Best Laptop for Photo Editing on a Budget 2020

Best Laptop for Photo Editing on a Budget 2020

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Best Budget Laptop for Photoshop

If you’re in a hurry, and want to quickly know which is the best budget laptop for Photoshop, then it is the ASUS ZenBook 13.

This article covers everything you need to know when looking for the best laptop for photo editing on a budget. I have considered all laptops under $500 that meet the criteria to run Photoshop and edit photos, as well as a few that are a little above this in price, and classified them according to which is the best laptop for picture editing.

If you want to read the quick review of the best laptop for Photoshop, then it is below, along with an option for the best laptop for photo editing under $1000, if you have a little more money to spend.

But keep reading for a checklist of everything you need to consider when looking for the best laptop for Adobe Photoshop, and full and detailed reviews of the absolute best photo editing laptops.



Best Laptop for Photo Editing on a Budget

The best budget laptop for Photoshop is the ASUS ZenBook 13. You can read the full review and see the specs later on in the article.

ASUS ZenBook 13

 Best Budget Laptop for Photoshop 

  • Excellent screen and 100% of sRGB colors
  • Quad-core processor and 8 GB RAM
  • Fast charging and weight under 2.5 lbs
  • 512 GB SSD and aluminum body construction
  • Includes 1-year accidental damage protection
As the best laptop for picture editing, and one of the best laptops for Photoshop, the ZenBook is the photographer’s choice, with a high resolution screen that hits 100% of the sRGB color gamut and top-end specs for a very reasonable price. This machine will speed through any Photoshop tasks, and is easily portable. The 1-year accidental damage protection only sweetens the deal.

Best Laptop for Photo Editing Under $1000

If you wanted the ultimate best laptop for Photoshop, and were willing to increase your budget to $1000, you can get a machine with much better specs, the ASUS VivoBook 2020.

ASUS VivoBook 2020

 Best Laptop for Photo Editing under $1000 

  • AMD Quad-Core Ryzen 7 at up 4.0 GHz
  • 16 GB of RAM & 512 GB SSD
  • 15.6″ IPS 1080p display
  • Up to 9 hours of battery life
  • Quiet, fast and powerful
The ASUS Vivobook is one of our recommended laptops for Photoshop, thanks to its high-end specs that can power through any photo editing task that you throw at it. This machine makes an excellent desktop replacement, that also manages to remain portable, and at its current price is well under $1000. A recommended choice if you are serious about photo editing on a laptop.

Related article: The Best Tablet for Photoshop

This article looks at the best touch screen tablets that can run Photoshop, like iPads or Android tablets. Take a look to see if they would suit you better than a traditional laptop?


Best Laptop for Photo Editing on a Budget – Comparison Table

Use the following comparison table if you are looking for cheap laptops for photographers. If you want to know what is the best laptop for Photoshop, then it is the ASUS ZenBook 13.

Laptop

CPU

Memory

Display

Battery Life

Weight

$

Intel i5-8265U 4-core @ 1.6 GHz

8GB RAM & 512GB SSD

13.3" 1080p 100% sRGB

5 hours

2.5 lbs

Intel i5-10210U 4-core @ 1.6 GHz

8GB RAM & 512GB SSD

15.6" 1080p 100% sRGB

15 hours

3.97 lbs

AMD Ryzen 7 3700OU 4-core @ 2.3 GHz

8GB RAM & 256GB SSD

15.6" 1366x768  58% sRGB

10 hours

3.75 lbs

AMD Ryzen 3 3200U 2-core @ 2.6 GHz

8GB RAM & 256 GB SDD, 1TB HDD

15.6" 1080p 65% sRGB

7.5 hours

3.97 lbs

Intel i3 2-core @ 1.1 GHz

8GB RAM & 256GB SSD

13.3" 2560x1600  113% sRGB

12 hours

2.8 lbs

AMD Ryzen 3 3250U 2-core @ 2.6 GHz

4GB RAM & 128GB SSD

15.6" 1366x768  52% sRGB

6 hours

4.84 lbs

Intel i5 2-core @ 3.1 GHz

8GB RAM & 128GB SSD

13.5" 2256x1504  94% sRGB

10 hours

2.76 lbs

Intel i3-1005G1 2-core @ 1.2 GHz

8GB RAM & 128GB SDD, 1TB HDD

15.6" 1366x768  71% sRGB

7 hours

4.45 lbs

Intel i7-1065G7 4-core @ 1.3 GHz

16GB RAM & 1TB SSD

17" 2560x1600  99% sRGB

17 hours

2.98 lbs


How to Choose the Best Laptop for Photo Editing on a Budget

The two best programs that you can currently buy for photo editing on laptops are Lightroom and Photoshop, both made by Adobe, but regardless of the photo editing program that you use, the best budget laptop for photo editing will need to meet certain minimum hardware requirements.

