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The Best Laptop for Photo Editing in 2020: The Ultimate Guide (10 Premium & 5 Budget Laptops)

What are the best laptops for photo editing in 2020?

Choosing the perfect photo editing laptop can be difficult–but it doesn’t have to be. Because this guide is dedicated to showing you the best laptop for your needs, no matter your budget.

So whether you’re looking for a high-end laptop for professional photo editing, or a budget laptop for personal use, you can rest easy knowing there’s a great option for you.

Best Offer

HP Spectre x360

Edit photos with precision using a 15.6-inch, high definition, micro-edge display–and bring your photos to life!

Are you ready to discover the best photo editing laptop for your needs?

First, let’s just have a look at our top picks:

HP Spectre x360 15″
HP Spectre x360 15″ Our Pick
Highly versatile and portable design, with a stylus for better functionality and an ultra-long battery life.
Dell XPS 15
Dell XPS 15 Also Great
A 4K resolution touchscreen, fast SSD storage, and plenty of processing power.
ASUS Vivobook S
ASUS Vivobook S Best Budget Pick
Decent storage capacity, reasonable processing power, and a good screen (at a great price!).

Choosing the Best Photo Editing Laptop in 2020

When it comes to using a laptop for photo editing, there are a few factors that you absolutely can’t live without.

First, you’re going to need a high-quality screen (and a decent graphics card won’t go amiss, either). At the very least, you want something that offers full HD (1080p) resolutions. For the most serious photographers, 4K is a better choice–but it comes with a proportionate price tag. Note that screen size is important here, too; if you’re the type of person who hates having a cramped workspace, you’ll want at least a 15-inch screen, and 17 inches is even better.

Second, you’re going to need at least 6 GB of RAM. Without this, your computer will struggle to run programs such as Lightroom and Photoshop, let alone a newer program such as Luminar 4. And as a photo editor, these programs will be your bread and butter. You’re also going to want a new(ish) processor, especially if you’ll be doing a lot of work in more taxing programs.

Third, you’ll want adequate storage space–and preferably a solid state drive (SSD), which is far faster when performing big operations (e.g., backing up huge quantities of files). These days, RAW files are so large that keeping all your photos on your laptop hard drive is basically impossible. But you’re still going to need to have a chunk of your photos on your laptop for different situations (such as when you travel), plus temporary desktop storage folders can build up fast.

Fourth, it’s worth considering the size and battery power of different photo editing laptops. If you’re the type of editor who works from your own home, you’re not going to need anything special. But if you like to travel for weeks on end with only a laptop, having a smaller device with good battery life is critical.

Now that you’re familiar with the different factors to consider, it’s time to look at your options:

The Best Photo Editing Laptops in 2020: Top Picks for Enthusiasts and Professionals

On this list, you’ll find everything you need if you’re a professional or otherwise experienced photo editor. These laptops feature beautiful screens, amazing processors, and are all-around impressive when it comes to photo editing tasks.

  1. HP Spectre x360 15 Editors’ Pick
  2. Dell XPS 15 – Also Great
  3. Apple MacBook Pro (16-Inch)Best for Pros & Mac Users
  4. HP ZBook Studio x360 G5
  5. LG Gram 17-Inch
  6. Huawei MateBook X Pro
  7. Dell XPS 13
  8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
  9. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
  10. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Best Budget Laptops for Photo Editing

  1. ASUS Vivobook S – Best Budget Pick
  2. Acer Aspire E 5
  3. HP Envy 13
  4. Acer Swift 3 14
  5. ASUS ZenBook 13

Starting with:

1. HP Spectre x360

HP - Spectre x360 2-in-1 15.6' 4K Ultra HD Touch-Screen Laptop - Intel Core i7 - 16GB...

If you’re looking for an ultra-portable, ultra-flexible travel laptop for photo editing, then check out the HP Spectre x360. With HP’s 2-in-1 feature, you can easily flip this computer from laptop to tablet and back–which is perfect for working while traveling on planes or trains. The touchscreen is a nice bonus, even if you don’t plan on using the 2-in-1 feature much; it allows you to speed up your editing workflow, plus it just adds a level of convenience.

