If you're shopping for a photo editing laptop, you'd want to focus on a few things to narrow your options. First and foremost, you need one with a display that can produce all the colors in the color space in which you work, whether it's sRGB or Adobe RGB. If you don't plan on using an external monitor, a laptop with a large, high-resolution screen is preferable, as it'll allow you to see the fine details in your pictures easily. You don't necessarily need a discreet graphics card; some programs can leverage the GPU to provide a smoother experience when manipulating images, but the CPU does the bulk of the processing. There are other things to consider, too, like Thunderbolt support for fast file transfers or an SD card reader, and for working on the go, you'd want to prioritize portability and battery life. We've put together a few picks to get you started; the list is a little short for now, but it'll grow as we review more laptops.
We've bought and tested over 85 laptops. Below, you'll find our recommendations for the best laptops for photo editing you can buy. You can also see our recommendations for the best laptops, the best business laptops, and the best laptops for graphic design.
The best laptop for photo editing we've tested is the Dell Precision 5570 (2022), a high-end Windows mobile workstation. It has a premium, sturdy build, a sleek and compact design, and plenty of processing power, thanks to its Intel 12th Gen CPU and NVIDIA discrete GPU. For the display, you can choose between an FHD+ or 4K+ panel; the former has full sRGB coverage, while the latter has full Adobe RGB. Both displays get bright enough to combat glare and handle reflections well, though you may need to calibrate them before starting work, as the factory calibration is passable at best. Ports include three USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s and a full-size SD card reader, allowing you to connect multiple displays and quickly transfer photos from your camera to the laptop. Our main complaint is the battery life, which lasts only six to seven hours of light use.
For Mac users, get the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2023) or its larger 16-inch sibling, the Apple MacBook Pro 16. Both are among the best laptops for photography we've tested. They're available with the same M2 Pro or M2 Max SoCs, which are fast yet power-efficient, resulting in all-day battery life. The 16-inch model has better speakers and longer battery life, but it isn't as portable as it's chunky. Regardless of your choice, you get a great keyboard, a large, easy-to-use haptic touchpad, and plenty of ports. The downside is that their Mini LED displays don't quite have full Adobe RGB, as they can't reproduce the highly saturated greens. On the upside, Apple MacBook displays are extremely well-calibrated out of the box.
If you want to spend less on a premium mobile workstation, check out the ASUS Zenbook 14 Flip OLED (2023), a high-end 2-in-1 ultraportable. As its name suggests, it has a 14-inch OLED display. It gets bright enough to combat glare and has full Adobe RGB coverage, making it suitable for professional print photography. You can configure it with an Intel 13th Gen core i5 or i7 CPU (P-series) and up to 16GB of memory and 1TB of storage. The port selection is great; you get one USB-A, two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s, and an HDMI. The battery lasts around eight hours of light use and charges over USB-C.
A macOS alternative would be the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022). This 13-inch ultraportable has a sturdy build, all-day battery life, and a fast SoC. The display looks incredibly sharp, but unlike the ASUS, it doesn't have full Adobe RGB coverage. Another downside is that it only has two USB-C ports, meaning you'll likely need a dock to plug in multiple peripherals. If you want a bigger screen, you can get the Apple MacBook Air 15 (2023), which is a larger version of the 13-inch model with better speakers. Its 15.3-inch screen allows you to work more comfortably, but it has a $200 price increase over its smaller sibling.
If you're on a tighter budget and want something more modest, get the Lenovo Yoga 7i 16 (2023), a well-built 2-in-1 convertible. It's relatively easy to carry around for a 16-inch device, and its battery lasts over 12 hours of light use, so you don't need to worry about bringing a charger. You can get this laptop with an FHD+ or QHD+ display; the latter is a better option, as it has full sRGB coverage, while the former is a 45% NTSC display that looks dim and washed out. Performance isn't a problem with its Intel 13th Gen CPU, and the laptop doesn't get hot or loud under load. Its excellent port selection includes two USB-As, two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s, an HDMI, and a MicroSD card reader. If you like working with a stylus, the display supports pen input, but depending on the model, you may have to buy the pen separately.
Our budget pick is the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020). Despite its wallet-friendly price, this 14-inch model has a sturdy build, and its battery lasts a full day of light use. You can configure it with an Intel 11th Gen Core i5 or i7 CPU and up to 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage. The display's resolution is only 1080p, and it only has full sRGB coverage, which is fine if you want to edit some photos to post on social media or other websites, but not for professional print photography. For ports, you get two USB-As, one USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, a full-size HDMI, and a headphone jack. The main drawbacks compared to the Lenovo we recommend above are the CPU's performance as well as the size and sharpness of the display.
Sep 01, 2023: Replaced the MSI WS76 (2021) with the Dell Precision 5570 (2022) because the Dell is more portable and available with faster CPUs. Replaced the ASUS VivoBook 15 OLED K513 (2021) with the Lenovo Yoga 7i 16 (2023) because the Lenovo is easier to find, has better performance and longer battery life, and provides a better user experience overall.
Apr 14, 2023: Minor text changes. No change in recommendations. Added the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen 4 (2021), Dell Precision 5570 (2022), ASUS TUF Dash F15 (2022), and the Dell XPS 13 Plus (2022) as Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best laptops for photography to buy. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you prefer to make your own decision, here's the list of all of our laptop reviews, sorted by price from low to high. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it's best to see the full review for information about other variants.