When looking for the best budget laptop for Photoshop specifically, you will need to hit the minimum requirements listed below. A laptop matching these requirements would also be able to run Lightroom. Further down the article, I have included some tips from my personal experience, of which requirements are the most important to pay attention to.

Adobe Photoshop Minimum Requirements

Windows & Mac Min. Requirements
Processor Multicore with 64-bit support; 2 Ghz or faster on Windows
Operating System Windows 10 Oct 2018 update (64-bit) or later; macOS 10.13.6 or later
RAM 2 GB or more of RAM (8 GB recommended)
Graphics Card nVidia GeForce GTX 1050 or equivalent; nVidia GeForce GTX 1660 or Quadro T1000 is recommended
Hard Drive Space 3.1 GB (Windows) or 4 GB (Mac) or more of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system)
Monitor Resolution 1280 x 800 display at 100% UI scaling with 16-bit color and 512 MB or more of dedicated VRAM; 2 GB is recommended
Internet Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation

Processor (CPU)

In a laptop for Photoshop, the processor (CPU) is one of the most important components when it comes to doing things quickly. Although a slower processor will not limit the options available in Photoshop (unlike for the graphics card), it will increase the time that you sit staring at progress bars.

In general terms, Intel have always been the preferred processor options for programs like Photoshop, which do not rely on highly threaded processors, although with the more recent Ryzen line of CPUs from AMD, Intel’s lead has waned as AMD have caught up with their performance.

Nowadays, clock speed of the CPU combined with the number of cores is likely to be a better determinant of Photoshop performance than CPU brand.

To give you an idea of the differences in Photoshop performance for different processors, benchmark testing of budget processors says that the AMD Ryzen 5 six core at 3.6 GHz will open a 16-bit RAW file in 1.31 seconds, and take 24.17 seconds to run the smart sharpen filter, whereas the Intel i5 six core also running at 3.6 GHz will open the same file in 1.16 seconds and run smart sharpen in 22.44 seconds. Clearly, there is very little difference in CPU brands.

But when we increase the number of cores, we see performance differences for premium processors such as the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 24-core at 3.8 GHz opening a 16-bit RAW file in 0.85 seconds, and running the smart sharpen filter in 13.38 seconds. The Intel i9 18-core CPU running at 3.0 GHz opens the RAW file in 0.94 seconds, and applies smart sharpen in 13.83 seconds.

The latter processors are clearly faster and would be found in the best laptop to run Photoshop, but the price difference between these two groups of processors is into the high three figures. So, if you have a cheaper processor in your laptop, you will wait a few more seconds, but in my opinion the price difference makes the cheaper processors a better bet.

If you are looking for the best budget processor for Photoshop, rather than the outright best processor for Photoshop, then a CPU with six cores and a high clock speed is sufficient, such as the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core, which runs at a max speed of 4.2 GHz.

Memory (RAM)

The more memory in the form of RAM that your laptop has, the quicker the speed of Photoshop operations. RAM is used by Photoshop as a place to store information that does not need to be written to your hard drive, such as data used for any transformations or filters that you apply.

When you are looking for a budget laptop for Photoshop, there are two ways of defining RAM that you should pay attention to:

  • How Many GBs?
  • What Speed?

The number of GBs of RAM is the most important characteristic, and should be a minimum of 2 GB, though even this will result in poor performance. Ideally, you should be aiming for 8 GB as an absolute minimum, although I have found that Photoshop and Lightroom will use as much RAM as you give them, and will minimize the use of scratch disks (see below), so if you can afford it, go for 16 GB, or even 32 GB of RAM.

The clock speed of RAM is less important for budget laptops, but if you are looking to create as high a quality system as possible, then going for faster RAM (>3200 MHz) will improve Photoshop performance, albeit only to a minor degree.

