Best Laptops for Photo Editing in 2017
When it comes to serious photo editing work your laptop must have more than just decent computing speed and a good memory.
These are just the bare minimum, to begin with. With increasingly high-resolution cameras hitting the market, the ability to edit files in as large a display size as one can possibly get is also a major requirement.
These days, however, photographers tend to look for lightweight solutions – laptops that they can carry with them wherever they go. That means providing a high resolution large sized screen, an extremely high powered configuration capable of handling multiple applications as well as large-sized files and then combine everything together in a small lightweight package raises a lot of opposites.
Basically, you need an off-road vehicle that handles like a sports car and gives the comfort of a luxury sedan. Is there something out there that can even remotely match such a requirement? Let’s find out.
11 Top Laptops for Photographers
We have covered these best laptops for enthusiast photographers (latest update: 9th January 2017):
1. MacBook Pro 15.4″
Quad-Core i7 2.8GHz, 1TB Flash Storage
Invariably no list of laptops, regardless of the end purpose of that list, can ignore the MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro 15.4” is powered by a Quad-Core i7 2.8 GHz processor. The specs are loaded for any sort of serious use, and not just photo editing alone.
Editing and application running performance is one thing and the ability to review images on a true color-calibrated display is a completely different thing. After all, your end product, the printed images, are going to be your legacy. You cannot simply compromise on that aspect.
Thus, if the display is unreliable, even God can’t help you. Apple has the confidence of the photography fraternity in that regard. They have the industry leading display unit virtue of the Retina Display technology.
Speaking of performance and speed, nothing can beat a good quality SSD drive. The MacBook Pro 15.4″ comes with a 1 TB SSD drive.
Add to that 16GB of onboard 1600 MHz DDR3L RAM. It is a mouth-watering combination. It can make access to applications, photos and files with virtually no lag time at all.
The Retina display of the MacBook Pro 15.4″ churns out a resolution of 2880 x 1800. That should be enough to view large files at 1:2 ratio on it and review and retouch with confidence.
Under the hood, there are more reasons to feel happy about owning a MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro 15.4″ comes with the newly developed Force Touch trackpad. This trackpad is very pressure sensitive and can carry out a series of tasks depending on the amount of pressure you apply.
The GPU is an integral part of the whole package of a laptop that is destined to be a photographer’s workhorse. The MacBook Pro 15.4″ comes with an optional AMD Radeon R9 M370X GPU.
It is rated to deliver a graphics performance up to 80 times faster than the previous MacBook Pro. For the photographer on the go, battery life is as important as portability.
The MacBook Pro 15.4″ comes with 9 hours of battery back-up. That should be enough for an entire day at the office or a long tethered shoot or a serious amount of post-processing work after a photo shoot.
2. Acer Aspire V Nitro 15.6″
VN7-591G-792U Gaming Laptop 4th Generation Intel Core i7 4720HQ (2.60 GHz) 8 GB Memory 1 TB HDD
The Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-591G-792U is powered by the 4th Generation Core i7 4720 HQ 2.60 GHz processor. To back it up there is an 8 GB onboard memory card. There are several versions of this extremely powerful laptop.
The reason the Aspire V Nitro VN7-591G-792U stands out from the rest is because of the Graphics Card. The Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-591G-792U has a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M card. There’ a total 1 TB SATA storage with one stick of 8 GB RAM.
A Precision Touchpad works as the input device for the laptop. Where the Aspire V Nitro VN7-591G-792U lags behind the likes of the Dell XPS 15 or the Apple MacBook Pro is in the display department. It does not have the brilliant Retina Display of the MacBook Pro. Neither does it have the 4K/UHD display of the Dell XPS 15. The display of this laptop is only 1920 x 1080.
What works in its favor, however, is an attractive price tag. At $751 the Acer is definitely within reach of most photographers who need a high-end laptop but don’t have the budget for all the bells and whistles.
3. Dell Inspiron i7559-2512BLK 15.6″
FHD Laptop (6th Generation Intel Core i7, 8 GB RAM, 1 TB HDD + 8 GB SSD) NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
The Dell Inspiron i7559-2512BLK 15.6 Inch FHD is definitely a mid-range performance laptop. It shares many of the specs from the higher end models that we have discussed on this list and misses out on quite a few of them.
Overall, it is a nice package for photographers looking for a performance laptop but doesn't quite have the budget that can get them something from the top bracket.
The Dell Inspiron i7559-2512 is powered by a 6th Generation Intel Core i7 quad-core Skylake 6700HQ (2.60 GHz) processor and 8 GB DDR3L internal memory. It also has a 6MB of L3 memory.
The graphics card is a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with a dedicated 4GB of video memory. The display on the 15.6” screen is 1920 x 1080 or full-HD.
