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Laborious efforts of photo and video editors these days deserve to be treated as such, therefore, we have spent hours juggling through models to pick the best laptop for both purposes. These are the best laptops insofar as software like DaVinci Resolve, Photoshop and Lightworks are concerned, these machines will keep you covered.
The Best Laptop For Video and Photo Editing Software, Display and Performance
The next big question is what exactly do you need in a photographer’s laptop. Are there any laptops with specialized features that will assist the editing tools? And questioning whether the technical specifications of these laptops should be weighed the same as our general use laptops or not.
It is these three aspects that you should consider first: the compatibility with software in your use, the quality of display and technologies like Apple’s Retina Display, and finally the overall performance score when work is being done. The latter would include testing for the laptop’s speed, responsiveness, the capacity of multi-tasking and even accuracy of the display. Without much ado, let’s get down to business.
High End Laptop for Photo Editing
New Apple MacBook Pro 16”
Now we had the 15” variant of the MacBook as our previous choice for the best photo editing laptop because let’s face it, when it comes to photo editing tasks, you just cannot beat a MacBook. The Apple MacBook Pro 16” is our best high-end pick because it packs some heavy specs compared to the 15” variant.
So MacBook Pro 16” is just an amazing photo editing machine, it has one of the shortest rendering times that you can find in professional laptops. In the 2019 line-up, Apple has introduced some new features while retaining the good old ones for a better experience.
Firstly you have the choice of choosing between a 9th Generation Intel i7 or an i9, with the i7 having 6 cores with a base clock of 2.6GHz and a Turbo boost up of 4.5GHz, while the i9 has 8 cores with a lower base clock of 2.3GHz but a higher boost clock of 4.8GHz. Both of these CPUs are great at performing multiple tasks at once, giving you the edge in your editing tasks.
The i7 variant comes with 512GB of NVMe Solid State storage space, which you can expand up to 8TB at your expense. The i9 one has 1TB of Solid State storage available, which can also be expanded up to 8TB if your budget gives you the permission to do so.
The Touch Bar makes a return in the newest iteration of MacBook Pro, and all for a good reason because you know how handy it is in photo editing and digital drawing tasks.
Other than that the laptop also packs one of the latest AMD laptop GPUs the Radeon Pro 5300M in the i7 variant and the 5500M in the i9 one. Both of these are 8GB of DDR6 memory, making tasks like rendering images and videos much smoother due to the higher bandwidth of the GDD6 compared to GDDR5. However, compared to the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo, which packs an RTX 2060, the GPU on the MacBook pro does pales in comparison.
In memory options, you get 16GB which is much appreciated and to be honest more than enough for tasks such as photo editing and video rendering.
You also get whopping 4xThunderbolt 3 ports on the MacBook Pro 16” that can support up to 2 LEDs of 4K resolution while simultaneously charging and transferring data at high speeds.
Another feature in the MacBook Pro 16” is the backlit Magic Keyboard, which has a higher travel time of 1mm, has concaved rubber dome keys, that just feel right to the touch of your fingertips.
It is clearly unfair to represent such a well-made hybrid laptop in such a short overview. But we have to follow the code. So for starters, you have more variety to choose from which is why your expense could vary between $1000 to $2300. The latter being the price of their i7, 16GB RAM and 1TB laptop. The 17-hour battery life is humongous, Nvidia GTX 1050 is better than what the MacBook Pro 2018 uses, and it has a touchscreen! You can run almost any editing tool on the convertible laptop and still maintain good speed, and a very responsive PixelSense Display.
Overall Best Laptop for Photographers
Apple Macbook Pro 13
Thanks to Apple’s Retina Display technology and a few sophisticated software advancements like True Tone, the display quality of all Macbook laptops is a class apart. Therefore, this older iteration of the MacBook Pro with Touchbar is as good at handling intensive work as the new one.
It is true that the 13-inch MacBook Pro doesn’t have the best hardware among the lot. And if you wish to improve on that, there is the 15-inch MacBook Pro as well. But it will cost the price of our budget pick more than your 13-inch Apple laptop. On the other hand, the smaller if you can make do with the smaller screen it will last you about 12 hours, which is longer than both the other Apple models. It also comes with a choice between a 128 GB SSD and a 256 GB SSD, whichever suits your load of work.
Despite having a Dual-Core processor only, the MacBook performs much faster than other Dual Core laptops in the market. In fact, they aren’t even directly comparable because of Apple’s proprietary hardware superiority. Nonetheless, it is a 7th gen processor which can be turbo boosted to 3.6 GHz. Coupled with the 8GB RAM, we found their 256 GB SSD model more than sufficient if you don’t tend to keep a lot of back up in your portable computer.