Memory (HDD / SSD)

Physical memory storage on your laptop can be broken down into two distinct types: Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid State Drives (SSD). Compare them below:

HDD SSD
Has physical moving parts, so slower No moving parts, very fast
Cost around $0.03 per GB Cost around $0.20 per GB
Very high maximum capacity Typically under 1 TB capacity in laptops
Bootup time around 30 – 60 seconds Bootup time around 10 – 15 seconds
Photoshop start time around 30 seconds Photoshop start time around 5 seconds
Around 80 MB/s file transfer speed Around 200 MB/s file transfer speed
Slower photo previews and file opening Faster photo previews and file opening

Photo editing programs like Photoshop use your memory in two ways: as a place to install the program and to store your pictures, and as scratch disks.

Because SSDs are so much faster than HDDs, they are ideal to both store the Photoshop program, and to store your photos. When looking for the best laptop for picture storage, always confirm that it has a good capacity ( ideally >500 GB, but smaller is ok) SSD. If you go for an HDD, make sure that it has a platter speed of at least 7200 RPM. This is the fastest speed of HDD available, but it is still a long way off SSD speed.

Scratch disks are Photoshop’s term for short term memory storage outside of RAM. If you have enough RAM, then the scratch disks should not be used, but if your laptop is more RAM-limited, like in the more affordable laptops for photo editing, then Photoshop will start using your HDD or SSD.

If Photoshop is relying on an HDD as a scratch disk, performance can really drop until RAM is freed up again, so again I would recommend having an SSD, and assigning this SSD as the scratch disk within Photoshop’s preferences.

Display

Good laptops for photo editing have high resolution displays with excellent color rendition. You would think that you would always want to go for the largest laptop screen size available, but this is not the case if the screen is of a low quality. All of the aspects that you should consider when selecting the best laptop screen are detailed below, but note that even the best laptop screens do not match even mid-range external monitors. If your budget will stretch to it, and you will be doing most of your photo editing in a fixed location, then consider an external display, like the LG 27UK850-W 27″ 4K IPS monitor. I consider this the best monitor for Photoshop, and I use this for photo editing, finding its color accuracy to be second-to-none.

Screen Size
The best laptop for editing photos will need at least a 13″ screen, but preferably a 15.4″ screen. Remember the larger the screen, the bigger and heavier the laptop, so tailor your screen size choice to how you intend to use the laptop – either for travel, at home, or in-between.

Resolution
The best resolution for Photoshop currently available in budget laptops is sub-4K (2560 x 1600 pixels), although most of the cheaper models only offer a max resolution of 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels).

A higher resolution means more usable screen real estate, so that a 4K 14″ laptop will be able to display more on its screen than a 1080p 15.4″ laptop. This is because the higher resolution display can handle smaller icons, menus, etc.

Ideally, you should aim for a higher resolution display before a large screen size.

Panel Type
This refers to the construction of the screen. For budget laptops, you will generally get panels in either IPS, VA (or SVA), or TN.

  • IPS panels are found in the best Photoshop laptops, as they offer the highest quality color rendition, plus increased viewing angles and more even lighting. If you intend to print your photos and want to know what they are going to look like before printing, then an IPS panel will give the most true-to-life results. Bear in mind that they have slightly slower response times than TN panels, but are faster than VA panels, although this should not matter for photo editing.
  • VA (SVA) panels have the longest response times, although this is not really relevant for Photoshop use. They have the best contrast and best image depth of any panels, with color rendition and viewing angles between TN and IPS panels. SVA panels are an updated version of VA panels, with essentially the same characteristics.
  • TN panels are the more basic display construction. They are good enough for most uses, as long as you are not editing photos professionally. Color rendition is less good, and viewing angles are more limited than both VA and IPS panels.

Color Space
The number of colors that a display can show is often given as a percentage of a color space. Unfortunately, there are many color spaces, all covering different ranges, so it can be difficult to directly compare displays without further research. The two main color spaces are:

  • sRGB: This color space is the standard for internet use, originally designed to mimic the colors visible on old CRT monitors. sRGB only covers about 35% of the colors visible to the human eye, so is one of the smaller color spaces. If you intend to use your laptop to edit photos for the internet or social media, then aim for a display with as close to 100% of sRGB as possible.
  • Adobe RGB (1998): Most professional photographers use the Adobe RGB (1998) color space or equivalent, as this most closely replicates the colors that CMYK printers are able to print, and covers about 50% of the colors visible to the human eye. This is one of the most encompassing color spaces, and the best color profile for Photoshop, and is significantly wider than sRGB. Adobe RGB is primarily known for having richer greens and cyans than sRGB.