Like the options ranked above it on this list, the HP Spectre features impressive performance: an i7 Intel processor, plus 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD. This is perfect for pretty much any photo editing task you can imagine, and the SSD should give you a reasonable amount of space for organizing files.

HP - Spectre x360 2-in-1 15.6' 4K Ultra HD Touch-Screen Laptop - Intel Core i7 - 16GB...

In terms of resolution, the HP Spectre doesn’t disappoint. The screen is a 3840×2160 UHD (4K) display and comes along with a stylus for enhanced touch functionality.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning the battery life: 17+ hours, which will make pretty much anyone salivate, though it’s especially good for those photo editors who like travel and often don’t find themselves near power outlets.

Editor’s Pick

HP Spectre x360

The perfect combination of price and power

With a beautiful display, impressive processing power, and a sleek design, the HP Spectre x360 laptop is a stellar choice for both enthusiasts and pros.

2. Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 15 - 15 Inch FHD+, Intel Core i7 10th Gen, 16GB Memory, 512GB Solid State...

It’s no secret that Dell’s been crushing it year after year with photo-editing laptops, and the Dell XPS 15 is the best of these, wrapping power, price, and sleek design up into a beautiful, mouthwatering bundle. 

Get your hands on the Dell XPS 15, and the first thing you’ll notice is the display. It’s 4K, which means that you’ll be able to work on your photos with near-perfect detail, plus it just looks great, with the IPS technology guaranteeing all-around stunning colors.  

In terms of power, the Dell XPS 15 is certainly capable, offering a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 and 16 GB of RAM–in other words, you should be able to run your photo editing programs without a hitch. The laptop also includes a 512 GB SSD, which is nice for quickly accessing and copying photos, though I’ll admit that 1 TB+ would be better, especially for longtime photographers with a lot of photos to store. 

Dell XPS 15 - 15 Inch FHD+, Intel Core i7 10th Gen, 16GB Memory, 512GB Solid State...

When it comes to size, 15 inches is the middle-of-the-road option, and whether this works for you depends on the type of photo editor you are. Do you travel frequently with your laptop? Do you use it on the go? Or do you mostly work with it at your desk? Personally, I favor a slightly smaller laptop for traveling (such as the Dell XPS 13, also on this list), but 15 inches does offer a nice amount of screen real-estate while still remaining relatively portable. 

Finally, you’ll want to check out the Dell XPS 15 price, which is pretty darn reasonable for a laptop of its caliber. If you’re looking for the best photo editing laptop available, it’s tough to go wrong with the Dell XPS.

Also Great

Dell XPS 15

The best laptop for enthusiast photographers

The Dell XPS 15 is sleek, powerful, and offers a dazzling, 15-inch display. If you love editing your photos, then you’re going to love the Dell XPS 15.

3. Apple MacBook Pro (16-Inch) – Best Laptop for Professionals

New Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 16GB RAM, 1TB Storage, 2.3GHz Intel Core i9) - Space...

If you’re a professional photographer or photo editor trying to find the absolute best post-processing laptop money can buy, then look no further than the new Apple MacBook Pro.

No, it doesn’t come cheap. But the laptop is a photo editor’s dream, offering 16 inches of gorgeous Retina display resolution, perfect for editing photos for hours on end. Your pictures will come to life on this laptop–if they can stand up to high-resolution levels of scrutiny, that is!

The MacBook Pro features an excellent 16 GB of RAM, which will make running intensive programs such as Lightroom a breeze. Add to that an 8-core i9 processor from Intel, and you’ve got a photo editing powerhouse.

New Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 16GB RAM, 1TB Storage, 2.3GHz Intel Core i9) - Space...

While MacBook Pros are generally far from impressive in terms of storage space, this one offers 1 TB of storage space (or, for a discount, a respectable 512 GB) in an SSD. You’ll also get around 11 hours in battery life, which is perfect for anyone who does photo editing on the go.

So for anyone who needs top of the line technology and can afford the price, the Apple MacBook Pro is the way to go.

Apple MacBook Pro (2019)

The best laptop for professional photo editors

The MacBook Pro offers a gorgeous display, plenty of screen real estate, and can run Lightroom and Photoshop without lag. This is the best laptop for photo editing professionals, hands-down.

4. HP ZBook Studio x360 G5

It’s pricey, it’s heavy, and it’s hardly the best-looking laptop around–but if you care about performance over portability, then the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 is perfect for your needs. 

