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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.

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HP Spectre x360 Laptop – 15″ touch

Edit photos with precision with a 15.6″ diagonal high definition, micro-edge display you can truly bring your visions to life in vivid detail.

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

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

HP Spectre x360 15″
HP Spectre x360 15″ Our Pick
Highly versatile and portable design, Stylus for better functionality, Ultra-long batter life;
Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13 Also Great
4K Resolution Touch-Screen, Display Fast SSD Storage, Ample RAM at 16 GB;
ASUS Vivobook S
ASUS Vivobook S Best Budget Pick
A decent amount of storage, Good amount of RAM, Priced under $600;

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 13 – Also Great
  3. ASUS VivoBook Pro 17
  4. Apple MacBook Pro (16-Inch)Best for Pros & Mac Users
  5. HP ZBook Studio x360 G5
  6. LG Gram 17-Inch
  7. Huawei MateBook X Pro
  8. Lenovo ThinkPad P1
  9. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
  10. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Best Budget Laptops for Photo Editing

  1. ASUS Vivobook S – Best Budget Pick
  2. Acer Aspire E 15
  3. HP Envy 13
  4. Acer Swift 3 14
  5. Dell Inspiron 15 5000

Starting with:

1. HP Spectre x360 15

HP Spectre x360

If you’re looking for an ultra-portable, ultra-flexible travel laptop for photo editing, then check out the HP Spectre x360 15″. 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 best laptop for photo editing

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.

Editors’ Pick

HP Spectre x360 Laptop – 15t touch

Edit photos with precision with a 15.6″ diagonal high definition, micro-edge display you can truly bring your visions to life in vivid detail.

Free shipping | Save 20%

2. Dell XPS 13 (Best Laptop for Enthusiast Photographers)

Dell XPS 13 best laptop for photo editing

The Dell XPS 13 is a fantastic alternative to the MacBook Pro, especially for photographers and photo editors who are looking for quality but at a slightly lower price. That’s what makes the Dell XPS such a great option for enthusiasts: It can do almost everything the MacBook Pro does, just with a little less fanfare.

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For instance, take a look at the screen, which features beautiful 4K (3840×2160) resolution, as well as touch capabilities. If you’re the sort of person who likes to use the touchscreen to scroll through images, the XPS is a great option. Sure, the screen is only 13 inches, but it looks incredible–so if you can handle the slightly smaller size, it’s undoubtedly worth it.

Dell XPS 13

The Dell XPS 13 also offers top-notch performance: The 16 GB of RAM, combined with an Intel i7 processor and a 512 SSD, make this laptop into a force to be reckoned with. You’ll be able to run Lightroom and Photoshop without a hitch, and you’ll also be able to work with large volumes of photos while avoiding unacceptable lag, thanks to the SSD.

So for the price-conscious photo editor, the Dell XPS 13 is a stellar choice.

Dell New 2019 XPS 13 9380 Core i7-8565U 16GB 512GB PCie SSD 4K 3840x2160 Touch Screen...
  • Revolutionary webcam construction: The new XPS 13 webcam isn't just smaller (only 2.25mm)—it's also better. A new 4-element...
  • Leading-edge connectivity: The Thunderbolt 3 multi-use Type-C ports allow you to charge your laptop, connect to multiple...
  • Faster memory, more storage: Your system boots and resumes in seconds thanks to 512GB of solid state drive storage....
  • The most powerful 13-inch laptop in its class: With 8th Gen Intel Quad Core processor, more cores means increased...
  • Less border, more pixels: We've improved every part of the display. Enjoy a screen that seems endless with an InfinityEdge...

3. ASUS VivoBook Pro 17

Asus VIVO Book Pro best laptop for photo editing

If you’re not too concerned with portability and you want some of the best screen real-estate out there, you should check out the ASUS VivoBook Pro 17. It offers 17.3 inches of full-HD (1080p) display, alongside some fantastic performance and other bonuses.

