These are the best photo editing laptops in 2022

These are the best photo editing laptops in 2022

laptops on the market from all kinds of different companies and for all kinds of users. Even if you have a specific use case in mind, you’ll likely have a lot of options too. We’ve previously rounded up the best laptops for content creators, and if you’re specifically into video editing, we have you covered there. Now it’s time for the best laptops for photo editing.

Photo editing is generally less demanding than video editing. After all, videos are strings of thousands of still images, which makes rendering them more difficult. But if you’re working with photos professionally, using lots of effects and layers, there are still some things that are nice to have. Specifically, it’s good to have a lot of RAM, at least 16GB, to load multiple layers into memory while editing. And of course, while it’s not as demanding, it’s still good to have a fast CPU. Even with all of that in mind, there are a lot of great laptops that fit this bill.

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Best overall: HP Spectre x360 16

Woman sitting and using HP Spectre x360 16

The HP Spectre family has rooted itself as one of the best series of laptops on the market today, and the Spectre x360 16 is the most powerful model you can get in this lineup. It keeps the versatility and style the Spectre line is known for, but it takes everything up a notch and it’s a fantastic choice overall.

Starting with performance, the HP Spectre x360 is packing some powerful specs, starting with a 35W Intel Core i7-11390H, which is a quad-core, eight-thread processor that can boost up to 5GHz. It also has integrated Iris Xe graphics, but if you need a little more GPU power, you can add an optional NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050, which should give your photo editing tasks a boost. On top of that, you can get it with up to 32GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD, and the base model starts with 16GB and 512GB, respectively, so you’re getting a solid photo editing experience even at the base level. Of course, any upgrades from there are even better.

The display is another highlight of this laptop, too. It comes with a 16-inch panel and a 16:10 aspect ratio, and that taller screen is a very welcome boost to productivity in photo editing apps like Photoshop. The extra vertical space means you can accommodate more UI elements on screen at once, so it’s easier to make edits without switching between panels. What’s more, it’s a super-sharp screen, with 3072 x 1920 resolution by default and the option to upgrade to an Ultra HD+ (3840 x 2400) OLED display if you want the absolute best you can get. Of course, being a convertible means it supports touch and pen input, too.

The webcam is another highlight of this laptop, which comes with HP’s 5MP “GlamCam”. Not only can it record high-resolution video, it also includes features like smart auto framing and lighting correction, so this is a great camera for video calls and meetings. Plus, it supports Windows Hello facial recognition and there’s a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello, too.

Design-wise, the Spectre x360 16 shakes things up a bit compared to other members of the Spectre family. It still has a dual-tone look, and it comes in two options: Nightfall Black, which is black and copper-colored, and Nocturne Blue, which uses two different shades of blue. Unlike previous models, though, the accents are far more subtle, so the laptop doesn’t stick out as much. The overall design is also more rounded than its angular siblings, so the 4.45lbs of weight feels a bit more comfortable in your hands when you’re carrying it.

Rounding things out with ports, the HP Spectre x360 16 comes with two Thunderbolt 4 ports, one USB Type-A port, HDMI, a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader. That’s a solid setup that covers most needs, though some might have liked a full-size SD card reader for transferring photos from a camera.

    The HP Spectre x360 16 is a powerful convertible laptop that can handle photo editing without an issue, and it looks great while doing it.

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Also great: Surface Laptop Studio

Display pulled forward on Surface Laptop Studio

Another great option if you want a different kind of convertible is the newly-launched Surface Laptop Studio. It’s similar in terms of performance, but it’s got a very different design and – personally speaking – a better design.

Focusing on performance first, the Surface Laptop Studio is packing Intel’s H35 series processors up to a Core i7-11370H, which has four cores, eight threads, and can boost up to 4.8GHz. Similar to the HP Spectre x360, it also includes Iris Xe graphics, but if you upgrade to the Core i7 model, you get an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, which is actually a bit more powerful than the regular RTX 3050. It also comes with up to 32GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD so you get great performance for photo editing and plenty of storage for your projects.

One of the most unique aspects of the Surface Laptop Studio is its display, which is a 14.4-inch panel and comes in the signature 3:2 aspect ratio we’ve come to expect of Surface devices.The resolution is 2400 x 1600, which is pretty sharp for a display of this size, and it also as a 120Hz refresh rate, so it’s one of the very few non-gaming laptops with a high refresh rate display. The most unique aspect of it, though, is the hinge. The display on the Surface Laptop Studio has a dual-hinge mechanism that allows you to pull the screen closer to you or lay it down over the keyboard, putting it in an ideal stance for drawing or making edits with the Surface Slim Pen. On that note, the Surface Laptop Studio supports tactile signals on the Surface Slim Pen 2.