HP Zbook Studio X360 G5 15.6' Touchscreen 2 in 1 Mobile Workstation - Core i7...

First, take a look at the Core i7 processor, which can run Photoshop, Lightroom, and more all day long without a problem. For the power-hungry, you also have the option to purchase the HP ZBook Studio with an i9 processor, though the i7 should be just fine for all but the most demanding of photo editing programs. 

As for RAM: Our favorite (and less expensive) version of this laptop offers a nice 16 GB, though you can boost this to 32 GB if you want to make your editing programs even faster (and you’re willing to pay the price).

When it comes to photo-editing laptops, a crystal-clear display is a must, and the ZBook Studio delivers on that front, offering a fully-rotatable screen, 4K screen. It’s 15.6 inches, which is great for editors who want a large workspace, though it’s not exactly travel-ready.

HP Zbook Studio X360 G5 15.6' Touchscreen 2 in 1 Mobile Workstation - Core i7...

Honestly, if you plan to do a lot of traveling, I’d recommend looking elsewhere. The HP ZBook Studio is a standout performer, but the heavy body and overall bulk make it a poor choice for those desiring a truly portable option.

But if you don’t mind the weight, the HP Zbook Studio X360 is a top-of-the-line performer with the ability to satisfy even the pickiest of photo editors.

Related Post: Best Desktops for Photo Editing (8 Picks for 2020)

HP ZBook Studio x360 G5

A powerful laptop for serious photo-editors

The HP ZBook Studio x360 offers lots of power with minimal fuss. Sure, it’s not the sleekest laptop out there, but the processing capabilities more than make up for it.

5. LG Gram 17-Inch

LG Gram Laptop - 17' IPS WQXGA (2560 x 1600) Intel 10th Gen Core i7 1065G7 CPU, 16GB...
LG Gram Laptop – 17u0022 IPS WQXGA (2560 x 1600) Intel 10th Gen Core i7 1065G7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB

The 17-inch LG Gram isn’t a small laptop by any means, but that just makes for more image editing space–which is perfect for any photographers who are sick of working on a cramped display.

Yes, with a 17-inch display, you lose some portability. But LG has worked hard to keep things light, managing to pack a huge screen into just under 3 pounds of laptop, which is not bad, considering. And think of what you can do with a full HD 17-inch screen: Edit photos, organize photos, deal with hundreds of files…The list is endless, and with the LG Gram, you’ll have time to explore all the options.

LG Gram Laptop - 17' IPS WQXGA (2560 x 1600) Intel 10th Gen Core i7 1065G7 CPU, 16GB...
LG Gram Laptop – 17u0022 IPS WQXGA (2560 x 1600) Intel 10th Gen Core i7 1065G7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB

Of course, no 17-inch screen is worth a purchase all on its own. Fortunately, LG has pulled out all the stops for this high-end laptop, including 16 GB of RAM, an tenth-generation Core i7, and a 512 GB SSD. Plus, you get a 1 TB HDD as a bonus, for any additional photo storage needs you might have. In this sense, the LG Gram is a real photo-management powerhouse, even if the 17-inch screen means that it has to stay tethered to your desk at home.

One more thing to note is the Gram’s battery life. LG promises up to 19.5 hours of power, and while this isn’t as useful as it might be if the Gram were travel-ready, it’s still something that most users will appreciate.

No, the LG Gram doesn’t come cheap. But if you want a laptop with a huge screen and some killer capabilities, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option.

LG Gram 17-Inch

The best workspace laptop for photographers needing lots of screen

The LG Gram 17-Inch offers a huge HD screen, perfect for spending hours editing or viewing photos. And while the laptop may not be portable, it certainly offers a lot of storage!

6. Huawei MateBook X Pro

Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition Thin & Light Laptop, 13.9' 3K Touch, 8th Gen...

The Huawei MateBook X Pro is all around great: It’s shiny, it’s sleek, and it offers some sweet features to go along with that pro look.