First, let’s take a look at the screen: a 17-inch full-HD combination. No, 17 inches is not easy to carry around. It’s mostly good for working from a desk space or at home (though you can carry it around if you’re determined). But 17 inches is good for doing photo editing work–in fact, with a 17-inch screen you’ll be able to do consistent photo editing work in a positively spacious environment (something that most laptop-wielding photo editors can’t brag about).

Asus vivo book pro

As for speed, the ASUS VivoBook Pro 17 will ensure that you’re well taken care of, with an impressive 16 GB of RAM, coupled with an eighth-generation Intel Core i7 processor. One of the best things about the VivoBook Pro is its storage space; it features a 1 TB HDD alongside a 256 GB SSD, which allows for both dedicated image storage and some definite room to save in-progress files.

Note that ASUS offers a 15-inch version for anyone who prefers something a bit lighter and smaller!

ASUS VivoBook Pro 17 Thin and Portable Laptop, 17.3” FHD, Intel Core i7-8565U,...
  • Latest 8th generation Intel Core i7-8565u Processor (8M Cache, up to 4.6 GHz)
  • 17.3? Full HD Wide view display with 72% NTSC color gamut and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 4GB discrete graphics for flawless...
  • Slim 16.2? wide, 0.8? thin and portable footprint; ergonomic backlit keyboard with number pad
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM and 256G M.2 SSD + 1TB HDD combo; Windows 10 Home
  • Comprehensive connections with USB-C (Gen1), USB 3.0 Type-A, USB 2.0, HDMI, & headphone/mic ports for every device and...

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

best laptop for photo editing macbook pro

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.

macbook pro

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.

New Apple MacBook Pro (16-Inch, 16GB RAM, 1TB Storage, 2.3GHz Intel Core i9) - Space...
  • Ninth-generation 8-Core Intel Core i9 Processor
  • Stunning 16-inch Retina Display with True Tone technology
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • Amd Radeon Pro 5500M Graphics with GDDR6 memory
  • Ultrafast SSD

5. HP ZBook Studio x360 G5

HP ZBook studio

I’d like to start off by noting that the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 is undoubtedly not in the price range of most enthusiast photographers, let alone semi-professionals. So if you’re looking for a laptop that’s under $2000, check out one of the other options on this list (there are plenty of good ones!).

But if you’re willing to spend a huge sum of money for one of the absolute best photo editing laptops that money can buy…

…then look no further than the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5, which packs pretty much every feature a photo editor could want (with a few extras thrown in there, because this computer is just that amazing).

First, take a look at the power: a 6-core, Intel i7 processor, combined with a whopping 64 GB of RAM. These features make the HP ZBook Studio G5 the most formidable laptop on this list, and make it into a beast of a performer. You want to run Photoshop? Lightroom? Adobe Illustrator? Luminar? No problem at all.

HP Z Book Studio best laptop for photo editing

If you’re a photo editor who frequently works with large volumes of files on your desktop, you’re also going to love the 2 TB SSD, which makes for a massive amount of space, even for someone who uses up storage like there’s no tomorrow.

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

And I haven’t even mentioned the most exciting feature about the HP ZBook Studio: The screen. It’s 15.6 inches and 3840×2160 pixels, which makes it a true 4k display, and guarantees a gorgeous picture. Plus, the screen has touchscreen capabilities, which means that you can have all kinds of fun modifying (and speeding up) your image editing workflow by incorporating touch.

Is it the most portable laptop out there? No, not by a long shot; the HP ZBook Studio is heavy (5 lbs). But the x360 feature makes up for any flexibility struggles, and it’s just an all-around awesome piece of kit–so if you’re looking for the best of the best, buy it.

HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 Mobile Workstation

Reimagine your creative process with a versatile laptop

Finally, a convertible laptop designed to tackle large files and run multiple apps with speed and responsiveness. Seamlessly edit and render high-res images without delay.

6. LG Gram 17-Inch

LG Gram

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

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 eighth-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 17Z990-R.AAS9U1 Thin and Light Laptop, 17" (2560 X 1600) IPS Display, Intel...
  • 8th Gen. Intel Core i7 Processor (i7-8565u)
  • 17 inch WQXGA (2560 x 1600) IPS display
  • 72Wh Lithium battery (Up to 19.5 hours)
  • 16GB RAM & 1 TB (512GB x 2) NVMe SSD
  • Thunderbolt 3 interface

7. Huawei MateBook X Pro

Huawei Matebook X Pro best laptop for photo editing

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

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.

Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition Thin & Light Laptop, 13.9" 3K Touch, 8th Gen...
  • World's First FullView Display: Immersive 13.9-inch 3K touchscreen with 91% screen-to-body ratio, only 0.57-inch thin and...
  • Powerful Inside: Windows 10 Home Signature Edition with no bloatware. 8th Gen Intel Core i7 8550U processor + NVIDIA GeForce...
  • Home Theater: 3K touchscreen with 3, 000 x 2, 000 resolution, 1500:1 contrast ratio and 260 PPI allow you to see vivid...
  • One Touch Power Button: Enabling users to power on the notebook, finish identity authentication through Windows Hello and...
  • Includes compact Mate Dock 2.0: USB-A port, USB-C port, HDMI port and VGA port. Includes 1 year Office 365 Personal and 1...

8. Lenovo ThinkPad P1

Lenovo ThinkPad P1

The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is no small, lightweight laptop. With a screen measuring 15.6 inches and a body that weighs just under four pounds, to call the ThinkPad portable would be a bit of a stretch. And yet what the ThinkPad lacks in portability it makes up for in raw processing power, because the ThinkPad P1 is an absolute juggernaut where it counts.

First, take a look at that RAM: 32 GB, which is more than most of the other laptops on this list, and enough to let you run Lightroom and Luminar simultaneously, or so I suspect. Say goodbye to your complaints of Lightroom and Luminar slowness, no matter your catalog size, because the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is ready to manage it all.

And the other ThinkPad features, while not quite as impressive, still hold up: an Intel Xeon E2176M processor, combined with a 512 SSD, perfect for working with photos for hours on end without running out of space. Note that the ThinkPad P1 does come at a premium price, so it’s not an option for the budget-conscious. But if you have a yearning for incredible speed and also have a wad of cash to spend, the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is a great way to go.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 best laptop for photo editing

While we would’ve liked to have seen a 4K screen, the 15.6-inch display offers a respectable 1920×1080 pixels for full HD resolution. This may disappoint professionals who need 4K for the best possible image quality–but for others, 1080p resolution will be just fine.

As mentioned above, the ThinkPad P1 isn’t small, and it isn’t light. But it’s not at the other end of the spectrum, either. If you’re the sort who loves to take your laptop everywhere, then you’ll probably want to take a look at a smaller, lighter option (such as the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2, discussed below). On the other hand, if processing power matters to you over everything else, the ThinkPad is a great buy.

Lenovo 15.6" ThinkPad P1 Premium School and Business Mobile Workstation Laptop (Intel...
  • Intel Xeon E-2176M Processor (2.7GHz up to 4.4GHz, 9 MB SmartCache, 6-Core), NVIDIA Quadro P2000 with 4 GB GDDR5 VRAM
  • 15.6" Full HD (1920x1080), IPS Display, Built-in HD webcam 92 MP Photo / 720p Video
  • 32GB DDR4 SDRAM Memory, 1 x 10/100/1000 Mb/s Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45) via Included Cable, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac); Dual-Band (2.4 &...
  • 512GB PCIe SSD (Solid State Drive), 2 x Thunderbolt 3, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, HDMI 2.0, 2 x Integrated Speaker, 2 x...
  • Windows 10 Professional (Win 10 Pro), 1 Year Manufacture warranty from MichaelElectronics2 (Professionaly upgraded by...

9. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is unique in that it’s one of the lowest-priced options on this list, but don’t let that fool you: It still packs a lot of punch, including a crystal-clear display, decent processing power, and a thin, highly-portable body.

Let’s take a closer look:

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 features good processing capabilities, especially for the low price. Yes, the Intel Core i5 is a bit outdated, but that doesn’t mean it can’t perform where it counts, such as when running post-processing programs or working with a large number of files. And 8 GB of RAM is just enough to let you work comfortably with many of the resource-intensive photo editing programs out there.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

Speaking of comfort: While the Surface doesn’t include vast amounts of storage space (i.e., 512 GB), 128 GB isn’t bad, especially if you primarily work on an external hard drive. You’ll be able to move, edit, and transfer files from a storage drive and back, as long as you don’t demand too much flexibility.

