Looking for a new laptop to work on photography projects? We’ve rounded up the best laptops you can buy if you’re into photo editing.
Choosing a new laptop can be daunting because there are a ton of great laptops on the market from all kinds of companies and for all kinds of users. Even if you have a specific use case in mind, you’ll likely have a lot of options. We’ve previously rounded up the best laptops for content creators, and if you’re specifically into video editing, we have you covered there, too. Now it’s time for the best laptops for photo editing.
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Photo editing is generally less demanding than video editing. After all, videos are essentially thousands of still images, which makes rendering them more difficult. But if you’re working with photos professionally, using lots of effects and layers, some features are still nice to have. Specifically, it’s good to have a lot of RAM — at least 16GB — to load multiple layers into memory while editing. And of course, while it’s not as demanding, having a fast CPU is still good, and a discrete GPU will also help, especially for more complex projects.
Our top laptops for photo editing in 2023
Dell XPS 15 (2023) Best overall
A great balance of portability and screen size
The Dell XPS 15 for 2023 is the most powerful iteration yet, with an Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU delivering enough performance for all kinds of media workloads. It also has the option for a stunning OLED display that’s even better for photo editors.
- Powerful performance in a compact design
- Great displays, including a 3.5K OLED option
- Dual-tone design looks great
- Full-size SD card reader
- Lower-quality 720p webcam
- Not a lot of ports
$1299 at Dell $1572 at Amazon $1500 at Best Buy
The Dell XPS 15 is a very iconic laptop, and for a good reason. It’s very fast, and it has a great display for photo editing.
Starting with performance, the latest Dell XPS 15 comes with up to a 13th-generation Intel Core i9-13900H processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU, which gives you a ton of power for photo editing and even more powerful content creation. You can get up to 64GB of RAM and an 8TB SSD, but you can upgrade the RAM and SSD yourself later if you want.
The display starts with a Full HD+ configuration, but you can get it with a 3.5K OLED display, which covers 100% of DCI-P3. Both displays are great, but the OLED panel is exceptionally good, especially if you’re into content creation. On the other hand, one of the biggest downsides is the webcam, which is still a 720p sensor. Thankfully, it supports Windows Hello facial recognition.
The Dell XPS 15 is also impressively compact for a laptop with these specs, though it’s not exceptionally thin, at 18mm, and weighs 4.21 pounds. It also looks good with its dual-tone design, mixing silver and a black carbon fiber interior, and it makes good use of space with a large trackpad and a quad-speaker setup. For ports, you get three USB Type-C ports (two supporting Thunderbolt 4), a full-size SD card reader, and a headphone jack. There’s also an adapter in the box for HDMI and USB Type-A ports.
The Dell XPS 15 comes in multiple versions, so you can choose something that fits your needs and budget.
MacBook Air (M2) Best lightweight laptop
Ideal for working wherever you go
$1099 $1300 Save $201
The 2022 MacBook Air with the M2 processor is even more powerful than its predecessor while still being very efficient, making it perfect for photo editing on the go. Plus, it has a sharp display with P3 Wide Color, so you get a great canvas for your photos, too.
- Great performance without sacrificing battery life
- Sharp screen with P3 Wide Color
- Lightweight and premium design
- macOS may not have all the apps you want
- 256GB model has noticeably slower storage
- Upgrades are expensive
$1087 at Amazon (13 inches) $1099 at Amazon (15 inches) $1099 at Best Buy (13 inches) $1299 at Best Buy (15 inches)
MacBooks have always been very popular among content creators, and the latest MacBook Air is better than ever. Plus, there’s even a 15-inch version now.
It all starts with the processor, the powerful Apple M2 chip, which gives you more than enough performance for all kinds of photo edits. And because it’s Apple Silicon, it’s incredibly efficient, so you don’t have to worry about battery life. This new model can also be configured with up to 24GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD.
The latest MacBook Air comes in 13.6-inch and 15.3-inch variants, with resolutions of 2560×1664 and 2880×1864, respectively. This means they have the exact same DPI, plus they reach 500 nits of brightness and support P3 Wide Color, so they’re great for creative work. The screen also has a notch for the 1080p webcam, but there’s no Face ID here, just Touch ID.
The latest MacBook Air also has a more even and thinner design than before. The 13-inch model is 11.3mm thin and weighs just 2.7 pounds, while the larger version comes in at 11.5mm thin and weighs 3.3 pounds. Both sizes come in four color options — Silver, Space Grey, Starlight, and Midnight — and they also have the same ports. Those include two USB4/Thunderbolt ports (though only one external display is supported natively), as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack and a MagSafe charging connector for the first time in years.