No high-quality photo editing laptop is complete without a fantastic screen, and Huawei delivers; while it doesn’t quite reach 4K resolutions, you’ll be happy to know that its 13.9-inch display offers gorgeous picture quality at 3K. If you’re a hands-on type person, you’ll appreciate the touchscreen capabilities, which should help speed up your workflow in a few key ways. Plus, the screen just looks great in that sleek Huawei laptop, with its high-resolution display and 178-degree viewing angle.

Now let’s take a look at the mind behind the machine, starting with the processor: an Intel Core i7, coupled with 16 GB of RAM, perfect for running resource-intensive photo editing programs (think Luminar, Lightroom, and more). It doesn’t get much better than that, especially not on these light and portable laptops.

Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition Thin & Light Laptop, 13.9' 3K Touch, 8th Gen...

And speaking of portability, if you’re the type of person who likes to carry your laptop everywhere, you’ll love the laptop’s overall size, as well as the light weight, kept down by the relatively small screen and the thin body. With a laptop that fits easily in backpacks, handbags, and purses, you shouldn’t have much trouble carrying the Huawei MateBook X Pro wherever you go (and you should be able to get in some photo editing done along the way!).

I haven’t mentioned storage space, but you needn’t worry. The MateBook X Pro features a 512 GB SSD, which gives you a sizable chunk of storage for working with images and keeping your image files nice and tidy.

So if you’re looking for something light, sleek, and portable, the Huawei MateBook X Pro is one of the best photo editing laptop choices you can make.

The Huawei MateBook X Pro

A portable laptop with comprehensive features

The Huawei MateBook X Pro combines storage and power into a small, sleek package. If you’re looking for a gorgeous, portable option, this is the laptop for you.

7. Dell XPS 13

Dell New XPS 13 9300 13.4-inch UHD InfinityEdge Touchscreen Laptop (Silver) Intel...

If you’re after a photo editing laptop that’s ridiculously powerful, offers a beautiful display, and is always travel-ready, the Dell XPS 13 is the way to go.

Related Posts

The latest version of the Dell XPS is just jam-packed with excellent features. First, there’s the processor: a 10th Gen Intel Core i7, which is more than enough to handle Lightroom or Photoshop. When combined with 32 GB of RAM, it’s unstoppable, allowing you to edit smoothly for hours on end. 

You also get a 2 TB SSD, which might even allow hobbyist photographers to catalog their entire collection without an external drive. If you’re a longtime enthusiast or professional, you’ll probably still want some additional storage, but that 2 TB SSD will definitely help you get started organizing your files–and it’ll do it with speed.

And then there’s the display.

While the Dell XPS 13 is on the lower end when it comes to screen size, the beautiful 4K display makes up for it, letting you view your images in crisp, clear, mindblowing detail. If you’ve never used a high-end display before, prepare to be impressed (and I haven’t even mentioned the touchscreen!).

Dell New XPS 13 9300 13.4-inch UHD InfinityEdge Touchscreen Laptop (Silver) Intel...

Regarding the smaller screen real-estate (it’s 13.4 inches): I do think it’s limiting enough to give plenty of photographers pause. But I’m a fan of 13-inch laptops for photo editing, and here’s why:

You can take them with you anywhere, and they won’t get in the way. The truth is that traveling with a 15-inch–or, even worse, a 17-inch–laptop is just tiresome, and if you’re a frequent traveler, you’re liable to get fed up. That’s where the 13-inch Dell XPS comes in, which manages to combine a beautiful editing experience with all-around incredible performance.

So, if you’re ready for a compact, highly-capable laptop for photo-editing of any kind, grab the Dell XPS 13.

Dell XPS 13

A powerful laptop for enthusiast photographers

The Dell XPS 13 is compact, it’s powerful, and it looks all-around great. With a 13.4-inch, 4K display, your photos will look beautiful at home or on the go.

8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

If you’re looking for power, then you’re in luck–because the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme has a lot of it, thanks to an 8th Gen i7 processor and a whopping 32 GB of RAM. Not only will you be able to have a smooth experience with Lightroom and Photoshop, but you’ll also be able to comfortably work with demanding programs such as Luminar–which taxes all but the most serious of laptops.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Business Notebook: Intel 8th Gen i7-8750H (up to 4.1 GHz),...

Then there’s the 1 TB SSD, which will be much appreciated by experienced photo editors. If you’re the type who stores a lot of photos on your laptop–as opposed to using an external storage solution–then this will be a big help, allowing you to import, edit, and export photos from program to program without slowing down.