Now, there are two things that really give the Surface its place on this list. First, the laptop is wonderfully portable, designed with a sleek body that stays nicely compact, even with 13.5 inches of screen. And for an additional benefit, you get a 14.5-hour battery life, which makes the Surface into a travel-worthy piece of kit.

Second, the Surface features a gorgeous screen, one that includes touchscreen capabilities. As mentioned above, it’s 13.5 inches–small enough to be nicely portable, but large enough for a bit more photo editing space. And I haven’t even mentioned the resolution, which hits 2256×1504 pixels. While this isn’t 4K, it’s far more than the 1080p that you’ll get with most of these laptops, and it’ll make your best pictures look even better.

So for a cheaper–but still high-quality–option, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is worth a look (and perhaps a purchase!).

Microsoft  Surface Laptop 2 (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB) - Platinum
  • Clean, elegant design thin and light, starting at just 2.76 pounds, Surface Laptop 2 fits easily in your bag
  • Choose from rich tone on tone color combinations: Platinum, Burgundy, and Cobalt Blue
  • Improved speed and performance to do what you want, with the latest 8th Generation Intel Core processor
  • All day battery life, with up to 14.5 hours of video playback. Vibrant 13.5 inches Pixel Sense Display with interactive...
  • The Windows you know comes with Windows 10 Home

10. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

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.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

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.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 4th Gen 20QF000KUS 14" Touchscreen 2 in 1 Ultrabook - 2560 X...
  • Processor Manufacturer Intel
  • Processor Type Core i7
  • Processor generation 8th Gen
  • Processor model i7-8665u
  • Processor speed 1 90 GHz

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

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

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, professional-looking 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.

ASUS VivoBook S Ultra Thin and Portable Laptop, Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB...
  • Powerful and efficient 8th Generation Intel Core i5-8250U Processor 1.8 GHz (Turbo up to 4.0 GHz)
  • 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) Wide View color-rich display.Wireless Data Network 802.11AC Bluetooth 4.1 Battery:3 Cells 42 Whrs...
  • High performance 256GB SSD and 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • Slim 14.2" wide, 0.7" thin; 0.3" ASUS Nano Edge bezel with 80% screen-to-body ratio
  • Comprehensive connections including USB 3.1 Type-C (Gen 1), USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and HDMI; Dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi

2. Acer Aspire E 15

Acer Aspire E15

If you’re in the market for a laptop that offers all the basics for photo editing, the Acer Aspire E 15 has got you covered. It’s not the flashiest option out there, but it features decent processing power, especially for the price.

Let’s take a look at the Acer Aspire E 15’s specs:

First, the Aspire E 15 includes an 8th generation Intel i3, which isn’t lightning-fast but should allow you to run some basic editing programs. And the 6 GB of RAM is hardly impressive by today’s standards, but is good for a lot of basic applications. If speed (especially speed in Lightroom) is important to you, you’ll probably want to stick with the ASUS Vivobook S (or look at some of the options in the professional/enthusiast section, noted above). But if you’re willing to accept slower processing for a great price, then keep reading.

Acer Aspire E15 best laptop for photo editing

One of our favorite things about the Acer Aspire E 15 is the storage; the 1 TB HDD will offer plenty of space to store photos, especially if you’re more of a casual photographer and photo editor. If you have a more extensive photo library, you can always save your most import files on the HDD, then put the rest on a backup storage drive. It’s your choice, but it’s nice to know you have the option of keeping things right at hand.

Plus, the Acer Aspire E 15 does feature a great screen, with dimensions measuring 1920×1080 for a full HD experience. If you haven’t used an FHD screen before, you’ll be blown away by how your photos look in 1080p.

As for portability: While Acer Aspire E 15 is on the heavier, slightly bulkier side, it’s not impossible to transport. And Acert promises up to 13.5 hours of battery life, which is quite reasonable for anyone who travels frequently.

