Editing photos is one of the key parts of any photographer’s workflow. But it can also be one of the more frustrating parts, because photo editing software tends to be resource hungry. This means you need the right tool for the job, and picking the right laptop for photo editing is important.
Whilst a high-powered desktop is often the tool of choice, this isn’t going to work for everyone. This is especially the case if you travel a lot like I do, or just want something that you can take to a coffee shop for some work.
With this in mind, I wanted to put together a guide to the best laptops for photo editing. I will cover a range of laptops with a variety of capabilities suitable for a wide range of budgets.
There are a number of factors to consider when picking a laptop for editing photos, and I’ll cover each of these factors in detail. Then I’ll provide a list of the best laptops for photo editing across a variety of budgets. This is based on my personal experience with photo editing on a range of laptops, as well as my background in computer technology.
Table of Contents
What to Look for in a Photo Editing Laptop
Editing photos takes a powerful computer. This is especially the case if you are shooting in RAW, or performing advanced noise reduction, as the large amount of data you have to process can be a real workout for a processor, and the laptop system as a whole.
It’s important therefore that you know which components are the most important in terms of improving photo editing speed.
I also know that computer terminology can be as opaque as photography terminology, and companies love to throw around marketing buzzwords to make products seem appealing. Luckily, I have a degree in computer science and have been taking photos since 1993, so hopefully I can help you make sense of all this.
To help you out, I’m going to go through all the key specifications you need to be looking for when shopping for a photo editing laptop, why they are important, and the ideal specification you should be looking for.
These specifications will also work for other types of creative work that require a lot of computing power, such as a laptop for video editing.
Processor for Photo Editing Laptop
Often described as the brain of a computer, the processor is one of the most important components to look for in a laptop or any type of computer. Officially referred to as the CPU, or Central Processing Unit, the processor is basically what makes your computer tick.
Whenever you do anything on your computer, the CPU is what makes your instructions happen.
When it comes to editing a photo, a lot is happening in your computer. Data from your mouse and keyboard inputs have to be read and translated to on-screen feedback. Any changes you make to the image in your photo editing software have to be processed, which usually involves complex math, as well as reading and writing to your filesystem to save those changes as you go. The changes also have to be displayed on your screen.
Basically, the CPU does most of the heavy lifting in your computer. The more powerful the CPU, the more responsive your computer will be, and the faster you will be able to edit your images.
There are two main brands of processor in the majority of laptops, those made by Intel and those made by AMD. In addition, as of 2020, Apple laptops have started to come with an Apple developed processor – the M series. Prior to this, they shipped with Intel processors.
Processors come in a wide variety of specifications and speeds, and there are different types of processor for desktop and laptop computers.
The main reason desktops have different processors to laptops is heat and power. The energy required by a CPU to do its work is given off in the form of heat, and higher-end desktop computers have room for larger fans that let them dissipate that heat. This means they can be more powerful.
Laptops only have so much room for fans and heat dissipation, so laptop specific CPUs are lower power so that they don’t overheat.
When it comes to processors, in our opinion, Intel currently produces the best processors for photo editing for non-Apple laptops. If you are buying an Apple laptop, go for the versions with the M2 processors as they are specifically designed for the Apple software and optimized for creative tasks like photo editing.
Intel’s naming convention, however, leaves a little to be desired, and the fact they don’t seem to stick to a system from one year to the next doesn’t help.
As an example, an Intel processor may be labelled as an i7-10550U.
Below, I will explain what this means and what to look for in a processor when buying a laptop for photo editing.
Core version: The first two digits in the name refer to the core version. These are always marked with the letter “i” followed by a number. For example, i3, i5, i7 and i9. The higher the number, the faster the processor. For photo editing, we advise a Core i5 or higher.
Processor generation: The processor generation relates to how new the processor is. Intel released its first-generation processor in this naming convention in 2008. The first number after the hyphen is the generation, for example, the i7-10550U is a tenth-generation processor.
10th generation processors (10xxx & 10xx) were introduced to laptops in late 2019, 11th generation processors (11xxx) in late 2020, 12th generation in early 2022 and 13th generation in early 2023. Essentially, once a year there’s a new generation, give or take a few months.
For photo editing, we recommend a 12th or 13th generation processor.
These launched in early 2022 and brought about a fairly big generational leap in performance compared to previous generations like the 9th, 10th and 11th generation processors.
There wasn’t much of a jump from the 12th to 13th generation processors, so either would be good. That said, if you are investing, you might as well get the latest generation if thé prices are similar.
The reason for the leap is that Intel changed the way they design their processors from the 12th generation onwards.
As an aside, all modern processors feature multiple “cores”, which is where the processing is done. In a sense, each processor is basically a series of lots of smaller processors, each of which can handle a task. For applications that support multiple cores, which is most applications, having more cores means the system can handle more tasks in parallel.
Unlike previous processors, the 12th and 13th generation processors from Intel feature two types of processing core. These are performance cores and efficiency cores. The performance cores are designed to use more power and run faster, whilst the efficiency cores run slower but are more battery efficient. The result is that the system can achieve both high performance and a longer battery life compared to previous processor generations.
12th generation processors started to appear in laptops around March 2022, with 13th generation processors appearing in around March 2023.
If you are looking at a Windows based machine we would strongly advise opting for one of these models, as there are some good performance and battery life gains from the new architecture.
Processor speed: The three digits after the generation for most 10th, 11th and 12th generation chips roughly refer to the speed of the processor. The higher the number, the more powerful the processor. For example, an i7-10550U is less powerful than an i7-10650U (bold for emphasis).
For some 10th and 11th generation chips, Intel has changed its naming convention. In this case, the first two numbers are a 10, indicating 10th generation. The third number refers to processor speed, so a i7-1068 is faster than a i5-1035. For photo editing, faster is better.
Processor type: The final letter or number of the processor is very important for laptop processors especially, as it defines the product line. This will give you an idea of what the processor is designed for and thus its capabilities.
Most 10th, 11th, 12th & 13th generation Intel processors also have a letter after the number, which might be a “U”, an “H”, an “HX” or a “Y”.
A “U” for example is generally designed for ultraportable laptops, as it puts out less heat. The “U” stands for Ultra-low power.
An “H” and “HX” processors are high performance units, usually destined for larger high-end laptops with more room for cooling. The “H” stands for high performance graphics, although this is more of a relative term. A discrete graphics card will perform better for graphically intensive tasks, as explained shortly. The “HX” processors are the highest performance class available.
There are also a number of other letters, including “Y” for “Extremely Low Power”. This is a fanless design, meaning it puts out minimum amounts of heat, but is also very low power.
For some processors, the letter has changed to a number, and it’s the fourth number you want to look at. For example, with an Intel i7-1068 – the 8 tells you this is a high-performance processor, similar to the H other chips. A lower number like an Intel i7 1060 would be a lower performance processor similar to the U in the 8th/9th generation chips.
Intel also produces Celeron and Pentium chips, but these are very budget-minded processors, and we would advise against them if photo editing is a primary concern.
For photo editing on a laptop, we’d advise at least a “U” category, and ideally a “P” or “H” category, or at least a “5” or ideally an “8” for 10th generation chips.
Finally, you will also see talk of processor speeds and core counts. Generally, the higher the processor speed, the faster it will be. The higher the core count, the more it can achieve in parallel (although check the types of cores when looking at the 12th generation processor models).
However, it is usually easier to go by the specific model numbers, as these will tell you everything you need to know. If you’re interested, you can see all of Intel’s processors here.
Hard Drive Type and Capacity
The hard drive inside your laptop, also referred to as a hard disk or disk drive, is where all the data is stored. Normally this data is referred to as individual files. For example, a photo would be a file on the hard drive.
Other types of files include word processing documents, program files (needed for operating system and programs to run), and music files.
There are two main types of hard drive, solid state drives (SSDs) and mechanical hard drives, which are usually just referred to as hard drives or hard disk drives (HDDs).
Mechanical hard drives are an older technology that involves fast spinning disk platters that are read by magnets. They have the advantage of being able to offer very high capacities for relatively low prices, and the disadvantage of being slower and more prone to failure.
Solid state hard drives are more like flash memory cards. There are no moving parts, and so they are far less likely to fail. They are also much faster when it comes to reading and writing data. They are however more expensive.
Hard drive capacity is measured in terms of bytes. The bigger the number, the more you can store on the drive. The numbers these days have gotten very large, so the number of bytes is often referred to in terms of Megabytes (a million bytes, or 1 MB), Gigabytes (1,000 MB) and Terabytes (1,000 GB).
To give you an idea of what these mean, an average RAW image file is between 20 and 50 MB. So if you have 10,000 image files, you would need between 200 GB and 500 GB of storage space.
SSD drives are usually between 128GB and 2048 GB (2 TB), whilst mechanical hard drives are available from 512GB up to around 10TB.
In a photo editing laptop, an SSD will make a huge difference. An average mechanical drive can read data at around 50 – 100 MB / second. That might sound fast, but an SSD can manage speeds from 500 MB to 2,700 MB / second!
When a computer is editing photos, a lot of data gets read to and from the hard drive. To make your photo editing application, and operating system in general, more responsive and faster, we recommend getting a laptop with an SSD hard drive. We would recommend a minimum capacity of 512 GB for photo editing, and ideally 1TB.
Note that some laptops come with multiple hard drives, especially the gaming focused laptops. This is because games can take up a lot of space, and large SSDs are expensive. So to keep costs down, a gaming laptop will often come with a small SSD for the operating system and program files, and a larger slower mechanical hard drive for the game installation files.
This slower drive can be useful for photographers as it provides additional photo storage space, and saves you having to carry an extra external hard drive around.
RAM, which stands for Random Access Memory, is the other type of memory that your computer has. Whilst a hard drive is used for storage, and doesn’t lose its data when you turn the power off, RAM is volatile.
This means that when you turn your computer off, the data in the RAM memory vanishes.
So what is the point of RAM? Well, it’s incredibly fast. In the day-to-day operations of your computer, the RAM is where the processor stores the data it actually needs to use from moment to moment. So if you are editing an image file for example, the image file data will be read from the hard drive and stored in the RAM.
RAM is really fast. Read and write speeds are in the region of 7500 MB/second.
Of course, that speed comes at a cost, and RAM is much more expensive per gigabyte than either an SSD or hard drive.
Modern laptops generally come with between 8GB and 32GB of RAM, with some higher end models configured with as much as 64GB of RAM.
For photo editing, the bare minimum RAM you will want is 16GB. This is because when the computer is running, as well as the photo you are working on, you will also have the operating system and various programs taking up RAM.
Whilst 16GB is going to be manageable, you will get better performance with 24GB, and even better performance with 32GB in some cases.
When the computer runs out of usable RAM, it has to spend precious time writing data out of the RAM and back to the hard drive. More memory means this will happen less frequently, and your computer will run quicker.
You will have noticed this with your own computer – if you run too many programs at once, the computer might slow down. This is because the computer runs out of RAM, and has to spend time writing programs out of memory to the hard drive as it goes. This is also why a computer might seem faster when you start it up, as there is plenty of memory available.
