Whether you are designing web graphics, altering photos, or just cranking out dank memes, you want your laptop hardware to be able to keep up with any photo editing program.
If your current laptop frequently slows down or freezes while touching up large image files, it’s time for an upgrade.
Want to keep the creativity flowing without interruption from sub-par hardware?
We’ve got you covered with a breakdown of the best laptops for photo editing under $1000 !
The Lineup At A Glance
Best Laptops For Photo Editing Under $1000 In 2021
Lenovo ThinkPad E595 – Affordable Photo Editing
Want to use top-of-the-line photo editing tools, but don’t have much to spend on your hardware? You will need to make some hard choices on what specs are most important to you for using a program like Photoshop.
A high end display should be top on your list of priorities, and that’s what you get here. For a very low price, you get the full 1920 x 1080 resolution in 15 inches of full HD.
In terms of internal components, the Lenovo ThinkPad E595 has a AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor, 8GB of RAM, a solid state drive for faster loading times, and aIntegrated AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics which will give you overall decent performance while editing images.
So… what’s the catch?
Well, the laptop only has 256 GB of storage which is on the low end for what you want when saving large image files. You may end up needing to buy an external USB drive, or be willing to shell out a bit more for a machine with a larger SSD.
This isn’t a top of the line photo editing laptop so this is to be expected. However you are getting more than you ask for with the prices that it’s being sold.
Hardware Specifications for Lenovo ThinkPad E595
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Quad-Core Processor, 2.10 GHz (up to 3.70 GHz)| Graphics:Integrated AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics| RAM: 8 GB RAM | Screen: 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS 250nits Anti-glare | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Pro | Battery Life: 5 hours | Weight: 3 lbs
HP Envy – High-end Processor
Our top pick for image editing in general is the HP Envy. It has many amazing features but its two main selling points when it comes to photo editing is the processor and the screen.
It features a 10th Gen i7 processor with an 8MB cache will power through any photo editing tool you use without skipping a beat. This processor is what makes the HP Envy a little pricey since its one of the latest and fastest processors in its class.
You get a very nice display as well, with over 17 inches of full HD 1920×1080 resolution you’ll be able to quickly notice imperfections in your editing without having to zoom in that much. It simply makes the job much easier.
Now if 17 inches is too big for you, then you should consider taking a look at the LG Gram instead.
Hardware Specifications for HP Envy X360
CPU: Intel Core i7-10510U Processor (10th Gen, upto 4.90 GHz, 8MB Intel Smart Cache, 4-Cores) | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce MX250 2GB GDDR5 Integrated Graphics | RAM: 16 GB DDR4 SODIMM RAM | Screen: 17.3 inch diagonal Full HD (1920×1080) 16:9 Aspect Ratio Touch Display | Storage: 256 GB SSD + 1TB HDD | Operating System: Windows 10 Pro-64 Operating System | Battery Life: 9 hours | Weight: 6.14lb
Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch – 4 Thunderbolt Ports
You had to know we’d be looking at a MacBook eventually, right?
For photo and audio editing, Apple still reigns supreme, even if Windows is catching up these days.
The cream of the Apple crop is of course the MacBook Pro, and that will be your best bet if you want a powerful, full size laptop for photography.
Besides the high end specs, there are three main reasons to go with the MacBook over any other device:
First up is the stunning “retina” quality display, offering better colors and darker blacks while editing images.
The second is the MacBook’s extremely high build quality, with an aluminum chassis built to last.
Finally, the Touch Bar is an extremely nifty feature, especially for photo editing, as it predicts what buttons you will need based on the types of programs you use.
The only downside is its price and the fact that you get a limited number of ports. And in older Macbook models you’ll need to get a hub to connect much of anything, since they don’t have any other ports than USB-C ports/Thunderbolt.
Thankfully, this latest version of the Macbook has at least one Gen 2 USB port so you don’t have to rely on a hub. Additionally, since it features 4 Thunderbolt ports, it also allows for easy file transfers which is useful for handling those very large image files.
Want to save yourself more than a thousand dollars? Older MacBook Pro models are available far cheaper, although you lose the Touch Bar feature and drop down to a 256GB SSD.