Above the display, the Surface Laptop Studio packs a 1080p webcam, and while that may be less impressive than the Spectre x360 16, it’s still one of the best webcams you can find in a laptop right now. Pplus, it comes with Windows Hello facial recognition, just like (almost) every other Surface device.

Turning to the design, we’ve already discussed the most unique aspect of the Surface Laptop Studio, but aside from that, it’s a standard Surface affair. It comes in the classic platinum color and it looks very sleek and modern, but one thing worth noting is that the touchpad uses haptic feedback for clicks, instead of actually being clickable. Aside from that, the laptop is under 19mm thick and it starts at 3.83lbs of weight (4lbs if you opt for the model with dedicated graphics).

A downside of the Surface Laptop Studio is its port setup. It’s one of the first Surface devices to support Thunderbolt 4, which is great, but that’s almost all there is. You get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a headphone jack, and a Surface Connect port for charging. If you want to connect your camera to transfer photos, you need to either do it wirelessly or have an adapter ready. You also can’t connect external displays or most accessories without an adapter or a Thunderbolt dock.

Despite that downfall, this is one of the best laptops you can buy today if you plan to do photo editing frequently.

    With its unique convertible design and a great display, the Surface Laptop Studio is a no-brainer for photo editing and even some video editing.

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Best Delta E < 2 laptop: Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel

Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel

If you’re a photo editing professional, color accuracy is undoubtedly important for your work, and the Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel is one of the best laptops for that. There’s a lot that makes this laptop special, but the display is definitely one of the big selling points. This is a 14 inch Full HD display that covers 100% of the sRGB color space, but its biggest draw is it has a Delta E lower than 2. That means color accuracy is fantastic, and this display is validated by PANTONE, so you know you’re getting a great experience.

The ConceptD 3 Ezel also gets points for being a convertible with a very unique design. It’s very similar to the Surface Laptop Studio, and Acer actually did it first, but it’s also more versatile. The Surface Laptop Studio is meant to be fixed in three possible positions, but the Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel lets the display rotate all around and stay in any given position. You can pull it closer to you and cover the keyboard, fold it down over the keyboard deck, or even rotate it backwards to share something with someone across a table. Of course, this is a touch screen, and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. Plus, it also supports Wacom AES pen technology if you prefer it.

The ConceptD 3 Ezel also isn’t lacking in performance, packing a 45W Intel Core i7-10750H processor, with 6 cores, 12 threads, and boost speeds up to 5GHz. That’s a 10th generation processor, so it’s not the newest around, but it’s still incredibly powerful for photo editing and even more demanding workloads. Acer has announced a new version with 11th-generation processors, but it doesn’t seem to be available yet, and it’s unclear when that will happen given the current supply constraints. But this is still great if you need a new PC right now, and it’s not lacking in power. Plus, it has 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, a solid combination for photo editing, although it could be a bit better.

On top of that, you get a dedicated GPU, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650, which gives you some extra power for all kinds of tasks. You could feasibly use this laptop for video editing, or even gaming. Again, this is something that will be upgraded with a refreshed model, which will feature a GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, but it’s still fantastic if you need a new laptop right now.

The Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel is also fantastic for its connectivity. You get plenty of ports with this laptop, including two USB Type-A ports, Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C), HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, a full-sized SD card reader, and a headphone jack. You also get a keyboard with full-sized arrow keys and a soft amber backlight that helps this laptop look wholly unique compared to anything else out there. For sound, there’s a speaker grille above the keyboard, too.

If you want a laptop with stellar color accuracy, fantastic performance, and a modern design, the Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel is a fantastic option, and considering everything it offers, it’s actually a reasonable price to pay. It’s certainly one of the best laptops you can get for photo editing, even if a refresh is on its way soon.

    The Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel is a unique convertible with a design that allows it to be used in a multitude of ways. It's also got a very color-accurate display with touch and pen support and powerful specs with 45W Intel processors and dedicated NVIDIA graphics.