If you plan on editing very large images, such as panoramas, or stacks of multiple shots, then you will benefit from more memory in your photo editing laptop. In addition, if you use multiple photo editing applications in conjunction with each other, like Lightroom and Photoshop, having more RAM will definitely make a difference.
For these specific situations, 32GB+ will improve performance, as the laptop will be able to load the huge image files and your applications into RAM.
For most other photo editing, 24GB will suffice, although in my experience if you have more RAM, Lightroom will use it!
The graphics component of a computer is responsible for what appears on your computer’s screen. There are two main options for this: an integrated graphics card or a discrete graphics card.
An integrated graphics card just means that your CPU is going to handle all the graphics tasks. For most users, this is fine.
However, some applications can take advantage of a more powerful graphics card to accelerate certain tasks. And whilst playing games is usually the reason people want a discrete graphics card, modern photo editing applications and noise reduction tools can also take advantage of a discrete graphics card to accelerate certain functions.
This can make a big difference to photo editing, so we would pick a laptop with a discrete graphics card if possible. These are usually manufactured by either nVidia or ATI/AMD.
Our recommendation would be an RTX model graphics card from NVIDIA, either the 30XX or 40XX series like the 3060 or 4060 models. With NVIDIA graphics cards, the bigger the number the better the card, with the first number representing the generation, and the last two number representing the speed of the card.
It is worth bearing in mind that a discrete graphics card uses more power, and will make the laptop more expensive.
So whilst it is certainly useful, if portability, battery life and budget are key considerations, you might want to skip the discrete graphics card. It is certainly nice to have, and will improve performance, but it is not absolutely critical.
Screen Size and Resolution
Picking a screen size is important when it comes to photo editing. Laptops are available in a wide variety of screen sizes, generally falling between 11 inches and 17 inches. That measurement is taken diagonally, from bottom corner to the opposite top corner.
While screen size is a personal preference, a larger screen can make editing a lot easier as you will get a clearer view of the image, and the various tools that you use in your photo editing application will be easier to access.
On the flipside, a larger screen will require a larger and heavier laptop. We would suggest that a 13″ or 15″ laptop would be the ideal compromise between usability and portability for most users.
If you plan to mainly work in one place, a larger screen size is nice to have, although you can also purchase an external monitor. See my guide to the best monitors for photo editing for some tips.
As well as the physical size of the screen, screens will also have different resolutions. The screen resolution refers to how many physical pixels make up the screen.
For example, a 1920 x 1080 pixel screen, also referred to as a high definition, or 1080p HD screen, will be 1920 pixels wide, and 1080 pixels high. In total, this is just over 2 million pixels.
It’s also possible to get much higher resolution screens. These have the advantage in that the images will be sharper and clearer, and the disadvantage that the processor or graphics card will have to work harder. Higher resolution screens are also more battery intensive, and cost more.
For a photo editing laptop, we’d recommend a minimum screen resolution of 1920 x 1080, or 1080p.
Screen Type and Features
The technology that powers a screen also makes a difference when it comes to photo editing. There are a variety of screen panels available, including TN (twisting nematic), VA (vertical alignment), IPS (in-plane switching), and OLED (organic light emitting diode).
These are just different technologies that are used to display the pixels on the screen. TN is generally the cheapest, whilst IPS and OLED are more expensive.
IPS or OLED are the options we highly recommend for photo editing. These have greater viewing angles and the most accurate color rendition of the common screen types on the market. Having accurate colors on your screen is really important for photo editing, especially if you are selling your photos.
Speaking of colors, a monitor also has what is known as a gamut. This refers to the range of colors that a monitor can display. You want to make sure that the range of colors you see on your computer screen will match what most other users are seeing, as well as what your camera is recording.
For photography, you want a monitor that can display close to 100% of the sRGB color gamut. sRGB is the international standard used by the majority of cameras and computers out there.
As a minimum, we’d recommend 90% sRGB coverage, although as with everything, sometimes a compromise has to be made. For more information on color accuracy and monitors in general, see our guide to monitor calibration, and our guide to the best monitor for photo editing.
There are other features to consider when it comes to screens, including whether or not it supports touch input, which is useful for editing with a stylus, if that’s your thing.
Weight and Physical Size
The weight and physical size of a laptop is very much up to you as the user, and what you think you will be doing with your laptop. If you will be moving it around a lot and having to carry it, then the weight and size will be more of a consideration.
If it will mostly sit on a desk, with the odd foray to a sofa or coffee shop, then weight and size may be less important.
Weight and size do tend to translate well to power. Physically larger laptops have more room for cooling fans and heatsinks, meaning they can fit higher powered components inside.
Smaller laptops, also often referred to as ultrabooks, have to use lower powered components due to thermal restrictions.
We’re moving into the final stretches of what to look for when it comes to a laptop, and again, many of these things come down to personal taste and preference rather than being essential for photo editing.
However, you do need to consider some of these when comparing laptops to help you make a good decision.
Ports are the various holes in the laptop that you can plug external devices into. Most common are USB posts on Windows based laptops and Thunderbolt ports on Apple laptops.
Laptops may also come with other ports, including a headphone port, HDMI port, DisplayPort, or SD card reader port so you can read your camera’s memory cards.
It may be that you have a specific requirement for a type of port. For example, you might want to hook up an external monitor for photo editing which requires a DisplayPort or HDMI adaptor.
Also, if you want to plugin in external keyboard, mice, or hard drives, you will need ports that match your devices.
Generally, the smaller the laptop, the fewer ports it will have. When it comes to photo editing, we advise that having the ability to hook up an external mouse and hard drive can be very useful.
Your choice of operating system will very much be a personal preference. The 3 major operating systems are Microsoft Windows, Apple MacOS, and Linux. For this article, we are primarily focusing on Windows and MacOS.
For a long time, Apple was widely regarded as being the brand of choice when it came to digital editing for their superior hardware and software.
However, over time, the hardware and software capabilities across Microsoft and Apple devices have pretty much reached feature parity in terms of speed, and there will not be a great difference in speed between operating systems on equally powered hardware for photo editing.
Generally, Mac laptops are priced at a premium over comparable Windows devices, so you can usually get more value for your money with a Windows laptop. However, this is very much a personal preference and if you are used to an operating system, I would advise sticking with it rather than re-learning a whole new one.
If you are a Linux user, I suspect that you already know what you are doing. Many of the recommended laptops will also of course support Linux, but it might not be supported out of the box or by the manufacturer.
Best Laptop for Photo Editing 2023
Now that you know what to look for, we’re going to list our favorite laptops for photo editing. This list spans a range of types of laptop, from lighter portable options through to heavier and more high-powered machines.
Note that many of these laptops are available at different specification levels. We have recommended a price and specification that we think will work for photo editing in most cases, although you can always upgrade or downgrade depending on your budget.
It’s also important to remember that many manufacturers reuse the same naming in their laptops each year, and refresh the design and internals. So when shopping, make sure you are buying the latest model as it will have the latest technologies.
The easiest way to check if a laptop is the latest model is look at the CPU model number. This is the part that changes most commonly from year to year. We’d normally recommend buying a model with a processor released within the last two years for the best results. So for a photo editing laptop in 2023, consider a 12th or 13th generatior Intel processor.
It’s also worth being aware that there can be slight differences depending on the geographic region you are in. We have based our recommendations on models available in the USA. Other regions may have slightly different components and configurations for the same laptop models.
We’ve ordered this list first by screen size, and then by price. Note that prices can vary, so the order might not always be exact!
Smaller laptops will suit those of you looking for more portability, whilst larger laptops will suit those of you looking for more power.
Microsoft Surface Pro 9
Microsoft have released a number of laptops with the Surface branding over the years. The Surface Pro is for users who want a highly portable device that also offers capable performance. The Surface Pro 9 is the latest model, released in late 2022.
There are a number of variants of the Surface Pro offering different specifications.
We’d suggest the sweet spot for price and performance would be the i7-1255U option with 16GB RAM and 256GB storage. All versions come with a 13″ screen, with an impressive 2880 x 1920 resolution.
The screen is also touch enabled, and with the Microsoft Surface Pen (sold separately), you can use the device like a graphics tablet. In fact, the Surface Pro is actually classified as a tablet, so to use it as a laptop you need to add in the Surface Pro cover. This is a snap in keyboard that costs extra, so bear this cost in mind when comparing laptops. You can buy the pen and the cover together here.
Overall, the Surface Pro 9 is one of the most portable options for photography editing on the go. The small screen size, necessity to add in peripherals, limited ports, and lack of discrete graphics card are all factors against it, but if portability is one of your primary concerns, this should definitely be on your shortlist.
Check latest prices on B&H here. Also available directly from the Microsoft store.
Key specifications: Intel Core i7-1255U, 256GB SSD, 16GB RAM, integrated graphics
Screen: 13″ 2880 x 1920 touchscreen with stylus support (stylus sold separately), 100% sRGB
Weight: 1.94lbs / 879g
Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022)
You might be familiar with Huawei as a phone manufacturer, but they also make relatively affordable laptops that directly compete with the likes of Apple and Dell, usually at a slightly lower price. You still get premium design and specifications though.
The MateBook X Pro is no exception. We recommend the latest model, released in 2022. We suggest the version with an Intel Core i7-1260P, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. These are impressive specifications given the price, although there is a lack of discrete graphics card.
The 14.2″ IPS touchscreen display has an unusual 3:2 ratio (most laptops offer 16:9 displays), which gives you more vertical space for photo editing, especially compared to other 14″ laptops.
Like many smaller laptops, it’s missing an SD card reader, and it doesn’t have too many ports. It has 2x USB-C and 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports, as well as a 3.5mm headphone port.
Huawei is a Chinese brand that is not well known in some countries such as the USA, so these laptops can be harder to find, and support may or may not be an issue if you have problems. The 2022 version of the laptop that we recommend is hard to come by in the USA at time of writing, although does have availability in other parts of the world.
Check latest price here.
Key specifications: Intel Core i7-1260P, 1TB SSD, 16GB RAM
Screen: 14.2″ 3120 x 2080 touchscreen, 100% sRGB coverage
Weight: 3.04lbs / 1.38kg
Dell XPS 13 Plus (2022 9320 model)
I’ll be honest, I’ve loved Dell laptops for as long as I’ve been buying laptops, and I currently use a Dell XPS 15 as my go-to travel laptop. Jess’s first laptops were also made by Dell.
The Dell XPS 13 Plus is definitely one of the best ultraportable laptops on the market today, and the version we recommend is the 9320 model, launched in May 2022.
A variety of configurations are available, all of which feature Intel’s 12th generation processors. These range from a model with an i5-1240P processor, 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD, up to the high-end version with an i7-1280P processor, 32GB RAM and 2TB SSD.
Models are also differentiated by the screen, with either a 13.4″ 1920*1200 screen or a high resolution 4K 3840 x 2400 touch screen. An OLED screen is also available.