Hardware specifications for Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch
CPU: Intel Core i9 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory and automatic graphics switching, Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16 GB | Screen: 16.0-inch (diagonal) LED-back display with IPS technology; 3072×1920 native resolution at 226 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors| Storage: 1TB SSD| Operating System: MAC OS | Battery Life: 11 hours | Weight: 4.3 pounds
Dell XPS 15 7590 – High End Display
There’s no question that 4k screens are the wave of the future, but at the moment they remain in “bleeding edge” territory. While they are worth every penny, you are going to pay a premium for this feature.
That being said, the Dell XPS 15 with this display is more than a thousand dollars cheaper than the latest MacBook Pro, but offers better overall specs.
With 16 GB of RAM, you can expect to have multiple tabs and editing programs open at the same time without any lag.
The dedicated graphics card also means you can do some gaming on the side, or run memory-intensive video editing tools as well.
Note that the listed battery life is for idle web browsing at medium settings. A 4k screen with a dedicated graphics card will eat through battery life very quickly with any other usage.
If you keep the screen brightness at full and are using high end photo editing software, expect much, much lower battery life. You will probably be better suited just leaving the XPS plugged in most of the time.
Hardware specifications for Dell XPS 15
CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H Processor | Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 1650 4GB GDDR5 | RAM: 16 GB RAM| Screen: 15.6″ 4K UHD (3840×2160) Touch Display | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 9 hours | Weight: 4 pounds
Lenovo Yoga C940 – Powerful Convertible
Several of our contenders above also feature touch screens, so there’s no shortage of options when picking a laptop specifically for photo editing.
The Lenovo Yoga is easily the best overall touch display machine with a wide range of features, however.
First off, this model is a hybrid machine built with Windows Ink in mind. If you use a stylus for editing often, this is a great option.
Even if you don’t care about a stylus, you still get very high end specs with the Yoga. Between the i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, large SSD, and dedicated graphics card, your laptop will be ready for anything.
Want to know the best part?
This is also a beast, meaning you get crisp and clear images whether you are using Photoshop or streaming Netflix movies.
There’s also one big feature often mentioned by reviewers. This is less important for photo editing, but it’s worth noting that the speakers are positioned on either side of the machine, rather than the bottom.
That means you get better sound quality no matter what configuration you are using — tablet, 90 degree angle, tent mode, etc.
Hardware Specifications for Lenovo Yoga C940
CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H (2.60GHz, up to 4.50GHz with Turbo Boost, 6 Cores, 12MB Cache) | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB | RAM: 16 GB RAM | Screen: 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, touchscreen, glossy, 500 nits Display| Storage: 512 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: 11 hours | Weight: 6 lbs
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – Compact but Powerful
One of the biggest advantages of laptops is its mobility however powerful specs tend to come at the price of being a little heavy or bulky. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is an exception to this though.
Thanks to its ultra durable carbon fiber chassis, this laptop is able to have a compact design without sacrificing durability. It also makes as light as 2.6 lbs which makes it the lightest laptop in this list.
Despite this lightness its still features powerful specs like the latest 10th Gen Core i7-10510U processor, 16 GB of RAM, and an Intel HD Graphics 620 card.
Lastly, it has a high standard resolution of 1920 x1080 but it can even go higher with the UHD display featuring 3840 x 2160 pixels of quality photos and videos.
Hardware specifications for Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
CPU: 10th Gen Core i7-10510U processor | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620| RAM:16 GB | Screen: 14-inch LCD 1920×1080 resolution (400 nit); 3840 x 2160 VESA400 HDR with Dolby Vision (500 nit) | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Pro | Battery Life: 10 hours | Weight: 2.6 lbs
Asus ZenBook Pro Duo – Super High Specs
The Asus ZenBook Pro Duo is one of the most powerful laptops in this list.The laptops features a 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H Quad Core Processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card. Being so powerful, this laptop isn’t cheap and it’s a little overkill if you’re only using this for photo editing.
It also has a 15 inch display that has a 4K HD resolution as well so you can enjoy watching movies, playing games, and of course editing photos quite easily in this high resolution.