Touch Screen Laptop Photoshop
Whether you get a laptop with touch screen for Photoshop or not is entirely a personal choice. Bear in mind that touch screens drain the battery faster than regular screens, but in return you get the ability to draw directly onto the screen, which makes masking and other Photoshop operations significantly easier.

If you choose a touch screen laptop, read the related article on the best stylus for touch screen devices.

Battery Life

A good laptop for Photoshop will have the longest battery life possible. Although the battery life of laptops used to be fairly poor, you can now regularly get 10 hours plus of usage from the most efficient Photoshop laptops.

Although you might expect that laptops with lower powered, slower components would offer longer battery life, this is rarely the case as manufacturers reduce the size of batteries in these machines. This means that all laptops reviewed here have roughly the same battery life.

Additional Accessories

If you are serious about using Photoshop on your laptop, you will likely need to consider accessories, like the best mouse for Photoshop, or the best Wacom for Photoshop, as these will dramatically improve your ability to mask images and perform other operations.

Although there is not space to review them here, follow the link to see which is the best drawing tablet for photoshop.

Graphics Card (GPU)

The best graphics card for Photoshop is a dedicated card, like the Radeon RX 570, but the graphics card, or GPU, is one of the least important laptop components for Photoshop. It does improve performance, and thus speed, for a few operations, so the necessity of a video card will depend on how you intend to use Photoshop.

Photoshop features that are quicker with a GPU

  • Lens blur
  • Camera RAW
  • Image Size – Preserve Details
  • Select Focus
  • Blur Gallery – Field Blur, Iris Blur, Tilt-Shift, Path Blur, Spin Blur
  • Smart Sharpen
  • Select and Mask

Photoshop features that REQUIRE a GPU

  • Perspective Warp
  • 3D
  • Oil Paint
  • Render – Flame, Picture Frame, and Tree
  • Scrubby Zoom
  • Birds Eye View
  • Flick Panning
  • Smooth Brush Resizing

Do you need a dedicated graphics card for Photoshop?
A number of CPUs come with on-board graphics, which use part of the RAM to simulate a dedicated graphics cards. These are not the best GPU for Photoshop, although they are generally ok, but you are much better off using a laptop with a dedicated GPU if you can afford it, as they offer faster performance and leave the RAM free for other uses.

There used to be problems with on-board graphics cards not being recognized by Photoshop. Any recent laptop should be ok, but for a full range of tested graphics cards, take a look at Adobe’s site.


Best Budget Laptop for Photoshop – Full Reviews

ASUS ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim Laptop (Best Choice)

 Best Budget Laptop for Photoshop 

Specifications:
  • CPU: Intel i5-8265U 4-core @ 1.6 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • SSD / HDD: 512 GB SSD / No HDD
  • Screen Size: 13.3″
  • Max Resolution: 1080p (1920 x 1080)
  • Panel Type: IPS
  • sRGB Color Space: 100%
  • Touch Screen? No
  • Graphics: On-board Intel UHD
  • Battery Life: 5 hours
  • Weight: 2.5 lbs
  • Pros:
  • Very small and light
  • Excellent screen and colors with 100% sRGB
  • Fast charging
  • Aluminum body construction
  • Includes 1-year accidental damage protection
  • Cons:
  • Older, 8th gen Intel processor
  • No dedicated graphics card

As one of the smallest and lightest laptops reviewed here, you might expect performance to suffer, but the Zenbook actually outperforms a number of other laptops, and for my money is the best laptop for Photoshop and the best budget laptop for photography. Although it has an older, 8th gen Intel processor, the quad cores running at 1.6 GHz are easily enough to run Photoshop at high speeds, and the massive 512 GB SSD means that you won’t run out of storage any time soon.

As you would expect in the best value laptop for photo editing, there are a good number of ports included, such as USB-C and a microSD reader, which should help with getting your photos from your camera to the Zenbook.

