The best photo-editing laptops for photographers in 2024

The best photo-editing laptops won't just be the perfect tool for photographers needing to do some photo editing. A machine with a fast processor, plenty of RAM, and a large storage drive will also give you a computer ideal for home-working - these slimline marvels will quite likely outperform that dusty old desktop tower in your office!

What's more, the addition of a quality screen with consistent color and contrast will not only bring images to life, but it can also help reduce eye strain and fatigue.

These days pretty much every major laptop manufacturer offers a model sporting a top-spec 4K screen with 100% sRGB color space coverage and wide contrast to keep highlight and shadow detail consistently visible.

The latest MacBook Pro models are still a force to be reckoned with for sheer photo-editing power, or just general home working. The current MacBook Pro 14 (M3, 2023) is stupendously fast, while also boasting stunning screen quality so you can edit images with the best possible accuracy.

Don't ignore the latest crop of Windows PC laptops, though. The market is fierce, producing some excellent all-rounders like the Razer Blade 15, Microsoft Surface Laptop, and Dell XPS 15.

Of course, the right laptop for you depends on many factors: will this be your main machine, or is this a secondary device? How important are power and speed versus portability and battery life? We’d recommend a 15-inch screen size as the best balance between portability and having a versatile Photoshop workspace, while 16-17 inches offers a super-comfortable screen real estate and is worth the extra weight penalty if you'll be predominantly working from home.

Here are the best photo-editing laptops you can get right now…

Ben Andrews
Ben Andrews

Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys. 

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The best photo-editing laptops in 2024

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

Most powerful laptop for photo editing

Editor's Choice

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

1. MacBook Pro 16 (M2 Max, 2023)

The most powerful photo-editing laptop you can buy

Specifications

CPU: Up to 12-core CPU
Graphics: Up to 38-core GPU
RAM: 16GB – 96GB
Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone
Storage: 1TB – 8TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
M2 Max is astonishing fast
+
Some of the best speakers on a laptop
+
Big beautiful color. Accurate screen
+
SD card slot is a very welcome edition

Reasons to avoid

-
Very very expensive
-
Notch isn't needed 
-
Chunkier shape feels bigger than previous Intel 16-inch design

What the M2 Max gives you in terms of photo editing power is astonishing, the MacBook Pro 16 with M2 Max is an absolute demon of a laptop, it will tear through any photo editing you can throw at it and still be ready for more. It handles Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom without breaking a sweat and allows you to carry on with your other work at the same time.

Unfortunately, it also comes with a monstrous price that is truly quite hard to recommend spending, and photographers might be better served by the M2 Pro, which is available in the 16 and 14-inch MacBook Pro. But for those who want a bigger MacBook to see more of their images, the 16-inch is the way to go.

The MacBook Pro 16 is a fantastic laptop, with a lot going for it from the beautiful color-accurate screen, booming speakers, sharp webcams, and excellent keyboard and trackpad, it is a very worthy upgrade for anyone using Intel-based MacBooks.

See our full Apple MacBook Pro 16 M2 Max review

Best photo editing laptop for portability

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)
Best for portability

Specifications

CPU: 8-Core CPU (up to 16-core)
Graphics: 10-core GPU (up to 40-core)
RAM: 8GB – 128GB
Screen: 14-inch Liquid Crystal XDR
Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful screen
+
M3 chip faster than ever
+
SD Card slot and HDMI port return
+
Slim and lightweight design

Reasons to avoid

-
Marginal performance gains from standard M2 chip
-
Base 8GB RAM questionable for pros
-
Expensive to spec up

Though it isn't a huge performance upgrade from previous M2-based 14" MacBook Pro models, we still found the latest M3 edition to be a joy to use. Editing is a breeze, as it handles Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere with ease, barely slowing down as you push the laptop to do more. The base 8GB RAM option is low though, as you won't be able to add memory after purchase should you ever need more. We'd recommend speccing 16GB for peace of mind, or even 24GB if you want really be future-proofed.

The M3 MacBook Pro is packed with all the ports a creative will need, including three Thunderbolt 4-enabled USB-C ports, HDMI, and an SD card slot. What's more, it has super fast WiFi 6E for uploading and downloading large files, and improved speakers and webcam. This might just be the best MacBook Apple has ever made.

