The best laptop for photo editing should be a content creator’s dream come true. The best laptops for photo editors are equipped with a zippy hard drive, stocked with artist-friendly ports and jam-packed with awesome photo-editing software. It should also have adequate storage to maintain a large library of photo files and a GPU that can handle all of your favorite graphics-intensive applications.
If you edit photos, you’ll need a beautiful display that’s capable of accurately reproducing a wide range of colors. At Laptop Mag, we’ve reviewed a swath of best laptops for photo editors and photographers, so we know which devices are perfect for content creators. We also test for benchmarks that are important for photo editors, including Delta-E scores, sRGB gamut volume and graphics performance. Armed with these metrics, we’ve put together a list of the best laptops for photo editors.
For those who also dabble in video, check out our best video editing laptops. If you prefer to edit photos on a touch screen using your finger or a stylus then head over to our best touch screen laptops and best 2-in-1 pages for more specific recommendations.
What is the best laptop for photo editing?
The best laptop for photo editing is the HP Spectre x360 15. One of the most striking features of this laptop is that it reproduces a whopping 256% of the sRGB color gamut, which means which means you’ll get rich, luxurious colors with sharp details and contrast.
Covering such a wide spectrum of the color wheel, imagine the heart-stopping visuals we’ve seen on the HP Spectre x360 15 when it came through our lab. The 4K OLED display on the x360 15 is absolutely stunning. Photo editing on the HP Spectre x360 15 will be an absolute treat with the laptop’s discreet graphics card, which will help you run some of the most demanding photo-editing software on the market.
The MSI Prestige 15 is one of the best laptops for photo editing. It’s perfect for those who collaborate with other artistic teammates in the office. Its innovative flip-and-share mode makes the laptop an easy pick for collaborative content creators.
While the HP Spectre x360 15 is our favorite laptop for photo editing, there are many photo-editing capable laptops that have came through our labs that have impressed us to the core. Like any laptop, there may be some downsides, but depending on your needs and desires, those flaws may not be an issue for you, especially if the pros outweigh the cons.
In this buying guide, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of the best laptop for photo editors so that you can get a good overview of which laptop is the best for you.
The best laptops for photo editing you can buy now
- HP Spectre x360 15
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (5th Gen, 2020)
- Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
- HP ZBook Studio x360 G5
- Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
- Microsoft Surface Pro 6
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
- Lenovo Legion Y7000
- HP Spectre x360 14
- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
- Dell XPS 15 (2019)
- LG Gram 17
- Asus ZenBook Pro Duo
- MSI Prestige 15
There is no better laptop for photo editing than HP’s Spectre x360 15. The highlight of this machine is a 15.6-inch, 4K OLED display that is exceptionally vivid (256% of the sRGB color gamut) and blindingly bright (483 nits). That panel is the only thing that will take your eyes off the Spectre x360 15’s elegant chassis, which looks like something only the rich and famous could afford.
Photographers will also appreciate that the laptop’s discrete MX150 GPU offers enough graphics oomph to run demanding photo-editing programs with some help from a Core i7-8565U CPU. And the keyboard on the Spectre x360 15 is one of the best around.
See our full HP Spectre x360 (15-inch) review.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga returned in 2020 with a few internal updates, including a 10th Gen Intel Comet Lake vPro CPUs and Wi-Fi 6 support. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 5, dubbed the best 2-in-1 laptop for professionals, continues to be an excellent choice for photo editors.
You can opt for either the full HD variant or the model with a stunning 4K display. For photo editing, we recommend the latter. The display on the 4K model covers a whopping 133% of the sRGB color gamut. It also offers a radiant 488 nits of brightness, so you can edit on bright, sunny days without struggling to see what’s on your screen.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (5th Gen, 2020) review.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is just your type if you’ve been waiting for Apple to make a better keyboard. The Magic Keyboard on this premium laptop ditches the Butterfly mechanism in favor of a scissor switch, and the result is a much more comfortable typing experience. You also get a bright and sharp 16-inch display with slimmer bezels, powerful performance from an available Core i9 CPU and robust AMD Radeon 5300M or 5500M graphics.
You also get up to 64GB of RAM and 8TB of storage if you really want to splurge. The 11 hours of battery life is another plus on this laptop, dwarfing the runtimes of its competitors. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is pricey, and Apple still doesn’t include full-size USB ports, but overall this is a very formidable workstation for creative pros.
See our full Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) review.
The HP ZBook Studio x360 G5’s 15.6-inch 4K display is extremely detailed and vibrant.Coupled with blistering workstation-class performance, this beastly machine is an excellent option for photo editors who need the most powerful setup to run demanding programs. Better yet, the x360 G5 has a rugged chassis for those times you’re out in the field, and its lengthy battery life means you don’t need to stay near an outlet.
