12 Best Laptops for Photo Editing in 2018
The days of thumbing through envelopes to find our 35mm photos are becoming a thing of the past as consumers can edit and print their pictures from the comfort of home. Obviously, you will still need a camera and a printer to do that, but you will also need a solid PC.
Any good desktop PC can edit family photos with ease. When it comes to laptops, there are a number of things to consider however as most cannot be upgraded.
Our list of the best laptop for photo editing includes products from some familiar brands; there is a machine to suit almost everyone’s style.
Find out how to shop for one and then read our detailed reviews of the top five products.
Top 12 Laptops for Photo Editing Comparison Table
|1. Apple MacBook Pro MLW72LL/A 15.4-inch Laptop||2,800 x 1,800||15.4”||4.3|
|2. VAIO Z Canvas 12.3″ Laptop||1,560 x 1,704||12.3”||4.3|
|3. Samsung ATIV Book 9 Pro 15.6″ 4K Ultra HD Touch-Screen Laptop||3,840 x 2,160||15.6”||4.3|
|4. VAIO Z (flip) 2-in-1 Laptop||2,560 x 1,440||13.3”||4.3|
|5. Lenovo Thinkpad P50 15.6-Inch Laptop||1,920 x 1,080||15.6”||4.2|
|6. MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro 4K-228 15.6″ 4K Display Thin and Light Gaming Laptop||3,840 x 2,160||15.6”||4.1|
|7. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 1st Gen 14″ 2-in-1 Laptop||2,560 x 1,440||14”||4.0|
|8. LG gram 15Z970 i7 15.6″ Touchscreen Laptop||1,920 x 1,080||15.6”||4.0|
|9. ASUS ZenBook 3 UX390UA-XH74-BL 12.5-inch Ultra-Slim Lightweight Laptop||1,920 x 1,080||12.5”||3.7|
|10. Dell XPS 12 XPS9250-4554 12.5″ UHD Touchscreen Laptop||3,840 x 2,160||12.5”||3.7|
|11. ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW 15.6″ 4K TouchScreen UltraBook||3,840 x 2,160||15.6”||3.6|
|12. Razer Blade Stealth 12.5″ 4K Touchscreen Ultrabook||3,840 x 2,160||12.5”||3.6|
How to Choose the Right Photo Editing Laptop
Editing photos can be tricky, but your buying decision doesn’t have to be if you think about the display first and what will best suit your needs.
- Display – Photo editing can take a toll on some processors, but for the most part, it doesn’t require an extreme amount of juice. That means you need to focus more on the display than the horsepower. In a nutshell, the higher resolution the display, the better off you’ll be in terms of getting a proper look at your shots and future-proofing. On the flipside, although we are just now entering the 4K age, that’s not necessarily what you have to have for editing photos.
A Full HD or FHD display should be the baseline to shoot for with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080. QHD displays double that at 2,560 x 1,440 with UHD or 4K bringing up the rear at staggering 3,840 x 2,160. That said, some programs are not geared towards UHD just yet, so you may have to make some adjustments with your profiles. The pixels are just one area to note however as you also need to pay attention to the color gamut which directly affects accuracy.
- Color Space & Accuracy. A “color space” is a range of colors, and there are two common ones with RGB which was put out by Adobe and sRGB which is the product of HP and Microsoft. Both work to produce accurate colors with your camera and on your monitor although RGB is widely regarded to offer a more vibrant range while sRGB can be a bit more subdued.
This is something you will want to look into if you are serious about photo editing and not just doing family photos or pics for Instagram. We won’t go too deep on the topic, but if you want accurate colors, look for a laptop with an Adobe RGB of at least 85% or better. There is no perfect number (except for 100%), but the higher the percentage, the more accurate your colors will be.
Consider the Loading Times
If you are working from a desk at home, you might not mind waiting while your PC loads programs and slaps filters on photos. Well, mobile photographs usually want something quicker which is where solid state drives can lend a hand. Your processor and memory are still just as important as ever, but loading times can be key for editors as well.
Solid state drives allow for lightning fast boot-up times on laptops and PCs. Instead of reading data from a spinning disk like you’ll find on a regular HDD, it uses flash memory to store data even when the PC is off; this allows for fast boot times and quick access to files or photos when you need them. How fast? We are talking about seconds compared to a minute or more on PC’s that only use an HDD.
Top 5 Best Laptop for Photo Editing Reviews
The newest model of the MacBook Pro is a mean machine and a great all-around choice for the best laptop for photo editing. It leaves a small footprint with more than enough horsepower to handle Adobe or any other editing program you might choose to use. On that note, this has the DCI-P3 color palette which may not be ideal for some.