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Best 15-inch laptop for photo editing: Dell XPS 15

Angled view of Dell XPS 15

Much like the HP Spectre lineup, the Dell XPS 15 is one of those iconic brands, and for good reason. These laptops pack a lot of power into a compact chassis, and the latest Dell XPS 15 carries on that legacy. This laptop has a 15.6 inch laptop with a 16:10 aspect ratio and tiny bezels all around, making it smaller than you might expect for this display size. That 16:10 aspect ratio is taller than the usual 16:9, and that means more surface area for UI elements, photos, and text.

The best thing about this display is in its upgrade options. You can get it with a 3.5K (3456 x 2160) OLED display, which covers 100% of DCI-P3, or with a 4K+ (3840 x 2400) LCD panel that covers 100% of Adobe RGB. The OLED display is going to look absolutely stunning with vivid colors, true blacks, and very high contrast ratios. On the other hand, Adobe RGB is a more comprehensive color spectrum so you may prefer it for its color reproduction. Either way, these display options make this one of the best laptops for photo editing.

But that’s not all. Even with its compact chassis, the Dell XPS 15 packs an incredible amount of power. That includes 11th-generation 45W Intel processors, with speeds as high as 4.9GHz. It starts with an Intel Core i5-11400H, but this is a limiting configuration and we’d definitely recommend upgrading to either the Core i7-11800H or the Core i9-11900H. If you do, you’ll get at least 16GB of RAM, with the option to go all the way to a massive 64GB. Similarly, you’ll start with 512GB of SSD storage, but you can go as high as 8TB, so any and all photo editing projects you could ever need to store will fit just fine. And if the upfront cost of those upgrades is too much, you can upgrade the RAM and SSD yourself later.

Even that’s not the end of it. Along with the Core i7 or Core i9 processors, you get dedicated NVIDIA graphics, up to a GeForce RTX 3050 Ti with 4GB of memory and 45W of power. That gives you an extra kick in performance, so not only can this laptop handle photo editing gracefully, even video editing and some gaming are well within reach.

The Dell XPS 15 continues to impress with its design, featuring four top-firing stereo speakers on the sides of the keyboard, plus a large Precision trackpad. It also looks unique, giving you the option between black carbon fiber and white woven glass fiber composite for the keyboard deck. For ports, you get two Thunderbolt 4 (USB Type-C connectors), a third USB Type-C port without Thunderbolt, a full-size SD card reader, and a headphone jack. And if you need a display output or USB Type-A, there’s a dongle in the box that you can connect to one of the Type-C ports.

If you choose to upgrade to a Core i7 processor as we recommend, the Dell XPS 15 isn’t cheap, but you get a whole lot of laptop. You can buy the OLED model with an Intel Core i7, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage at Best Buy using the link below. For $2,299, this is a fantastic laptop and is significantly cheaper than buying the same configuration from Dell directly. However, if you want to configure the specs completely to get even more power, you’ll have to do it on Dell’s website.

    The Dell XPS 15 is a phenomenal 15 inch laptop with a compact design and incredibly powerful specs, including 11th-generation 45W Intel processors and dedicated NVIDIA graphics. It comes with a stunning OLED display, too.

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Best 17-inch laptop for photo editing: LG gram 17

Some of us prefer larger screens, and the LG gram 17 is a standout among 17 inch laptops. The LG gram line has long been known for being incredibly light, and weighing less than 3lbs, this is certainly one of the lightest 17 inch laptops out there. This is a great laptop if you want something with a large screen that’s still extremely portable. Adding to its portability, the gram 17 has a large 80Whr battery that promises to last up to 19 hours on a charge, making this one of the best laptops if you want photo editing capabilities on the go.

Being light doesn’t mean the LG gram 17 is lacking in power. It packs the latest Intel Core i7-1165G7, and that’s a fairly powerful mobile processor already, with four cores, eight threads, and clock speeds up to 4.7GHz. On top of that, it also includes Intel Iris Xe graphics with 96 execution units. That’s paired with 16GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD, giving you more than enough space for your photo editing projects, and a decent amount of RAM to work with too.

Aside from being big, the 17 inch display also looks fantastic. This is an IPS panel and it covers 99% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, giving you solid color reproduction right out of the gate. It’s also got a 16:10 aspect ratio, giving you more surface area to work with. When you combine that with the Quad HD+ resolution (2560 x 1600), this is an incredibly sharp laptop that can fit a lot of content on the screen at once, which is only compounded by being a large 17 inch panel.

