When it comes to photo editing, you’re going to want a high-performing PC to do the job. Editing software takes a pretty big toll on your computer’s memory and overall performance when in use.
If you don’t have high enough specs, you’ll find your PC handling the program in a rather sluggish manner. With all this in mind, there are certain factors need to consider when choosing the best PCs for photo editing.
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 1TB or more in storage.
The best PCs have ample RAM, this allows you to handle performance-heavy programs with ease. Look for a PC with 8GB of RAM at a minimum.
Processors and graphics cards vary from PC to PC, you ideally want high-performers on both ends. The latest Intel i5 or above is a great choice, paired with a powerful NVIDIA or Radeon graphics card.
Price is the final factor and one that comes down to your personal budget. If you have a tight budget, expect to make cuts in some of the above departments to find a PC in your price range.
We have divided our research and writing in two parts.
The first part covers (gaming) PCs which due to their processing power are ideal for photo editing. You will have to buy a monitor for photo editing separately. Also, you may want to buy a non-gaming keyboard. Finally, an editing tool like the Wacom tablet is advisable for maximum editing convenience.
Intel Core i-7-9900k, 16GB DDR4 RAM, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 8GB GFX;
3.0 GHz Intel Core i7-core processor, 1TB SSD hard drive, 32GB RAM;
Intel Core i7 – 8 core processor up to 5GHz, 512 GB SSD, 16GB RAM;
3.6 GHz Intel Core i7 – 8 core processor, 1TB hard drive, 32GB RAM;
2.0GHx 8-core Intel i7 processor, 512GB SSD, 16GB DDR4 RAM;
The second 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 units come with the processing tower, a display (usually large) unit and a keyboard. Some, like the Apple iMac comes with a pointer device too.
3.8 GHz Intel Core i7 9-Core, 1TB Storage, 16GB RAM;
2.9 GHz Intel Core i7, 1 TB hard drive, 16GB RAM;
2.9 GHz Intel Core i7, 1 TB hard drive, 16GB RAM;
Intel Core i7-10700T 6-Core, 1TB hard drive, 16GB RAM;
The third part covers the best budget PC units. These are great for everyday office work. A little bit better build than your average office PC. Just so that they can take the additional responsibility of photo editing whenever necessary. We have not gone for the absolutely dirt cheap units because they can be a frustrating experience when you are using Photoshop.
Core i5 9400F processor, 256 GB SSD hard drive, 16GB of RAM;
AMD Ryzen 5 2600 6-core processor, 500 GB SSD hard drive, 16 GB DDR4 RAM;
Ryzen 5 2600 6-Core processor, 500 GB SSD hard drive, 8 GB DDR4 RAM;
8th gen Intel Hexa-Core i7-8700 processor, 1TB 7200RPM HDD + 512GB SSD hard drive, 32GB DDR4 RAM;
Best (Gaming) Desktop PCs for Photo Editing
- Cyberpower PC Game Supreme Liquid Cool Gaming PC
- MSI MEG Trident X 10SD-864US Enthusiast
- ROG Strix G15CK Gaming Desktop PC
- HP OMEN Obelisk Desktop Computer
- MSI MPG Trident 3 10SC-004US
Best All-in-One PCs for Photo Editing
- Apple 27” iMac with Retina 5K Display (2020)
- Apple iMac 21.5” (Mid 2017)
- Microsoft Surface Studio 2 28” (best pc for photo editing A-I-O)
- HP Pavilion 27” All-in-One Computer
Best Budget PCs for Photo Editing
Best (Gaming) Desktop PCs for Photo Editing
1. CyberPowerPC Game Supreme Desktop Computer
If you want the ultimate PC for photo editing, the Cyberpower PC Game Supreme is a monster of a rig. This computer is primarily used for gaming, but it is more than capable of running photo editing software like Capture One and Lightroom.
For processing power, this device has 16GB of DDR4 RAM which can easily be upgraded. It also has a powerful Intel Core i7-9700k 3.6GHz 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 an advanced NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB graphics card with its own dedicated memory. If you feel these specs aren’t enough (they should be!!), you can always opt to upgrade the processor to an Intel Core i9-9900k, and the graphics card to the slightly improved RTX 2080 Super.
Best Gaming PC for Photo Editing
This powerful device will cope with all your gaming needs but it will also excel at photo editing. This is achieved by the 16GB of DDR4 memory, and a powerful Intel Core i-7 processor.