There are two hard drives on the Dell Inspiron i7559-2512. One is an 8 GB SSD, and the other is a 1 TB HDD. We have already stressed on the portability of a photographer's laptop as well as the amount of power backup that the battery provides.
The Dell Inspiron i7559-2512 has a 6-cell battery that is rated to give more than 10 hours of power backup. That should be enough for an entire day at the office.
4. Dell XPS 15 Touch 15.6″
4K Ultra HD
In many ways, the Dell XPS 15 Touch 15.6″ 4K Ultra HD is a strong competitor to the Apple MacBook Pro we started this discussion with. As a matter of fact, it outdoes the Apple MacBook Pro in many ways.
To start MacBook Pro doesn’t have a 4K display. The Retina Display on the Apple MacBook Pro is 2880 x 1800. The display on the Dell 15.6” Inspiron is 3840 x 2160. The Apple MacBook Pro does not have a multi-touch screen; the Dell has that as well.
The Dell XPS 15 is powered by a 6th Gen Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor. It is an extremely powerful quad-core processor that produces a superlative performance when gaming. Backing it up is an array of 16 GB DDR4 RAM to handle even the most resource hungry photo editing applications in the business.
Plus, the GPU of the Dell is a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M GPU with 2GB GDDR5 memory. The MacBook Pro has the slightly less preferred AMD Radeon R9 M370X GPU. Matching the specifications of the MacBook Pro, the Dell XPS 15 also has a 1 TB SSD.
Solid State Drives are matchless regarding their performance and power consumption. There are no moving parts inside, they are faster in terms of startup, quieter when they are running and consume a lot less power when compared with their normal HDD cousins.
5. Lenovo Y700 15.6″
In many ways, the Lenovo Y700 is a fantastic value for money proposition. It features a 6th Generation Core i7-6700 HQ 2.6 GHz Processor and a 16 GB DDR3L SDRAM. On top of that graphics is handled by NVIDIA GeForce 960M. Internally there is a 1 TB hard drive and a battery back-up of up to 5 hours.
Quite understandably this is not the kind of laptop that is ideal if you have a long layover between flights or are going out on an extended shoot, e.g., a time-lapse. You need a charging point a bit too frequently for comfort. There is an additional secondary hard drive, a 128 GB SSD type.
The native resolution of the 15.6 screen is full HD or 1920 x 1080. The Lenovo Y700 is suitable for most gaming and high resource hogging applications. It has a decent performance when it comes to photo editing applications as well. Thanks to the thermal cooling system of the laptop.
6. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 14″
Carbon Touch 3rd Generation
In many ways, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a workhorse, a no-frills laptop that’s designed to get your work done and not thrill you by its looks.
Having said that the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a not a bad looker after all. The top configuration comes with an Intel Core i7-5600U Processor with 4MB Cache and a clock speed of 3.2 GHz.
Graphics is catered by Intel HD Graphics 5500. The top configuration has 8 GB of DDR3L – 12800 1600 MHz memory. One of the key features of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is its primary storage – a blazing fast 512 GB SSD drive. Another very thoughtful feature is the addition of a backlit 6-row keyboard.
There is, however, a catch and that is the lack of a full-sized SD card slot. If you have the habit of shooting and then popping your SD card into the card slot, this is something that would irritate you considerably.
On the bright side, however, you have excellent battery backup. Almost 11 hours of it. As a bonus, the third generation Lenovo’s RapidCharge battery technology assures that a full recharge takes less time than the previous model.
Plus, the build quality is very good. The magnesium built body feels secure and ready to travel with you no matter what. Though you wouldn’t exactly expect it to be weather sealed like the Nikon D5, this is the sort of laptop you would love to take with you when traveling.
Having said that Lenovo does claim that the keyboard, at least, has been spill tested. It would likely survive a glass of water spilled on the keyboard, though I wouldn’t recommend on testing that out.
7. Asus Zenbook UX303UB 13.3″
For those who have used the MacBook Air 13” and have rued the fact it is a touch higher than reach regarding price tag, the Asus Zenbook UX305UB is an option that you can seriously look into.
The Asus Zenbook UX303UB is a 13.3” laptop powered by Intel Core i7-6500U 2.5 GHz processor and a dedicated Nvidia GT940M 2GB graphics coprocessor.
Previous versions of the Asus Zenbook had the older M processor. This has been upgraded considerably.
The current, more powerful i7 processor does make a quantum jump in performance. A total of 12 GB DDR3 onboard memory has been provided. It has a blazingly fast 512 GB of SSD storage.
The 13.3” touch screen with Matte IPS finish gives a full HD display (3200 x 1800p) and a wide color gamut (72% NTSC). At that resolution, you can check your files and edit them at a fairly decent size. Though the display is far from being something like the Retina Display of the MacBook Pro, it is not bad at all.