Having only a 13.3″ screen is an acquired taste for photo editing, but the fact that this runs at a full HD 1080p resolution means that in practice it feels no smaller than a 15 inch laptop. That it covers 100% of the sRGB color space makes it perfect for editing photos for the web, and is one of the laptops in this price range that displays the most colors.

The advantage to the small screen is the weight of under 2.5 lbs, making this extremely portable, although you should bear in mind that real world battery life is in the range of 4-6 hours, not the claimed 14 hours.

Asus includes a one year accidental damage policy (which you must register for separately), meaning that you get a replacement in the event of liquid spills or from dropping the laptop, which is obviously a fantastic extra.

To make this into an even better laptop for Photoshop and Lightroom, you can choose to buy an upgraded model which has a discrete GeForce MX150 graphics card and touch screen, for an extra few hundred dollars, turning this into a very difficult to beat laptop for Photoshop.


 A Contender for Best Laptop for Photoshop and Lightroom 

Specifications:
  • CPU: Intel i5-10210U 4-core @ 1.6 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • SSD / HDD: 512 GB SSD / No HDD
  • Screen Size: 15.6″
  • Max Resolution: 1080p (1920 x 1080)
  • Panel Type: IPS
  • sRGB Color Space: 61%
  • Touch Screen? No
  • Graphics: On-board Intel UHD
  • Battery Life: 15 hours
  • Weight: 3.97 lbs
  • Pros:
  • Fantastic value for money
  • Very long battery life
  • Lots of ports and extras
  • Colorful (about 61% of sRGB color space), bright display, ideal for photographers
  • Speedy and powerful performance
  • Cons:
  • No dedicated graphics card

This hits the sweet spot for the best laptop for Photoshop, with very little to let it down for the price. Perhaps the hardest thing to find in a budget laptop is a great screen, but the Vivobook S15 delivers, with an IPS panel that has excellent color rendition and brightness – comparable to Macs.

With the benefit of a battery that lasts over 15 hours in real world tests, and a charger than can take an empty battery to 60% in 49 minutes, this is an excellent option for those looking to use their laptop out and about.

The weight is relatively light for this screen size and power, and the included USB-C and microSD ports make it easy to transfer photos from your camera to the laptop.

The processor is a quad core, 10th generation Intel chip, that can overclock itself from the base frequency of 1.6 GHz, up to 4.2 GHz for labor intensive tasks, and with the 512 GB SSD will make Photoshop use lightning fast.

Although there is no dedicated graphics card, the on processor Intel UHD graphics will work well with Photoshop and Lightroom.


HP 15.6-inch HD Laptop

 Cheap Laptop for Photo Editing 

Specifications:
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700OU 4-core @ 2.3 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • SSD / HDD: 256 GB SSD / No HDD
  • Screen Size: 15.6″
  • Max Resolution: 1366 x 768
  • Panel Type: SVA
  • sRGB Color Space: 58%
  • Touch Screen? No
  • Graphics: On-board AMD Radeon RX Vega 10
  • Battery Life: 10 hours
  • Weight: 3.75 lbs
  • Pros:
  • Very fast processor and SSD
  • Long battery life
  • SD card reader and USB-C port
  • Small for the screen size
  • Cons:
  • Screen is not IPS and only covers about 58% of sRGB colors
  • No dedicated graphics card

This is a cheap laptop for photo editing that has one of the best balances between cost and performance. With the fast AMD processor, 8 GB of RAM and a super-fast NVMe SSD, you won’t be waiting long for Photoshop to perform any labor intensive tasks.

You get a long battery life and the laptop is relatively small and lightweight for the screen size and specs, although this is let down by the lack of a dedicated graphics card. As with any laptop of these specs, it will get hot pretty quickly when used on your lap.

The biggest flaw from this laptop is the low resolution SVA screen (1366 x 768), which is a sub-1080p display. The color rendition is acceptable, but unless you are on a tight budget, I would strongly recommend the ASUS Vivobook S15 above, which is ultimately much better value for money.