Its display is also touchscreen as well which makes it really convenient for a lot of people. People who prefer using a stylus will love this laptop as well thanks to the added sensitivity of the screen.
Lastly, it has tons of other convenient features as well, like it split windows displays, ergonomic design, and an optimized cooling system preventing you from hearing noisy fans.
Hardware Specifications for Asus ZenBook Pro Duo
CPU: 9th generation Intel Core i7-9750H Quad Core Processor (12M Cache, up to 4.5 GHz) | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060| RAM: 16 GB RAM| Screen: 15.6 inch 4K UHD NanoEdge touchscreen glossy main display | Storage: 1 TB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Pro| Battery Life: 3.5 hours| Weight: 5.5 lbs
Razer Blade Stealth – 100% RGB Coverage
Razer is primarily a brand known for its gaming laptop and the Razer Blade Stealth is no exception. This laptop has everything you expect from a gaming laptop, powerful specs, nice display, and impressive benchmarks.
However this also means that the Razer Blade Stealth is more than capable of editing photos with its 16 GB RAM, 10th Gen i7 processors, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics. Still what makes this laptop suitable for photo editing is its display.
It features a 15 inch 4K display that shows gorgeous resolutions, its main selling point as a phot editing laptop is its 100% RGB Coverage that covers over 16. 8 million colors as well as multiple preset profiles to make things easier for the user.
Lastly, despite being a gaming laptop, the Razer Blade Stealth has over 10 hours of battery life making it really handy for travelling or in using a laptop when you don’t have a socket to use.
Hardware specifications for Razer Blade Stealth 13
CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650| RAM: 16 GB RAM| Screen: 13.3 inches FHD Matte 1920 X 1080 pixels (GTX 120Hz Model) 4K 3840 × 2160 pixels (GTX 4K Model) | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home| Battery Life: 10 hours | Weight: 3.2 lbs
The MSI prestige 15 is a powerful gaming machine that’s also meant to serve content creators, and editors. It has the latest 10th Gen CPU and 16 GB of RAM, and a Nvidia GeForce GTX1650 that renders high quality images with ease.
Its main attractive feature is its flip and share mode that allows its users to quickly show their works to other people that are near them. Aside from this neat feature, the MSi Prestige 15 also has an amazing display that features 4 K resolution as well as 159% of the sRGB gamut.
Despite being advertised to have 16 hours of battery life, our tests show that it only has 8. This is probably because its powerful specs and 4K resolution eats a lot of battery.
Hardware Specifications for MSI Prestige 15
CPU: Intel Core i7-10710U | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX1650 Max-Q 4g GDDR5 | RAM: 16 GB RAM | Screen: 15. 6″ FH, IPS level anti-glare Wide View Angle thin Bezel 100%srgb | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Pro| Battery Life: 8 hours | Weight: 3.64 lbs
LG Gram- Long Battery Life
The LG Gram is a direct competitor of the Lenovo X1 Carbon. They both have powerful specs and they’re both extremely light. And although the Lenovo X1 Carbon is lighter, the LG Gram has a longer battery life than any of the laptops on this list.
With over 19.5 hours of battery life, the LG grams can be used for a long time without having the need to charge.
Hardware specifications for LG Gram
CPU: Intel 10th Gen Core i7 1065G7 processor | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16 GB RAM | Screen: 17″ IPS WQXGA (2560 x 1600)| Storage: 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD (512GB x2) | Operating System: Windows 10 home | Battery Life: 19.5 hours | Weight: 2.98 pounds
Picking The Best Laptops For Photo Editing Under $1000 In 2021
This is one area where Macs tend to outshine Windows machines, and many professional graphic designers stick with Apple. If you want to go with Windows 10 though, we’ve still got plenty of options for you to consider.
When using cheaper computers with lower specs, it’s quite common to experience stutters and lag while opening extremely large photo files. That also tends to be the case when applying filters or making edits to those images.
We want to avoid those problems entirely, so all our contenders are powerful enough to run Photoshop or similar tools without any slow downs.