All in all, this is a fantastic machine, not just for photo editing but for all kinds of day-to-day tasks, thanks to the incredible balance of performance, battery life, and portability.
HP Spectre x360 16 (2023) Best convertible
Versatile and powerful enough for photographers
$1200 $1700 Save $500
The HP Spectre x360 16 is a powerful convertible laptop that packs 13th-generation Intel Core processors and optional Intel Arc graphics, so it can handle more demanding photo and even video editing. The super-sharp display also helps make it ideal for content creation.
- Powerful 13th-gen Intel CPU and optional Intel Arc CPU
- Sharp and vibrant display, especially the OLED panel
- Convertible form factor also makes it great for digital artists
- May be a bit too much for more basic edits
- Somewhat heavy
$1200 at HP $1650 at Best Buy
The HP Spectre family includes some of the best laptops on the market today, and the Spectre x360 16 is the most powerful model you can get in this lineup.
Performance-wise, the HP Spectre x360 starts with 45W Intel Core i7-13700H with 14 cores and 20 threads, but you can switch to a weaker Core i7-1260P processor (with 12 cores and 16 threads), which is paired with Intel Arc A370M graphics. If you think you can benefit from a discrete GPU, this may be worth it, but the base model is already very fast. Otherwise, the laptop comes with up to 32GB of RAM and up to 2TB of storage.
The display is another highlight, with a 16-inch panel and a tall 16:10 aspect ratio, which will be a welcome boost to productivity in photo editing apps like Photoshop. What’s more, it’s a super-sharp screen, with 3072×1920 resolution by default and the option to upgrade to an Ultra HD+ OLED display if you want the absolute best you can get. Of course, being a convertible means it supports touch and pen input for drawing and inking.
As for ports, the HP Spectre x360 16 comes with two Thunderbolt 4 ports, one USB Type-A port, HDMI, a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader, so it’s a solid setup, though a full-size SD card reader would be better for importing photos from a camera. This isn’t the lightest laptop measuring at 4.5 pounds, but it looks and feels great with its dual-tone design.
It may be a bit much for most people, but it’s a fantastic choice if you want the versatility and performance.
Apple MacBook Pro (2023) Best premium laptop
Incredible performance, if you have the money for it
$1949 $1999 Save $50
The MacBook Pro is one of the absolute best laptops for creators, and while it has a bit too much power for photo editing, it’s still a phenomenal choice if you also do things like editing video or 3D rendering. With an Apple M2 Pro or Max and a stunning mini-LED display, you can’t ask for much more.
- Apple M2 Pro and M2 Max deliver phenomenal performance
- Battery life is unrivaled in this class
- Fantastic mini-LED display with up to 1,600 nits of brightness
- Fairly expensive
- More power than most will need for photo editing
$1949 at Amazon (14 inches) $2249 at Amazon (16 inches) $1999 at Best Buy (14 inches) $2299 at Best Buy (16 inches)
The MacBook Pro has always been one of the premiere laptops for creators, and the latest model is better than ever, though it is quite expensive.
Starting with the Apple M2 Pro or M2 Max processors, the 2023 MacBook Pro is already far more powerful than you need for photo editing, but it can also handle video editing and more demanding tasks with ease. That’s partly thanks to the up to 38-core GPU, but also up to 96GB of unified memory. You can also go up to 8TB of storage.
The display is stunning in both 14-inch and 16-inch models, too. The 16-inch panel has a higher resolution (3456×2236), but both have the exact same pixel density, so either one looks fantastic. What’s more, this screen uses mini-LED technology and reaches up to a whopping 1,600 nits of brightness in HDR mode, on top of having great color reproduction and a 120Hz refresh rate. There’s also a 1080p webcam above that screen, but again, no Face ID, just a fingerprint reader.
Because of the sheer performance and the premium design and build quality, the MacBook Pro is somewhat heavy, with the 14-inch model starting at 3.7 pounds while the larger version starts at 4.7 pounds. As for ports, you’re looking at three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI 2.1, a headphone jack, a full-size SD card reader (great for importing photos from a camera), and MagSafe charging.
All of this does come at a high price and you may not need something this powerful, but it is an excellent choice.
Dell XPS 17 (2023) Best 17-inch laptop
When you need the most screen real estate
$1699 $2199 Save $500
The Dell XPS 17 is a powerful 17-inch laptop that’s ideal for content creation and photo editing. Between the excellent performance and the nearly unrivaled display, you really can’t do much better, especially if you want a large screen. It can be a bit pricy, but even the base model is great.
