Finding the best laptop for photography, Photoshop, or any other photo editing can be a nightmare with the countless options out there. If you primarily are wanting to run a photo editing software like Photoshop on your machine we’ve researched, tested and reviewed a lot of models to help you find the best laptop for Photoshop so you can get back to creating something awesome!
The Macbook Pro is our editorial top pick for this year because well, it has everything. This MacBook’s high definition retina display is second to none for displaying the truest color. It comes with a 16GB of 3rd Generation RAM and 256 GB or 512GB of PCI-Flash storage all being run by Intel’s i7 Crystalwell Processor. To put it simple terms, this laptop is lighting fast not matter which test you throw at it.
When you first fire up the MacBook your eyes will be the first to notice the 5 million pixels shining stunningly back at you. Having this many pixels ensures that you will see down to the most minute detail of whatever project you happen to have open in Photoshop.
Some people can balk at the price of Apple MacBook’s compared to their PC counterparts. It should be considered, however, that the amount of top of the line resources that come with this machine ensures that you won’t need to replace this laptop for many, many years. It’s not true all the time, but we feel in this case; you get what you pay for.
The Battery life for this machine is an impressive 9 hours of continuous web use, or iTunes movie playback which means that the professional Photoshop users can work all day on one single charge. It also comes with all the standard output ports commonly found on Macs (Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, USB 3) so docking or plugging into an HD display to work in multiple windows is a breeze.
This sleek and stylish Mac is everything Professional Photoshop users have come to know and love about apple. The force Apple patented force track pad allows Photoshop users to click anywhere with a uniform feel, and supports all the multi-gestures all Apple users have come to know and love. Photoshop users are used to having tens, if-not hundreds of tabs on different programs open at the same time. Using the pad will make switching between tabs and different image editing programs faster and easier.
For the size of the machine the weight isn’t bad, weighing in at 4.49 lbs. If you’re willing to sacrifice some resources for more compactness and less weight, we recommend opting for our second choice, the MacBook Pro 13.3”.
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#2 - MacBook Pro 13.3 inch
Why is it a top pick?
If the top rated pick above is sold out, and you’re okay with going with a more compact and travel ready laptop, this is your best pick for running Photoshop. This laptop features a 13.3” HD Studding Retina Display with Intel’s i5 Crystalwell Chip running 8GB of 3rd generation RAM and an Intel Graphics Card.
For the screen size, a lot of users compare it to the MacBook air’s specs, and are happily surprised when they unbox this MacBook Pro to find that the weight is hardly noticeable, just 8oz more.
Everything about this laptop just feels sleek. Its size makes it perfect for the Photoshop professional on the go that needs to throw it in their bag. But don’t let the lack of size make you think it doesn’t have an excellent battery life. One of the things we love about this smaller sized MacBook Pro compared to the larger 15.4” model is the extended battery life. This model features a 10% jump from its larger brother making it easy choice for those who are constantly on the go. Other independent reviewers such as PCMag and CNET even make bigger claims of 12-15 hrs. of battery life.
This laptop for Photoshop may be a good start for someone with a smaller budget and who will eventually want to port to a display monitor like the thunderbolt for working at an office or a home office.
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#3 - ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW
Why is it a top pick?
The ASUS Zenbook Pro is one of, if not the beefiest PC laptops available on t he market right now. The design specs are pretty much the highest specs you’ll find on a laptop right now and does a great job competing with our top rated pick above. If you’re a windows lover and don’t want to make the transition to a Mac, this is the laptop for you.
This ASUS Zenbook Pro comes with a 512GB SSD Hard drive, 16GB of screaming fast memory, a stunning 4K Ultra High Definition Display, all bring run by an Intel i7 processor chip. The first thing you notice when opening this laptop up is the sheer amount of pixels they fit on the screen. This laptop has the highest pixel count of any of the laptops we’ve reviewed coming in at over 8 MILLION. With ASUS VisualMaster display on the ZenBook Pro users are able to see a color gamut of 72% NTSC, 100% sRGB and 74% Adobe RGB.
The ultra sleek and thin design of the laptop is a thing of beauty. It’s larger size yet ultra portability makes it an excellent choice for Photoshop users on the go. Users did report that this machine as slightly less battery life than other models, but it’s a sacrifice some developers and designers are willing to make for the robust features.
This is a laptop that you won’t need to replace for years to come. If you’re deciding between this model or the relatively price MacBook pro we recommend the MacBook Pro, but if you want to stick with Windows 100%, this is the laptop for Photoshop you need to buy.
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#4 - ASUS K501UX 15.6 inch
Why is it a top pick?
