When it comes to choosing the best PC for photo editing, you’re going to want a high-performing computer. Editing software takes a pretty big toll on your PC’s memory and overall performance when in use.
And so if you don’t have high enough specs, you’ll find your PC handling editing programs in a rather sluggish manner.
In other words: Picking the perfect editing machine matters, which is why we’ve filled this article with our favorite photo-editing PCs available in 2021.
Pest PC-Desktops for Photography in 2021
- Best All-in-One PCs for Photo Editing
- Best Budget PCs for Photo Editing
- Best (Gaming) Desktop PCs for Photo Editing
The Best PC for Photo Editing: All-in-One, Budget, and Gaming
We have divided this article into three parts.
The first part covers the so-called all-in-one PCs. These are ideal for those who want a complete unit ready to use straight out of the box. These PCs come with the processing tower, a (usually large) display unit, and a keyboard. Some, like the Apple iMac, come with a pointer device, too.
The second part covers the best budget PC units. These are great for everyday office work and are built better than your average office PC. We haven’t gone for the absolutely dirt cheap units because they can struggle to run Photoshop.
The third part covers (gaming) PCs which, due to their processing power, are ideal for photo editing. But you will have to buy a monitor for photo editing separately, and you may want to buy a non-gaming keyboard. Finally, a graphics tablet such as the Wacom Intuos Pro is advisable for maximum editing convenience.
Best All-in-One PCs for Photo Editing
1. HP Pavilion 27” All-in-One Desktop (Bestseller)
The HP Pavilion 27” All-in-One Desktop has a superior touchscreen display capable of 4K resolution. It is also incredibly powerful and can easily cope with even the most resource-intensive editing software.
If you are looking for a simple all-in-one solution, the HP Pavilion 27'' Desktop is a great choice for photo editing and easily rivals the specs of the Mac computers on this list. It’s a powerful device that features 16 GB of RAM and a spacious 1 TB SSD drive.
The monitor itself is of amazing quality and offers full HD resolution and touchscreen capabilities. You can view and edit your photos in 4K resolution, and the housing of the monitor is made from durable aluminum. You can also adjust the monitor from a tilt of -5 degrees through to 25 degrees.
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This all-in-one solution features a high-powered Intel Core i7 processor, which can boost up to speeds of 4.5 GHz. Also, it boasts 16 GB of DDR4 memory that can be further upgraded to 32 GB if required. The graphics card is okay (it’s only a basic Intel UHD Graphics 630 card, but it’s more than suitable for photo editing).
The HP Pavilion features two storage drives: a 1 TB SATA HDD and a 512 GB PCIe SSD. This should provide excellent storage for your photos and any software you wish to install.
2. iMac 27” 5K 2020
The perfect combination of power, usability, and looks.
The Apple iMac with Retina 5K offers a combination of looks and power — power that will make a cakewalk out of some of the most demanding editing and retouching processes.
The latest 27-inch iMac is powered by the 3.8 GHz 10th Generation Intel i7 processor. There are several other variants available that you could opt for. One with the 3.6 GHz Intel Core i9 would be a powerful beast, but it also costs a lot more.
The base memory on our pick is 16 GB DDR4. But you can stretch it up to 128 GB 2666 MHz DDR4.
The base variant comes with the Radeon Pro 5500 XT with a 8 GB GDDR6 GPU. Needless to say, you can upgrade that, too. You can opt for the Radeon Pro 5700 XT that comes with 16 GB of GDDR6 memory in a special, customized order.
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The base variant comes with 256 GB of SSD storage. But this unit comes 1 TB of storage.
Considering that Apple has already announced its intention to move toward Apple’s own M1 chips in the near future, it remains a gamble whether you should go for the current Intel-based Macs or wait for the new Macs to drop.
But if you use a lot of native apps and other software that is running fine on the current Intel-based Macs (and probably won’t transition well nor in time onto the new M1 Macs), then it makes sense to buy the current Intel-based Macs in 2021.
3. Apple iMac 21.5” 4K (Early 2019)
This renewed model has excellent specs and a high-quality LED display.
While we absolutely adore a large bright and high-resolution display, it may not be within the budget of most photographers, especially if you are considering upgrading to the Mac platform. Thus, many photographers must be content with a slightly smaller screen, like a 21.5” display.
Powering the Apple iMac 21.5-Inch Desktop is a 3.2 GHz Intel Core i7 processor. The 21.5-inch screen is practical and should be more than enough for editing images. The most important change from the mid-2017 version to this one is the bright 4K display. Now you will be able to view your images in full size much easier than before.
Internal memory is 8 GB DDR4. Graphics is powered by an Intel AMD Radeon Pro 555X graphics chip with 2 GB DDR5 VRAM. This particular configuration comes with a 1 TB Fusion Drive for storage.