We actually think the model at the higher end of the range offers great value for money for the Dell XPS 13 Plus as you get fantastic specs, a lovely screen, and great performance in a relatively small and lightweight package.
It is not without its weaknesses though. It only comes with the newer USB-C port (although it does come with an adaptor for standard USB devices) and thunderbolt ports. It also doesn’t have discrete graphics. For that, you’ll want to look at its bigger brother, which is also in our list.
We recommend configuring and buying directly from the official Dell website. You might also get a good deal on the 2021 or 2020 model (the XPS 9310 & 9300) on the Dell Outlet store or Dell Refurbished store.
Finally, as of March 2023 there isn’t a version with a 13th generation Intel processor, but it seems inevitable this will be released soon so this might be worth waiting for if you are not in a rush to purchase.
Key specifications: Intel Core i7-1280P, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, integrated graphics
Screen: 13.4″ 3840 x 2400 touchscreen with stylus support (stylus sold separately). 100% sRGB coverage.
Weight: 2.71lbs / 1.23kg
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon
With a 14″ screen, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon (Generation 10 model) sits between the higher end 15″+ laptops further on in our list and the more portable 13″ ultraportables. However, it is still remarkably lightweight given the larger screen.
As always, a variety of configurations are on offer. We suggest the i5-1260P with 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD and 14 inch 1920×1200 Full HD display as it is a good balance between price and performance. Of course, different configurations are available, including a higher resolution 3840 x 2400 screen, faster processor, and more storage and RAM.
As this is an ultraportable rather than a high-end powerhouse, this laptop doesn’t have a discrete graphics card.
Those of you who love the Thinkpad range but want a bit more power and screen real estate might consider the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme instead, which comes with a 16″ screen and the Intel H series processors, as well as the option for a discrete graphics processor.
Check latest price on Amazon here and B&H here. You can also configure and purchase the model you are interested in directly with Lenovo here.
Key specifications: Intel Core i7-1260P, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM
Screen: 14″ 1920 x 1200 IPS screen, 100% sRGB coverage
Weight: 2.49lbs / 1.13kg
Asus Zenbook 14X (UX3404VC, 13th gen)
Asus are a well-known manufacturer of a range of PC components, and they also make a range of laptops. Their Zenbook range is designed to be portable and performant, and their latest model in the Zenbook range definitely ticks those boxes.
There are a range of models available in different screen sizes, and they come with the latest 13th generation Intel processors. We would recommend the Zenbook 14X OLED, model number UX3404VC, which was released in 2023.
We’d suggest the configuration that comes with the Intel i7-13700H processor, discrete NVIDIA GPU, 32GB of memory and 1TB of disk space. Note that there are different models of this laptop with similar names. So just be sure you pick the right one for the best performance.
Screen wise you can choose between a touch or non-touch OLED display. The main difference is the touch screen, which is optional. All the screen options offer a 2880×1800 resolution at 14.5 inches and have 100% sRGB coverage and even 100% DCI-P3 coverage.
Key specifications: Intel Core i7-13700H, 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM
Screen: 14.5″ 2880 x 1800 (optional touchscreen with stylus support, stylus sold separately). 100% sRGB coverage.
Weight: 3.44lbs / 1.56kg
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio (14.4 inch)
If you liked the idea of the Surface Book with the option of using it as a tablet, you might instead consider the Surface Laptop Studio.
This comes in a variety of specifications, but for photo editing we suggest the model with Intel Core i7 11370H processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and 4GB NVIDIA graphics card.
You also get a 14.4″ 2400 x 1600 touchscreen monitor with stylus support and 101% sRGB coverage. Note that this is a 3:2 aspect ratio.
Unlike the Surface Book, the keyboard on this laptop doesn’t entirely detach. However, it does hinge over completely, so you can use it as a tablet.
Note, as of October 2022 Microsoft are overdue on upgrading their Surface Laptop Studio line to the 12th generation processors.
Check latest price on Amazon here. Also available directly from the Microsoft store.
Key specifications: Intel Core i7-11370H, 256GB SSD, 16GB RAM, discrete NVIDIA graphics
Screen: 14.4″ 2400 x 1060 touchscreen with stylus support. 100% sRGB coverage
Weight: 4lbs / 1.82kg
If you want a fast laptop but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it, one option is to throw the notion of portability out of the window. That will bring you to the more mainstream class of gaming laptops, where I suggest you take a close look at the Dell G15 series.
This was updated in early 2022 with 12th generation Intel processors, and has the model number 5520.
This is available in a variety of specifications, including some good budget options. Here though, we’re going to go for a more high-end model.
We recommend the version with the Core i7 12700H processor, 16GB of RAM, and 1TBGB SSD storage. Being a gaming focused laptop, it also has a 6GB NVIDIA RTX 3060 graphics card.
The screen is a 15.6inch 2560×1440 panel, with 100% sRGB coverage. Weighing in at 5.55lbs, it’s not exactly lightweight. However it’s certainly good value for the specifications you get.
Check the latest price and configure your laptop direct from Dell here. It’s also worth checking prices on the Dell Outlet store.
Key specifications: Intel Core i7-12700H , 1TB SSD, 16GB RAM, discrete NVIDIA graphics
Screen: 15.6″ 2560 x 1440, 100% sRGB coverage
Weight: 5.55lbs / 2.52kg
HP Spectre x360 15t
HP’s Spectre x360 laptops are great looking convertible laptops that flip between tablet mode and laptop mode. As well as that, the higher end 15″ model that we recommend for photo editing also has some serious muscle, including the option for a discrete graphics card, and up to a terabyte of SSD storage.
There are a number of configurations, including those with a lower powered i7-10510U processor. The model we recommend for photo editing is the “15t-eb100”. This includes an i7-11165G7 processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and a 4K 3840 x 2160 AMOLED touchscreen display. Other models are available with different amounts of RAM and hard drive space as well.
As this is a 15.6″ laptop, the weight is naturally going to be a bit more than laptops with smaller screens, but the versatility and power on offer do make up for that. You also get a solid 100% sRGB coverage.
Check latest price on Amazon here. You can also customize the laptop and order direct from HP online here.
Key specifications: Intel Core i7-1165G7, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM
Screen: 15.6″ 3840 x 2160 touchscreen with stylus support (stylus sold separately). 100% sRGB coverage.
Weight: 4.23lbs / 1.91kg
Razer Blade 15 (2023 version)
The Razer Blade 15 laptop is primarily a gaming laptop. However, this is actually a good thing from a photography editing point of view, as what makes the laptop good for gaming (fast processor and fast dedicated graphics card), also make it ideal for photo editing.
There are a variety of specifications of this laptop. We recommend the latest version with i7-13800H processor and a discrete 8GB NVIDIA RTX 4070 graphics card, along with 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD hard drive.
That’s one of the fastest graphics cards on the market, so if you also like to play games or use GPU accelerated programs for things like noise reduction, this laptop has you covered.
The screen is a 15.6″ model with a 2560×1440 non-touch display. It has 100% sRGB and 100% DCI-P3 coverage. That makes it class leading for a gaming focused laptop. Also of note is the refresh rate, at 240Hz, which reduces eye strain.
All that power and a sizeable monitor does add up, and this laptop weighs in at 4.43lbs. That is actually remarkably svelte for a powerful gaming laptop, but it’s definitely not as lightweight as some of the other options in our list. Given all the power available, this is a remarkably well priced machine, and you can upgrade most of the specifications to make it even more powerful.
You can configure the laptop and order directly from Razer here.
Key specifications: Intel Core i7-12800H, 1TB SSD, 16GB RAM, discrete 6GB NVIDIA RTX 3060 graphics
Screen: 15.6″ 2560×1400, 100% sRGB
Weight: 4.43lbs / 2.01Kg
Dell XPS 15 (model 9530)
Released in Spring 2023, the 2023 version of the Dell XPS 15 sports a 13th generation Intel processor, the option for a discrete graphics card, and the option for a fantastic 4K display.
It has a bigger 15″ screen than the XPS 13 and in our opinion, the Dell XPS 15 is one of the best choices for a photo editing laptop. In fact, the 2019 Dell XPS 15 (model 7590) is the laptop we use for our photo editing on the road.
A quick note about version numbers. Like many laptop manufacturers, Dell have released multiple versions of the XPS 15 over the years.
The 2023 model is model 9530 and has 13th generation Intel processors. The 2022 model is model 9520 and has 12th generation Intel processors. The 2021 model is model number 9510 and is the one with the 11th generation Intel processors. The 2020 model was the 9500, the 2019 model was the 7590, and the 2018 model was the 9570.
I appreciate that these numbers are neither sequential or logical, but that seems to be par for the course when it comes to technology! Essentially, each year has brought a refreshed hardware configuration, largely around the processor and GPU model.
Honestly, the 2020, 2021 and 2022 versions are still more than capable, with all the models making our pick for best photo editing laptop when they came out. It’s definitely worth checking prices on the Dell Outlet store and Dell Refurbished store to see if you can snag a deal on those if your budget doesn’t stretch to the latest model.
Let’s get back to the laptop. The 2023 XPS 15, like the Zenbook and Razer Blade, can be configured with one of Intel’s “H” processors. This results in performance closer to that of a desktop PC.
We’d suggest the version that comes with the Intel Core i7-13900H, 1TB SSD, 32GB of RAM, and 8GB NVIDIA graphics card would be ideal for a photo editing laptop.
The Dell XPS 15 is available with a 15.6″ 4K 3456 x 2160 touch screen, which is slightly larger than other 4K screens available. You can also get a lower priced model with an HD screen if you prefer, although we’d recommend the 4K version if your budget stretches to it.
Check the latest price and configure your XPS 15 direct from Dell here.
It’s also worth checking prices on the Dell Outlet store and Dell Refurbished store, especially for previous versions which are honestly pretty close in terms of performance.
Key specifications: Intel Core i7-13900H, 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM, discrete NVIDIA graphics
Screen: 15.6″ OLED 3456 x 2160 touchscreen. 100% sRGB and AdobeRGB coverage
Weight: 4.23lbs / 1.92kg
Apple Macbook Pro 16
If you’re an Apple fan, you’re probably thinking I’m horribly biased, because there are lots of Windows photo editing laptops on this list, and only one Apple laptop. If it helps, Jess owns a Macbook, so I’m not completely biased!
The actual reason for this is that there are lots of manufacturers who make Windows laptops, but only Apple makes Apple laptops.
The good news is that the Apple entry on our list of best laptops for photo editing is a spectacular machine. If you’re a fan of Apple’s software and hardware, this is definitely going to be the machine for you. And even if you’re not, it’s good enough that it might even convert you.
There are multiple variants and configurations of the Apple Macbook Pro. For photo editing, we suggest you go for the 16″ Macbook Pro, to give yourself plenty of screen space. Specifically, we recommend the model launched in early 2023.
The reason for this is that as of early 2023, the new Macbook Pros come with Apple’s new M2 processor, specifically the M2 Pro or the M2 Max. Thes are optimized for the Mac and they offer incredible performance and fantastic battery life.