Needless to say, it has all the latest advancements that Apple has made in terms of hardware and software. Like the inclusion of two Thunderbolt 3 USB Type C ports. Apple products have always made the consumers want greater flexibility as well as connectivity choices. And in terms of in and out ports, it is the same here.
Despite the mid-ranged hardware components and even price, the MacBook has the best quality of contrast, brightness, and even saturation. Just to put things in context, the Dell XPS 15 below is sometimes prone to getting the color saturation a little too striking. Which brings back to the best part of the Apple MacBook Pro: the most realistic presentation of your work.
There are things that you might not like in the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch model. For instance, you could say that the screen size should be bigger for better grasp over larger images and detail over pixels. But at such high precision 13-inch isn’t bad at all. In fact, bring in the level of portability required for a photography job and it is actually better suited.
The other and the fairly reasonable issue is with the amount of base storage being offered. If you really want to keep track of the spending you might have to settle for the smallest size. But despite SSD technology, 128 GB is still just that. We suggest you choose at least the 256 GB SSD model. And in case you can spend more, their mid-2018 release not only has a bigger screen option but also much larger storage choices.
There is just so much variety that personal preferences become all the more relevant. The Dell XPS 15 Infinity Edge laptop, for instance, is the only true 4K laptop in our list, and it is also a 2-in-1 touchscreen hybrid that converts into a tablet when twisted around. With an i7, 16GB RAM and the Radeon RX Vega card, it is more than ready to handle the most demanding tasks of your Photoshop or GIMP. Do keep in mind that despite 4K, the MacBook Pro still has a more accurate display. But if you are also into video editing you’ll get a device that runs Adobe Premiere Pro faster while exporting 4K content.
Best Budget Laptop for Photo Editing
Dell Inspiron i5577 15.6-Inch Laptop
Picking a budget laptop for photo editing was an uphill task because there is a prerequisite level of hardware configurations that you need to achieve. However, this Dell laptop is able to pull it off at a much shorter price point. Agreed, when you put a cap on what you want to spend there will also be a cap on capabilities.
We are not suggesting this laptop to any of the professional photographers or for any high-end photo editing jobs. But if you are looking for an efficient introduction on a budget, Dell Inspiron i5577 is the one. It doesn’t offer the same quality of the display, but then again, it also costs less than half of what the Retina Display enabled Macbooks offer.
So what’s good in the Dell laptop? Basically, it is a loaded laptop with hardware components that are more than capable of getting you up and running without making you loan out a lot. It does carry a Core i7-7700 further juiced up with an 8GB DDR4 RAM. We would have loved to see how much of an improvement a bigger SSD can make but you’ll have to rely on the 128GB it has. For storage purposes, though, the 1TB SATA should be more than enough.
While a super fast graphics card isn’t a must have most of the times, processing a lot of high res images at the same time does take up processing power and its 4GB dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 would let them slow you down. We were less than impressed with the battery performance. Although one could argue that 7.5 hours does look shorter than it is when you put it beside models like the HP XPS 15 and Microsoft Surface Book 2. For a budget laptop, however, it is satisfactory.
Matching other laptops famed for photo and video editing, the Dell Inspiron has a large trackpad – something almost every graphics designer, photographer, and video editor loves. However, the one thing that you will simply have to bear is the comparatively lower quality of the display. Unless you use a separate monitor, of course.
Moreover, it also has a basic plastic case and perched next to any of the models we have written about above, it doesn’t look and feel of the same class. But we aren’t expecting that too. However, having a plastic case also has non-aesthetics related impacts. For instance, the case can be roughed up easier than aluminum bodies. And it is somewhat less durable too, although by the time the case goes obsolete you’d have moved on to another device.
Portability is another major concern among photographers because you will be on the move a lot. This is why a choice is made between the laptop’s overall portability and display size. Due to a larger screen – among other reasons – the Dell Inspiron i5577 is heavier in size. But that isn’t such a big issue when you have to make your jam on a budget.
With a bigger 15.6″ screen and dual storage i.e. 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD, the VivoBook is ASUS’ cheap entry path into the bare minimum of photo editing. You get a Full HD (1920 x 1080) screen and a 4K UHD to USB Type-C output. It has a 4GB video card for quick processing of images, and a super fast SSD to speed the booting. Another bonus feature you will get in the ASUS Vivobook is that it has two cooling fans. For a slim laptop, that is as good as it can get because editing software can often run heavy processes dissipating a lot more heat into the system.
Do keep in mind, while picking up the products for our reviews we did come across photo editing laptops that cost a fortune more than these. For instance, there are high specced models of the Apple MacBook Pro and a number of releases from other mainstream manufacturers. But everyone cannot afford a laptop that would cost more than $2000 a piece. Which is why we have tried to keep the expense as low as it doesn’t start hampering the capabilities too much.