- Powerful performance with Intel H-series processors and Nvidia graphics
- One of the absolute best screens on any laptop
- Decently portable considering its size
- It can get pretty expensive
- 720p webcam
- Not a ton of ports
$1699 at Dell $2900 at Best Buy $1999 at B&H
If you want a laptop with an extra large screen, it’s nearly impossible to do better than the Dell XPS 17, and it has been that way for years.
On the performance front, the 2023 Dell XPS 17 comes with the expected upgrades, including up to a 13th-generation Intel Core i9-13900H with 14 cores and 20 threads, along with powerful Nvidia graphics up to a GeForce RTX 4080 Laptop GPU. That gives you a ton of performance not just for photo editing, but also video. And with up to 64GB of RAM and an 8TB SSD, you can’t ask for much more.
On top of that, the Dell XPS 17 has one of the absolute best displays, period. This 17-inch panel has a 16:10 aspect ratio and up to Ultra HD+ resolution, and this model specifically has outstanding color reproduction, covering nearly 100% of sRGB, DCI-P3, and Adobe RGB. It’s outstanding, though the same can’t be said for the mediocre 720p webcam. At least it supports Windows Hello facial recognition.
Design-wise, the Dell XPS 17 also stands out for its extremely thin bezels that allow it to weigh just 5.10 pounds in the base model. The laptop is 19.50mm thick, and it’s also unique in its look, mixing a silver exterior with a black carbon fiber weave pattern on the inside. For ports, you get four Thunderbolt 4 connections, a headphone jack, and a full-size SD card reader, plus a couple of adapters for USB Type-A and HDMI in the box.
It’s a bit pricy, but you can’t do much better than the Dell XPS 17.
Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 14 OLED (2023) Best dual-screen laptop
Two screens for more productivity
$2299 $2400 Save $101
With powerful processors and a unique dual-screen setup, the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED is a somewhat expensive, but very compelling laptop for photo editing. The secondary display gives you additional controls, although that creates an unusual keyboard and touchpad layout.
- Dual-screens give you more space and quick access to certain tools
- Powerful Intel processors and Nvidia graphics
- Primary display is a 16:10 OLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate
- Unconventional touchpad and keyboard layout
- Somewhat expensive
$2400 at Best Buy $2400 at Amazon $2299 at B&H
If you’re looking for something more unique, the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED may be for you. With two whole screens and powerful performance, this is another great choice for creators.
It starts with 13th-generation Intel processors, up to a Core i9-13900H with 14 cores and 20 threads, along with a powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 Laptop GPU that’s more than enough for photo editing. You also get 32GB of RAM and up to 2TB of storage.
The main screen is a 14.5-inch 2880×1800 OLED panel with a 16:10 aspect ratio, with 100% coverage of DCI-P3, Pantone validation, and the usual benefits of OLED, like true blacks and high contrast ratios. Plus, it’s also a touchscreen with pen support, and there’s a 1080p webcam with Windows Hello right above it.
This is complemented by the second screen, this one being a 12.7-inch panel with about half the height of the main one. It comes in 2280×864 resolution so it’s just as sharp, it has a 120Hz refresh rate, and it also supports touch and pen input. You can do a few things with this second screen, such as displaying more apps or a control panel for certain apps like Photoshop.
Because of the second display, the laptop has a touchpad on the right side of the keyboard, which may take some getting used to. Unsurprisingly, having two screens and powerful specs makes for a somewhat heavy laptop, weighing 3.86 pounds. Finally, in terms of ports, the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED gives you two Thunderbolt 4 ports, one USB Type-A, HDMI, a headphone jack, and a full-size SD card reader, so you have a solid setup.
For most people, this laptop is probably somewhat overkill, but it’s a fantastic device if you see value in the unique features it offers.
Lenovo Slim Pro 9i Best mini-LED
A bright display and powerful specs
$1899 $2149 Save $250
THe Lenovo Slim Pro 9i is a fairly rare Windows laptop that uses a mini-LED display to get up to 1,200 nits of brightness, making for a great visual experience. It also comes with powerful Intel processors and Nvidia graphics, making this a great choice for photographers and creators in general.
- 13th-gen Intel processors and powerful Nvidia graphics
- Mini-LED display has solid colors and up to 1,200 nits of brightness
- Solid supply of ports
- The webcam isn’t good despite the resolution
- Hard to find in stock
$1899 at B&H $1600 at Newegg (14-inch) $2000 at Newegg (16-inch)
If the idea of a mini-LED display sounds enticing but you don’t want to spring for a MacBook, the Lenovo Slim Pro 9i is another excellent choice, and it comes in similar sizes, too.