We recommend the 16″ M2 Pro version with 16GB RAM and 512GB storage, although if you can stretch to it, the M2 Max with 32GB of memory and 1TB of storage should last for a good many years to come.
You also get a 16.2″ 3456 x 2234 display. Whilst this isn’t a touch screen, it is very bright and color accurate. Other handy features include an SDXC card slot as well as Thunderbolt 4 ports.
All of these features, plus the premium you pay for the “Apple” brand, make this one of the more expensive laptops on our list.
Available directly from Apple here.
Key specifications: Apple M2 Pro processor, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM
Screen: 16.2″ 3456 x 2234 touchscreen, 99.9% sRGB
Weight: 4.7lbs / 2.1kg
Summary and our Pick of Best Photo Editing Laptop for Windows and Mac
So, that summarizes the choices for the best photo editing laptop if budget is not a major concern. But which is our pick?
Well, for overall performance, screen quality and weight, it would be a choice between the 2023 Dell XPS 15 and the 2023 Razer Blade 15.
These are both fantastic performing Windows laptops with the option of a gorgeous screen and 100% sRGB and Adobe RGB coverage.
They also both come with a choice of the latest generation of Intel processors, and we’d recommend the Dell version with an i7-13900H processor and the Razer Blade 15 with the i7-13800H processor, as well as a minimum 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, and discrete NVIDIA graphics.
Honestly, both models are also reasonably priced given the fantastic specifications and performance on offer. The main difference is that the Razer is more aimed at gamers and is slightly heavier, whilst the Dell is more of a professional laptop.
Overall, our personal pick is Dell XPS 15 as the best laptop for photography. You can check prices and configure it on the official Dell website. If you plan on playing games as well, then the Razer 15 faster refresh rate screen can be advantageous.
Previous models of the XPS 15 are also very capable, and I use the 2019 XPS 15. You might be able to find these cheaper than the latest model. Performance wise there’s not a lot between the more recent models for photo editing, and you could save a bit of money with the older version. I’d suggest checking the Dell Outlet store and Dell Refurbished store for some options.
Finally, if you have a bit more budget and would like a larger screen at the expense of portability, the Dell XPS 17 is an incredible bit of kit. Released in 2020, and updated to the 13th generation processors in 2023, this is definitely one to consider too. You can check prices and configure it on the official Dell website.
If you’re a Mac user, obviously you’ll go for the Macbook Pro, which offers blazing performance and excellent battery life.
If you want something a bit more portable, our pick would be the Huawei Matebook X Pro. It weighs less than 3lbs but somehow manages to fit in a 13.9″ screen and a discrete graphics card, making it ideal for photo editing tasks. It’s also excellent value.
Best Laptop for Photo Editing on a Budget
Laptops can be pricey pieces of equipment, and not everyone has thousands of dollars to spare on a laptop for photo editing.
With that in mind, I wanted to put forward some candidates for good budget laptops for photo editing. Obviously, be aware that “budget” is a relative term.
There are some trade-offs to be had at a lower price point. If you want the power required for photo editing, the main trade off is going to be portability. You are also unlikely to get a ultra high resolution display with 100% sRGB coverage or touch capabilities.
To get the photo editing power you will need, the majority of these laptops are gaming focused. Whilst there are similarities in terms of power requirements between gaming laptops and photo editing laptops, the main difference is that screen quality is not of such paramount importance for gamers, as accurate color rendition is not as critical.
So the main thing to check when buying a gaming laptop is that the screen is an IPS panel that offers as close to 100% sRGB coverage as possible. Again, there are often multiple variants of the same model, so do check the specifications carefully, and contact the seller or manufacturer if in doubt.
It’s also worth remembering that gaming laptops in general will be heavier with reduced battery life compared to ultraportables.
Acer Predator Helios 300
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is a lot of laptop for the money, with one of the better displays for photo editing in a budget laptop as well.
As configured, you get an Intel Core i7-11800H, a 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, and a discrete 6GB NVIDIA RTX 3060 graphics card.
The display is a 15.6″ IPS panel which covers around 90% of the sRGB gamut. As displays goes, this is one of the better options for budget photo editing laptops.
However, it’s also one of the heavier options in our budget category, which is the main trade-off. This is our top pick in this price range for sure, given the screen quality, and power under the hood.
Note there are a few versions of this laptop, including a more expensive version with a 17 inch screen. If size and weight aren’t too important, that might be an option to consider. There’s also a version with a slightly newer graphics card, but I don’t feel that will make any difference to the photo editing performance.
Check latest price here.
Key specifications: Intel Core i7-11800H, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, discrete 6GB NVIDIA RTX 3060 graphics card
Screen: 15.6″ 1920 x 1080 IPS screen. 98% sRGB coverage
Weight: 5.07 lbs / 2.3kg
Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6
The Lenovo Legion laptops are a range of gaming laptops that don’t scream “I’m a gaming laptop”. So there are no flashing lights or crazy logos going on here.
Instead, what you get is a solid performer at a reasonable price. Various configurations are possible of course.
The configuration we suggest includes an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, discrete 4GB RTX 3050 NVIDIA graphics card, and a 15.6″ 1920 x 1080 165Hz IPS display with 100% sRGB coverage.
This is the first laptop in our list with an AMD processor. AMD make great processors too, but I haven’t included them as many manufacturers don’t use them. However, they can bring the price down and performance is certainly on par with equivalent Intel models in my experience. The AMD 5800H for example would go toe to toe with the Intel i7-11800H.
Note that there are a few versions of this laptop with different configurations. In particular, there are cheaper versions with a 250 nits 120Hz display. That option only has around 60% sRGB coverage, making it unsuitable in my opinion for photo editing.
I’d suggest buying direct from Lenovo so you can customise the laptop to your requirements here. I’d recommend upping the RAM to 16GB and ensuring you pick the 100% sRGB screen. You can also find various models on Amazon here.
Key specifications: AMD Ryzen 7 5800H, 256GB SSD, 16GB RAM, discrete 4GB NVIDIA graphics card
Screen: 15.6″ 1920 x 1080 165Hz IPS screen. 100% sRGB coverage
Weight: 5.3 lbs / 2.4kg
The MSI GF66 (model 11UD-1090) offers an impressive specification sheet for a good price, and it is also one of the lighter budget gaming laptops that we could find on the market today.
At just under 5lbs, it’s relatively portable. But you still get a fast i7-11800H processor, 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD hard drive, and a discrete 4GB RTX 3050Ti NVIDIA graphics card.
You can also spend less for models with 8GB of RAM, but I’d recommend against that as you will likely experience slow downs when editing.
The main drawback is that the screen only displays around 62% of the sRGB gamut, which is a serious issue for photo editing. If you have an external monitor though for critical work, this might be a good option.
Check latest price on Amazon here.
Note – in 2022 MSI updated this laptop to include a 12th generation processor, so if you can find that version in retail that would be our pick.
Key specifications: Intel Core i7-11800H, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, discrete 4GB NVIDIA graphics card
Screen: 15.6″ 1920 x 1080 IPS screen. 62% sRGB coverage
Weight: 4.96lbs / 2.24kg
Asus Zenbook Flip 13
If portability is paramount, then we suggest you take a look at the Asus Zenbook Flip 13 (model UX363EA). You lose discrete graphics, and the processor is not as fast, but the display is fantastic and it’s highly portable.
This model comes with a Core i7 1165G7 processor, 512GB SSD, and 16GB RAM. The 13.3″ display is a full HD 1920 x 1080 OLED touch panel, with an impressive 100% sRGB and DCI-P3 gamut coverage, making it perfect for photo editing. It also flips for use as a tablet.
Of course, performance will not be on par due to the lack of discrete graphics. However, given it only weighs 2.7lbs, that might be a compromise you are willing to make.
Check latest price on Amazon here, and B&H here.
Key specifications: Intel Core i7 1165G7 processor, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM
Screen: 13.3″ 1920 x 1800 OLED touch screen. 100% sRGB coverage
Weight: 2.87lbs / 1.3kg
Photo Editing Accessories for your Laptop
So now you have an idea of which laptop you might want to buy. We would suggest that you might consider some accessories to compliment your laptop, which will make photo editing easier.
A Gaming Mouse
You might be a bit surprised that I have suggested a gaming mouse for your photo editing laptop. Well, the reason is that gaming mice come with a lot of buttons, the majority of which you can configure yourself.
Most photo editing applications are full of keyboard shortcuts, and by assigning your most used keyboard shortcuts to various mouse buttons, you can make your editing process a lot quicker. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll wonder how you coped without one.
Gaming mice are also very accurate, meaning when you are editing fine details, you are less likely to mess up. Personally, I use the Logitech G502, which is a fantastic mouse with 11 programmable buttons.
External Hard Drive
As you will have noticed, large SSDs are expensive, and configuring a high end laptop with a large SSD makes it very expensive indeed.
Instead of doing that, we recommend investing in an external hard drive instead. The price of external SSDs has come down in recent years, so we would recommend one of these over a mechanical version as they are much faster, as well as being far less prone to error.
The external SSD we recommend by SanDisk is ruggedized and dust and water resistant. It also supports both Mac and PC users.
Many of the photo editing laptops we recommend support a stylus, and if the laptop supports it, we highly recommend investing in one to take full advantage of the capabilities on offer.
It’s definitely worth checking with the manufacturer which stylus’s are supported. For example, Microsoft makes the Surface Pen for their laptops, but there are also a range of cheaper third party alternatives available.
Now you have got your shiny new laptop, you are going to want to keep it protected. We’d suggest investing in some form of sleeve or other protective cover to keep it safe.
We like the neoprene style covers as they seem to offer good cushioning whilst not adding a lot of weight to our laptop. Just make sure that whatever you go for is designed to fit your specific laptop model.
Photo Editing Software
There’s no point having a laptop to edit photos with if you don’t have a photo editing application!
There are a number to choose from, including paid options like Adobe Lightroom Classic CC, Skylum Luminar AI, and ON1 Photo RAW, as well as free options like Darktable and Fotor.
Deciding which to go for is a whole other decision. To help you out, I’ve put together a guide to the best photo editing applications, which has both paid and free options.
A laptop is a significant investment, and as such you might want to protect yourself from accidental damage.
The price of this varies depending on the cost of your laptop, but a relatively small investment can provide peace of mind against a variety of common accidents, from liquid spills, to accidentally dropping it.
For some examples, here’s a 3 year accident protection plan for electronics valued between $1500 and $1999.99, whilst this one covers products between $800 and $899.
Note that both of these are only valid for qualifying purchases from Amazon.com. If you are shopping elsewhere, or direct from the manufacturer, check what they have available before purchasing if this is important to you. It’s also possible to take out separate insurance, or that your homeowners insurance for example covers such things.
If you aren’t already backing up your photos, now is the time to change that. There’s no point having an awesome laptop to edit your photos on if you lose them all!
We have a complete guide to how to back up photos, which has a range of options and covers what to look for.
However, if you want an easy to use option with unlimited backups, then we use and recommend Backblaze. It’s well priced and in our experience it just works. You can try it out for free here.
