Best laptop for Photography: Complete guide an 5 best picks

The best laptop for photography should have a good balance of performance (for editing), high-quality screen and portability.

In the next 5 minutes, I will cover all bases that need to be addressed to pick your own best laptop for photography. I will also list out what you should expect at various price ranges.

A good laptop for a photographerAt the end, I’ll list out 5 best picks when it comes to best laptops for photography. To find them, I went over a 120 hottest laptops and evaluated them using an array of metrics and benchmarks starting from the processor and ending with every important display metric: panel, resolution, brightness, contrast, sRGB/RGB coverage.

Requirements for the best laptop for photography

I have conveniently split requirements into 3 groups: 3 Major, 3 Minor, and a single Optional demand. Depending on your personal needs, these can be re-ordered or even thrown out. But most could blindly stick with these exact requirements without risking of making a wrong choice.

What is critical for photography laptop?

Major requirement A lot of storage (fast) space

Types of drives

Whenever you’re checking out a laptop, one of the very first you should look at is its storage type. There are 2 most general types of storage and a few options in-between.

First and foremost, SSD is the king when it comes to storage drives. It is the single most impactful advance when it comes to consumer computer parts in the past 10 years. That’s because they’re head and shoulders above the older HDD drives. Solid State Drives are tremendously faster, they consume less power and they do not degrade in performance as HDDs do. But there is one very relevant caveat when it comes to these drives – their price. SSDs are quite a bit cheaper when looking at their price tags from a few years back but they’re still a lot more expensive than their HDD counterparts.

2000 GB

Storage size
Type 500 GB 1000 GB
HDD $35 $55 $95
SSD $200 $400 $850

Not surprisingly, a complete opposite could be said about Hard Drive Disks. They are redundantly cheap and best suited for long-term storage. If you are searching for a stationary computer – this would be the end of the story when it comes to drives. Get 500 GB in SSD for the system, photo editing apps and your recent pictures. Then, add 2 TB in HDD for image archives and forget about all storage limits.

The reason why this won’t (usually) work for laptops stems from their size limits. Only 17.3″ owners could brag about their 3 or 4 installed drives. Now, many 15-inch notebooks have very limited options for additional storage. Most likely, they have 1 drive slot and mSATA or M.2 connection. In some cases, manufacturers, striving for ever slimmer and lighter laptops, completely moved to M.2 drives which are only suitable for SSDs.

At the end of the day, you need to choose:

  • A lot of cheap and slow storage
  • A small-ish SSD and a spacious HDD in a 15″-17″ laptop
  • A large SSD in an expensive laptop
What to expect
13.3″ 15.6″ 17.3″
Under $1000 250 GB SSD 250 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD 250 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD
Under $1500 500 GB SSD 500 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD 500 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD
Over $1500 500 GB SSD 500 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD 500 TB SSD + 1 TB HDD

One more thing, you could get a small external drive over USB 3.0 later down the road, when you’ll be certain that you need one. UBS 3.0 drives are sufficiently fast to not notice a difference. There’s always a cloud storage option, but I would only use them for back-ups. Even with a 100 Mbps internet, they’re still not convenient at all when working with high-resolution RAW images.

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Best laptop for photo and video editing

Finding the best laptop for photo and video editing requires balancing a lot of power-hungry components with a top-notch screen while keeping a personal budget in the equation.

Photo and video editingAnd it gets even more complicated.

When you need a lightweight machine that can run for hours on its battery alone while still being able to provide the smoothest workflow.

In this post, I will describe what you need to look for EXACTLY in a notebook for creative work and what you should expect at your price range to the dollar.

Finally, I’ll list out 7 best options when it comes to best laptops for video and photo editing. To pick them out, I went over a 100 hottest laptops and evaluated them using specs and benchmarks that took me days to find and collect.

What are we looking for in a photo and video editing laptop?

What is essential for the best laptop for photo and video editing?

Major requirement SSD

How much storage do I need?

You need to decide on the total amount of storage that you’ll need. A basic starting point should be 500 GB. But if I were you, I would advise going up to 1 TB or more.

Do I need an SSD?

Yes. I recommend getting at least a small 250 GB SSD for OS, Photoshop, Lightroom or your favorite photo editing app and several “hot” photo folders. It will make a world of difference. When I edit photos, I notice a measurable difference between my files on SSD and HDD. And I don’t have to work with super high-resolution uncompressed RAW images that would benefit the most from an SSD.

But the main issue with laptop SSDs is that there aren’t many laptops that come with 1 TB SSD built-in. That’s why sometimes you’ll need to limit yourself to 500 GB + 1 TB setup or you’ll need to spend ~$320 for 1 TB SSD.

What should be my target?

At the end of the day, everything revolves around two variables:

  • Size of a desired laptop
  • Your spending budget

That’s what I would recommend and what you should optimistically expect:

13-inch 15-inch 17-inch
Under $1000 250 GB SSD + external storage 250 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD 250 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD
Under $1500 500 GB SSD 500 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD 500 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD
Over $1500 500 GB SSD + external storage 500 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD 1 TB SSD + 1 TB HDD

The good part with 15.6″ and 17.3″ laptops is that they often have 2 or 3 slots for storage. That allows easy upgrades in the future.

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9 Best Laptops for Lightroom (240+ Laptops compared)

Choosing a laptop for Lightroom
Choosing a laptop for Adobe Lightroom is not particularly hard – having a high-end graphics card is not necessary, laptops with larger and faster hard drives and memory are now commonplace. But it gets problematic when you have to take into consideration screen and upgrade potential.

Surely no sane man would go through all new, well-received and best selling laptops to find out what is the best one for Lightroom. But you’d be making a mistake if you call me sane.

So I compiled a list of 244 laptops (most of them are outdated, but they are always down in the list when comparing metrics). Then I compared them to their performance (using real benchmarks), storage, screen quality and weight. I have weighed all of these metrics according to what’s important to Lightroom – so you know these laptops are the best for their purpose.

In this post I’ll cover 8 best laptops for Lightroom and what’s so great AND what’s not so perfect about them. Also, I will make sure that anything above budget options will also be a viable option for other software you might end up using (khm khm.. Photoshop).

This time, unlike any other, I’ll start off with the laptops and then I’ll write about how did I end up choosing them. Finally, at the bottom of the article, I’ll give you the link to the spreadsheet covering all the quantified comparisons of these 240 laptops ranging from $370 to $3700!

Here we go!

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