Acer Aspire 5 15.6 inches Laptop

 Best Laptop for Picture Storage 

Specifications:
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3200U 2-core @ 2.6 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • SSD / HDD: 256 GB SSD / 1 TB HDD
  • Screen Size: 15.6″
  • Max Resolution: 1080p (1920 x 1080)
  • Panel Type: IPS
  • sRGB Color Space: 65%
  • Touch Screen? No
  • Graphics: On-board AMD Radeon Vega 3
  • Battery Life: 7.5 hours
  • Weight: 3.97 lbs
  • Pros:
  • Lots of storage
  • Excellent screen and color rendition – covers 65% of sRGB color space
  • Affordable
  • Good battery life
  • Cons:
  • No dedicated graphics card
  • Only dual core processor

With a 256 GB SSD and a 1 TB HDD, this is the best laptop for picture storage reviewed here. The SSD is big enough to hold the OS and programs like Photoshop, while the HDD can be used for long term picture storage.

The screen has excellent color rendition over its 16.6 inches, and is a full HD, IPS display. Like most other laptops in this price range, it does not have a dedicated graphics card, but this should not be a problem for Photoshop users in practice.

Of greater concern is the lower quality, Ryzen 3 two core processor, which won’t match quad core processors for performance, although the difference between the two is only measured in seconds while performing CPU intensive processes in Photoshop.

If you are on a tight budget, this can be the best laptop for Photoshop under 500, with a lower spec version that only has 4 GB RAM and a 128 GB SSD available for less than $500.


Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (2020 Model)

 Highest Resolution Laptop for Photo Editing 

Specifications:
  • CPU: Intel i3 2-core @ 1.1 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • SSD / HDD: 256 GB SSD / No HDD
  • Screen Size: 13.3″
  • Max Resolution: 2560 x 1600 pixels
  • Panel Type: IPS
  • sRGB Color Space: 113%
  • Touch Screen? No
  • Graphics: On-board Intel Iris Plus
  • Battery Life: 12 hours
  • Weight: 2.8 lbs
  • Pros:
  • Highest resolution display at this price range
  • 113% of sRGB color gamut
  • Amazing design & build quality
  • Built-in Thunderbolt ports for connecting external SSDs
  • Cons:
  • No dedicated graphics card
  • Few ports
  • Gets hot very quickly under load
  • Expensive

This is not quite a 4K laptop for photo editing, but comes the closest of any being reviewed here, with a very high 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution. In the small 13.3″ screen, this makes everything appear very sharp, and dramatically increases the screen real-estate. With about 133% of sRGB colors visible through this display, the Macbook Air must be one of the best laptops to run Photoshop.

This laptop is let down by some of the other specs though, from the older dual-core processor and the smaller SSD.

When compared with the Zenbook, the Macbook Air is a little overpriced, and would really only be recommended if you are an existing Mac user and don’t want to switch to Windows.


Lenovo IdeaPad 3

 Best Inexpensive Laptop for Photo Editing 

Specifications:
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3250U 2-core @ 2.6 GHz
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • SSD / HDD: 128 GB SSD/ No HDD
  • Screen Size: 15.6″
  • Max Resolution: 1366 x 768 pixels
  • Panel Type: TN
  • sRGB Color Space: 52%
  • Touch Screen? No
  • Graphics: On-board AMD Radeon Vega 3
  • Battery Life: 6 hours
  • Weight: 4.84 lbs
  • Pros:
  • Very affordable
  • Decent processor for the price
  • Potential to use SSD as Photoshop scratch disk
  • Suited for those wanting a Photoshop laptop on a budget
  • Cons:
  • Small SSD
  • Quite heavy
  • Low resolution, TN display with 52% of sRGB colors
  • Small amount of RAM

This is the cheapest laptop reviewed here, and although the trade-off is lower performance, this is still the best inexpensive laptop for photo editing for those on a strict budget.

Although the processor is an older dual-core model, it runs at a respectable 2.6 GHz, and comes with a decent on-board graphics card. The slower performance of this laptop will come from the reduced RAM when compared with other models, although this can be partially recovered by letting Photoshop use the SSD as a scratch disk.

You get a low resolution, TN display panel, which will not be ideal for photography, although it will be passable. You do not get very good color rendition, with only 52% of the sRGB color space available.

So why is the IdeaPad 3 a good choice?
Because it is the best option to run Photoshop on a strict budget, thanks to the very low price. You will not find another Photoshop capable machine for the $350 or so that this laptop retails for. If that’s the size of your budget, then this laptop will work well enough for you.