Tips on Where to Buy a Photo Editing Laptop
There are a lot of options when it comes to purchasing laptops online. Prices are usually fairly similar, but of course sales can happen, so it is worth checking a number of places first.
In this guide, I’ve done my best to link to the best places to buy each laptop. In general though, the main options to consider are as follows.
Direct from the Manufacturer
Buying direct from the manufacturer is often the best option for when you want to exactly configure the specifications of a certain laptop. In addition, when a new model laptop is released, it will usually be available on the manufacturers website first.
It should be easier enough to find each manufacturer’s website, but here are some links to get you started:
Amazon is an obvious choice for buying a laptop, with a wide range of products available from a number of laptop manufacturers. They also have a good range of second hand and refurbished laptops, meaning you can usually pick up an older model that may no longer be available directly from the manufacturer.
The disadvantage we have found with Amazon is that it can sometimes be confusing to figure out exactly what model of laptop you are purchasing, which is not helped by manufacturers constantly releasing updated versions with the same name. So always ensure there is a robust returns policy when you purchase, and ensure the laptop you receive has the specifications you expect.
B&H Photo are one of our favourite online photography stores, but they also sell laptops as well as other computer equipment. It is definitely worth checking to see what prices they have. We like how easy the site is to use to configure different models of the laptop.
The only downside is that they tend to focus only on the very latest models, and older models go out of stock quite quickly.
Well, hopefully this guide has given you some options to consider when looking for a laptop to edit your photos on. We also have a number of other photography resources that we think you will find helpful.
- If you need software to edit photos with on your new laptop, see our guide to the best photo editing software. We also have a guide to improving Lightroom performance if you find that specific program is running slowly for you.
- If you would like to hook up your laptop to an external monitor, see our guide to the best monitors for photo editing across a range of budgets
- No-one wants noisy images. See our guide to the best noise reduction software to help you get the best results every time.
- Color accuracy is important for photography – see our guide to monitor calibration to ensure your screen is set up correctly.
- Our range of photography guides, including our guides to Northern Lights photography, lens compression, back button focus, fireworks photography, taking photos of stars, cold weather photography, long exposure photography, RAW in photography, use of ND filters, depth of field and photography composition, which should get you going
- Our photography gift guide, if you’re looking for a great gift for a photography loving friend or family member
- A detailed guide to the best travel cameras, as well as specific guides for the best compact camera, best action camera, best bridge camera, best mirrorless camera, and best DSLR camera. We also have a guide to the best camera lenses.
- Our guide to why you need a tripod, and a guide to choosing a travel tripod
- Ever wondered how to easily replace the sky in an image? Check out our guide to sky replacement in photography for an easy process anyone can do.
Looking to Improve Your Photography?
If you found this post helpful, and you want to improve your photography overall, you might want to check out my online travel photography course.
Since launching the course in 2016, I’ve already helped over 2,000+ students learn how to take better photos. The course covers pretty much everything you need to know, from the basics of how a camera works, through to composition, light, and photo editing.
It also covers more advanced topics, including astrophotography, long exposure photography, flash photography and HDR photography.
You get feedback from me as you progress, access to webinars, interviews and videos, as well as exclusive membership of a facebook group where you can get feedback on your work and take part in regular challenges.
It’s available for an amazing one-off price for lifetime access, and I think you should check it out. Which you can do by clicking here.
And that’s it for our guide to the best laptop for photography! As always, if you have any questions or feedback on any of the above, or have just found a laptop and would like our thoughts on it, let us know in the comments below!
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Thank you so much for sharing this post. This really helped me a lot in saving time
Laurence Norah says
My pleasure Salman, let me know if you have any questions!
What is your advice on a great desktop computer for photo editing? I’d like to stay under $2k if possible but there are just so many brands it’s hard to know what’s best!
Laurence Norah says
So honestly the brand is not *that* important. There are lots to choose from as you say – Dell, HP, Alienware etc. CyberPower is quite a good custom build option. As long as they have been around for a while, have good reviews and a reasonable warranty, that’s the main thing.
The main thing is the specifications. I’d recommend a PC with a 1 or 2 TB M2 SSD, at least 32GB of memory, a good Nvidia RTX graphics card (at least a 3060TI) and a recent Intel processor (something like the 13700KF). A good monitor is also important for photo editing, I’m not sure if that’s included in your budget or not? I have a guide to photo monitors here.
As an example of the kind of machine, something like this from CyberPower has a good set of specs at a reasonable price:
Let me know if you have any more questions, I’m happy to help!
Thank you for your reply! So I ended up getting a Lenovo Legion Tower T7 Intel 12 gen i7 12700k, rtx 3070ti, 32gb ram, 1 tb SSD. I recieved it last night but the fans are SO loud, I specifically looked at this based on it being pretty quiet. Their tech help updated everything remotely and it’s on quiet mode but it’s still around 32db based on the sound app I downloaded. Even when nothing is running it stays consistently loud, loud enough to hear it out of the room. I tried to record it but unfortunately it’s not nearly as loud on the video but hopefully it can give you an idea. For $1800 I feel like they shouldn’t be loud like this. Any advice? Or is this normal for a computer that has nothing running? I did notice two fans are a tiny bit wobbly but even with that it seems that’s not the main cause for the loudness. I have a Dell laptop that when it’s processing a ton and the fans are full blast that’s the equivalent of what this sounds like 24/7. I’m so bummed and stressed.
Laurence Norah says
Ok, so this is an interesting one. A desktop PC shouldn’t be *that* loud, although a lot will come down to the fan settings as well as the fans themselves.
The main fans are going to be the CPU fan, the fans on the graphics card, any fans on the motherboard and then any case fans which from your video looks like there are quite a few!
Looking at the Lenovo website it appears there are up to six case fans, which honestly seems a bit excessive! However, if they run at low speed they shouldn’t make that much noise. The issue seems to be that adjusting the fan speeds using the Lenovo tool isn’t having much effect, which is definitely not good. I have a desktop PC (I built it myself) and it’s basically silent except when under heavy load.
Doing some research online this does seem to be an issue with this specific model, see this thread for example. There are some ideas in that thread but honestly I don’t think with a prebuilt PC you should have these issues, nor should you have to poke around inside the PC yourself to resolve it. Most PC’s should let you adjust fan speeds, usually inside the BIOS, but this can definitely be daunting to a new user and really shouldn’t be something you have to do. You could also in theory disconnect some of the case fans, but again, opening up a PC and pulling out jumpers isn’t something you should have to be doing with a pre-built computer.
Are you able to return the unit? I know it might be a hassle, but they advertise the system as being able to run practically silent and it sounds like that isn’t the case 🙁
Sorry I can’t be of more help!
I can’t thank you enough for your input! I’m sorry to be such a bother but if I may ask one more question. So they are sending a replacement 7i tower to see if these fans will run as loud.
Today I noticed the 5i tower (90SU000CUS) is $300 plus cheaper for almost the same specs. The 5i has an i7 12700 where mine is 12700k and the graphics in the 5i is 3070 LHR where as mine is 3070 ti.
The cheaper one comes with a three year ultimate warranty where as I had to pay almost $100 to add that to the 7i tower. Also the i5 has windows pro and 1tb SSD PLUS 1tb hhd… Mine has only the 1tb SSD and Windows home (although I suspect for me the pro vs home isn’t that important). My question for you is this, for the over $300 price difference should I just return the replacement and get the 5i? For someone that will mostly be using this for Photoshop and Lightroom what is the better option? Am I really gaining much paying so much more? Or would I be better in the long run to stick with the 7i if it ends up not having the fan issue in the replacement?
Thanks again from a defeated stressed out photo nerd!
Laurence Norah says
It’s no problem at all! Your question has actually inspired me to write a desktop version of this guide at some point 🙂
So I would honestly say that there won’t be really any difference in performance between the 5i and 7i as you mentioned. You are not gaining very much by paying more, the difference would not be noticeable to be honest. Perhaps on paper theoretically, but in the real world it will likely be a few milliseconds difference here and there. So if that is still an option I’d definitely seriously consider it 🙂
Feel free to send me any more questions you have I’m happy to help!
Thank you! I would definitely love a desktop version, your laptop one was the most in-depth I’ve seen!
I’m nervous to try the t5i tower or any tower really because I’m worried now that they all will be noisy. Many places claim the 5i is super quiet yet I saw the same in reviews about the 7ti being almost silent too. I wish more stores had these on display so you could see and hear in person. I do like levonos ultimate warranty 4 years full coverage for $98 was really a value in my opinion and i haven’t seen anything as good yet in my search as far as warranty goes. Do you have any other companies you’d recommend off hand that do infact have a really quiet tower as well as a great warranty? I’ll keep searching but man I almost feel like it’s better to not even get one at this point.
Laurence Norah says
So it is very hard to know to be honest. I know desktop PCs can be silent because I have one that runs silently when I’m not pushing it! However, I built mine myself from scratch so I had complete control over all the components, which I appreciate not everyone wants to do! The main brands that come to mind are Dell, Alienware (a branch of Dell), HP and Omen. The previously linked site I shared also has some good options. But I can’t guarantee that any of them will be silent unfortunately 🙁 There are some sites that specialize in silent PC’s, like https://www.quietpc.com/quiet-gaming-pcs which might be worth looking at as well if that is a key criteria!
Good luck, let me know what you decide!
Thanks for the wonderful information! I’m a photographer and looking for a 2 in 1 laptop that could also be used for business. My best options I’ve come up with so far are the HP Spectre x360 16-f0010ca convertible laptop. Windows 11 Home, intel i7, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, 16″ 3K+, Intel UHD Graph. And the HP Best Config Envy x360 Convertible Touchscreen Laptop Intel i7-1165G7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Wi-Fi 6, Windows 10. Would you have any advice on what to choose?
Laurence Norah says
It’s my pleasure! So I honestly don’t think there is a big difference between these two. The CPU in one is the i7-11390H and the other one has the i7-1165G7. The latter is a lower power processor but the performance is not that huge to be honest. Personally I would probably pick the Spectre x360 as it has a higher resolution screen. Overall though they are both very similar so if you have no preference I’d go for the less expensive one 😉
Thanks a bunch:)..
Hi, wonderful article! I was wandering if a 2 in 1 could reach the performances of a traditional laptop, so… since I adore the 2 in 1 technology, do you think a device of this kind might be ok for serious image editing or should I go for a traditional laptop? Thank you!
Laurence Norah says
Great question. So you could use one of the more recent 2-in-1s for photo editing. It might not be quite as powerful as a high end gaming laptop like the Razer models I list, as they don’t normally come with dedicated graphics cards or the highest power processors. However, they would still be workable. If you want the highest power though, I would probably recommend a more traditional laptop.
Hope this helps!