2. MSI MEG Trident X 10SD-864US Enthusiast
If you want an ultimate desktop computer for advanced photo editing and gaming, the MSI MEG Trident X 10 is one of the best options available. This gaming computer is an absolute beast and boasts some of the best specs we have seen for computers for photo editing.
To ensure your photo editing programs run smoothly, this computer has a whopping 64GB of DDR4 RAM and a powerful Intel Comet Lake Core i7 8 core processor (5.1GHz per core). You should experience no lag at all when editing photos and you should be able to navigate through large RAW image folder with ease.
There are several HDD options for this computer starting with the basic 1TB NVMe SSD option. The top option has a 2TB Samsun 970 EVO Plus SSD and another 2TB SSD. We advise purchasing one of the dual HDD options. By doing so, you can keep your photos on one HDD, and your software and games on the other.
Aside from being a behemoth, this desktop computer also looks fantastic and has a sleek black design. It also has several RGB lighting sections that you could coordinate with your peripherals and room lighting.
Related Post: Best Computers for Video Editing
A powerful gaming computer with an impressive 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and an advanced graphics card perfect for photo editing.
3. ROG Strix G15CK Gaming Desktop PC
Powered by Intel Core i7 10th Gen processor and GeForce RTX 2070 Super GPU the ROG Strix G15CK is a super cool gaming PC that you can also use for photo editing and video editing purposes. Not that you need that much of graphics processor, but in any case it comes with the package.
In that case you can also opt for the scaled down version that comes with the less powerful RTX 2060 GPU.
This one though (Core i7-10700KF and RTX 2070 GPU) comes with 8 cores. The GPU comes with 8 Gigs of GDDR6 VRAM. The maximum boosted clock speed is 5.0 GHz.
The CPU supports multithreading. A total of 16 threads ensure multitasking and running of multiple applications at the same time a whole lot easier.
Storage is powered by a 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD unit. This has the fastest performance among hard drives and gives faster booting performance and super smooth processing of data when working on applications such as Photoshop and Lightroom.
16GB of DDR4 RAM takes care of the memory on this device.
The system uses the proprietary Flow Tech ventilation mechanism that ensures faster and more reliable cooling that really adds an edge to the system’s performance. Especially when running resource-heavy applications.
Gaming u0026 Editing
Additional Muscle Power
Raw power for all your computing needs. Great for photo editing as well as for gaming.
4. HP OMEN Obelisk Desktop Computer
If the configurations do not make sense the name should be a giveaway. The Obelisk is powered by a Core i7-9700K 8 core processor. The chip does not support multi-threading so only 8 threads are supported. The base clock speed of the chip is 3.6 GHz. But it can be tweaked to 4.9 GHz using Intel’s Turbo Boost 2.0 technology.
The other specifications of the PC include 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 GPU with 8 GB DDR6 VRAM and 512 GB of PCIe M.2 SSD storage. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 is faster and more efficient than the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 that we discussed above.
Although this comparison is strictly in terms of gaming performance and against established benchmarks in that segment, it is safe to assume that the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 would be the better choice for video editing. For purely photo editing purposes, which we are concerned with, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 is more than enough.
- Hyper-realistic graphics: NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) RTX 2080 Super (8 GB GDDR6 dedicated memory). Enjoy new levels of gaming...
- Cutting-edge gaming performance: Geared with the latest hardware and easy to upgrade, so you can crush the latest and most...
- Ultra-fast processor: 9th generation Intel Core i9-9900K Processor, 8-core, 3.60 GHz
- HP OMEN command center: Included software lets you customize RGB lighting, prioritize gaming network traffic, and stream your...
- Solid state drive and memory: 1 TB PCIe(R) NVMe(TM) M.2 Solid State Drive and HyperX(R) 32 GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM (upgradable to...
5. MSI MPG Trident 3 10SC-004US
The MPG Trident 3 10SC-004US is another powerful computer for both gaming and photo editing, and it is much cheaper than the ultimate Trident X setup. Despite being much cheaper, it still has impressive specifications and is a true powerhouse.
To ensure programs like Photoshop and Lightroom run smoothly, this desktop computer has 16GB of DDR4 RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Super 8GB graphics card. Combine this with the Intel Comet Lake Core i7 8-core processor, and your photo editing software should run without a hitch.