The x360 G5 can be configured with premium components, including an Intel Xeon E-2186M CPU (with Quadro P1000 graphics), 32GB of RAM, and two 2TB SSDs. We suggest photo editors opt for the 4K touch screen over the FHD model.
See our full ZBook Studio x360 G5 review.
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 had to be practically perfect to dethrone HP’s excellent Spectre x360 13 — and it is. Dell’s newest flagship 2-in-1 packs strong performance thanks to its 10th Gen Intel Ice Lake processors. Battery life, at nearly 11 hours, is also fantastic. On top of that, you get a unique 13.4-inch (16:10 aspect ratio) display that is bright and vivid and a slim, premium chassis.
See our full Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review.
Editor’s Note: Not sure you need a convertible 2-in-1? The clamshell XPS 13 is also an outstanding laptop with a gorgeous 4K display. See our Dell XPS 13 (Late 2019) review.
Our favorite detachable just got even better with the Surface Pro 6, which significantly improves battery life and performance when compared to its predecessors. Now equipped with a quad-core CPU, the 2-in-1 can run Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom without breaking a sweat. The 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1823 resolution display is everything a photo editor could ask for — it’s bright, vivid and accurate. In fact, it covers a very good 136 percent of the sRGB color gamut and reached more than 400 nits of brightness.
You’ll have to buy the Surface Pen and the Type Cover separately, but they add a ton of functionality to this lightweight (1.7 pounds) tablet.
What about the Surface Pro 7? We praised the tablet in our review but can’t recommend it over the Pro 6 until the price drops.
See our full Microsoft Surface Pro 6 review.
Photographers who want the benefits of a business laptop should look no further than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme. The 15.6-inch laptop takes everything we love about the ThinkPad series to the next level. It has an excellent keyboard, tons of security features and a wide range of ports, all included in a sleek, durable chassis. And while its battery life could be better, the X1 Extreme is one of the fastest laptops we’ve ever tested.
But the crown jewel of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is its jaw-dropping 4K HDR display, which covers an outstanding 186 percent of the sRGB color gamut. That tops the displays on the Dell XPS 15, 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro and the Asus ZenBook Pro 15. The X1 Extreme’s panel also reached a solid 366 nits of brightness.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review.
Gaming laptops are inherently great for photo editing. Why? Because they come with discrete graphics, which is a major perk when you’re running GPU-intensive programs like Photoshop.
An excellent balance of price and performance, the Lenovo Legion Y7000 is the best gaming laptop for photo editing— at least, for most people. The Y7000 sports a vivid 15.6-inch, 1080p display and its keyboard is up to the quality that we expect from Lenovo. In the end, this Legion Y7000 is one of the best gaming laptops.
See our full Lenovo Legion Y7000 review.
The Spectre x360 14 is the best 2-in-1 laptop ever. Newly released for 2021, the 13.5-inch model builds upon its predecessors but adds useful new features including a 3:2 aspect ratio display and 11th Gen Intel CPUs with Iris Xe graphics. Highlights of this laptop include a stunning design, bright and vivid 1920 x 1280-pixel IPS and 3K2K OLED display options, epic 12+ hour battery life and fast overall performance.
Add to that a generously sized touchpad that is silky to the touch as well as a comfortable (albeit shallow) keyboard, excellent security options (fingerprint sensor and facial recognition) and a good selection of ports, and well, it’s easy to see why we like this laptop so much.
We recommend buying the Spectre x360 14 over the Envy 13 if you have the money, especially if you need the flexible design. In fact, the Spectre x360 14 is the best HP laptop if you want a convertible notebook. Sure, it has a few faults, but those are easily forgotten once you get this beauty in your hands.
See our HP Spectre x360 14 review
The follow-up to one of our favorite laptops improves upon a winning formula in almost every way. The Surface Laptop 3 with Intel CPUs has a slim aluminum chassis, which gives the laptop a sleek, premium feel. For photographers, the new 15-inch, 2K display (3:2 aspect ratio) is vivid, capable of reproducing an amazing 105 percent of the sRGB color gamut. The Surface Laptop 2 also has long battery life, fast performance and a useful magnetic Surface connector.
Microsoft sells an AMD version of the Surface Laptop 3 at Best Buy and other popular retails but we recommend skipping that one for this “for business”edition. This face-off between the two versions shows why.
See our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 review.
You haven’t seen a good laptop display until you’ve feasted your eyes on the OLED panel gracing the newest Dell XPS 15. With exceptional brightness and color reproduction, this pricey upgrade is a photographer’s dream.