The ASUS K501UX Laptop another on of our top rated PC laptop for Photoshop this year. ASUS has established itself as a premium brand of laptops for Photoshop users and gamers alike because of their robust specs for an affordable price, and this model is no different.
The ASUS K501UX Laptop features the Intel i7 Processor that runs 8GB of RAM and a whopping 256GB SSD hard drive. This translates to Photoshop users never compromising on speed, performance, and storage space. The SSD’s included insure that the likelihood of users losing their precious files is significantly decreased from laptops featuring spinning discs.
What we also like is that this PC laptop runs Windows 10. There is still a slight learning curve if you’re still on windows 7, however you won’t have all the issues that came with the windows 8 and widows 8.1 releases. If you absolutely want windows 8.1 at the time of writing this, they still have that option available to you for a premium.
The 15.6” HD display is incredible for the price, and in our opinion the right size for working at home without needing a display monitor as well as being able to throw in your bag if you’re more of a mobile user.
ASUS has recently improved designs away from comparable PC models and features the sleekness and sophistication found in MacBook. Apart of the ASUS logo, the thin beveled design and the silver back would have other people thinking you were running a MacBook pro, but luckily for you didn’t pay half of the price.
As with any PC the biggest draw is price and familiarity. If you’re already comfortable running Photoshop on windows and don’t want the learning curve of the Mac, we highly recommend grabbing this ASUS for creating your next photography project.
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#5 - 5. Dell Inspiron I7548 15.6 inch
Why is it a top pick?
The Dell Inspiron I7548 is also a top rated laptop for running Photoshop. This machine is a beast and people who are dedicated windows users will love the specs of this machine. This laptop features the biggest display of all of the contenders at 15.6” making your workspace for working with Photoshop huge. It also features Intel’s i7 processor and a standard 12GB of RAM and room to add more if you wish.
One thing Dell has done that’s pretty awesome is bringing the touch screen technology of the tablet to the standard laptop. This makes the machine very versatile when running several different applications. The average battery life for running this machine is only 8 hrs, obviously not as good as the picks above, but very good when you start comparing windows machines as windows is more battery intensive that Apple OS. We don’t feel this should discourage you from purchasing if you truly are a windows user.
This Dell also has improved their designs recently, making their Inspiron line sleeker and cleaner to compete with the MacBooks mentioned above. We love the new backlit keyboard and the thinner design. Without the logo on the back people might think you’re actually running a Mac.
The biggest draw of this machine is what you get for the money. PC’s are always going to be cheaper than Mac’s so if you’re on a tighter budget this is the computer you need to run Photoshop.
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Laptop Buying Guide
What Are Laptops for Photoshop?
A laptop made for Photoshop is one that is built to handle the big memory draw that the photo-editing software can make on a machine. When you’re running photo-editing software like Photoshop CC, Photoshop CS6, Adobe Illustrator, Coral Paintshop, or Photo Explosion you don’t have the time or the patience to deal with a machine that doesn’t move as fast as you do.
If you simply edit photos as a hobby, or very infrequently it might makes sense to just stick with a run-of-the-mill basic laptop. But if designing websites, or editing photos (even just personal photo’s) the professional level laptops for Photoshop are what you need. We’ve put together a list of the top features to consider when purchasing a laptop for Photoshop.
Features to Consider:
Operating System – What OS are you going to run? Really the only options you have are Mac or PC. This has been a hot debate amongst graphic designers running different programs, and there are good arguments for either side. It should be noted that Photoshop was actually made on a Mac back in 1988. Considerations for Photoshop on Mac –
Of course there are some warranted reasons why people stay with a Mac for their Laptop running Photoshop
The thunderbolt capability on Macs helps designers transfer files between machines quicker, as well as hook their laptop up to a 4k display for true color clarity on their designs
Easier to integrate workflow between devices such as iPads or iPhones that can also run an app version of Photoshop. This makes it easier for designers on the go.
If you plan on using your laptop for software beyond just photo editing software like Photoshop, and want to also use motion graphics editing software, Macs come with Final Cut Pro in addition to just photography edits.
Considerations for Photoshop on PC –
And on the flip side of the coin PC’s have really made a name for themselves running memory intensive programs like Photoshop or Illustrator. Some good reasons to consider choosing a PC are:
Windows machines dramatically cost less. There is no disputing it; PC’s just cost less. So if budget is a big priority, choosing a PC is probably your best bet.
You’ll have system capability with your clients. 90% of people run PC’s for the business and home use. You won’t have the compatibility issues sometimes seen between mac and PC users.
If you’re planning on or can see a need in the future to upgrade graphics cards, memory, or storage, PC’s are just better at the customizing.