Interestingly, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme manages to look sleek without offering any real compactness; the screen is 15.6 inches, plus the overall package is around 4 pounds. This is hardly ideal for travelers, but if you’re just planning to take the ThinkPad X1 into the studio every now and again, you should be fine.   

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Business Notebook: Intel 8th Gen i7-8750H (up to 4.1 GHz),...

As for the display:

It’s 4K, it’s IPS, it’s big, it’s bright, and it looks pretty darn awesome. Colors are amazing, and your images will look beautiful; honestly, the screen alone is practically worth the price of the laptop.

All in all, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme will impress even the most demanding of photo editors, and once you get a look at that display, you’ll know you’ve made the right decision.  

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

The best midsized laptop for frequent shooters

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme runs taxing programs without a hitch, and the display is to die for. Your photos will never look the same.

9. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

When it comes to buying a photo-editing laptop, you’re faced with an age-old dilemma: 

Do I need a big screen? Or do I need portability?

Yet the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 turns this on its head, managing to combine a nice 15-inch screen with an ultra-compact body–the ultimate combination for travelers. While the display isn’t 4K, it’s still quite crisp, and you’ll have a great time admiring photos and videos alike. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – 13.5' Touch-Screen – Intel Core i5 - 8GB Memory -...

In terms of power, the basic Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 isn’t in the same league as some of the other options on this list; it offers 8 GB of RAM and an AMD Ryzen 5 processor, which is serviceable but certainly nothing to write home about. Yet there are plenty of options for upgrades. Try doubling the memory to 16 GB or even 32 GB and boosting the processor to an AMD Ryzen 7, which will give you a much more capable photo editing laptop (albeit at a much higher price).

As for storage, you can choose between several SSDs, including a 128 GB option (the most basic pick, and pretty limiting for photographers), a 512 GB option (perfect for hobbyists, or photographers with a nice external storage solution), and even a 1 TB option (for those who like to organize photos on their desktop).

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – 13.5' Touch-Screen – Intel Core i5 - 8GB Memory -...

Finally, the Surface Laptop 3 certainly looks good, allowing you to choose from several colors, including a flashy cobalt blue, a sleek platinum, and a refined matte black.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

The best lightweight laptop for editing on the go

The Surface Laptop 3 is an ultra-portable option that packs a lot of screen real estate for in-depth editing.

10. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 4th Gen 20QF000KUS 14' Touchscreen 2 in 1 Ultrabook - 2560 X...

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga is an absolute dream of a laptop; it packs a lot of great features into a small body.

What makes the ThinkPad X1 special?

First, check out the flexibility: The ThinkPad isn’t exactly slim, but it offers a 2-in-1 body so you can use it either as a laptop or a tablet. This is perfect for the traveling photographer–imagine whipping out your ThinkPad X1 on a plane or a train, and quickly converting it into tablet mode. The ThinkPad X1 also includes a touchscreen. And while not all photographers like to edit that way, it’s certainly a nice feature to have.

Second, the screen is beautiful; the display is 2560×1440 (beyond full HD). This is perfect for crystal-clear images and high-quality editing, plus the 14-inch size makes the ThinkPad X1 a great option for the more travel-minded photographers while keeping the editing workspace reasonably large.

Now, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 does come with a pretty hefty price tag, but that’s to be expected with a Core i7 processor and 16 GB RAM. And if you’re interested in keeping a file system on your desktop, the 512 SSD will guarantee some additional storage functionality. While any photographer who is willing to pay such a premium for a photo editing laptop probably has a large image library (and will be using some form of external storage), it’s nice to have the space to deal with files in case it’s needed.

If you’re looking for a budget laptop with decent specs, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a real performer with a gorgeous screen, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a great choice.

The most flexible photo-editing laptop on the market

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 allows for editing on the go, thanks to a convenient 2-in-1 design and a stunning display.

The Best Photo Editing Laptops in 2020: Top Picks on a Budget

If you’re in need of a budget laptop for photo editing, then you’ve come to the right place. Because this list will have the perfect option for you, guaranteed.

These days, you don’t need to spend thousands in order to get some serious editing power. Sure, you may not be able to grab a 4K monitor, but you can definitely get a nice 1080p option with decent storage space, respectable RAM, and more.

