If you're itching to dive into photo editing but you don't have thousands of dollars to blow on a premium laptop with a 4K display, then you're probably in the same boat as Tom's Guide forum user jmercier76, who asked for help in finding a photo-editing laptop on a budget.
jmercier76 is on a $800 budget and prefers a laptop with a 13- to 15-inch display, at least 256GB of storage and a 4-hour minimum of battery life. They plan on using the laptop for "web development programming, Photoshop, Illustrator, drawing [and] maybe some movies."
We've compiled a few options at various prices to help budget-minded creatives get a system that gets the job done without straining your budget.
The Microsoft Surface Go is our most cost-effective option, starting at $399. It has a 10-inch, 1800 x 1200 panel that covers 129 percent of the sRGB spectrum and emits 415 nits of brightness, so it's more than capable of making jmercier76's creations look great despite being smaller than their preferred size.
Its Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y processor with 4GB of RAM isn't the fastest around, as it scored 3,907 on the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance benchmark, but it surpasses most budget Windows laptops. Unfortunately, you'll be getting only 64GB of storage and its battery lasted just 6 hours and 6 minutes.
However, it does offer a comfortable typing experience with a decent 0.9-mm travel keyboard and an IR webcam to access Windows Hello. Since its a detachable 2-in-1, you can also draw with the Surface Pen.
The Asus ZenBook UX330UA is somewhat older, but it's powered by an 8th Gen Intel i5-8250U processor with 8GB of RAM and meets the $800 budget exactly. Its 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 display hit 105 percent of the sRGB color gamut and averaged 302 nits of brightness. Although it's not as colorful or bright as the Surface Go, it has more display real estate.
It scored 12,871 on Geekbench 4, which is triple the score of the Surface Go. In addition, it also offers a 256GB SSD. Its keyboard features a springy 1.6 millimeters of travel and the battery lasted a solid 8 hours and 20 minutes. However, it's non-touch, so you can't draw with it.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
In a bigger and more badass form, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 shows up its sibling with its better power and prettier display for $759. Its 13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504 panel nailed 176 percent of the sRGB spectrum and averaged 321 nits of brightness. It's dimmer than the Surface Go, but all that extra color is so worth it.
Armed with an Intel Core i5-8250U processor with 8GB of RAM, the Surface Laptop 2 nailed 12,744 on Geekbench 4.1. This system also comes with a 256GB SSD. The Surface offers a much more elegant design and the best keyboard of the bunch, as its keys feature 1.3 millimeters of travel and are supported by super-comfortable Alcantara fabric. And, of course, you can use the Surface Pen to draw.
We hope that one of these help you get what you need out of your photo-editing experience. Let us know which you decide to go with!
Credit: Laptop Mag
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Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.