The 14-inch model of the Lenovo Slim Pro 9i comes with an Intel Core i7-13705H processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics, while the 16-inch model takes things up a notch with a Core i9-13905H and up to an RTX 4060. Considering we’re talking about photo editing, both models are more than powerful enough, and the 32GB of RAM and 1TB SSD help with that.
The big draw here is the mini-LED panel, which promises to reach up to 1,200 nits in HDR mode in both models. The 14.5-inch model has 3072×1920 resolution, while the 16-inch version comes in at 3200×2000, and both are great. Both also have a 165Hz refresh rate and solid color reproduction, making them suitable for photography. Above the display is a 5MP webcam with Windows Hello support, though video quality is surprisingly poor with this camera.
Both models of the Slim Pro 9i have a similar design language, looking fairly sleek in Storm Grey. Both models are a bit on the heavier side, with the 14-inch version weighing 3.7 pounds while the 16-inch model goes up to 4.92 pounds, but they’re still somewhat portable. As for ports, you get two USB Type-C and two Type-A ports, along with HDMI, a headphone jack, and an SD card reader on the 14-inch model. The 16-inch version is nearly identical, but replaces one of the Type-C ports with Type-A and adds a proprietary charging port.
All of this makes for a great laptop for creators, regardless of what size you choose. Because photo editing is relatively light, the 14-inch model is a great, more affordable option.
Surface Pro 9 (Wi-Fi) Best detachable
For those always on the move
$953 $1100 Save $147
It’s not as powerful as other laptops on this list, but the Surface Pro 9 is an excellent choice if you want a very portable machine, so you can get work done wherever you go. The processor can handle simpler photo edits just fine, and the display is great, too.
- More portable and lighter than others on this list
- Very sharp display with a 120Hz refresh rate
- Pen support makes it suitable for digital artists
- Not good for more demanding tasks
- Poor selection of ports
- You need to buy a keyboard separately
$953 at Amazon $1000 at Best Buy
If portability is your first priority, or you also enjoy digital drawing, it’s hard to match the versatility of a tablet. If that’s what you’re looking for, the Surface Pro 9 is for you. We’re specifically looking at the Wi-Fi model, as the 5G version suffers due to the Arm processor.
Performance isn’t quite like the devices above, but you get 12th-generation Intel Core processors, up to a Core i7-1255U, which gives you good enough performance for basic photo editing and day-to-day use, though it won’t be ideal for more demanding tasks. You can also configure it with up 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.
The display on the Surface Pro 9 is also great. This is a 13-inch panel, and it’s the only one on this list with a 3:2 aspect ratio. It’s very sharp, too, with a resolution of 2880×1920. The display generally looks great, though the glass cover is very reflective. Still, it’s an excellent choice for color-sensitive work, and it even has a 120Hz refresh rate. You also get a solid camera setup here, with a 5MP camera on the front with Windows Hello support and a 10MP camera on the back capable of 4K video recording.
Portability is a major focus for the Surface Pro 9, which weighs 1.94 pounds by itself, but you have to consider the extra weight of a keyboard if you’re going to use it as a typical laptop. It also measures 9.4mm thick (without the keyboard). The Surface Pro 9 comes in a few color options, such as Platinum, Graphite, Sapphire, and Forest. Ports are a downside, however. You get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and that’s about it, so a docking station is almost required.
While it has some downsides, this is pretty much your only choice if you want a decently powerful tablet, and it’s great in many ways.
Best photo editing laptops in 2023: The bottom line
All of these are exceptional laptops for photo editing with their own strengths and weaknesses. We chose the Dell XPS 15 as the top pick because it offers powerful performance, an excellent display (especially that OLED model), and some degree of portability despite the top-tier specs. It can get a bit pricy with that display upgrade, but it’s a fantastic choice.
Dell XPS 15 (2023) Editor’s choice
The Dell XPS 15 (2023) model brings some modest improvements over the previous generation. It has options for Intel’s newest 13th-generation CPUs and the latest Nvidia RTX 40-series graphics cards. All of that is packed into the same sleek and light package with the option for an OLED display.
$1299 at Dell $1572 at Amazon $1500 at Best Buy
If you want to save even more money, the MacBook Air is also a great option. While its base model isn’t quite as powerful, it’s still very fast and has a great display so that it can handle more basic photo edits just fine, plus it has a great display for a lower price. But there are plenty of great options here for everyone. And if you don’t have a particular interest in these, you may want to check out our list of the best laptops in general, as there are many great options there, too.