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 powerful graphics card; just a fast CPU and plenty of memory will be enough to provide a smooth experience with minimal stutters and slowdowns. 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 65 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 Chromebooks.
The best laptop for photo editing we've tested is the MSI WS76 (2021), a high-end Windows mobile workstation. It has a premium-feeling all-aluminum build, a comfortable keyboard, and plenty of ports, including a full-size SD card reader, so you can easily transfer photos from your camera to the computer. Its 4k display looks incredibly sharp, and best of all, it has full Adobe RGB coverage. It isn't overly bulky for a 17-inch device, but it's pretty heavy, and you'll also need to bring the charger, as the battery lasts less than eight hours of light use. Performance-wise, its Intel 11th Gen. CPU can easily handle complex, high-resolution photo editing. It also has an NVIDIA discrete GPU, although photo editing isn't particularly GPU-intensive, meaning you're paying for graphical performance that you don't necessarily need. You can get up to 64GB of memory; the RAM modules are user-replaceable but hard to access, so we recommend getting enough for your needs upfront to avoid the hassle.
For Mac users, get the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021) or the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021). Both models are among the best laptops for photography we've tested. They're available with the same M1 Pro or M1 Max SoCs, and other than the speakers and battery life, they perform almost identically, so it's just a matter of size preference. Naturally, you don't get as much screen real estate as the MSI, regardless of which model you choose, but they're more portable. The main downside is that they aren't user-upgradeable because everything is soldered onto the motherboard. One final note about the MacBook Pros: Apple recently released the M2 versions. They're basically the same laptops but with faster processors, Wi-Fi 6E, and increased memory support (up to 96GB). Of course, if you're shopping now, just get the M2 version unless you can find the M1 model at a deeply discounted price through a third-party seller or marketplace.
If you don't want to spend too much on a premium mobile workstation, check out the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022). This gaming laptop has a powerful AMD Ryzen 9 CPU and a dedicated Radeon GPU, giving you more than enough processing power for photo editing. Its 14-inch QHD display gets very bright and covers over 90% of the Adobe RGB color space. Its factory calibration is good, but you might want to fine-tune it before doing any color work. The port selection is great; you get two USB-As, two USB-Cs, an HDMI, and an SD card reader. No Thunderbolt 4 since this is an AMD system, although ASUS did promise an update to add USB4 support. As for battery life, you'll likely get around 10 hours of light use.
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 and has roughly the same Adobe RGB coverage as the ASUS. The downside is that it only has two USB-C ports, meaning you'll likely need a dock if you want to plug in multiple peripherals. If you want to save even more money, know that the older Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) is still available. It starts at a lower price than the M2 MacBook Air and is often on sale. Its M1 SoC isn't as fast, but still more than capable of handling most photo editing tasks.
If you're on a tighter budget and want something more modest, get the ASUS VivoBook 15 OLED K513 (2021). The display's resolution is only 1080p, but it has full Adobe RGB coverage, and since it's an OLED panel, it can produce deep inky blacks. You can configure it with an Intel 11th Gen. Core i3, i5, or i7, with up to 16GB of memory and over 1TB of storage. The memory and storage are user-replaceable, so if you have a limited budget, you can get a cheaper configuration to start and upgrade it later on. Its port selection is decent, although the USB-C port doesn't support video output or charging, and the HDMI port is limited to the 1.4 standard. Another thing to remember is that its OLED display isn't flicker-free, so it might cause eye strain if you're sensitive to screen flickering. The battery lasts around six to seven hours of light use on a model with an NVIDIA GeForce MX350 discrete GPU; you can likely get longer if you get a model with integrated graphics only.
Our budget pick is the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020), a 14-inch Windows laptop. It's easy to carry around, and its battery lasts easily through a full day of light use. Its port selection is great; you get two USB-As, one USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, a full-size HDMI, and a headphone jack. 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 main downside is that the display is only 1080p, and it only has full sRGB coverage. Also, it doesn't get very bright, meaning you might have some visibility issues in well-lit settings. This laptop isn't suitable for professional photography, but it's a great option if you only want to edit photos for social media and want to spend as little as possible.
Mar 14, 2023: Minor text changes. Replaced the LG gram 17 (2021) with the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) because it has a brighter display with better reflection and a dedicated GPU for almost the same price. Removed the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (2021) because it's no longer available. Added the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020) as the 'Best Budget' pick.
Feb 02, 2023: Minor text changes to provide more information regarding the M2 Apple MacBook Pro 14 and 16. No change in recommendations.
Jan 03, 2023: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best laptops for photo editing 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.