The 8-core processor will also ensure that you can deal with multiple tasks and programs at the same time, so you could run Lightroom, Windows Explorer, and a web browser simultaneously without any issue, for example.
Even if you have a large catalog of RAW image files, you should never run out of space either as this computer has two hard drives – a 512GB NVMe SSD, and a 1TB HDD. You can buy three different versions of this setup each with different RAM levels – either 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB. The 32GB version doesn’t cost much more and we would advise paying that little bit extra for double the RAM – it will make a difference when photo editing.
The Trident 3 is a decent mid-range gaming computer that offers a cheaper alternative to the Trident X but still offers powerful specs for photo editing.
Best All-in-One PCs for Photo Editing
6. iMac 27” 2020 (Best AIO for Photo Editing in 2021)
The latest iMac is a combination of looks and power. Power that will make cakewalk of some of the most demanding editing and retouching processes.
The latest 27-inch iMac 2020 is powered by the 3.8 GHz 8-core 10th-Gen Intel i7 processor with a Turbo speed boost that takes the clock speed all the way to 5.0 GHz. That’s the base variant. If you need more power we suggest you upgrade to the 10-core 10th-Gen Intel Core i9 processor with a Turbo boost up to 5.0 GHz.
The base memory on this thing is 8GB 2666 MHz DDR4. But you can stretch it up to 128 GB 2666 MHz DDR4.
The base variant comes with the Radeon Pro 5500 XT with the 8 GB GDDR6 GPU. Needless to say you can upgrade it. You can opt for the Radeon Pro 5700 XT that comes with 16 GB of GDDR6 memory.
Related Post: Best iMac Options for Photo Editing
The base variant comes with 512 GB of SSD storage. But you can pay extra and have your iMac configured to have up to a maximum of 8TB of SSD storage.
The new iMac comes with the 1080p FaceTime camera, something that is going to add that much needed zing in your Google Meet and Zoom video sessions. It also comes with the new T2 security chip. This chip enables better encryption and the better camera resolution mentioned above among other features.
Considering that Apple has already announced its intention to move towards Apple’s own Arm-based chips in the near future (with the first Macs a possibility as soon as the end of the year) it remains a gamble whether one should go for the current Intel based Macs or wait till the end of the year.
There could be arguments both in favor and against such a move. Apple has dropped hint that both Adobe and Final Cut Pro have had early access to the platform. And that only means good news for people who are overly dependent on these two software for their work. In that case it makes ample sense to wait.
But if you are not too much dependent on this two software plus run a lot of native apps and other software that are running fine on the current Intel-based macs (and probably won’t transition well nor in time on to the new Arm based Macs) then it makes sense to buy the current Intel-based Macs in 2021.
The perfect combination of power, usability and looks
Configure to your needs
7. Apple iMac 21.5” (Mid 2017)
While we absolutely adore a large bright and high resolution display, the same may not be within the budget of most photographers. Especially when you consider upgrading to the Mac platform. Thus many photographers would have to remain contended with a slightly smaller screen. Something like a 21.5” display.
Powering the iMac 21.5” is a 7th Gen Kaby Lake 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 Dual-Core processor. The processor can be overclocked to a maximum of 3.6 GHz. The 21.5” is practical and should be enough for editing images in full scale. The only thing is it does not offer 4K resolution. It offers full HD resolution only.
Internal memory is 16 GB DDR4. Graphics is powered by an Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 chipset. This particular configuration comes with a 256 GB SSD storage.
8. Microsoft Surface Studio 2 28”
The Microsoft Surface Studio 2 is an All-in-One desktop unit designed keeping in mind the visual content creator. Photographers and video editors. With a stand design that lets you push the display all the way to your work desk to work 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 USP of these two computers are 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 almost 1:1 scale. 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 – 7820HQ processor paired with 16 GB of DDR4 RAM. Graphics is powered by NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU with 6 GB GDDR5 VRAM. Storage is entirely solid state drive. This particular iteration of the Surface Studio 2 comes with 1 TB SSD unit. Overall this is our preferred choice as the best pc for photo editing in the A-i-O segment.
A large 28” display that also supports touch. Multi-touch to be precise. There is nothing that gives more pleasure. Because 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.
- Our most powerful Surface yet with Intel Core i7 processors, discrete NVIDIA GeForce GPU, and SSD storage
- The strikingly large 28" PixelSense Display is a stunning touchscreen with 13.5 million pixels of true-to-life color
- Tilt the display weightlessly to work at 20 degrees down in Studio Mode or upright in Desktop Mode; Touch: 10 point...