Sorry clicked post without pasting details of the bundle. Lenovo P50 Ex-Lease Laptop Workstation Intel Core i7 6700HQ 2.6GHz 32GB RAM 1TB SSD Nvidia M1000M 2GB Graphics Card 15.6″ Screen Windows 10 Pro with brand new 34″ Monitor
Laurence Norah says
Good to hear from you and I’m glad my article has helped. So the laptop you share is a bit older, the processor is a 6th generation Intel processor which launched in 2015. However, it is a high-end version of the laptop with lots of RAM and a spacious fast SSD drive. So I would say that if it is available at a reasonable price, and the 34″ monitor is also a good model, then it is definitely worth considering and it should be able to handle photo editing pretty well. Unfortunately I don’t see a price in your comment so I can’t comment on that aspect. Let me know if you have any more questions 🙂
Hi, this package is available and seems to have a number of specs in your article refers to. I’m guessing the monitor is included as the Lenovo screen may not cut the mustard. Price is $NZ. What are your thoughts?Thanks for your article. So much easIer to elminate those not suitable to starT with.
Hi, like others thanks for a very informative article.
What are your thoughts on OLED versus IPS monitors? When people state “burn in” is this a major factor to consider and if so typically how long would this take?
I’d be interested to know your thoughts on this laptop please.
ASUS Vivobook Pro 15 M3500QC Content Creater Laptop 15.6″ FHD Glossy OLED AMD Ryzen9 5900HX 16GB 1TB NVMe SSD RTX3050 4GB Graphics Win10Home 1yr warranty – WiFi6 + BT5, Webcam, USB-C, HDMI1.4.
Laurence Norah says
It’s my pleasure – I’m glad you found it useful. So I love OLED, I have the OLED version screen on my Dell XPS 15 and it’s just stunning. I’ve not personally had any issues with burn-in (I’ve had the laptop for a couple of years now). I think if you left the screen on for hours with nothing changing it might be an issue, but that’s not how most of us really use our laptops.
The laptop you’ve specified looks great. I didn’t include AMD processors in my description because they have traditionally been less common than Intel in laptops. However, my desktop has a Ryzen processor and it’s fantastic, and the model you’ve chosen is very high end so it should have no problems with any photo editing tasks.
Levente Csillag says
Hi. Very useful info. Just in time when i plan to buy a laptop for Lightroom Classic. I edit on my pc on a Benq sw270c monitor. Always edit 1by1. I am looking for a laptop to show my photos in Lightroom to family and friends and maybe show how i edit. So, just something not to expensive. All my work will be done on pc. My budget is max 800€. I am looking refurbished laptops too. Any recommendation? thank you
Laurence Norah says
Thanks very much! So it sounds like you don’t need a super high powered laptop, but you do need something that is light and portable and which has a color accurate screen. Good battery life would also be a bonus. I’m assuming you’re not a Mac person, so I’d probably recommend a Dell XPS 13. The main thing I’d suggest is to ensure it has 16gb of RAM, as 8GB can be a bit low, which does make meeting your price point a bit more of a challenge.
I’m not sure exactly where you are in the world, but Amazon UK for example has this Dell XPS 13 available renewed at around €800 equivalent. You get full sRGB coverage and 16gb of RAM. The processor is a bit older, but I’d say for your needs it should be fine. It’s also definitely worth checking the Dell Outlet store or Dell Refurbished store.
I would definitely recommend spending a bit of time perusing the outlet / refurbished warehouse sections of Dell and Amazon for your locality to see what options come up 🙂
Let me know if I can offer any further input!
Laurence Norah says
So looking at that site I would say the options aren’t great. They are quite old laptops, most of which are likely used business stock for office work where things like color accuracy are not so important. They also have quite old processors. So honestly I’m not sure if they are great options. The exception are the Macbooks, they have a few Macbooks available for under your price point, and most Macs come with color accurate screens. However I’d also recommend checking out Apple on Amazon as there are quite a few 13″ refurbished Macbook Pro options at your price point which I think are a slightly better deal than the site you linked. I’d aim for 16gb of RAM and something from around 2017 or newer ideally, like this one.
Ian Borthwick says
Just wanted to say thanks and congratulate you on an amazing job. One of the most informative and complete articles I have ever read on internet, decoding a lot of the gobbledygook that is associated with the inner workings of computers. I certainly wish I had read it before buying my last laptop ! So again, Bravo!
Laurence Norah says
Thank you so much for your kind words – it means a lot! Sorry I wasn’t able to help out with your last purchase, but hopefully you’ll be prepared for any future purchases!
All the best,
James Martin says
Thanks for the amazing laptops, I am thinking to get one 🙂
Laurence Norah says
Let me know if you have any questions James!
It’s a great list of photo editing laptops you have mentioned reviewed in this article,I love to know about all the great laptops for photo editing…
Keep up the good work
Laurence Norah says
My pleasure, thanks Nikom!
This is one of the best guides to getting a laptop i’ve seen, thank you for putting all this info/details and recommendations together!
I’m currently using a MBP 16 for photo editing my alpha 6000. I was looking at getting something like a 2n1 for more mobile editing and I’m stuck between to possibilities. Both are refurbs at my local computer store and on-sale. I will be using Lightroom Classic.
1) HP Spectre x360 13 4k OLED: i5-1035G4, 8GB Ram (soldered), 256gb SSD (will upgrade to 1tb nvme)
2) HP Spectre x360 15 4k: i7-10510U, 16GB Ram (Upgradable), 32GB Optane (will upgrade to 1tb nvme)
or if you have any other good alternatives, trying to stay <$1000
Laurence Norah says
I’m pleased you found it useful! So of those two options I would go for the 2nd, the i7-10510U will perform better and the 16GB of RAM will let Lightroom breathe. The 8GB on the other might start to restrict you as time goes on, especially as it’s soldered to the motherboard!
It’s hard to provide alternatives as obviously the price point will vary depending on refurbs and offers, but that sounds like a great option to me 🙂
Thank You Laurence! Forgot to mention option 2 also has a MX250, should help too.
My local retailer is MicroCenter. They have many options but I don’t know if the sRGB rating for the alternatives are 90%+ or not. Eyed these two because I saw tests that they are being 4K screens 😁.
Laurence Norah says
Ah yes, the GPU should also help! sRGB coverage is definitely important as well 😀 Delighted to be able to help!
Edward Donnelly says
I’ve been looking to replace my 10 year old Lenovo for several months now. I’ve read many review sites and always leave wondering if the reviews are biased towards a particular product. Your article is the best that I have come across. Your computer science background definitely made a difference in conveying the technical information in a clear manner. As a retired electrical engineer and human hactors engineer, I say kudos.
I’ve made my decision.
Thank you, Ed
Laurence Norah says
It’s lovely to hear such nice feedback – it really does make it all worth it 😀 My goal was absolutely to try to help people pick the best option for them! I think bias towards a manufacturer makes little sense in most situations, with the exception of Macs because if you are used to the operating system it can make more sense to stick with those rather than learning Windows.
Enjoy your new laptop, whatever it is!
Great article and very helpful in helping me decide if I should keep or return the 16 inch MacBook Pro I recently got. I believe the 256gb SSD is no longer an option for the 2019 16 inch. It starts at 512gb and 16gb of ram which is nice for the base model. This is the one I have. I was having second thoughts as I saw a few YouTube videos stating that I must get 32gb of ram at the bare minimum for photo editing.
I was surprised by this and it seems this is really only for certain types of photography. I do mostly street photography and use a Sony a7RIII so the raw files are a bit large but I would think the 6 core i7 with 16gb of ram on the base model would still be enough, would it not? I also take it that I’ll be able to continue using this laptop for at least 3-4 years and still be productive. There’s a lot of conflicting info on ideal specs for photo editing on a laptop. Thanks for making sense of a lot of it.
Laurence Norah says
Thanks very much! I would say that 16gb is more than enough for photo editing, unless you plan on doing a lot of Photoshop work with multiple image layers, or stitching large panoramas together. For “normal” photo editing, 16gb will definitely suffice for a few years to come. I’ve got 16gb in both my laptop and my desktop, and haven’t had any problems 🙂 Often people will recommend something without really understanding why, and there is a misconception that more is better with memory. Memory doesn’t make a computer faster unless it is actually used – otherwise it just sits there taking power and doing very little. This is different to say a processor speed where faster pretty much always means better performance.
So yes, 16gb should be absolutely fine 🙂
Enjoy your new laptop!
Janette Dekker says
Hi Lawrence, Thanks for your super article! I’m not a Tech person. This was the best article I have ever read explaining all the various components of laptops, computers etc in a very easy to understand way. Based on this article my husband who is an amateur photographer purchased a new laptop for his photo editing. I did the research based on your recommendations and the laptop he purchased ticked all of the boxes! He ended up getting a gaming machine (even though he is not a gamer) because it had all the right specs (and probably a bit more).
Janette Brisbane, Australia
Laurence Norah says
Thanks very much for your feedback! It’s wonderful to hear that my article helped and I hope your husband enjoys his new laptop.
All the best,
Sylvain Vauclair says
very good info, thanks for putting it together. question about the i7-1065G7. I have narrowed my searches to two 17in laptops for use mainly with Lightroom classic. one has the i7-1065G7 and a 1TB SSD drive, the other comes with a i7-1075OH but a 1TB HDD drive. the former is on sale and CAD600 less than the second one! if the i7-1065G7 is capable enough the choice seems obvious but I fear it isn’t. Any comments on the suitability of the i7-1065G7 will be greatly appreciated.
Laurence Norah says
My pleasure. So the i7-10750H is about twice as fast as the i7-1065G7. The latter is a more mobile focused chip which uses less power. That said, it will still be ok for photo editing, if not at the top of the charts. However, I would definitely not suggest using a HDD – the speed difference of the faster processor will definitely be lost because of the much slower hard drive which will be a major bottleneck.
So of the two I would opt for the slower processor and the faster hard drive. Alternatively, you can actually buy an internal 1TB SSD for a laptop for around $150 CAD, so if the laptop you are looking at will let you change hard drives, it’s not too much of challenge to switch the drives yourself. Processors on the other hand are fixed to the motherboard and not changeable in most laptops!
I hope this helps a bit,
sylvain vauclair says
thank you Laurence for your prompt reply, I will continue my searches, it was easier 40 years ago when the choice was between a Beseler and a Saunders enlarger, cheers.
Bob Spang says
Great post and super helpful! Armed with what I learned I’ve been comparing the different options for my needs (connect to external monitors, portable (we take lots of family trips, though COVID has put a serious dent in them this year!), something I can easily use while waiting on kids at their activities, and touch screen to help with editing Milky Way images (dodging &burning). I keep coming back to the Dell 13″ XPS 2-in-1.
I have two concerns with it: the processor (i7-1065G7) and the graphics card( Intel Iris Plus). Any thoughts you’d be willing to share?
Bob Spang says
sorry. thought my original comment didn’t get loaded. it didn’t show up.
Laurence Norah says
No worries, sometimes the post gets cached in your browser so the latest version didn’t load until you’d posted the new comment. Technology can be tricky sometimes! Let me know if you have any more questions 🙂
Bob Spang says
Great review! As others have said, I learned so much about what to look for and what everything means.