Besides that consideration, we also went entirely with laptops featuring high resolution displays. If you are going to be looking closely at huge images all day, you want a great viewing experience.
What Specs Do I Specifically Need For Photo Editing?
As we’ve mentioned before, manipulating large, high resolution photos is quite taxing on your processor and your RAM.
To ensure you don’t experience any freezing or lag issues, an Intel Core i5 should be your starting point when picking a processor.
While that will get the job done for most users, we’d recommend bumping up to an i7 if your budget allows to get an even smoother experience.
Always look for the 10th gen processor whenever possible, with more cores and a higher cache. Those last two options are critical, as they will make it easier for your CPU to handle adding filters to big files.
Picking a laptop with 10th gen i7 processor will further mean that a dedicated graphics card isn’t as important. Unless you are also involved in heavy duty video editing, the integrated graphics chip with that line of processor will meet your needs.
What Other Laptop Features Are Important For Image Editing?
Screen resolution is going to be the big issue to consider when picking the best laptop for using Photoshop or similar programs.
You can find plenty of cheaper laptops online than those we’ve listed here. Those models will almost always drop down to 1366 x 768 resolution and use TN panels, however.
Both of those specs should be avoided when picking a computer for photo editing. You want a minimum of 1920 x 1080 resolution, and an IPS display will offer a much better viewing experience.
Don’t forget to take a look at what ports are included either! A card slot is mandatory if you are using a traditional digital camera.
In most cases you can ditch the optical drive, unless you have clients who prefer finished photographs saved to physical media like a DVD. In that case, you could still get an external DVD drive, it will give you a little more flexibility.
Should I Be Picking A Desktop For Photography Instead?
There was a time when you truly needed a high end desktop for running memory-intensive photo editing tools.
That time has passed, and now there are a wide range of laptops that can work just as well.
So long as you stick to an i5 or i7 processor with 8 – 16GB of RAM, you can easily beat out any desktop system.
Two potential issues should be kept in mind if you go with a laptop, however. The first involves battery life, and the second concerns storage capacity.
Especially with 4k resolution models, you will frequently be plugged in due to low battery life, so you lose out on some of the traditional laptop portability.
Finally, keep in mind that for serious photo editing you will either want a very large SSD, or both an HDD and an SSD.
The hard disk drive is used for storing completed projects, while the SSD offers faster speeds booting the operating system and working on new projects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a gaming laptop good for photo editing
A lot of gaming laptops require high specs and a powerful graphics card to run a lot of high-end games in ultra. This is mainly because of their powerful processors, high RAM, SSD storage, and a high-end graphics card.
Coincidentally, these specs are also what you need in order to edit high-resolution images as well as run resource-intensive photo editing programs like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Canva, etc.
Is Core i5 good for Photoshop?
Yes. Intel Core i5 processors tend to have good clock speeds overall. With the lowest being 1.6 GHz up to speeds reaching 4.1 GHz. Of course the number of course also matters as well but usually photoshop apps are more reliant on clock speed rather than cores.
This means that for i5 processors who have good base clock speed, running photoshop would be easy for them and it won’t cause much problems.
Do you need 4k for photo editing?
No, because people have been editing photos way before the 4k resolution ever came out.
All you need for photo editing is a good resolution, a display with 1920 x 1080 resolution is good and it really helps you out especially when zooming in.
However, having a 4K resolution does help out a lot in photo editing. Generally speaking, the higher the resolution, the easier it is for the editor to handle HD images as well as zoom in and edit out details that aren’t photogenic.
Of course, having a 4K resolution also helps out the eyes as well since editors won’t have to strain their eyes as well.
What is the best size for photo editing?
Anything above 12 inches is good however you might want to start with 14 inches since 12 might be too straining for the eyes for some people. The larger the display, the better it is for the editor, so having a 17 inch laptop is ideal if you’re really serious about editing images and making them perfect.
Finding The Perfect Laptop For Image Editing
Whether you are a graphic design expert who creates logos and covers or an amatuer who just wants to touch up old photos, one of these laptops will be your perfect choice.
What features do you look for in the best photo editing laptop, and what did you think of our top five contenders? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts!