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Best laptops for photo editing in 2020

best laptops for photo editors
best laptops for photo editors

The best laptop for photo editors should be a content creator's dream. It should be a powerful machine that's equipped with a zippy hard drive, stocked with artist-friendly ports and jam-packed with relevant photo editing software. It should also have a GPU that can handle graphics-intensive applications.

And of course, as a photo editor, you'll also need a beautiful display that's capable of accurately reproducing a wide range of colors. 

At Laptop Mag, we've reviewed a myriad of laptops that are perfect for photo editors and we test for benchmarks that are important for photo editors, including Delta-E scores, sRGB gamut volume and graphics performance. Armed with these metrics, we've put together a list of the best photo editing laptops we've reviewed. Trust us, we know which laptops are best for photo editors.

For those who also dabble in video, check out our best video editing laptops. If you prefer to edit photos on a touch screen using your finger or a stylus then head over to our best touch screen laptops and best 2-in-1 pages for more specific recommendations. 

What is the best laptop for photo editors?

The best laptop for photo editing is the HP Spectre x360 15. One of the most striking features of this laptop is that it reproduces a whopping 256% of the sRGB color gamut, which means which means you'll get rich, luxurious colors with sharp details and contrast.

Covering such a wide spectrum of the color wheel, imagine the heart-stopping visuals we've seen on the HP Spectre x360 15 when it came through our lab. The 4K OLED display on the x360 15 is absolutely stunning. Photo editing on the HP Spectre x360 15 will be an absolute treat with the laptop's discreet graphics card, which will help you run some of the most demanding photo-editing software on the market.

The MSI Prestige 15 is one of the best laptops for photography. It's perfect for those who collaborate with other artistic teammates in the office. Its innovative flip-and-share mode makes the laptop an easy pick for collaborative content creators.

While the HP Spectre x360 15 is our favorite laptop for photo editing, there are many photo-editing capable laptops that have came through our labs that have impressed us to the core.  Like any laptop, there may be some downsides, but depending on your needs and desires, those flaws may not be an issue for you, especially if the pros outweigh the cons. 

In this buying guide, we've outlined the pros and cons of the best laptop for photo editors so that you can get a good overview of which laptop is the best for you.

The best laptops for photo editing you can buy now

  1. HP Spectre x360 15
  2. Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)
  3. Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
  4. HP ZBook Studio x360 G5
  5. Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
  6. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
  7. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
  8. Lenovo Legion Y7000
  9. HP Envy 13 (2019)
  10. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
  11. Dell XPS 15 (2019)
  12. LG Gram 17
  13. Asus ZenBook Pro Duo
  14. MSI Prestige 15

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: HP Spectre x360 15

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: HP Spectre x360 15

1. HP Spectre x360 15

The best photo editor laptop overall

CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U | GPU: Nvidia GeForce MX150 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 1TB | Display: 15.6-inch, 4K OLED | Size: 14.2 x 9.8 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 4.5 pounds

Lux design
Good performance and graphics
Vivid 4K OLED display
Comfortable keyboard
Bezels are a bit thick

There is no better laptop for photo editing than HP's Spectre x360 15. The highlight of this machine is a 15.6-inch, 4K OLED display that is exceptionally vivid (256% of the sRGB color gamut) and blindingly bright (483 nits). That panel is the only thing that will take your eyes off the Spectre x360 15's elegant chassis, which looks like something only the rich and famous could afford. 

Photographers will also appreciate that the laptop's discrete MX150 GPU offers enough graphics oomph to run demanding photo-editing programs with some help from a Core i7-8565U CPU. And the keyboard on the Spectre x360 15 is one of the best around.

See our full HP Spectre x360 (15-inch) review.

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

2. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

The best laptop for photo editors with top-notch keyboard

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 14-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3 pounds

Bright, vivid 1080p display
Slim, durable aluminum chassis
Best-in-class keyboard
Long battery life
No SD card reader

Lenovo took a chance with the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, the first metal ThinkPad, and it paid off. While we still love the signature matte-black carbon-fiber found on most ThinkPads, the aluminum and magnesium ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a gorgeous change of pace.

Not only does it have a slim design, but this convertible 2-in-1 flaunts a bright display that reaches 402 nits and covers 106% of the sRGB color gamut. Oh, and you get a best-in-class keyboard and long battery life. You also get loads of extra goodies, like a built-in stylus slot and webcam cover. 

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019) review.

 

best laptops for photo editors: Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch)

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch) (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

3. Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

The best Apple laptop for photo editors

CPU: Intel Core i7/Core i9 | GPU: Radeon Pro 5300M/5500M | RAM: 16GB/32GB/64GB | Storage: 512GB/1TB/2TB/4TB/8TB | Display: 16-inch, 2072 x 1920 | Size: 14.1 x 9.7 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 4.3 pounds

Radically improved Magic Keyboard
Immersive 16-inch display with slimmer bezels
Beastly performance
Powerful 6-speaker audio
Display not 4K

 The 16-inch MacBook Pro is just your type if you’ve been waiting for Apple to make a better keyboard. The Magic Keyboard on this premium laptop ditches the Butterfly mechanism in favor of a scissor switch, and the result is a much more comfortable typing experience. You also get a bright and sharp 16-inch display with slimmer bezels, powerful performance from an available Core i9 CPU and robust AMD Radeon 5300M or 5500M graphics. 

You also get up to 64GB of RAM and 8TB of storage if you really want to splurge. The 11 hours of battery life is another plus on this laptop, dwarfing the runtimes of its competitors. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is pricey, and Apple still doesn’t include full-size USB ports, but overall this is a very formidable workstation for creative pros. 

See our full Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) review.

Best performance: HP ZBook Studio x360 G5

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: HP ZBook Studio x360 G5

4. HP ZBook Studio x360 G5

The best workstation for photo editors

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7/Core i9/Xeon | GPU: Intel UHD 630/Nvidia Quadro P1000/Quadro P2000 | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB/64GB | Storage: Up to 4TB | Display: 15.6-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 14.2 x 9.7 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 4.9 pounds

Versatile design
Gorgeous 4K display
Long battery life
Amazing performance
Lid flexes

The HP ZBook Studio x360 G5's 15.6-inch 4K display is extremely detailed and vibrant.Coupled with blistering workstation-class performance, this beastly machine is an excellent option for photo editors who need the most powerful setup to run demanding programs. Better yet, the x360 G5 has a rugged chassis for those times you're out in the field, and its lengthy battery life means you don't need to stay near an outlet. 

The x360 G5 can be configured with premium components, including an Intel Xeon E-2186M CPU (with Quadro P1000 graphics), 32GB of RAM, and two 2TB SSDs. We suggest photo editors opt for the 4K touch screen over the FHD model.

See our full ZBook Studio x360 G5 review.

best laptops for photo editors: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

5. Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

The best 2-in-1 laptop for photo editors

CPU: Intel Core i3/ Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: IntelIris Plus | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB | Display: 13.4-inch, 1920 x 1200-pixel or 4K | Size: 11.7 x 8.2 x 0.5 inches | Weight: 2.9 pounds

Slim, premium design
Strong performance
Bright, vivid 13.4-inch display
Long battery life
Few ports

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 had to be practically perfect to dethrone HP's excellent Spectre x360 13 --- and it is. Dell's newest flagship 2-in-1 packs strong performance thanks to its 10th Gen Intel Ice Lake processors. Battery life, at nearly 11 hours, is also fantastic. On top of that, you get a unique 13.4-inch (16:10 aspect ratio) display that is bright and vivid and a slim, premium chassis.

See our full Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review

Editor's Note: Not sure you need a convertible 2-in-1? The clamshell XPS 13 is also an outstanding laptop with a gorgeous 4K display. See our Dell XPS 13 (Late 2019) review

best laptops for photo editors: Microsoft Surface Pro 6

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: Microsoft Surface Pro 6

6. Microsoft Surface Pro 6

The best detachable laptop for photo editors

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/TB | Display: 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824-pixel | Size: 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.3 inches | Weight: 1.7 pounds/2.4 pounds (with keyboard)

Vivid and accurate display
Superfast performance
Long battery life
Snappy keyboard
No USB-C

Our favorite detachable just got even better with the Surface Pro 6, which significantly improves battery life and performance when compared to its predecessors. Now equipped with a quad-core CPU, the 2-in-1 can run Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom without breaking a sweat. The 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1823 resolution display is everything a photo editor could ask for — it's bright, vivid and accurate. In fact, it covers a very good 136 percent of the sRGB color gamut and reached more than 400 nits of brightness. 

You'll have to buy the Surface Pen and the Type Cover separately, but they add a ton of functionality to this lightweight (1.7 pounds) tablet. 

What about the Surface Pro 7? We praised the tablet in our review but can't recommend it over the Pro 6 until the price drops. 

See our full Microsoft Surface Pro 6 review.

best laptops for photo editors: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

7. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

The best laptop for photo editors with 4K display

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: GeForce GTX 1050Ti | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB/64GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 15.6-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 14.2 x 9.7 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 3.8 pounds (FHD)/4 pounds (4K)

Stunning 4K HDR display
Slim, durable chassis
Fantastic keyboard
Blazing-fast performance
Runs warm

Photographers who want the benefits of a business laptop should look no further than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme. The 15.6-inch laptop takes everything we love about the ThinkPad series to the next level. It has an excellent keyboard, tons of security features and a wide range of ports, all included in a sleek, durable chassis. And while its battery life could be better, the X1 Extreme is one of the fastest laptops we've ever tested. 

But the crown jewel of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is its jaw-dropping 4K HDR display, which covers an outstanding 186 percent of the sRGB color gamut. That tops the displays on the Dell XPS 15, 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro and the Asus ZenBook Pro 15. The X1 Extreme's panel also reached a solid 366 nits of brightness.

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review.

best laptops for photo editors: Lenovo Legion Y7000

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: Lenovo Legion Y700

8. Lenovo Legion Y7000

The best laptop for photo editors with gaming capabilities

CPU: Intel Core i7 | GPU: GeForce GTX 1060 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 256GBSSD, 1TB HDD | Display: 15.6-inch, 1080p | Size: 14.2 x 10.5 x 1.1 inches | Weight: 5.3 pounds

Sleek, elegant design
Strong performance
Solid battery life
Good keyboard
Disappointing speakers
Awful nosecam

Gaming laptops are inherently great for photo editing. Why? Because they come with discrete graphics, which is a major perk when you're running GPU-intensive programs like Photoshop. 

An excellent balance of price and performance, the Lenovo Legion Y7000 is the best gaming laptop for photo editing— at least, for most people. The Y7000 sports a vivid 15.6-inch, 1080p display and its keyboard is up to the quality that we expect from Lenovo.

See our full Lenovo Legion Y7000 review.

best laptops for photo editors: HP Envy 13 (2019)

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: HP Envy 13 (2019)

9. HP Envy 13 (2019)

The best budget friendly laptop for photo editors

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620/GeForce MX250 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 13.3-inch,1080p or 4K | Size: 12.1 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Attractive chassis
Thin and lightweight
Fast performance
Long battery life (on FHD model)
No Thunderbolt 3

The latest HP Envy 13 is an excellent all-around laptop that has a sleek, stylish aluminum chassis, fast performance and more than 11 hours of battery life (on the 1080p model). At $799, the Envy 13 is a cheaper alternative to the XPS 13 but offers some features Dell's laptop doesn't, including a webcam kill switch and a unique elevated hinge.

See our full HP Envy 13 review

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 for Business (15-inch, Intel)

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 for Business (Image credit: Future)

10. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (15-inch, Intel)

The best portable laptop for photo editors

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 15-inch, 2496 x 1664-pixel | Size: 13.4 x 9.6 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3.4 pounds

Slim, lightweight chassis
Attractive metal design
Fast performance
Comfortable keyboard
Scant port selection
Integrated graphics still underperform

The follow-up to one of our favorite laptops improves upon a winning formula in almost every way. The Surface Laptop 3 with Intel CPUs has a slim aluminum chassis, which gives the laptop a sleek, premium feel. For photographers, the new 15-inch, 2K display (3:2 aspect ratio) is vivid, capable of reproducing an amazing 105 percent of the sRGB color gamut. The Surface Laptop 2 also has long battery life, fast performance and a useful magnetic Surface connector.

Microsoft sells an AMD version of the Surface Laptop 3 at Best Buy and other popular retails but we recommend skipping that one for this "for business"edition. This face-off between the two versions shows why.

See our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 review

best laptops for photo editors: Dell XPS 15 (2019)

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: Dell XPS 15 (2019)

11. Dell XPS 15 (2019)

The best 15-inch laptop for photo editors

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7/Core i9 | GPU: Intel UHD 630/GeForce GTX 1650 | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 15.6-inch,1080p or 4K | Size: 14.1 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 4.5 pounds

Striking 4K OLED display
Awesome overall performance
Webcam is where it should be
Slim, premium design
Meh battery life

You haven't seen a good laptop display until you've feasted your eyes on the OLED panel gracing the newest Dell XPS 15. With exceptional brightness and color reproduction, this pricey upgrade is a photographer's dream. 

The 15.6-inch laptop also gives you tons of power to run even the most demanding photo-editing software, all packaged in a chassis that can be easily transported from shoot to shoot. But our favorite thing about the 2019 model is that the webcam has returned to its rightful position, above the display.

See our full Dell XPS 15 review

Best 17-inch: LG Gram 17

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: LG Gram 17

12. LG Gram 17

The best 17-inch laptop for photo editors

CPU: Intel Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB | Display: 17-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel | Size: 15 x 10.5 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 3 pounds

Lightest 17-inch laptop ever
Excellent battery life
Vivid, detailed display
No discrete GPU

When photographers touch-up their pictures, they need to see every last detail, which is why the editing is often done on a massive monitor. But how can you get the same precision when you're on the go? Meet the LG Gram 17, a remarkably portable laptop with excellent battery life and a large, high-resolution 17-inch display. 