Let’s take a look at your options:

1. Best Budget Laptop for Photo Editing: ASUS Vivobook S

ASUS VivoBook S Ultra Thin and Portable Laptop, Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB...

Our absolute top pick for photo editing on a budget is the ASUS Vivobook S, which offers a great combination of features and price.

No, the processor isn’t brand new, but an Intel Core i5 will get you far, and shouldn’t have trouble running a program like Lightroom, especially when it’s alongside 8 GB of RAM. Plus, you get a 256 GB SSD, which should give you some good storage options. If you’re a dedicated photographer, you’re probably going to need to grab a backup storage drive to handle your image library anyway, so the built-in storage options won’t be too limiting.

ASUS VivoBook S Ultra Thin and Portable Laptop, Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB...

Our favorite thing about the ASUS Vivobook S is the screen: 15.6 inches with full HD (1080p) resolution. And I can guarantee: You’ll love the way your images look on a full HD display. Plus, it’s packed into a streamlined body, one that will make you look (and feel) professional while using it.

As far as portability goes, the ASUS Vivobook S does well; despite the 15-inch size, it’s extremely slim, perfect for travel and editing on the go.

Bottom line:

If you’re looking for a powerful laptop at a great price, the ASUS Vivobook S is a great way to go.

Best Budget Pick

ASUS Vivobook S

A reasonably priced option for any budget-conscious photo editor

The ASUS Vivobook S punches above its weight, offering a decent screen and fast processing in a sleek, modern package.

2. Acer Aspire E 5

The Acer Aspire E 5 offers everything you need for photo editing in a relatively inexpensive package, even if it doesn’t pack standout features such as a 4K screen or 32 GB of RAM.

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6 Inches FHD IPS Display, 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U,...

For under $700 USD, the Acer Aspire 5 offers reasonable power; with 8 GB of RAM and an 8th Generation i5 processor, you’re not going to be winning any races, but you should be able to edit in Lightroom–and, if you don’t mind a bit of lag, Photoshop–without too much of an issue. 

As for storage space, you get a 256 GB SSD, which isn’t as large as more experienced photographers might like, but will do a nice job when combined with an external hard drive. In my experience, 256 GB runs out pretty fast, but if you’re a hobbyist photographer who doesn’t capture thousands of photos every month, you may find that 256 GB is enough for your needs without an external drive.

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6 Inches FHD IPS Display, 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U,...

The Acer Aspire 5’s display is relatively nice; it’s IPS, it’s HD, and the 15.6-inch size will give you plenty of space for editing. While I tend to prefer 13-inch laptops for traveling, you might be able to get away with using this one on the go, thanks to its sleek and relatively compact design. 

Ultimately, for the budget-conscious photographer or photo editor, the Acer Aspire 5 is an excellent pick.

Acer Aspire E 5

A great budget option with solid features

The Acer Aspire E 5 isn’t insanely powerful, but it’ll get the job done. The display is one of its high points, offering beautiful colors and clarity.

3. HP Envy 13

HP Envy 13 Ultra Thin Laptop 13.3' Full-HD, Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics...

If you’re looking for a slightly higher-end (but still budget-focused!) photo editing laptop, check out the HP Envy 13. It offers a lot of solid features, combined with some serious resolution and performance chops–which will make any budget-conscious photographer salivate.

What makes the HP Envy 13 such a good deal?

First, its performance. The Envy features an Intel Core i5, along with 8 GB of RAM–which isn’t cutting edge, but certainly will make you feel well taken care of. Plus, the laptop offers 256 GB in an SSD, which is a decent amount of space for file management, especially for more serious photographers who plan on working with backup drive.

HP Envy 13 Ultra Thin Laptop 13.3' Full-HD, Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics...

If image clarity is important to you (and, let’s face it, why wouldn’t it be?), you’re going to love the display. It’s only 13 inches, yes, but it packs some serious punch, with a beautiful glass screen and 1080p resolution. Plus, the 13-inch screen simply makes the laptop that much more portable; you can slip it into a backpack, a handbag, or a briefcase, then bring it out whenever necessary.

