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The 4 Best Laptops For Photo Editing - Fall 2022 Reviews

Best Laptops For Photo Editing

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 60 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.

  1. Best Laptop For Photo Editing

    The best laptop for photo editing we've tested is the MSI WS76 (2021), a 17.3-inch high-end mobile workstation. It has an incredibly sturdy all-aluminum build and plenty of ports, including a full-size SD card reader. You can configure it with a 4k display that lets you see every little detail in your photos. It covers the entire Adobe RGB color space, making it suitable for professionals in print photography. It isn't overly bulky for a 17-inch laptop, but it's heavy, so it isn't very portable. You'll also need to bring the charger if you want to work on the go, as its battery lasts less than eight hours of light use.

    Performance-wise, its Intel 11th Gen. CPU is powerful enough to handle complex, high-resolution photo editing, so you get a smooth experience with minimal lag or stutters. It also has an NVIDIA discrete GPU, although most photo editing software doesn't need much GPU horsepower, meaning you're paying for graphical performance that you don't necessarily need. You can get up to 64GB of memory; just remember that while the memory modules are user-replaceable, they're hard to access, so we recommend getting enough for your needs upfront to avoid the hassle.

    For Mac users, get the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021). It has a slightly smaller display than the MSI, so you don't get as much room to work with, but it's still very sharp and covers over 90% of the Adobe RGB color space. It's also more portable, and its battery lasts longer at around 15 hours of light use. You can get it with an M1 Pro or M1 Max SoC, which are plenty fast for photo editing, though, like the MSI, you're paying for graphical performance that isn't necessary. You can also get the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021) if you want something more portable. Both models are excellent options for Mac users, and among the best laptops for photography we've tested.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Laptop For Photo Editing

    If you don't want to spend too much on a high-end mobile workstation like the MSI WS76 (2021), the LG gram 17 (2021) is a great option. This well-built model has a spacious and sharp 17-inch QHD display, but it's still very portable, thanks to its thin and light design. You can configure it with an Intel 11th Gen. Core i3, i5, or i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM, and 2TB of storage. Its battery life sits around 13 hours of light use and charges over USB-C, so you don't need to deal with a proprietary power adapter. You get plenty of ports, including USB-As, USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s, an HDMI, and a MicroSD card reader. Unfortunately, the display's factory calibration isn't very good, meaning you'll need to calibrate it before you do any work.

    A macOS alternative would be the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022). This thin and light laptop has plenty of power to handle photo editing; the downside is a smaller 13-inch display. Also, it only has two USB-C ports, meaning you'll likely need a dock if you want to plug in multiple peripherals. Its M2 SoC is plenty fast, and the battery lasts around 10 to 11 hours of light use. If you want to save even more money, the older Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) is still available. At its regular price, it's cheaper than the M2 MacBook Air, and it's often on sale, so you'll likely see it deeply discounted for Black Friday. Its M1 SoC isn't as fast, but still more than capable of handling most photo editing tasks.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Laptop For Photo Editing

    For a more modest mid-range option, we chose the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (2021), a very portable 2-in-1 with a 360-degree hinge. It's available with Intel 11th Gen. CPUs, which are fast enough to provide a smooth experience, and its battery lasts around 15 hours of light use. You can get up to 16GB of memory and 1TB of storage, but remember that you can't upgrade the memory later on. The main compromise is that it only has a 1080p display with full sRGB coverage, so it isn't ideal for high-resolution material or people working in the Adobe RGB color space. Also, the display doesn't get very bright; it's fine for indoor use, but you might have visibility issues in very well-lit or sunny settings. The display supports pen input; however, you need to buy the stylus separately, and there isn't a place to store it for transport.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Laptop For Photo Editing

    If you're shopping on a tight budget, get the ASUS VivoBook 15 OLED K513 (2021). Its display resolution is only 1080p, but it has full Adobe RGB coverage, and since it's an OLED panel, it can produce deep, inky blacks. This configuration sports an Intel 11th Gen. Core i5 CPU, 12GB of memory, and 512GB of storage. The memory and storage are user-replaceable, meaning you can upgrade them yourself. Its port selection includes two USB-As, one USB-C, an HDMI, and a MicroSD card reader; however, the USB-C port doesn't support video output or charging and is limited to USB 3.2 Gen. 1 data transfer speed. 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.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • ASUS ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED (2021): The ASUS ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED (2021) is a good alternative to the MSI WS76 (2021) and one of the best laptops for photography we've tested. It has a unique dial that you can customize to perform various actions, like changing tools or zooming in and out of pictures. However, it's more expensive, and its battery lasts only a little over five hours of light use. See our review
  • Acer Swift 3 14 (2020): The Acer Swift 3 14 (2020) is an alternative to the ASUS VivoBook 15 OLED K513 (2021). However, it isn't ideal if you work in Adobe RGB as it only has full coverage of the sRGB color space. See our review

All Reviews

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.