I’m looking to replace my four year old laptop (Dell Latitude e5470, 8gb RAM, i5-6200U, integrated graphics). so, anything I get will be a huge performance improvement! I have external monitors, but do a lot of traveling and would like to have something I can cull/sort photos while shuttling the kids to their various activities.
What are your thoughts on the Dell XPS 13″ 2-in-1? I’m considering their touch screen version. My main concerns are the processor (i7-1065G7) and the graphics card (Intel Iris Plus).
Laurence Norah says
Thanks very much! My goal was definitely to enable people to get more of an understanding of what to look for so I am delighted to have been able to help 🙂
For your question, the XPS 13 is a great laptop but there is definitely more of an emphasis on portability & battery life over absolute power. The i7-1065G7 is certainly capable enough for many tasks, but photo editing is one of the more demanding use cases. That said, if you are primarily culling and sorting, rather than doing major editing tasks, it would be just fine. As a point of reference, the i7-10750H processor in the more powerful laptops is around 2x faster, although it uses more power so you lose the battery life. However, I’m not aware of a 13 inch laptop that has this processor, at the 13 inch point the i7-1065G7 is one of the fastest processors on the market. I think you’d have to step up to a 15 inch laptop like the XPS 15 if you wanted that speed, which would come at the trade-off of weight and battery life.
For your use case, I would say the XPS 13 would be a great option 🙂
Happy to answer more questions!
David A Greenberg says
Correction to previous post: I do NOT have a 42Gp sensor and don’t expect to have one until 2068. My sensor is 42Mp.
Laurence Norah says
Haha, I did wonder what marvellous futuristic equipment you might have 😉
David A Greenberg says
Laurence and Jessica, Thank you VERY much for this wonderful primer. I was aware of 47.2% of the content and 0.00% of the nuance. So grateful to have found your article! Before finding it, I’d spent considerable time learning about all the Lenovo options because I’ve had good luck with their product and service over the years.
My images, gathered on a 42Gp sensor, are often multi-row pans, taking further time and care for focus stacking AND bracketing for each image component. The final image file from up to a thousand or more component images can be 1 to 2GB. So your advice is exActly what I needed.
Here’s my question. I thought I had settled on a souped-up Thinkpad P1 platform. You list the X1 platform and I’m wondering if you feel there’s a discernible difference, given my particular usage. Here’s a quote from another article specifically comparing the two from “Windows Central” that I think exemplifies your jargon admonition. Lots to unpack:
“There are plenty of configuration options to choose from when outfitting an X1 Extreme or P1, and both will deliver exceptional performance considering the form factor. However, the P1 is available with Intel Xeon and NVIDIA Quadro hardware, while the X1 Extreme caps out at Intel Core and NVIDIA GTX hardware. It also has optional ECC RAM for those who need it. Along with plenty of ISV certifications that guarantee compatibility with major software, the P1 is the right choice for professionals who work with specialized design and development software.” The link to that article is here, if you want it. https://www.windowscentral.com/lenovo-thinkpad-p1-vs-thinkpad-x1-extreme
THANK YOU again for your dual expertise and your willingness to respond to my specific question.
Laurence Norah says
Great to hear from you. Sounds like you take some high resolution images! This is the one situation where you will definitely benefit from lots of RAM, the more the better 🙂
In terms of the P1 vs the X1, it comes down to that processor difference. The P1 has the option for the Xeon processor and supports the ECC (error correction) RAM.
Xeon processors and that ECC ram are more designed for server workloads or other tasks where accuracy of information is paramount. Most processors operate within error tolerances, but if you are working on critical tasks where accuracy is paramount (think banking, cryptography, mathematical tasks), then obviously you have lower error tolerances. These come at a definite price premium (almost $1000 for the Xeon CPU alone!), and honestly, for photo editing, aren’t really something you need. They don’t offer any speed increase (the high end Intel Core i9-9880H is actually faster than the Xeon), it’s just down to that higher accuracy for tasks that really need it.
In terms of picking a specific laptop, if you load up the P1 on Lenovo here, and the X1 on Lenovo here, you can see the price differences and configuration options. Based on your workload, I’d probably go for the X1 with the i7 9750H processor and 32gb or 64gb of ram. You might also consider the core i9 9980HK, depending on your budget.
I hope this helps, let me know if I can offer any further advice 🙂 I’d love to hear back regardless of what you choose and how you find it 🙂
David A Greenberg says
I did not expect such a quick response! Thank you again, Laurence! In the very short intervening time, I found an “Amazon Refurbished” P1 platform with the UHD touchscreen, 512G SSD, Intel Core i7-9750H, 16GB RAM, NVIDIA Quadro T1000 all for a deep discount. (I suspect it was just an open box since the model came out a month ago.) Given that it has the full year of Lenovo warranty and a 30 day return policy, I didn’t see a downside. I will be upgrading to 64Mb RAM and a 2T SSD drive, swapping that for the 512 on which I’ll house the OS. I will study carefully the pin configurations. Your article and response have been truly invaluable. I’m so happy to subscribe now to your newsletter and look forward to learning even more.
Laurence Norah says
My pleasure, and that sounds like a great deal! Upgrading the RAM and SSD yourself is a good option for saving yourself some money – I left it out of this guide as it’s not something everyone is going to be comfortable doing. Delighted you got a deal though, I hope you enjoy your new laptop and we’ll stay in touch through our newsletter 🙂
Great reviews and very helpful. Although I feel more confused on which Dell XPS I want vs needs…
I am also considering the HP Spectra 360 or Asus Zenbook Duo Pro. This is because Dell here in Australia has some terrible reviews of late re customer and tech service and issues with the Dell laptops. BUT… I want one esp cause i like the SD card slot lol.
I am so torn and they are all similar prices really.
Re the Dell however I can get an i7-9750H, 16gb ram, 512gb ssd for $2803 OR the touch for $3314, OR
a i7-10759 touch, all the same specs $4299. Or should I ditch the touch and pay the extra for higher specs instead on one. My budget was up to $4k AU but if I can save money I will as I need a new calibration kit and my gear all needs a good service. I have not been able to shoot anything for a few years but I am keen to get playing again, and do want something that will last me awhile so happy to pay the higher price if needed.
After all that ramble what are your thoughts re the Dells and those price jumps??
THANKS heaps. Daph.
Laurence Norah says
First, thanks very much for your kind words. I can’t comment on Dell service in Australia unfortunately – I have had Dell’s for years and have always had a positive experience in Europe and the USA, but obviously all companies can have good and bad spells 🙂
I can comment on the hardware though! Honestly, if I was you I would skip the touch technology. I had a touch screen Dell for a long time (an XPS 12), and whilst it was a nice gimmick, I never really used it. If I did use it I would just get annoyed with the fingerprints 😉 Of course, if you are going to do actual work on the screen using a touch pen, this might be different, but I would say this is a bit of an awkward angle, and you’d be better off with a dedicated touch tablet.
The XPS 15 I currently have has pretty much the same specs as you the one you list without the touchscreen, and I don’t miss the touch at all. Plus it stays largely fingerprint free, which is a bonus 🙂
I’ve looked at the Dell Australia site for the laptops you’ve sent over. The screens appear to be the same on the two lower priced models in terms of resolution and capability, it’s just the touch element that is different. Personally I would skip that.
The other model with the i7-10750 processor is the more recent XPS 15 model, which only launched this year. Honestly the performance is pretty much the same despite a slightly refreshed processor. The main difference is the screen. If you compare the photos of the two laptops side by side you’ll see that the screen on the new one goes all the way down to the keyboard level, whilst the older model has a little gap where the Dell logo is placed. In addition, the screen on the $4299 version is a higher resolution at 3840×2400 compared to the 1920*1080 on the older model.
I don’t personally think that a 4K screen is necessary on a 15 inch laptop. It lowers battery life, uses up more processing power, and you have to scale everything up so you can even see it. I have the higher resolution screen on the XPS 15 I have, and I really don’t think I need it. With the $1000 left over you could buy an incredible external monitor instead, which is what I would suggest instead 🙂 I really don’t think the 1K price premium is worth it.
Let me know if I can help any further!
Hey. Thanks for the quicker than expected reply. Ok so ditch the touch.
I think I’m now down to the 10750 with previously mentioned specs or older version and a higher sprcs.
I like the idea of a 2nd monitor, but I’m going laptop this time around as I can lay in bed if needed to edit (hence haven’t played in many years due to health reasons. And can’t sit at my PC for too long).
I have read your laptop posts many times this week and appreciate how informative and helpful it was. I’m a visual person- not techy and your explanations were nice and clear.
Laurence Norah says
My pleasure 🙂 I see your point about the external screen.
Not to throw a spanner in the works, but have you considered the slightly larger XPS 17?
It has the 10th gen i7-10750H, 16GB Ram and 512GB hard drive as well as a larger 17 inch screen, although it’s the 1920*1080, like the cheaper XPS 15. It’s showing at $3898 on the Dell website. If you compare the XPS 15 and 17, the weight difference is only around 300 – 600 grams, depending on the configuration, and the size isn’t too different either, less than an inch in extra width.
Height (rear): 19.5 mm (0.77″)
Width: 374.45 mm (14.74″)
Depth: 248.05 mm (9.76″)
Rear height: 17 mm (0.66 in.)
Width: 357 mm (14.06 in.)
Depth: 235 mm (9.7 in.)
Daphne Birett says
Well now you really have me confused haha. Honestly, if it was your choice which way would you go? The older with 32/1tb. Or newer 15/17 ?
Oh and I def will try and haggle and googled some codes in the hope they work.
Seriously appreciate your time!!
Laurence Norah says
Oops! Well if it was me with a 4K budget I would go with the XPS 17 that I mentioned. I bought my XPS 15 last year before the 17 was announced, and whilst I love it the XPS 15 I got, I always think more screen is better. This is especially the case as it’s barely bigger than the XPS 15 in practical terms.
32gb of RAM won’t make the machine any faster except in very specific situations such as if you are editing large very large image files like panoramas. The 1TB hard drive space might be useful, but honestly if you have a large photo library an external hard drive is going to be inevitable at some point anyway. 512GB is more than enough I think.
Let me know what you decide and if you get it I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m also happy to answer any more questions 😉
Daphne Birett says
No panoramas. Fine art, Macro and the odd families.
Re the 17″
I can get 15% off so $3390 or $4164 for the better screen.
Time to sleep on it… of course thoughts appreciated. Thanks again. You rock!
Laurence Norah says
That’s a tough one! Good to hear you can get a discount 🙂 Certainly the higher resolution screen will be more impressive, items will seem sharper and you’ll have more screen space. High resolution movies will also be more impressive. But whether or not it’s worth the extra money is really up to you 😉
Hey Laurence just wanted you to know I dropped some big dollars on a laptop today… After taking everything into consideration and opinions from everyone I ended today buying an i9 Macbook Pro 16.
Dell’s bad rep here just scared me too much to risk it.
So I wanted to say thanks again and keep up the great content…despite lack of travel at present I’m sure.