Read our full MacBook Pro 14 (M3, 2023) review

Best Windows photo editing laptop

(Image credit: Ian Evenden / Digital Camera World)
Best MacBook alternative for photo-editing

Specifications

Processor: up to Intel Core i9-13980HX
RAM: up to 64GB
Graphics : up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 (8GB)
Storage: up to 8TB SSD
Screen: 16-inch, OLED
Size: 35.6cm x 27.1cm x 2.39 cm
Weight: 2.4 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful editing capabilities
+
Versatile for productivity, gaming and editing
+
Great OLED screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive, especially specced out
-
Runs hot when pushed
-
Short battery life

Portable power like this is ideal for anyone shooting photos or videos in the field. It’s got everything you need in one package, including enough storage to empty your memory cards into. 

However, all this power comes at a price, with the laptop, especially at higher spec models troubling most bank balances. Although as a laptop that’s versatile, portable, powerful, and with the Dial and touchscreen, has features that a comparable MacBook Pro can’t deliver it must surely rank as one of the best laptops for photo and video editing right now.

Read our full Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED review

Best photo editing laptop for a large screen

Razer Blade 17

(Image credit: Future)
Best 17in photo-editing laptop

Specifications

Processor: Intel Core i7-12800H (14-core, 1.8GHz)
RAM: 32GB
Graphics : Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
Storage: 1TB SSD
Screen: 17.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 pixel, IPS LCD

Reasons to buy

+
Healthy performance
+
Quality display and well made

Reasons to avoid

-
Fast graphics card not that useful for photographers

The Razer Blade 17 is one of the best of the best when it comes to high-performing laptops for gamers and creatives – and that means it comes with a hefty price tag attached. The cost will be prohibitive for many people, but there's no doubting the power of this laptop.

The configuration of the Razer Blade 17 that we had in for review was retailing for around $4,000 or £4,000 at the time we were writing this review, which gives you some idea. Yes, that's a lot of money to be paying for a laptop – but you get levels of performance are above just about everything else on the market. 

If you have the budget to get the best there is then the Razer Blade 17 is certainly a contender for that slot, whether you're planning on using it for high-end gaming on Steam, large video editing projects, or both. That retail price is going to go a long way to determining whether or not this is going to be your next laptop upgrade.

Read our full Razer Blade 17 review

Best MacBook Air for photo editing

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)
Best portability

Specifications

CPU: Up to 8-core Apple M2
Graphics: Up to 10-Core Apple M2 GPU
RAM: 8GB – 24GB
Screen: 15.3-inch Retina display with True Tone
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
M2 chip is all most people will need
+
Light stylish design
+
Gorgeous screen
+
Fanless design

Reasons to avoid

-
All that extra space and still only two ports
-
No SD card slot
-
Midnight color is fingerprint magnet

The MacBook Air 15 is probably the best laptop currently on the market for most people, and a superb decision for any photographer, videographer, or creative who wants a larger gorgeous screen, combined with enough power to comfortably run the latest editing software, and all wrapped up in a lightweight package that can easily slip into a backpack. 

There are more powerful Apple options for the most demanding editing situations, but for most people, the M2 chip inside the Air 15 will provide more than enough oomph to edit comfortably. The lack of abundant ports and an SD card slot holds this laptop back from being the ultimate laptop for content creators though, with the MacBook Pro holding a dongle-free existence hostage for now.  

Read our full MacBook Air 15.3-inch M2 (2023) review

Best for photo editing on the move

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

6. Microsoft Surface Pro 9

Best for travel

Specifications

CPU: 12th gen Intel iCore i5 or i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe graphics
RAM: 16 GB, 32 GB (LPDDR5)
Screen: 13.3-inch Pixel Sense, 2880 x 1920, 267 PPI, 120hz
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD
SD card reader: No
Thunderbolt 4: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile laptop/tablet detachable hybrid
+
Very light and portable
+
Deceptively powerful for its form factor
+
Surface Pen is excellent

Reasons to avoid

-
Power might not be enough for demanding tasks
-
Keyboard not for heavy typers
-
Lacking in ports

The surface Pro 9 is deceptively powerful from its compact laptop-tablet hybrid form factor. Not struggling to get through any productivity tasks thrown at it, it can also handle a good amount of photo and video editing with gusto. 

The Surface Pro 9 is still a device that is hard to pin into any category. It is a very well-built and beautiful device with a kickstand and hinge that still reigns supreme in the 2-in-1 world.