How portable is it really? Get this: the Gram 17 fits a 17-inch display into a featherweight 3-pound chassis that's about the size of a 15-inch laptop. Another reason photographers will love the Gram 17 is for its display. The laptop's bright and vivid panel has a resolution of 2560 x 1600 and its unique 16:10 aspect ratio lets you see more content at once without scrolling.

See our full LG Gram 17 review

best laptops for photo editors: Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

13. Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

The best dual-screen laptop for photo editors

CPU: Intel Core i9 | GPU: GeForce RTX 2060 | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 1TB | Display: 15.6-inch, 4K 14.1-inch, 4K | Size: 14.1 x 9.7 x 0.9 inches | Weight: 5.5 pounds

Innovative dual 4K displays
Great overall performance
Stays cool
Chunky and heavy

Asus' ZenBook Pro Duo is unlike any laptop we've ever tested. Instead of having just one display, the Duo flaunts a primary 15.6-inch, 4K OLED display along with a secondary 14-inch, 4K panel on the deck. The dual displays are great for multi-tasking, and allow photographers to move their tools onto another screen while keeping their main canvas clear of any clutter.

Combine those gorgeous displays with fast performance and adequate cooling and it's easy to see why the ZenBook Pro Duo is one of the best laptops for photographers.

See our full Asus ZenBook Pro Duo review.

best laptops for photo editors: MSI Prestige 15

best 2020 laptops for photo editors: MSI Prestige 15 (Image credit: Future)

14. The MSI Prestige 15

The best laptop for collaborative photo editors

CPU: Intel Core i7 | GPU: GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 1TB | Display: 15.6-inch, 4K | Size: 14.4 x 9.2 x 0.6 | Weight: 3.6 pounds

Gorgeous 4K display
Lightweight, portable chassis
Covers 159% of sRGB gamut
Cool flip-and-share mode
So-so webcam

The MSI Prestige 15 is a powerful machine that is tailor-made for all content creators, especially for collaborative artists. The MSI Prestige has an innovative flip-and-share mode that allows photo editors to quickly show their work to team members sitting across from them.

The MSI Prestige is perfect for on-the-go photo editors because it's an ultraportable, lightweight laptop that sports a 10th Gen CPU and discreet graphics. The MSI Prestige 15 also covered 159% of the sRGB gamut, which is impressive. The Prestige 15 also has a gorgeous, eye-catching 4K screen that will make your photo editing work easy due to the true-to-life, vivid display.

See our full MSI Prestige 15 review.

How to choose the best photo editing laptop for you

The best photo editing laptop is well stocked on ports, has excellent color reproduction, can handle demanding photo editing software and more. Here's what you should look for when choosing the best photo editing laptop for you.

The sRGB gamut coverage:  The sRGB gamut coverage tells you how well a laptop can reproduce all colors on the color wheel.This is what separates a lackluster viewing experience from a captivating, can't-take-your-eyes-off the-screen moments. At Laptop Mag, we use the sRGB color gamut to measure color quality, with 100% being our accepted minimum. All the best photo editing laptops in our buying guide surpass this benchmark.

Delta-E score: The Delta-E is a single number that represents the 'distance' between two colors. A score of 0 is ideal and represents high color accuracy.

Ports: Photo editors need SD card readers, Thunderbolt 3 ports and other artist-friendly ports that are helpful for transferring files or optimizing the photo editing experience. Keep an eye out for the ports you'll need and figure out whether your laptop of choice has everything you need. You can always get an adapter if the laptop you really want doesn't have a port you desire.

High-performing graphics card: Keep a look out for discreet graphics cards as opposed to integrated GPUs as they will be able to handle the most demanding photo editing platforms on the market.

Software: Some laptops will come equipped with quality pre-installed photo editing software that will make you photo editing experience a breeze.

Brightness: As a photo editor, you must be very detail oriented and it's not easy to be nitpicky with details if you have a dim display. Look for laptops with brightness scores of over 250 nits.

Storage: If you need a ton of space to handle your workload, you'll need to ensure that your laptop has enough storage so that you don't end up frustrated when you receive a message telling you that you've run out of space.

How we test the best laptops for photo editors

We test the best laptops for photo editors by, first, running tests on the laptop's display. Our labs run sRGB gamut coverage tests, as well as Delta E accuracy, screen brightness and more.

We also test the graphics card performance by using the 3DMark benchmark to determine the laptop's ability to run graphic-intensive applications. We also dive into processor performance using the Geekbench benchmark.

Our labs also test for how fast the laptop can transfer files, which is important information for impatient photo editors who have a lot of content to output and input on their laptops.

Multitasking muscle is another aspect of laptops we test. Photo editors tend to have multiple programs running in the background, and if a laptop lacks multitasking muscle, it will become slow and sluggish. 

We also dive into tests that have nothing to do with photo editing, but may appeal to photo editors depending on their needs, including the image quality of the webcam, the crispness of the speakers and gaming capabilities.