4. Microsoft Surface Studio 2 (28”)
A powerful all-in-one computer with a beautiful 28” touchscreen display and an Intel Core i7 processor.
The Microsoft Surface Studio 2 is an all-in-one desktop unit designed for visual content creators: photographers and video editors. It features a stand design that lets you push the display all the way onto your work desk so you can use it like a flat piece of paper for maximum editing convenience.
We recently did a review where we compared the Surface Studio 2 against the Lenovo Yoga A940. The selling point of these two computers is that they both feature a large, high-resolution display. The Surface Studio 2 is a very highly rated system, ideal for users who prefer a large palette that is capable of displaying their high-res images in great detail. The 28” display of the Surface Studio 2 has a resolution of 4500 x 3000 dots.
The power of the Surface Studio 2 comes from a 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7 processor paired with 16 GB of DDR4 RAM. Graphics are powered by a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU with 6 GB GDDR5 VRAM. Storage is offered by a solid-state drive. This particular iteration of the Surface Studio 2 comes with a 1 TB SSD unit. Overall, the Surface Studio 2 is one of the best PCs for photo editing on this list.
The Surface Studio 2 packs a large 28” display that also supports touch (multi-touch, to be precise), which is great for photo editing. When you are using the Surface Pen to edit your images, you can also pinch to zoom in and out and do much more than that using the fingers of your other hand.
Best Budget PCs for Photo Editing
5. Skytech Archangel Gaming Computer
This gaming computer has an immense 6 GB GeForce GTX graphics card and 8 GB of DDR4 memory for optimum editing performance.
Skytech has a fantastic range of gaming computers and the Skytech Archangel Gaming Desktop is the best PC for photo editing that they offer. It has a sleek and stylish design with a gorgeous silver case and plenty of interior RGB lighting.
However, aside from the style, this computer also has fantastic specs. One of the best features is the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1600 graphics card – this beast has 6 GB of dedicated memory! Combine this with the 8 GB of DDR4 gaming memory and the AMD 6-core processor, and you get one of the best computers for photo editing on the market. You can expect supreme performance from programs like Lightroom and ON1 Photo RAW.
To keep this computer running smoothly so you can edit for prolonged periods, the Archangel also packs plenty of dedicated cooling fans. The graphics card has a fan, and there is a high-performance AMD Wraith Cooler for the motherboard.
6. Skytech Blaze II
The Skytech Blaze II is another beastly gaming computer that will make photo editing easy – regardless of image size and detail.
The SkyTech Blaze II Gaming Computer is the second Skytech desktop PC that we have selected on this list. This one is powered by a Ryzen 5 3600 processor. The base clock speed is 3.6 GHz, but you can boost it up to a maximum of 4.2 GHz.
Graphics on the PC is powered by NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. A total of 500 GB SSD storage is preinstalled, plus the PC comes with 8 GB DDR4 memory.
We are recommending this as a photo-editing PC, but it is basically a midrange gaming PC. And gaming PCs come with their own perks, such as three fans for maximum airflow.
In fact, if you ever expand to video editing, this is a PC that would be able to handle those resource-consuming programs.
7. HP Desktop Gaming Computer 2021
This compact gaming computer has 16 GB of RAM for those power-hungry editing tasks.
Let’s say that you don’t need to edit videos. Let’s say that all you need is a simpler box with enough processing power to give you all the photo-editing joy you can get. If that’s you, then this HP Desktop is a very reasonable pick.
The tower comes with an AMD Ryzen 3.6 GHz processor. It is also paired with a decent AMD Radeon graphics card, and it offers various storage options. Standard storage is a 512 GB SSD, but there is a dual 1 TB HDD and 1 TB SSD option available, too. Memory is powered by 16 GB DDR4 RAM.
This PC can even handle some video-editing tasks.
The HP Desktop is a decent option, and although the graphics card isn’t amazing, it still has plenty of memory and storage. Also, the compact design of the tower is fantastic if you are working in a limited space. This is the best desktop PC for photo editing if you want a space-saving option.
Best (Gaming) Desktop PCs for Photo Editing
8. CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PC
This gaming PC has some of the best features available and will provide a smooth editing experience in power-hungry programs like ON1 Photo RAW.
If you want the ultimate PC for photo editing, the CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PC is a monster rig. This computer is primarily used for gaming, but it is more than capable of running photo editing software such as Capture One and Lightroom.
Liquid cooling ensures that the rig is able to dissipate heat much better and offer better performance even when running demanding applications. Do remember: this is an out-and-out gaming PC, so for photo editing, it may be overkill. But if you want to invest in a PC that can handle photo editing, video editing, and pretty much anything else, this is the one you should go for.
The CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme has 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, which can easily be upgraded. It also has a powerful Intel Core i9-9900K 3.6 GHz processor. This should be more than enough to cope with processing RAW images and managing large libraries of photos.
