say, if it isn’t broken… What matters here are the innards, and this laptop’s definitely got power with those 9th-generation Intel Core processors leading the charge. If you’re looking to invest in one of the best laptops for photographers, this is definitely an affordable one to consider.
Read the hands-on review: Dell XPS 15
7. Dell XPS 13
Touchscreen can streamline photo browsing and culling
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) – 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge Anti-Glare Non-touch IPS | Storage: up to 2TB SSD
This laptop's claim to fame is being the smallest 13.3-inch laptop on the market. It's slim screen bezel helps contribute to a svelte 304mm x 200mm x 15mm form that needs to be held to be truly appreciated. But it’s also among the best laptops for photographers. The XPS 13's screen is touch-sensitive, and it boasts a similar resolution and pixel density to the MacBook and Surface Book. Image quality is more in line with the ZenBook though, falling slightly short on colour and contrast intensity compared to Apple and Microsoft's displays. A highly portable package with little compromise other than battery life.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
8. HP Spectre x360
A best 2-in-1 gets better
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch full HD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) touchscreen | Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe SSD
Sartorially-conscious photographers will love the look of this 13-inch stunner, sure. But the Spectre x360 also takes things to another level, power-wise. With its gem cut design and sleek profile, it’s this one of the most beautiful laptops on the market right now. However, HP also fitted this with powerful Intel Whiskey Lake processors and long battery life, which means that you’re getting one of the best laptops for photographers.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 (2019)
9. Lenovo Yoga C930
2-in-1 with little to no compromise
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.9-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IPS Glossy Multi-touch | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Sleek, slim and with solid specs to boot, the new Lenovo Yoga C930 not only deserves to be voted one of the best 2-in-1 laptops to date, but it’s also a worthy addition in our best laptops for photographers list. That’s without mentioning the fact that it now touts a 4K display model, which is just excellent for editing those high resolution full-frame shots. This 2-in-1 is a strong contender for photographers on the budget, but if you do decide to go for gold, you might have to break the bank.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga C930
10. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
A brilliant sequel from Microsoft
CPU: Intel Core i5 - i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB - 16GB | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD
While it doesn't represent a huge improvement of the original Surface Laptop, the Surface Laptop 2 offers enhancements in all the areas we were hoping for, including updated hardware that brings solid performance upgrades. This is a laptop that finally delivers on what Microsoft set out to do with the original: a pure, powerful Windows 10 laptop experience. If you're not sold on the 2-in-1 nature of the Surface Book 2, but love Microsoft's premium build quality and design, then the Surface Laptop 2 is the laptop for you, especially if you’re looking for the best laptops for photographers.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
Key things to look out for
Watch the video above for the top 7 things to consider when buying a laptop.
It's easy to get bogged down in the tech and spec soup of computer terminology, but there are a couple of key areas photographers need to think about.
The first is the quality of the screen. This used to be more eye-sore than eye-candy, with appalling contrast and viewing angles, but thankfully IPS display tech fixes this and you shouldn't settle for anything less.
An SSD (solid state drive) is a must as your primary storage in any new laptop. A conventional hard disk drive will bottleneck performance like flat tires on a Ferrari, and while dedicated graphics cards are great for gaming, they're not a necessity here. Today's processors can fill in for them, and they pack enough pixel-pushing punch for photo editing.
The MacBook is favoured by many photographers, and for good reason. But don't rule out comparably priced laptop PCs, which can offer more bang per buck with better upgradability.
Join Adobe Creative Cloud and save 15% on your first year
TechRadar has teamed up with Adobe to offer a special discount on Creative Cloud All Apps membership. For the first year, you'll pay just $45.04/£42.46 per month – down from the regular price of $52.99/£49.94. You'll get access to Adobe's full suite of creative apps, including Photoshop, Lightroom and Illustrator, plus 100GB cloud storage for your projects. Offer ends August 26 2018.View Deal
- Want more choices? Check out our list of the best laptop