In fact, one of our favorite things about this laptop is how portable it is. It’s small, it’s light, and it’s slim, the perfect combination for photographers on the go. (Note that, if you’re interested in increased flexibility, HP does offer an x360 version of the Envy!) Combine that with up to 14 hours of battery life, and you’ve got yourself an absolute winner.

HP Envy 13

The best portable option on a budget

The HP Envy 13 is impressively portable, and it packs a beautiful display and decent processing power to boot.

4. Acer Swift 3 14

Acer Swift 3 SF314-54-56L8, 14' Full HD, 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U, 8GB DDR4, 256GB...

The Acer Swift 3 14 is another great option for the budget-conscious photo editor to contemplate. Like other laptops in this section, it’s not the flashiest choice out there, but it packs a heavy punch where it matters.

Let’s start with the screen: 14 inches of full HD (1080p) beauty, perfect for editing photos (or looking at photography, or watching photography tutorials; perfect for doing anything, really!). Plus, 14 inches is a nice compromise between 15 inches, which is sometimes a bit too bulky to be travel-worthy, and 13 inches, which can result in a cramped workspace.

Acer Swift 3 SF314-54-56L8, 14' Full HD, 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U, 8GB DDR4, 256GB...

As for the performance, the Acer Swift 3 14 includes an eighth-generation Intel i5, along with 8 GB of RAM, which should allow you to run Lightroom and Photoshop without much trouble, even if you do use them pretty intensely. You’ll also like the 256 GB SSD, which gives you room to maneuver when it comes to image editing, even if it’s not enough to store a dedicated photo library.

Photographers who travel frequently will appreciate the 12-hour battery life; it’s not quite as much as you can find in other (higher-priced) models, but it will certainly do the job.

All in all, the Acer Swift 3 14 is a great budget option. It performs well while keeping the price to a reasonable level–the value of which cannot be overstated.

Acer Swift 3 14”

A worthy budget laptop for hobbyist photo editors

The Acer Swift 3 14 is cheap, it’s portable, and it can handle most image processing tasks. If you’re after a laptop that can get the job done, the Swift 3 14 is a great choice!

5. ASUS ZenBook 13

The ASUS ZenBook 13 sits on the high-end of the budget options, but I highly recommend you check it out; it’s one of the most complete portable budget laptops you’ll ever encounter, offering a sweet combination of power, compactness, and a nice HD display that will make your photos shine. 

ASUS UX333FA-AB77 ZenBook 13 Ultra Slim Laptop, 13.3” FHD WideView, 8th-Gen Intel...

As I’ve repeated throughout this article, 13 inches is the way to go if you’re a frequent traveler or you simply want to take your laptop everywhere you go. Here, the ASUS ZenBook 13 fits the bill, and it also comes with a surprisingly rugged chassis–so you don’t have to worry about your laptop getting damaged in the field. 

In terms of processing power, you’ll love the 8th Gen Intel Core i7 and 16 GB of RAM combination, which is more than enough for those who work frequently in Photoshop, Lightroom, and other demanding programs. You’ll also appreciate the 512 GB SSD, which will make file organization a breeze; you’ll have enough space to deal with a decent chunk of your files, and the extra speed offered by an SSD won’t go unnoticed. 

ASUS UX333FA-AB77 ZenBook 13 Ultra Slim Laptop, 13.3” FHD WideView, 8th-Gen Intel...

These days, everyone’s talking about 4K screens, but the HD screen on the ASUS ZenBook 13 is pretty darn respectable, thanks to its beautiful colors and crisp output–as a photo editor, you want your photos looking good and bright, and the ASUS ZenBook 13 delivers.

So while the ASUS ZenBook 13 isn’t as cheap as some of the other options on the list, it’s certainly worth a look–especially if you’re after a portable, fast, and relatively powerful photo editing option.

ASUS ZenBook 13

A high-end laptop for a surprisingly low price

The ASUS ZenBook 13 has it all: it’s compact, the display is gorgeous, and it can handle all your post-processing tasks, and then some. It’s on the pricier side, but absolutely worth it.

The Best Laptops for Photo Editing in 2020: Conclusion

Now that you’ve read this article, you should have a good idea of the best laptops for your photo editing needs–no matter your budget.

There are plenty of great photo editing laptops out there, at so many different price points. So you’ll undoubtedly be able to find the perfect option for you.