If you choose to buy the Surface Type Cover and Surface Slim Pen (which you really should) then this is a fantastic productivity device for on the go. It is not the most powerful device for photo editing, but it is the perfect device for editing while on the move, or for setting up quickly on shoots.

Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review for more details

Most affordable MacBook for photo editing

(Image credit: Future)
Best on price

Specifications

Processor: Up to 8-core Apple M2
Graphics: Up to 10-Core Apple M2 GPU
RAM: 8GB – 24GB
Screen: 13.6-inch Retina display with True Tone
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish and sturdy design
+
Fast processing speeds for photographers
+
Utterly silent and cool
+
Magsafe & 3.5mm headphone jack standard

Reasons to avoid

-
Midnight black color loves fingerprints
-
No SD card slot
-
Costly to spec up
-
Not user-upgradable in the future

The Macbook Air released in 2022 is the direct replacement to the Macbook Air of 2020. While it looks incredibly similar to its predecessor, it has been redesigned and is now powered by a more powerful M2 chip (rather than 2020’s M1).

The base M2 chip packs an 8‑core CPU and 8‑core GPU, which can be upgraded to a 10-core GPU for an additional cost. You also get 8GB RAM and 256GB of SSD storage as standard, but photographers and other creatives will almost certainly want to get at least 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD storage.

With our 16GB test machine, we were astounded at how this little laptop could keep up with our most demanding image processing requests and not break a sweat. There are no fans to whir and it doesn’t seem to heat up under pressure. A crystal clear display and comfortable trackpad and keyboard are complemented by a Magsafe power connector and two USB-C ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack for a minimal but utilitarian finish.

All in all, this is an incredible machine for on-the-go image or video editing. We'd still go for the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021) model for its more comfortable screen size, but the new M2 Air is still an awesome machine.

Read more: MacBook Air M2 full review

Best 15in Windows laptop for photo editing

(Image credit: Dell)

8. Dell XPS 15

Best 15in Windows option

Specifications

Processor: Up to 11th-gen Intel Core i9-11990H (8 cores, 4.9GHz boost)
RAM: 8-64GB
Storage: 512GB-2TB SSD
Screen: Up to 15.6-inch IPS LCD, 3840x2400, touchscreen

Reasons to buy

+
Decent display
+
Fast performance
+
Good selection of ports, with SD slot

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Battery life not the best

The Dell XPS 15 range can be confusing: there are lots of different spec configurations to choose from, and pricing can frequently fluctuate. We reckon the best config for photographers is one which includes Dell’s best 4K+ (3840 x 2400) 16:10 screen, which boasts 500-nit brightness and touch sensitivity. The only issue with that is few XPS 15 configs come with this display, and they're inevitably at the pricier end of the range.

The extra cash does also buy you plenty of performance courtesy of a 11th-gen, 8-core Intel Core i9 processor, and you can choose from 16GB right up to a whopping 64GB of RAM, though we'd only recommend the latter if you'll be editing high res video as well as images. 16GB or 32GB should be ample amounts of RAM for image editing.

The selection of ports is also pretty good, with Thunderbolt 4, USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, plus adapters for USB-A and HDMI. There's even a built-in full-size SD slot; something that’s sadly becoming a rarity in premium laptops.

Read more: Should I buy a Dell XPS 15?

Best hybrid design photo editing laptop

(Image credit: Andrew Williams/Digital Camera World)
Best hybrid

Specifications

Processor: Up to 11th-gen Intel Core i7
RAM: 16-32GB
Storage: 256GB-2TB SSD
Screen: 14.4-inch 2400 x 1600, 120Hz, multi-touch

Reasons to buy

+
Finish, design, low weight
+
Excellent Retina display
+
Silent, fanless design

Reasons to avoid

-
No HDMI port or memory card slot
-
8-core GPU model costs more
-
Barely lighter than MacBook Pro M1

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio is perhaps the slickest touchscreen laptop specifically aimed at designers and those in other creative fields. It features a hybrid design, so can convert from a laptop into a tablet, but it doesn't do so via the usual 360-degree hinge. Instead, the Surface Laptop Studio has a dual hinge so can open up like a normal laptop, with a secondary hinge around the centre of the display that lets you pull the screen forwards so the bottom locks in place magnetically just above touchpad. Or it can sit flat where the lid would usually be. This gets you the “fat tablet” style of a 360-degree hinge, without leaving the keyboard sitting awkwardly underneath. Inside, 11th-gen Intel processors and up to 32GB of RAM make light work of image editing, though the Surface Laptop Studio is far from the most powerful laptop on the market. However, like other Surface computers it excludes quality throughout, including parts workstations tend to neglect, such as the speakers and webcam. Just be careful when it comes to ticking the option boxes when you buy, as the price can quickly increase to levels that are tough to justify for the performance you'll get.