So for the more casual, budget-conscious photographers out there, the Acer Aspire E 15 is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of speed for an ultra-low price.

Acer Aspire E 15, 15.6" Full HD, 8th Gen Intel Core i3-8130U, 6GB RAM Memory, 1TB...
  • 8th Generation Intel Core i3 8130U Processor 2.2 GHz (Up to 3.2GHz)
  • 15.6 inches Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED lit Display
  • 6GB Dual Channel Memory, 1TB HDD and 8x DVD
  • Up to 13.5 Hours of battery life
  • Windows 10 Home. Operating System Architecture 64-bit

3. HP Envy 13

Hp Envy 13 best laptop for photo editing

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 best laptop for photo editing

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 Ultra Thin Laptop 13.3" Full-HD, Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics...
  • Brand New in box. The product ships with all relevant accessories

4. Acer Swift 3 14

Acer Swift 3

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

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 SF314-54-56L8, 14" Full HD, 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U, 8GB DDR4, 256GB...
  • 8th Generation Intel Core i5-8250U Processor (Up to 3.4GHz)
  • 14" Full HD (1920 x 1080) Widescreen LED-backlit IPS Display
  • 8GB DDR4 Memory & 256GB SSD
  • Windows 10 Home
  • Up to 12 Hours Battery Life

5. Dell Inspiron 15 5000

Dell Inspiron best laptop for photo editing

The Dell Inspiron 15 5000 is one of the cheapest options on this list–but you wouldn’t know it from the performance. The Inspiron is a great bargain (with some even better features).

Here’s what makes the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 so special:

First, pretty much any photo editor, barring those who are constantly on the road, likes a 1080p, full HD screen–especially one that comes in at 15.6 inches. This gives you plenty of room to edit photos or to organize your image library, and will be especially appreciated by those who prefer to keep things spread out and uncluttered.

Have I mentioned that the Inspiron features a touchscreen? If you’re a very hands-on type person, this can easily take your image organization to the next level.

Dell Inspiron

And photographers won’t just appreciate the screen. With a 1 TB HDD, plus a 256 GB SSD, you’ll be able to organize and store images without a hitch. Of course, once your image catalog becomes too large you may need to purchase an external drive, but that won’t happen for a long time given the internal storage on the Inspiron.

Now, no laptop is complete without the ability to run resource-intensive programs at high speeds, and I’m happy to report that the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 does well in that respect. With an Intel Core i5 processor and 12 GB of RAM, you’ll have no problem working with even the most difficult photo editing programs.

The main drawback to the Inspiron is its size and weight, which makes the laptop less portable than some would like. But if you’re looking for good performance at a low price, and you’re less interested in traveling around with your computer in tow, then the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 is a great way to go.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000, 2019 15.6" FHD Touchscreen Laptop, Intel 4-Core i5-8265U, 12GB...
  • 【Expanded Enough Storage】 : 12GB DDR4 SDRAM, 256GB PCIe Solid State Drive Accelerated by 16GB Optane, 1TB Hard Disk...
  • 【dell inspiron i5 8th gen】 : The Latest Powerful 8th Generation Intel Quad-Core i5-8265U(>i5-8250U) Processor, 1. 60GHz...
  • 【Dell Inspiron 15. 6 inch】 : 15. 6 inch Full HD ( 1920 x 1080 ) Touchscreen Widescreen LED Display, Integrated Widescreen...
  • 【External Ports and Slots】 : 2 x USB 3. 1, 1 x USB 2. 0, 1 x HDMI, 1 x RJ-45, 1 x Combo Headphone / Microphone Jack, 1 x...
  • 【Operating System】 : Windows 10 Home 64 bit, Stereo Speakers with MaxxAudio Pro, 802. 11 Dual Band Wireless-AC WLAN +...

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 13. 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 a very light, portable body. At just 13 inches, you may find your workspace to be a bit cramped–but that really depends on how you like to edit photos, and the 13-inch screen does contribute significantly to the Dell XPS’s portability.

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 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 and professional, 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.


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

  1. 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!

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