- Keep creativity flowing when you draw with the improved Surface Pen and use Surface Dial* for intuitive shortcuts
- Runs intensive professional-grade software like SolidWorks,* Adobe Creative Cloud,* and Autodesk*
9. HP Pavilion 27” All-in-One Computer
If you are looking for a simple all-in-one solution, the HP Pavilion range of desktop computers makes a great choice for photo editing and easily rival the specs of MAC computers. The HP Pavilion 27-inch desktop is a powerful device that features 16GB of RAM, and a spacious 1TB 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 if possible, and the housing of the monitor is made from durable aluminum. You can also adjust the monitor from a tilt angle of -5 degrees through to 25 degrees.
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This all-in-one solution features a high-powered multi-core Intel Core i7 processor which can boost up to speeds of 4.5GHz. Also, it boasts 16GB of DDR4 memory which can be further upgraded to 32GB if required. The graphics card is OK but is only a basic Intel UHD Graphics 630 card. This is more than suitable for photo editing.
For storage, this HP device features two storage drives. Firstly, it has a 1TB SATA HDD, and a 512GB PCIe SSD. This should provide excellent storage for your photos and any software you wish to install.
The HP Pavilion 27-inch 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 process-intense editing software.
Best Budget PCs for Photo Editing
10. HP Pavilion Gaming 9400F
This HP Pavilion is a gaming desktop powered by a Core i5 9400F processor and paired with a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB GDDR6 GPU. The processor is paired with 16GB of RAM. 256 GB SSD unit takes care of the storage. Solid state drives are faster than their HDD cousins and this has a significant bearing on performance. Whether you are playing games or editing videos an SSD gives you better smoothness.
The Hexa core processor can fire at up to 2.9 GHz when set to base. When maxed out the processor can reach a maximum clock speed of 4.1 GHz. But a lot of the processing is also handled by the GPU.
Why the HP Pavilion Gaming 9400F Makes Good Buying Sense
A standard desktop PC is never a standalone work unit. It doubles up as your entertainment hub time and again. And that is why the HP Pavilion Gaming 9400F comes with 5.1 Surround Sound output.
- Intel Core i5-9400F Processor plus NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB GDDR6 (2.90 GHz base clock, up to 4.10 GHz max boost clock,...
- Substantial high-bandwidth 2666MHz DDR4 RAM RAM with solid state drive (SSD) combo lets you smoothly run your games and...
- 5.1 Surround Sound output.With all the necessary ports for true 5.1 surround sound, give your favorite movies, shows, or...
- 4 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 1, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2, 1 x HDMI, 1 x headphone/microphone combo, 1x HP...
- Stay connected to 802.11b/g/n/ac (1x1)WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 combo with wireless technology, which gives you a different and...
11. Skytech Shiva Gaming PC
The best PCs for photo editing not always have to be the elite gaming units. There are plenty of mid-range units powered by 7th 8th and 9th Gen Core i5 and i7 processors that can do a decent job. We have already recommended the HP Pavilion Gaming above which is powered by a Core i5 9400F processor. Now that one does not support hyper threading. But the one that we are going to recommend next does.
Yes, the Skytech Shiva is a gaming PC, but it costs much less than something like the CyberPowerPC Gamer Master or the MSI Trident X Plus we have recommended here. So, if you are looking for something in the budget segment then the Skytech Shiva is definitely a product you can take a look at.
The Skytech Shiva is powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 2600 6-core processor. The processor supports hyperthreading with each core having two logical cores (total 12 threads). The base clock speed of the processor is 3.4 GHz. It can be boosted to 3.9 GHz max.
Graphics is powered by an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6 GB GDDR6 memory. The main internal memory of the processor is a 16 GB DDR4 3000 RAM. Storage is powered by a 500 GB SSD unit.
Why the Skytech Shiva Makes Buying Sense?
In reality, a system like this is probably more useful for handling video editing because of the multithreading capabilities. That said, this leaves options open when you do decide to shoot videos and edit them on your PC.
- Ryzen 5 2600 6-Core 3 4GHz (3 9 GHz Max Boost) CPU Processor | 500G SSD – Up to 30x Faster Than Traditional HDD | A320M...