The 15.6-inch laptop also gives you tons of power to run even the most demanding photo-editing software, all packaged in a chassis that can be easily transported from shoot to shoot. But our favorite thing about the 2019 model is that the webcam has returned to its rightful position, above the display.
See our full Dell XPS 15 review.
When photographers touch-up their pictures, they need to see every last detail, which is why the editing is often done on a massive monitor. But how can you get the same precision when you’re on the go? Meet the LG Gram 17, a remarkably portable laptop with excellent battery life and a large, high-resolution 17-inch display.
How portable is it really? Get this: the Gram 17 fits a 17-inch display into a featherweight 3-pound chassis that’s about the size of a 15-inch laptop. Another reason photographers will love the Gram 17 is for its display. The laptop’s bright and vivid panel has a resolution of 2560 x 1600 and its unique 16:10 aspect ratio lets you see more content at once without scrolling.
See our full LG Gram 17 review.
Asus’ ZenBook Pro Duo is unlike any laptop we’ve ever tested. Instead of having just one display, the Duo flaunts a primary 15.6-inch, 4K OLED display along with a secondary 14-inch, 4K panel on the deck. The dual displays are great for multi-tasking, and allow photographers to move their tools onto another screen while keeping their main canvas clear of any clutter.
Combine those gorgeous displays with fast performance and adequate cooling and it’s easy to see why the ZenBook Pro Duo is one of the best laptops for photographers.
See our full Asus ZenBook Pro Duo review.
The MSI Prestige 15 is a powerful machine that is tailor-made for all content creators, especially for collaborative artists. The MSI Prestige has an innovative flip-and-share mode that allows photo editors to quickly show their work to team members sitting across from them.
The MSI Prestige is perfect for on-the-go photo editors because it’s an ultraportable, lightweight laptop that sports a 10th Gen CPU and discreet graphics. The MSI Prestige 15 also covered 159% of the sRGB gamut, which is impressive. The Prestige 15 also has a gorgeous, eye-catching 4K screen that will make your photo editing work easy due to the true-to-life, vivid display.
See our full MSI Prestige 15 review.
How to choose the best photo editing laptop for you
The best photo editing laptop is well stocked on ports, has excellent color reproduction, can handle demanding photo editing software and more. Here’s what you should look for when choosing the best photo editing laptop for you.
The sRGB gamut coverage: The sRGB gamut coverage tells you how well a laptop can reproduce all colors on the color wheel.This is what separates a lackluster viewing experience from a captivating, can’t-take-your-eyes-off the-screen moments. At Laptop Mag, we use the sRGB color gamut to measure color quality, with 100% being our accepted minimum. All the best photo editing laptops in our buying guide surpass this benchmark.
Delta-E score: The Delta-E is a single number that represents the ‘distance’ between two colors. A score of 0 is ideal and represents high color accuracy.
Ports: Photo editors need SD card readers, Thunderbolt 3 ports and other artist-friendly ports that are helpful for transferring files or optimizing the photo editing experience. Keep an eye out for the ports you’ll need and figure out whether your laptop of choice has everything you need. You can always get an adapter if the laptop you really want doesn’t have a port you desire.
High-performing graphics card: Keep a look out for discreet graphics cards as opposed to integrated GPUs as they will be able to handle the most demanding photo editing platforms on the market.
Software: Some laptops will come equipped with quality pre-installed photo editing software that will make you photo editing experience a breeze.
Brightness: As a photo editor, you must be very detail oriented and it’s not easy to be nitpicky with details if you have a dim display. Look for laptops with brightness scores of over 250 nits.
Storage: If you need a ton of space to handle your workload, you’ll need to ensure that your laptop has enough storage so that you don’t end up frustrated when you receive a message telling you that you’ve run out of space.
How we test the best laptops for photo editors
We test the best laptops for photo editors by, first, running tests on the laptop’s display. Our labs run sRGB gamut coverage tests, as well as Delta E accuracy, screen brightness and more.
We also test the graphics card performance by using the 3DMark benchmark to determine the laptop’s ability to run graphic-intensive applications. We also dive into processor performance using the Geekbench benchmark.
Our labs also test for how fast the laptop can transfer files, which is important information for impatient photo editors who have a lot of content to output and input on their laptops.
Multitasking muscle is another aspect of laptops we test. Photo editors tend to have multiple programs running in the background, and if a laptop lacks multitasking muscle, it will become slow and sluggish.
We also dive into tests that have nothing to do with photo editing, but may appeal to photo editors depending on their needs, including the image quality of the webcam, the crispness of the speakers and gaming capabilities.