An extra benefit that comes with a 17 inch laptop is the extra space for the keyboard, and the LG gram 17 includes a full number pad for all your number-crunching needs. There’s also a fingerprint reader built into the power button, and a port selection that’s nothing short of great. You get two USB Type-A ports, two Thunderbolt 4 ports (USB Type-C), HDMI, a full-size SD card reader, and a headphone jack. That can accommodate almost any peripheral you might want to connect, and if you need even more, you can use a Thunderbolt dock to expand your possibilities even further.

All in all, the LG gram 17 is a fantastic laptop offering great performance and fantastic portability, including a long-lasting battery. You get a sharp Quad HD+ display and tons of ports right out of the box, making this one of the best laptops you can use for photo editing at home or on the go.

    The LG gram 17 is a fantastic lightweight laptop that's still powerful enough to handle photo editing without many issues. It has sharp Quad HD+ display and a long-lasting battery, giving you a great experience anywhere.

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Best business laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

Angled view of Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

If you’re a fan of the classic business look of the Lenovo ThinkPad family but you want the power to do photo editing — and just about anything — the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is here for you. This is one of the most powerful business laptops you can buy, but it still retains what you’ve come to know and love about the ThinkPad family, including things like the pointing stick and mouse buttons above the trackpad.

Make no mistake, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme has all the powerful specs you could ask for, including up to an Intel Core i9-11950H vPro processor. Not only do you get an 8 core CPU with up to 5GHz clock speeds, but you also get the security features of Intel’s vPro line, which is fantastic already. You can also configure the ThinkPad 1 Extreme with up to a whopping 64GB of RAM, making it a breeze to open large images and lots of layers in your projects. Plus, with up to 4TB of storage, you can save all the projects you work on for a long time to come.

But that’s only part of the story when it comes to performance. You can also configure the ThinkPad X1 Extreme with up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 graphics, making this an incredibly powerful laptop, and especially so among business devices. A powerful GPU like this means you aren’t limited to photo editing — this is one of the best laptops for video editing too, and even gaming is within reach. Getting a powerful GPU does have some caveats, as you’ll be limited to a maximum of 2TB of storage if you go above the RTX 3050 Ti, but that’s still not a weak configuration by any means.

The display is another point in favor of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme. This is a large 16 inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, giving you the benefits of a larger surface area and more space to work with. On top of that, the default configuration already includes a Quad HD+ (2560 x 1600) panel, so you get a sharp display right out of the gate, regardless of your configuration. If you want even more quality, you can upgrade to a 4K+ (3640 x 2400) panel, which covers 100% of the Adobe RGB color gamut for fantastic color reproduction.

The benefits of being a business laptop also show in the connectivity options, and you get a lot of ports here. Two Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB Type-A ports, HDMI, a full-size SD card reader, and a headphone jack give you plenty of connectivity options. And like many other business laptops, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme also includes an option for cellular connectivity, specifically with 5G support. You can’t get it if you have a GPU above the GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, but the option is there if you want to stay connected on the road.

With all the powerful specs, fantastic upgrade options, and business features it offers, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a pricey laptop, but there’s no denying there’s nothing else like it on the market. If you need an incredibly powerful machine that fits in perfectly at the office, this is the one for you.

    The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme lives up to its name with powerful 45W Intel processors, dedicated NVIDIA graphics, and lots of configuration options. It's one of the most powerful business laptops out there, and there's little else you could possibly want.

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Best for photo editing on the go: MacBook Pro 13-inch

MacBook Pro 13

Not everyone wants to use a Windows laptop, and if you’re a fan of macOS, the latest 13 inch MacBook Pro is a fantastic laptop. Many consider macOS to be a more accessible operating system, so it may be the ideal choice if you’re just getting started with photo editing.

The MacBook Pro has an Apple M1 chip inside, an 8 core CPU with four high-performance cores and four power-efficient cores. The processor has a maximum clock speed of 3.2GHz, but that doesn’t mean it falls behind in terms of performance compared to Intel. This processor offers fantastic performance for all kinds of tasks, and benchmarks put it well ahead of other low-power processors. You can even use it for video editing fairly comfortably, and this is easily one of the best Macs altogether.

The Apple M1 also includes an 8 core GPU that delivers much better graphics performance than previous generations too. This all comes in a very efficient package, so you can rest assured your laptop will last a long time on a charge, even if you’re using it for photo editing on the go. On top of that, you can configure the MacBook Pro 13 inch with up to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage, giving you solid performance for photo editing and plenty of space for your projects.

The MacBook Pro 13 inch also has a fantastic display with Quad HD+ (2560 x 1600) resolution and wide color (P3) support. That does mean it’s got a 16:10 aspect ratio, which MacBooks have had for a while, and that tall display means you get more space for items on the screen, whether that’s a photo or the tools you need to edit it. Combined with the high resolution and relatively small size, this screen will look fantastic.