Laurence Norah says
Awesome, the Mac is also a great bit of kit and should last you for years to come. My wife has a Mac and loves it 🙂 Enjoy, and thanks for letting me know!
Michael J Hintz says
What wonderful information! Everything was very concise and easy to understand. You are good! Keep up the great work!
Laurence Norah says
Thanks very much Michael – I hope you find the laptop you are looking for 🙂 Let me know if you have any questions!
Thank you so much for writing this article! I only wish that I had seen it sooner.
I went with the MacBook Pro/16MB/1TB. I am new to photography and am loving it but hope I didn’t rush into buying a laptop that is “too much” for me. Hoping I can grow into it! It was expensive but I love Apple products.
Thanks so much!
Laurence Norah says
It’s my pleasure and I’m pleased you found it useful even if it was after the fact. I honestly don’t think there’s “too much” laptop, especially when it comes to photo editing. You’ll get great performance out of that setup and it should last you for years to come 🙂
Great article!! I’ts very usefull reading some “basic” (for me not so basic) things about for example “i7-8550U” (what does “U” mean etc…).
The previous 2 years I was waiting for the right moment when to buy a new laptop for photo editing. Now I feel it’s the moment with the new Dell 15″.
I’ve still got a few questions:
– 4K: do or no do? I can afford the 4K screen, but the question is: is it really necessary to have it? When I will be living in a bigger house (and have some space for a monitor) I will buy a good monitor (this will be in 2 years). So will 4K have an added value on the laptop (or is it just fine to not have a 4K screen on the laptop and later on have it on the monitor)?
I will mainly work at home, so battery life isn’t a great issue for me. But it’s important that the laptop will work fast (and not much slower) if I choose 4K.
– RAM: 16GB or 32GB? If I would choose 4K, is 32GB the better pick for working faster?
– Very confusing: In the USA they sell “10th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-10750H”, but where I live (in Belgium) they sell 10e generatie Intel® Core™ i7-10750U processor. H versus U. Is this a big difference?
– A possible other pick is the Lenovo Thinkpad P1 Gen 2–> Intel Core i7-9850H-processor met vPro (2,60 GHz, tot 4,60 GHz met Turbo Boost, 6 cores, 12 MB cache). It has the 9th Generation Intel Core (instead of 10th), but “850H” sounds better than “750U”. Or is the difference not that big?
But still… I really love the new big screen of the latest version of the Dell 15″.
Laurence Norah says
Thanks very much 🙂 I agree, this is a good time to get a great laptop and the new Dell XPS 15 is a great bit of kit. Let me try to answer your points.
1 – honestly, I don’t think 4K makes a lot of difference on a laptop. I have it on my new Dell XPS 15, but my previous Dell was 1080p and to be honest both were fine. When you have a 4K laptop, you have to scale everything up so you can read the text, so it ends up looking pretty similar! Battery life and performance will be better on a lower resolution screen because the cpu and graphics card don’t have to work so hard to fill so many pixels
2 – I recently had this decision to make and I went with 16GB. However, it does depend on what you are editing. If you are editing large image files, like large panoramas or images with lots of layers, then more RAM will help. The same for video. However, if you are just doing normal photo editing, then more RAM won’t make the computer faster for editing. 4K vs 1080p won’t make a difference for RAM usage as far as I know – it’s more about what you’re planning on editing
3- H vs U is a huge difference. H is high performance, closer to desktop. U is low power, designed for long battery life, at the expense of speed. However, I am not actually aware of a i7-10750U, so I think this might be a typo. You should contact them before buying, but I have a feeling it’s an H because I don’t think the XPS 15 has a U option.
4 – The 9850 is a year older than the 10750, so whilst the 9850 was faster than the 9750, a year of progress means that 10750H is slightly faster. Specifically, it can run at higher clock speeds when needed. In real world terms the difference will not be that great.
Finally, as you mention you love the large screen of the XPS 15, have you seen the new XPS 17? It’s definitely more expensive, but the screen is a bit bigger 🙂
I hope my answers help – let me know if you have any more I’m happy to help out!
Hi, I will be starting photography as a hobby this year and I am looking at the new higher end MacBook Pro. My question is: will 512gb last me for 6-8 years? I will buy a 1tb external ssd like the Samsung T5 to back up all my photos and to store the majority of my photos. On the laptop itself, I will have some of the photos stored and then some of the photos will be edited on Lightroom etc. Apart from the photos and photo editing, I will probably just use the Mac for internet browsing and music streaming. Any help would be greatly appreciated! I want my Mac to last me as long as possible!
Laurence Norah says
So based on what you say you plan to use the laptop for, 512GB should be enough. If the price difference is not too great, then 1TB would give you more wiggle room, but I know that these manufacturers charge a lot for these upgrades. One thing to be aware of with the Macbook Pro is that unlike some laptops, you can’t replace the hard drive as I believe it is physically soldered to the motherboard. So you would be stuck with whatever size you choose.
I actually opted for the 1TB hard drive on the laptop I chose, but honestly I’ve not used anywhere near that much, and 512gb would have been enough. Also, for reference, on my main computer I have a 400,000+ image library, almost 10TB of space, and the previews (which is what you want on the main drive for speed), only take up 400GB. So again, unless you have huge numbers of photos you plan to add to your library, you will be fine.
I hope this helps – let me know if you need any more input and I’ll do my best 🙂
Thanks so much! I think I will opt for the 512gb and have the majority of a external ssd!
Laurence Norah says
Great choice – enjoy your new laptop!
Dude. You killed it in this article! I knew nothin’ about nothin’. Neither computers nor any aspect of their makeup. You just taught me so much!! Thank you!
Laurence Norah says
My pleasure Al! I hope you are now able to pick the right computer for you 🙂
Viola Haegele says
Very informative and appreciated post, definitely deserving of a complimentary comment. Unanswered questions finally answered with my hair still intact. Step by step clarity of the best of what to look for in a computer and just as important, why.
Many thanks for a job well done!!
PS Signing up for your monthly newsletter was a must 🙂
Laurence Norah says
Thank you very much Viola, and thanks also for your nice e-mail. We look forward to sharing our adventures with you in our newsletter – and enjoy the new laptop!
Cyril CALMES says
Thank you for this great and complete review. I was interesting by a MSI gamer laptop but apprently, the contrast is not that good.
There is just one thing… I really thing that 15,6″ is a bit too small.
I’m looking for a 17″ screen.
Any advice ?
Laurence Norah says
If you are happy with the weight then a 17″ laptop would make a great option for photo editing. My advice would just be to follow my suggestions for the specifications and to find a laptop that has those options available. I am not sure if there is an up to date Dell XPS with a 17 inch screen, but you should hopefully be able to find something that works at a good price point. Just be aware that as I say in my post, and as you discovered, that gaming laptops are often not the best choice for photo editing as the screens are not always suited to it.
Cyril CALMES says
Dear Laurence, the weight is not a problem. and the 17″ screen is a real need to me.
I am more looking for a “transportable workstation” that I could use when I spend the weekend out of my home. The DELL XPS 17 doesn’t exist yet. The Razer Blade Pro 17 seems to be truely awesome !!!! but it’s so expensive….
I work with Capture One Pro 12 Fuji and Affinity Photo.
Just one question : Where did you find the sRGB coverage values for this different laptop ?
Laurence Norah says
Yep, unfortunately at the 17″ category you are likely more looking at gaming laptops, and they can carry a price premium if you want good performance. For the screen coverage values, the best place I found was notebookcheck.net, which seems to report fairly accurate numbers. The manufacturers websites often skip this number, unless it’s something they are particularly proud of!
Gaurav Verma says
Would you be able to highlight if OLED is better than IPS or vice versa? Because Dell XPS is now comming with OLED display as well. Please advise in regards to photo editing
Laurence Norah says
So I had to make this very decision recently as I bought the Dell XPS 15 that I list in this post, which has the OLED / IPS display. I ended up going with the OLED display, as it has the best color accuracy of all the options. It’s an incredible screen for sure, the blacks in particular are truly fantastic for both watching video and also for photo editing.
I’ve not had any issues with the panel in terms of burn in, and whilst there was a strange flicker when I first got the laptop on bright whites, this was a configuration issue in the Intel control panel that I was able to easily resolve.
That said, it does have some disadvantages. The main one is battery life – both the OLED and IPS 4K panels use significantly more battery life than the 1080p panel. So that is one thing to consider. However, I have not regretted my purchase and have edited many photos very happily on this laptop with this panel 🙂
I want to thank you for sharing your knowledge, & breaking everything down in such an understandable way.
I recently laid to rest my circa 2007 MacBook Pro. *moment of silence*
Being this is now almost the year 2020, & everything in the design world isn’t based in Apple anymore, I am exploring my options.
I was confused when starting my search, but after reading this article, I feel confident.
It was also refreshing to read something so genuine & authentic sounding.
Laurence Norah says
I feel your pain, I recently had to let my 2012 Dell XPS out to pasture. But the new 2019 XPS 15 has been a pretty amazing replacement 😀 I’m delighted to have been able to help. I confess to being a geek at heart (my degree is in computer science), and when we’re not travelling, geeking out over tech specs is definitely something I enjoy 😉 I’m thrilled to have been able to help you in your quest to find a replacement laptop – do let me know what you go for in the end (I don’t mind if it’s not one of my picks!), and how it works out for you 🙂
Jennifer Baker says
First let me start by saying I am not very computer savvy and the the “technical” terms I didn’t really know what they meant nor how they impacted the functionality of my laptop. I love photography, I just do for hobby, and wanted to learn how to edit my photos. Well I tried to put Lightroom on my computer and didn’t have the space. Hence my search for a new laptop. I love apple products, use their phone so I was hoping to finally make the switch to a Mac but I had no idea what to buy. I googled best laptop for photo editing and your article was one that popped up. Your article hands down was THE BEST and I feel so much more confident purchasing a new laptop. I can’t wait to explore your website more and keep learning. I will be pinning your this blog and following your social media, lol, I don’t want to miss anything!!! Thanks for taking the time to thoroughly explain everything so that I can understand and make a much more educated purchase. New Fan!!!
Laurence Norah says
Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment Jennifer, it really means a lot. I am delighted that I’ve been able to help you out with your search for a new laptop, and I hope you find the one that works for you now that you know what to look for!
I see you’ve also joined our facebook group, so I look forward to connecting in there 🙂
Asger Mollerup says
Excellent explanations, now I can make more accurate specifications for buying a new laptop.
Laurence Norah says
Thanks Asger, I hope you find what you want 😀
Quirkus Malurkis says
Excellent descriptions and explanations. Thanks for taking the time to outline everything so thoroughly and honestly.
Laurence Norah says
Thank you very much Quirkus!
Flora Moraitini says
Thank you very very much for the EXCELLENT job you have done. It is such a great help. Everything is so well and simply explained. Step by step. Incredible. On photography and computer searching . I have subscribed and soon will be in touch. Many thanks again
Laurence Norah says
Thanks very much Flora, it means a lot 😀 Do let me know if you have any questions at all, happy to help!