Microsoft Surface Laptop (1st Gen)

 Nearly the Best Computer for Photography Editing 

Specifications:
  • CPU: Intel i5 2-core @ 3.1 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • SSD / HDD: 128 GB SSD / No HDD
  • Screen Size: 13.5″
  • Max Resolution: 2256 x 1504 pixels
  • Panel Type: IPS
  • sRGB Color Space: 94%
  • Touch Screen? Yes
  • Graphics: On-board Intel HD Graphics 620
  • Battery Life: 10 hours
  • Weight: 2.76 lbs
  • Pros:
  • Very high resolution touch screen with 94% of sRGB colors
  • Lightweight with long battery life
  • Well designed and high build quality
  • Excellent keyboard
  • Cons:
  • Older, 7th gen Intel CPU
  • Have to upgrade (for free) to Windows 10 Pro from Windows S
  • Older, slower components

The first gen Surface Laptop was and is a very good laptop for photo editing, and remains the best choice if you demand a touch screen along with enough power to run Photoshop. Along with hitting 94% of the sRGB spectrum, the touch screen means that Photoshop use is extremely intuitive, with the Surface Pen meaning that you can draw masks directly onto the screen.

The laptop shows its age in the older, slower components it has been fitted with. You can counter this by upgrading to the more recent Surface Laptop 3, but this will cost you a significant premium.

The Surface Laptop 1 was designed as Microsoft’s answer to the Macbook Air, and is very similar to it in specs. If you are looking for a direct equivalent to the Macbook Air, but in Windows form, then the Surface Laptop is the answer.


Dell Inspiron 3000

 Best Laptop for Photoshop Under $500 

Specifications:
  • CPU: Intel i3-1005G1 2-core @ 1.2 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • SSD / HDD:128 GB SSD / 1 TB HDD
  • Screen Size: 15.6″
  • Max Resolution: 1366 x 768 pixels
  • Panel Type: IPS
  • sRGB Color Space: 71%
  • Touch Screen? Yes
  • Graphics: On-board Intel UHD Graphics
  • Battery Life: 7 hours
  • Weight: 4.45 lbs
  • Pros:
  • 71% of sRGB color gamut
  • Touch screen
  • 10th gen Intel processor
  • Good build quality
  • Cons:
  • Need to take it out of Windows S mode
  • No dedicated graphics card
  • Slower components

As the best laptop for Photoshop under $500, the Dell Inspiron 3000 is a excellent choice for those on a more restricted budget. You get the latest 10th gen Intel processors (although only a slower dual-core version), along with plenty of RAM and both an SSD and HDD.

The display resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels lets the laptop down, although the touch screen is a massive bonus.

You won’t be getting a top quality budget laptop in the Dell, unlike with the Asus offerings, but you definitely get something that outperforms other units at this price point.


LG Gram 17″ Laptop

 Best Laptop for Picture Editing 

Specifications:
  • CPU: Intel i7-1065G7 4-core @ 1.3 GHz
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • SSD / HDD: 1TB SSD (2 x 512 GB) / No HDD
  • Screen Size: 17″
  • Max Resolution: 2560 x 1600 pixels
  • Panel Type: IPS
  • sRGB Color Space: 99%
  • Touch Screen? No
  • Graphics: On-board Intel Iris
  • Battery Life: 17 hours
  • Weight: 2.98 lbs
  • Pros:
  • High-end processor
  • Lots of RAM and high capacity SSDs
  • Large screen with 99% of sRGB colors
  • Light weight and long battery life
  • Cons:
  • Slow charging
  • Expensive

The LG Gram is without a doubt the best laptop for Adobe Creative Suite, if you have the money to spend. Unlike the other laptops featured in this article, it is not a budget model, but shows you what you can get if you are willing to spend a little more.

The very large 17″ screen can display just under the full sRGB color spectrum, and the high resolution makes it a joy to use for Photoshop work.

It has a quiet fan, that is difficult to notice even under heavy load, and the high-end Intel processor will quickly power through any labor intensive tasks.

With 16 GB of RAM, you are unlikely to run out when using Photoshop, and the two included SSDs mean that even if you do, there is a spare SSD to use as a scratch disk, making this the best laptop for photo editing and storage.

If you are looking for desktop replacement, that is also portable, and you have the money to spend, the LG Gram 17″ is one of the best laptops that you can buy.


Follow Tim Daniels:

Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

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