Read more: Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio full review for more details

Best MacBook alternative for photo editing

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)
Best sleek and lightweight Windows machine

Specifications

Processor: Up to 11th-gen Intel Core i7
RAM: 8-32GB
Storage: 256GB-1TB SSD
Screen: 15-inch, 2496x1664 (201 PPI), 3:2, multi-touch

Reasons to buy

+
Great looking laptop
+
Excellent keyboard and typing experience
+
Sharp and color-accurate screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Port selection could be better
-
Speakers are disappointing 

Microsoft's Surface Laptop 5 is a fantastic option for anyone design-conscious, who wants a traditional clamshell design Windows laptop that is oozing with style. With a big, sharp, and colorful screen, a fantastic keyboard, and a large trackpad, the Surface Laptop 5 is a joy to use. Although a design overhaul wouldn't go amiss, with its chunky bezels needing reducing and a couple more ports squeezed in.

The Surface Laptop 5 performs very well at productivity tasks, easily handling Office apps for work or school, intensive web browsing, and video streaming, and photographers can be confident in performing light photo editing in Lightroom or Photoshop. When it comes to video, the Surface Laptop struggles and keen filmmakers might want to look at options with a dedicated graphics card or an Apple logo.

Read our full Surface Laptop 5 review.

How to choose the best photo-editing laptop

What screen size is best?

This is always going to be a compromise. The larger the screen, the more comfortable your image editing experience. However, lugging around a 17-inch laptop all day will soon get tiresome. If your laptop will spend most of its time at home, on your desk, then bigger is definately better. A 13- or 14-inch laptop is ideal for life on the go, and a 15/16-inch machine is a decent compromise between the two extremes.

Which display technology?

Laptop screens used to be more eye-sore than eye-candy, with appalling contrast and viewing angles. Thankfully IPS LCD display tech fixes this and you shouldn’t settle for anything less. The latest crop of OLED displays offer even better contrast and color vibrancy. Regardless of screen tech, a laptop that boasts pre-calibration to ensure the best possible color accuracy is always beneficial for accurate image editing.

How much storage do I need?

An SSD (solid state drive) is a must in any new laptop. All our options in this buying guide include one, but don’t get stuck with a small capacity: 512GB is a bare minimum if you’re working with 4K video, while 1 terabyte (TB) or more is preferable. Thankfully, you can supplement a laptop's internal storage by connecting a separate, external hard drive.

Do I need to pay extra to get a fast graphics processor?

A dedicated graphics processor in a laptop is great for gaming, but it's not a necessity for image editing. Today’s processors can fill in for them, and they pack enough pixel-pushing punch for photo editing. That said, a mid-range graphics processor could help accelerate some Photoshop filters.

How fast should the central processor (CPU) be?

The heart of a laptop, two processor manufacturers dominate: Intel, and AMD. However, laptop processor model numbers are practically impossible to decipher. Just focus on the ‘base frequency’ (speed, measured in GHz), and number of processing cores (two, four, six, and sometimes even more). 

Mac or PC?

MacBooks are favoured by many photographers, and for good reason. But don’t rule out comparably priced laptop PCs, which can offer more bang per buck, sometimes with better upgradability.

How we test the best photo-editing laptops

When reviewing a laptop, we assess its internal hardware features, build quality, ergonomics, performance in a variety of usage scenarios, value for money, and its overall suitability for its target buyer. Although we'll evaluate a laptop with a typical user in mind, we will also pay particular attention to the perspective of photo and video enthusiasts, with special focus given to screen quality and color space coverage. Where possible, a monitor calibrator will be used to measure a laptop's display performance to assess whether it matches a manufacturer's claims, and software benchmarks like GeekBench are used to measure a laptop's processor and graphics card capabilities.

Ben Andrews

Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys. 

With contributions from