You also get the usual benefits of a MacBook. There’s a large Force Touch trackpad below the keyboard, and that keyboard also includes a Touch Bar in place of the function row, giving you custom shortcuts in many apps. It includes Touch ID support, too, and on the sides of the keyboard, there are speaker grills for the top-firing speakers.

Ports are one of the biggest limitations of this laptop, which only has two Thunderbolt ports and a headphone jack. Thunderbolt ports mean you can use a Thunderbolt dock to expand your connectivity, but out of the box, you’re fairly limited. Plus, even with a Thunderbolt dock, only one external display is supported. But that’s not something you necessarily need, so this may still be a great option for many people.

If you’re interested in the MacBook Pro, you can buy the 8GB model below with either 256GB or 512GB of RAM. If you want more RAM or storage, you’ll need to buy from Apple directly.

    The latest MacBook Pro packs a lot of power thanks to the Apple M1 processor, plus it has the same high-quality display and design you've come to expect. It can handle photo editing just fine, and even some more demanding tasks like video editing.

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Best detachable: Surface Pro 8

Angled view of Surface Pro 8

When it comes to portability, it’s hard to match the light weight and thinness of a tablet, and the Surface Pro 8 delivers a premium experience while keeping that portable form factor. It’s one of Microsoft’s best Surface Pro devices yet, and it’s a great option if you’re interested in some photo editing in a portable package.

For performance, the Surface Pro 8 is packing Intel’s 11th-generation Core processors, up to a Core i7-1185G7, a powerful 15W CPU with four cores, eight threads, and boost speeds up to 4.8GHz.  It also includes Intel Iris Xe graphics with up to 96 execution units, so it can handle some light GPU workloads. Aside from that, you can configure it with up to 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, so you have options to make this a very capable photo editing laptop. The 8GB included by default won’t be amazing, though, so upgrading to 16GB is recommended.

The display is one of the highlights of the Surface Pro lineup, and the Surface Pro 8 is better than ever in that regard. It has a larger 13-inch display, and the resolution has increased to 2880 x 1920 to accommodate, so this is still an incredibly sharp screen. Beyond that, this display supports Dolby Vision and even has a 120Hz refresh rate – it’s pretty much the only Windows tablet do so, too. Plus, it supports tactile signals on the Surface Slim Pen 2, just like the Surface Laptop Studio.

For the webcam, the Surface Pro 8 uses a 5MP front-facing camera, which can record 1080p video, and it’s one of the best cameras you’ll find on any Windows PC. The camera also supports Windows Hello facial recognition. Plus, you get another camera on the back, and that one is a 10MP sensor with 4K video recording.

Being a tablet, the Surface Pro 8 is naturally the thinnest device on this list, measuring just 9.3mm, and at 1.96lbs of weight, it’s also one of the lightest. Of course, that doesn’t take into consideration the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard and the Surface Slim Pen 2, but it’s still an extremely portable device with those accessories attached, and you can detach them when you don’t need them for even more protability.

In regards to ports, the Surface Pro 8 has the same problem as the Surface Laptop Studio. It has two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a Surface Connect port for charging, and a headphone jack, but that’s it. It’s a very limiting setup that basically ensures you’ll need some kind of adapter or dock to connect almost any wired peripheral, but at least Thunderbolt 4 support makes that a bit easier.

    The Surface Pro 8 is a thin and light tablet with enough power to handle photo editing and all kinds of day-to-day workloads. Plus, it has a fantastic display and a great camera.

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Those are the best laptops (and one tablet) you can buy today if you’re interested in photo editing. While they can all handle this type of workload to some extent, it’s important to know how demanding of a workload you’re planning to have for these devices. The most complex editing tasks may require more than 16GB of RAM, which not every device has. But for a lot of users, that will work just fine. We chose the HP Spectre x360 for the top spot because, even in its base configuration, it’s got an absolutely fantastic (and large) display for photo editing, plus powerful specs, a premium design, and solid connectivity. It’s a great overall package.

Personally speaking, my preferred laptop would probably be the Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel, thanks to its unique and versatile design, but also its solid array of ports, which I always appreciate. But there are plenty of great options here for everyone. And if you don’t have a particular interest in these, you may want to check out our list of the best laptops in general, as there are a ton of great options there, too.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Editor at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.

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