We also like that it has the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8 GB. 16 GB DDR4 and 1TB PCI-E NVMe SSD round out its feature set.
9. iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC
This budget gaming PC is great for photo editing thanks to 8 GB of RAM and a powerful NVIDIA graphics card.
iBUYPOWER is a lesser-known brand, but they have an excellent range of desktops for photo editing. One of the best options is the iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC. This is a desktop computer that is both functional and stylish. For those who want the tower to look the part, this model has RGB lighting on the inside.
For photo editing, you’ll benefit from an NVIDIA GeForce GT 730 2 GB graphics card and 8 GB of DDR4 RAM. This should give plenty of processing power for detailed editing. It also has a quality AMD Ryzen 5 processor capable of 3.6 GHz clock speeds.
You can also buy different variations of this desktop computer that include accessories like a mouse and keyboard or an upgraded processor.
10. OMEN GT12-0030 Gaming Desktop PC
The OMEN GT12 is a brilliant model and a true powerhouse for editing with its 16 GB of DDR4 RAM and AMD Ryzen 7 processor.
The OMEN GT12-003 Gaming Desktop PC is a quality product with a host of excellent specifications. First, the case looks fantastic; it has a glass-sided panel so you can see the inner workings of your PC.
It also has everything you need for photo editing. This includes an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X processor, an AMD Radeon RX 5500 graphics card, and 16 GB of DDR4 RAM. The processor can clock at speeds of up to 3.6 GHz, and the graphics card has 4 GB of dedicated memory. Photo editing and video editing should prove no issue at all.
For storage, it only has a 512 GB SSD, which some may find limiting – though you can always purchase an external SSD for a relatively cheap price.
11. Dell G5 Gaming Desktop
This powerful computer can easily be upgraded and has great specs for photo editing.
The configurations are a giveaway. The Dell G5 is powered by an Intel Core i7 10th Generation processor. This is a very powerful gaming computer and should be able to handle your photo editing and video editing tasks with equal energy.
The other specifications of the PC include 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super GPU, and 1 TB SSD storage. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 is faster, and this is one area where you may lose out on some video-editing performance. But there will be no lag time for photo editing. For that purpose, the Dell G5 is more than enough.
We like the smart design of the tower – it looks fantastic. Also, this desktop computer has a simple upgrade system: you can easily open the side panel and remove different components without the need for tools. This makes it the best computer for photo editing with easy access.
12. ZOTAC MEK1 Gaming PC
The MEK1 looks like alien technology and performs fantastically for photo editing.
If you want something completely different – something that stands out – why not consider the ZOTAC MEK1 gaming PC? The tower of this powerful PC for photo editing looks amazing. It has an angular shape and a stark blue trim.
Aside from the cool design, the MEK1 also functionals fantastically for photo editing, which is the most important thing! It has an amazing GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card with 6 GB of dedicated memory. This is complemented by 16 GB of DDR4 memory and an i5 9400F core processor. These combine to give you excellent power for editing.
It does not feature an SSD; however, it does have a 1 TB HDD, which should provide enough storage for even large photography collections.
Key Things to Consider When Choosing the Best PCs for Photo Editing:
- Available storage space
- Amount of RAM
- Type of processor
- Type of graphics card
As a photographer, having access to your files and also having enough storage space to install and run your programs is key. You’ll ideally want a PC with 1 TB of storage.
The best PCs have ample RAM; this allows you to handle performance-heavy programs with ease. Look for a PC with 8 GB of RAM at a minimum.
Processors and graphics cards vary from PC to PC, but you ideally want high-performers on both ends. The latest Intel i5 or above is a great choice; pair it with a powerful NVIDIA or Radeon graphics card.
Price is the final factor, one that comes down to your personal budget. If you have a tight budget, expect to make cuts in some of the above areas to find a PC in your price range.
Get the Best PC for Photo Editing: Final Words
As you can see, there is a brilliant range of computers for photo editing. If you want an all-in-one solution, something like the Apple iMac with Retina 5K is an excellent choice. Alternatively, maybe you want a small compact tower to sit under your desk – in which case, the Dell G5 Gaming Desktop is a good option. Finally, if you want a computer built for gaming and photo editing, why not consider something like the CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PC?
Photo Editing PC FAQs
Yes, it does. There are some tools in Photoshop that won’t even work with particular GPUs. In addition, when working with Camera RAW or using one of the Blur Gallery tools, a fast GPU will get you a much smoother experience than when using a slower or outdated GPU.
AMD-powered PCs have come along in leaps and bounds, and today’s Ryzen 9 powered systems are ahead of their Intel Core i9 processors in terms of raw power. 12 cores and multi-threading capabilities allow the Ryzen 9 to handle 24 processes, compared to 16 processes on an 8-core i9.
Ideally, you want at least 8 GB, as this is the recommended amount for most editing programs. However, 16 GB or even 24 GB will offer superior performance.
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