Overall build quality is good. The main material used for the construction is aluminum. Plastic has been limited only to the bezel around the display. In addition to that, some amount of rubber has been used on the bezel as well to ensure that the screen does not come in contact with the keyboard when it is closed.
8. Asus ROG G501VW 15.5″
The Asus ROG G501VW 15.6″ Full HD is a serious laptop for serious gamers and for photographers who are looking for performance and portability synergized into one single unit.
This 15.6” laptop is powered by an Intel Core i7 4720 HQ 2.6 GHz processor and has 8GB of DDR3L memory. It has dual storage – a 1TB standard HDD and another 128 GB fast SSD. Graphics is powered by a NVIDIA GeForce 960M adapter 4GB.
The display of the 15.6” screen is full HD (1920 x 1080p). The screen has anti-glare coating on it and comes with a viewing angle of 140 ˚.
The overall weight of the device is 4.5 pounds. Which means it is going to be a bit uncomfortable to carry everywhere. But the benefits of the camera far outweighs the disadvantages.
9. ASUS K501UX 15.6″
ASUS K501UX is a looker. It combines good looks with solid performance. The highest configuration is powered by Sixth Generation Intel Core i7 6500U processor. It has an onboard memory of 4 GB with options to expand it up to 12 GB. Graphics is supported by NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M with up to 4 GB of DD3 VRAM.
Storage depends on the configuration that you may want. You can choose between 1 TB HDD to up to 256 GB SSD depending on your preference. The 15.6” screen has a full HD display (1920 x 1080p). The battery is slightly underpowered, you would feel. It is a 3- cell battery rated to 48 WH.
10. ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH71 15.6″
The ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH71 is yet another serious gamer laptop. Thus, its performance and handling should be good enough for photographers who love to do an extensive post-processing of their RAW files.
At the heart of the laptop is its 6th Gen Intel Core i7 quad-core processor. Graphics is powered by NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 2G GDDR5 VRAM. Storage is standard with a 1TB of HDD drive. However, some models do come with an SSD drive. There’s 16 GB of DDR4 onboard memory.
The ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH71 is a durable design. It is a looker no doubt with F-22 inspired character lines that give it a macho stance. But looks apart build quality is excellent. No less than 100 solder points on the laptop gives it a great durability.
The red backlit keyboard is a joy to use. ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH71 comes with GameFirst III technology. This prioritizes the flow of gaming data and reduces gaming lag down to a minimum. Designed to be a gaming laptop this piece of engineering marvel is equally at ease when running resource hungry applications.
11. MSI Computer G Series 17.3″
GT72S Dominator Pro G-220 Laptop
The core of the MSI Computer G Series GT72S Dominator Pro G-220 is built around an Intel Core i7-6820HK processor with a speed of 2.7 GHz. When slotted into turbo gears the processor can clock speeds of 3.6 GHz.
The display on the 17.3” FHD anti-glare IPS wide viewing angle screen is full HD (1920 x 1080p). Higher resolution works best when the display size is larger. For smaller display size higher resolution does not make much of a difference.
On the G-Series GT72S Dominator Pro G-220, you will actually enjoy the higher resolution of your photos.
Make no mistake the MSI Computer G Series GT72S Dominator Pro G-220 is a gaming laptop. The GPS is powered by a GeForce GTX 980M GPU with 8 GB GDDR5 memory.
Onboard memory is 32 GB DDR4 2133 MHz. Storage includes 2 x 128 GB NVMe SSD drives and 1 x 1 TB HDD. The presence of the NVMe SSD ensures that the laptop has a superior performance.
The MSI GT72S Dominator Pro G-220 isn’t your average carry-with-you laptop. It is bulky and heavy and could very well be used as a replacement for your desktop. Given that the performance of the MSI GT72S is top notch.
Best Notebooks for Photo Editing in 2017
If you fell, we left out any good laptop for photography, or if you have any questions about laptops and photography, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Related articles across the web
Join the newsletter
Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly.
He has been writing for over 6 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favorite pursuits.
Latest posts by Rajib (see all)
- The Best Medium Zoom Lens (70-200mm) for Your DSLR - February 20, 2017
- Light & Photography 101 - February 17, 2017
- Fujifilm Launches the Mirrorless Fuji X-T20 - February 15, 2017
- The 12 Best Monitors for Photo Editing (2017 Update)
- The Best Medium Zoom Lens (70-200mm) for Your DSLR
- The Best Lenses for the Sony Alpha 6300
- 8 Best Mirrorless Cameras under $1000
- Best Photography Drones in 2017
- Top 4 Waterproof Compact Cameras for Sports & Action Shots
- A Review of the Best Lenses for the Nikon D5500