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6 Video Card | 16 GB gaming Memory DDR4 3000 with heat Spreader | Windows 10 Home 64-bit
- Pcie AC Wi-Fi with antenna | No bloatware | 1 x HDMI 4 x USB 3 1 Gen1 Ports 2 x USB 2 0 | HD Audio and Mic | Free RGB...
- 3 x RGB Ring Fans for maximum air flow | Powered by 80 Plus Certified 500 Watt Power Supply | in Win 101 case
- 1 Year on Parts and Labor | Lifetime Free Technical Support | Assemble in the USA | This Powerful Gaming PC Capable to Run...
12. Skytech Blaze II
This is the second Skytech desktop PC that we have selected on this list. This one too is powered by a Ryzen 5 2600 6-Core processor. The base clock speed is 3.4 GHz but you can boost it up to a maximum of 3.9 GHz.
Graphics on the PC are powered by NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 GPU with 6 GB GDDR5 VRAM. A total of 500 GB SSD storage is preinstalled. Plus the PC also comes with 8 GB DDR4 memory.
But even though we are pushing this as a photo editing PC, it is basically a mid-range gaming PC. And being a gaming PC comes with its own perks. Such as 3 RNG ring fans powered by 550 Watts of power supply for maximum airflow when playing demanding games.
But then if you ever switch to video editing this is a PC that would be able to handle those resource-consuming processes.
- Ryzen 5 2600 6-Core 3.4GHz (3.9 GHz Max Boost) CPU Processor | 500G SSD – Up to 30x Faster Than Traditional HDD | A320M...
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 TI 6GB GDDR6 Video Card | 8 GB Gaming Memory DDR4 3000 with Heat Spreader | Windows 10 Home 64-bit
- PCIe AC Wi-Fi with Antenna | No bloatware | 1 x HDMI, 1 x D-Sub, 1 x DVD-D | 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Ports, 2 x USB 2.0 | HD Audio...
- 3 x RGB RING Fans for Maximum Air Flow | Powered by 80 Plus Certified 500 Watt Power Supply | Skytech mATX Mid-Tower Tempered...
- 1 Year Warranty on Parts and Labor | Lifetime Free Technical Support | Assemble in the USA | This Powerful Gaming PC Capable...
13. Dell XPS 8930 (2019 Version)
Let’s say that you don’t need to edit videos. Let’s say that you need is a simpler box with enough processing power to give you all the photo editing joy you could get. In that case, the 2019 Dell XPS 8930 is more than a useful option for you.
The tower comes with an 8th gen Intel Hexa-Core i7-8700 processor. The maximum clock speed of the processor is 4.6 GHz when boosted. The base clock speed of the processor is 3.2 GHz. This processor supports hyper threading. Therefore there are a total of 12 threads that can simultaneously run.
Does the Dell XPS 8930 Makes Good Buying Sense?
Graphics is powered by UHD Graphics 630. This is nowhere near some of the top of the line graphics cards that we had discussed here. But then this desktop is not designed for serious gaming or for video editing. You may still be able to do both but with reduced speed and the experience will not be as smooth as some of the other high-end PCs we have discussed here.
- 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8700 6-Core Processor (12MB Cache, up to 4.6 GHz) deliver the power and responsiveness to make...
- 32GB DDR4 2666MHz SDRAM Memory for full-power multitasking; 1TB 7200RPM HDD + 512GB SSD offer enough storage for your files....
- Intel HD Graphics; 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.2, Dual Band 2.4&5 GHz; Integrated 5.1 with WAVE MAXX Audio Pro
- 9 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, 2 HDMI 2.0, 4 DisplayPort, 1 Dual Link DVI-D, Mic-in, Audio ports (5.1 channel 3 jack), Gigabit...
- With Windows 10 Home – get the best combination of Windows features you know and new improvements you’ll love.
Yes, it does. There are some tools in Photoshop which won’t even work without a GPU that is unsupported. Thus, if you are working with 3D, or doing Smooth Brush resizing and your GPU isn’t supported the tools won’t work at all. In addition, when working with Camera RAW, or using one of the blur gallery tools you would definitely find a fast GPU helping you get a much smoother working experience than when using a slower or outdated GPU.
AMD Ryzen 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. With 12 cores and multi-threading possible on them allows the Ryzen 9 to handle 24 processes as compared to only 16 that are capable on the 8-core Core i9 processors from Intel.
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