Processor – Laptops for photo editing will need at least an Intel i3 processor or better. It’s strongly recommended that if you have the money, you go ahead and opt for the i5 processor which will provide more longevity should newer versions of Photoshop require more resources.
Screen – Having a good quality screen is probably one of the most important features to have on a laptop for Photoshop. Most people just opt for a larger screen thinking that means more clarity, when in reality what you need to be looking for is excellent screen resolution. A good rule of thumb here is the higher the better, and recommends that if you can opt out of the 1366×798 resolution as this isn’t truly HD.
Memory (RAM) – Having good memory is where you’ll get your money’s worth when buying a laptop for Photoshop. Everyone knows Photoshop is a hog when it comes to memory so your laptops memory is not something you will be able to go cheap on. It is reported that Photoshop CC requires a minimum of 2.5GB of memory to run properly. So if you were running a computer with only 6GB of RAM, that one program alone would consume almost half of the available resources for your entire machine.
If you’re going to be running Photoshop on your laptop, we recommend going with at least 8GB of on board memory. This is the same recommendation for either Mac OS or Windows PC. This is because, we know that any good designer or developer will have several other programs open all clawing for resources and having a minimum of 8GB of memory will ensure that Photoshop, or any other image editor, will run flawlessly.
Storage – For the average consumer the standard sizes of laptop hard drives are way more than enough. The majority of users won’t even fill up a quarter of the available space on their machines hard drive.
Now for users who want to run Photoshop or other photo editing software, the very nature of the product they are creating are large files. At a minimum the smallest files are still several megabytes in size meaning the hard drive will get filled significantly faster.
Another option people ask about is whether or not SSD’s are worth the extra money. Initially when they came out we would have said no, but now SSD’s, or Solid State Drives, are becoming the norm, and rightfully so. They are faster, safer, and extremely less likely to corrupt like a spinning disc hard drive.
For Running Photoshop, we recommend going with a minimum of 128GB for your hard drive, and opt for an SSD, you’ll be mad at yourself if you don’t
Battery Life – Because of the drain Photoshop can be on a laptop’s storage and memory, it’s extremely important to pick a laptop with excellent battery life. All things being equal, the more cells in a laptop battery the better. The more cells a laptop battery has, the longer the overall charge will last, meaning the longer you can run highly demanding applications between charges.
Graphics Card – Back in the day, computers didn’t come with really robust graphics cards, because frankly before the Internet, Photoshop and the like, it wasn’t really necessary. There was a rise in their popularity as the users needs for them outpaced the manufactures basic specs, however most modern laptops have a robust graphics card built into the default configuration.
We recommend looking for a machine with an Intel HD graphics card, preferably 4400 and above. This is going to give you the truest picture of the image you’re editing.
Connection Ports – Let’s face it, buying a laptop for Photoshop is great if you’re on the go, and need that portability. But when you’re working at home or an office, being able to plugin to a larger screen like the Mac Thunderbolt makes your investment in a laptop even more valuable.
Try to look for a laptop with HDMI and/or thunderbolt type connections. Even if you currently don’t have the budget or the space for a larger output screen, it’s good to plan ahead. If you’re on the fence about the size of the screen for the laptop, we recommend going with the smaller one, and buying a large display to plugin to for maximum editing space.
Photo Editing Laptop Accessories:
Wireless Mouse – For the majority of photoshop users using the trackpad is fine. Utilizing a wireless mouse is a convenience that you won’t realize you needed, until you spend a day with it. We recommend for the money going with the TeckNet 2.4G Nano Wireless Mouse.
HD Display Monitor – While a running photoshop on a laptop is what the majority of power users do, when they reach their home or office there isn’t a reason for them to be confined to the smaller laptop screen. When you’re working on big visual projects, you need the best display available to port over to. The Samsung 27-Inch Curved LED-Lit Monitor will be able to handle all your photo editing needs.
Extra USB Storage – When you’re working on data intensive designs and projects the Megabytes turn into Gigabytes reall fast and no matter how much storage you buy with your machine, it will go fast. For adding extra storage without hurting your pocketbook we recommending going with the SanDisk Ultra Fit 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive. This will give you plenty of space, for a fraction of the cost. It’s low profile makes it though it’s not even there.
Whether you’re a seasoned photoshop professional or just starting out, choosing the machine to run that robust program can make all the difference in how successful your design and editing career can be. We’ve spent the time and energy to bring you the top rated pick for your next laptop.
The top rated laptops reviewed are by far the best options available you’ll be able to find on the market today. We’ve helped equip you as a consumer by not only linking to all the best laptops for photoshop, but also finding lowest price available on the web. So no only have we saved you time searching, we’ve put more dollars back in your wallet. So get out there and go create something awesome!