While this laptop does not have a touchscreen, you can opt for a Touch Bar. The choices continue under the hood with 256GB or 512GB of internal storage on a speedy solid state drive. The loading times will be snappy and the Core i7 along with 16GB of RAM will help move things along rather nicely. As for the display, the model we chose the 15.4” model which sports a Retina display and a resolution of 2,800 x 1,800.
Need ports? This one has four USB Type-C/Thunderbolt ports that provide plenty of access and great transfer speeds. The MacBook Pro hits all the right notes when it comes to power, style, and size which makes it a wise choice for Instagram masterpieces and more detailed work as well. It does use the Mac OS, so make sure any programs you love on Windows are compatible.
Need a laptop that can cover most of the Adobe RGB spectrum? If the answer is yes, you will be hard-pressed to find a better option that the VAIO Z Canvas laptop. It has 95% coverage, which means it’s rated for pros that need color accuracy that’s a step up from what you’ll find on other machines. Needless to say, anything you watch or view on the 12.3” display will be sharp as it has a resolution of QHD.
On the inside, this one is a lot like the MacBook Pro with 16GB of RAM and a 512MB solid state drive. The processor powering the show is the Intel Core i7-4770HQ with a clock speed of 2.2GHz. Other features to note include two USB 3.0 ports, an 8MP webcam, HDMI port and LAN. It also has a stylus which makes touch-ups a breeze.
The VAIO Z Canvas is a convertible laptop which means you can detach the 12” panel from the keyboard if you want to lighten your load. It is available in several configurations as well including a model with a larger hard drive.
Samsung is mainly known for cranking out mobile tech these days along with high-end TVs and all types of consumer tech. While they have been producing PCs for a while, they tend to fly under the radar. Thanks to laptops like the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Pro that is starting to change, and this is one to watch if you need a wide color gamut and solid specifications.
The 15.6” display on the ATIV Book 9 Pro is of the UHD variety with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 and has a range of 85% with Adobe RGB. It’s a touchscreen display as well, which is handy to have for editing and the HDR is nothing to scoff at either. It doesn’t have as much RAM as our top two choices at 8GB but has a quick 256GB SSD, an Intel i7 processor, and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M. The latter is a large step up over integrated graphics you’ll find on other models.
The ATIV Book 9 Pro is of average size for its class and clocks in at 4.5 pounds with a slick aluminum shell. It’s sans the optical drive like many laptops these days although it does have a microSD card slot, a USB-C port, and a couple of USB 3.0 ports. The laptop will run Windows 10 out of the box, and the battery life is fair at around 6.5 hours thanks to a 3,780mAh juice box.
If the VAIO Z Canvas did not do the trick for you, we have a feeling the VAIO Z Flip will get your attention. It is similar to the Canvas when it comes to style and power, but is a 2-in-1 laptop. While it doesn’t disconnect from the keyboard, you can flip the screen all the way around to use it like a tablet. That’s something that could be handy when you’re editing on the fly, and you can do that with your fingers as the 13.3” laptop has a capacitive touchscreen display.
The pixels will pop on the Z Flip, and the programs will never bog down as our choice comes with 16GB of RAM and the Intel Core i7-6567U processor with 4MB of Cache. The solid state drive will provide plenty of storage at 512GB, but things are a little slim when it comes to the ports. There are two 3.0 ports on one side with an HDMI and microSD card slot on the other.
Other interesting features include smudge resistant keys and digital note taking with the front-facing camera. The VAIO Z Flip comes with the 64-bit version of Windows 10 and a stylus. There are several variants available as well if you’re looking for a little less power.
Lenovo’s always deserves consideration for laptop lists including ones geared towards the best laptop for photo editing. Our pick is the sturdy ThinkPad P50 which has a large 15.6” FHD display. The display is actually of normal size, but the machine itself weighs in at a staggering 8.65 lbs. due to its indestructible nature and the tech inside.
You’ll find a dedicated graphics card under the hood of this laptop with the Quadro M200M that comes with 4GB of VRAM. The regular memory is listed at 16GB while the hard drive is a 256GB SSD. Throw in the Intel Xeon E3-1505M which has 8MB of SmartCache, and you’ve got a PC that can run circles around other laptops in its class.
The ThinkPad P50 also comes with more bells & whistles than most including a fingerprint reader, three USB-C ports, four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI out, and an RJ-45 slot for Gigabyte LAN. It comes with Windows 7 Pro, but is upgradable to 10 and has amazing battery life at around 13 hours.