And you’ll be able to give your photos the editing they deserve!

Related Post: Best Tablets for Photo Editing

What is the best laptop for enthusiast photographers?

The best enthusiast laptop for photo editing is the Dell XPS 15. While it’s not as flashy as the MacBook Pro, it’s got a lot going for it, including impressive processing capabilities, a beautiful screen, and excellent storage capacity.

What is the best budget laptop for photo editing?

The best budget laptop for photo editing is the ASUS Vivobook S. For one thing, the screen is a nice full HD (1080p); for another, the processing power is good (though not top of the line). Overall, the Vivobook S is a great option for the price.

What is the best professional laptop for photo editing?

The best professional laptop for photo editing is the Apple MacBook Pro, which offers very capable editing capabilities combined with a beautiful screen. It’s also quite sleek, as well as portable. Note that the MacBook Pro is extremely pricey, so if you’re looking for a budget laptop, I suggest you consider other options on this list. But if you’re looking for the absolute best photo editing laptop out there, the MacBook Pro is a fantastic choice.

What should you look for in a photo editing laptop?

If you’re purchasing a photo editing laptop, you’re going to want to take a few key features into account. First, you’ll need a powerful processor; Core i7 and Core i9 are some of the best options out there, though there are plenty of alternatives for the more budget-conscious shopper. You’ll also want as much RAM as you can get, especially if you’ll be running programs such as Adobe Lightroom Classic. At a minimum, you’ll want 6 GB, but 8 GB is better, and 16 GB is top of the line. This will ensure you keep Lightroom running smoothly (or as smoothly as possible!). Third, I recommend you shoot for a screen that offers at least full HD resolution (i.e., 1080p). Ultra HD (4K) screens are even more desirable, but are pretty pricey, and you won’t find many 4K laptops in this article. Fourth, you’re going to want some pretty impressive storage capabilities, if possible. A 256 GB SSD is a near requirement if you’re going to be working with a number of large files, and a 512 GB SSD is even better, especially when coupled with a 1 TB HDD.

Author

  • Jaymes Dempsey is a professional macro and nature photographer from Ann Arbor, Michigan; his work is published across the web, from Digital Photography School to PetaPixel.


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6 thoughts on “The Best Laptop for Photo Editing in 2020: The Ultimate Guide (10 Premium & 5 Budget Laptops)”

  1. Nathaniel Stephan

    I can’t imagine trying to travel with a 17-inch laptop. I’ve had a hard enough time with 15-inch laptops.
    I will say that having a larger screen would be nice. Maybe the larger laptops are more popular with people who only more them around their home?

    1. Traveling with a 17-inch laptop can be just fine. You need to have the right bag and don’t mind the extra weight. But yes, it’s probably not the best choice for frequent travellers.

  2. Curious…
    Photographer on a budget here…
    I was JUST about the get the Asus Vivobook S but several reviews state the display is dull and not great for colour. Yet you have it at the top of the budget list without mention of this.
    Dell Inspiron 7000 has been touted as having a much better display for photographic work… now I’m considering moving over to Dell, though my heart is with Asus.

    Any input on this?

    1. I’ve used the Vivobook S for photo editing in the past, and was pretty impressed with the screen–it’s not on the level of, say, a MacBook Pro, but it’s quite nice. I do agree that the display doesn’t “pop” the way some screens do, but that isn’t something that bothered me, and is a personal preference to some extent.

      The Dell Inspiron 7000 almost made our list, but we cut it because the performance isn’t that great for the price. Can I ask: Where have you read that the Inspiron 7000 is better for photographic work? My sense is that it doesn’t do so well when it comes to color and sharpness.

  3. Thank you for this article! I have an older 13 inch MacBook Pro that I purchased used for $400 to get me through a semester of photography class a few years ago. Needless to say, it cannot keep up. It’s a great laptop but useless when it comes to running Lightroom. I would LOVE to get a new one, but let’s be real here… budget is a big issue. This was a very comprehensive article and gave me tons of options. I will be purchasing one of your top picks within the next month. Thanks again!

  4. Thanks for Sharing. Would a 2-in1 laptop handle a drawing tablet? I Im looking for a laptop that hooks up with my XP-PEN graphics Pad and runs well with little lag .

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