best laptop for photo editing

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by drtphoto, Dec 11, 2017.

  1. Hi. I'm trying to figure out what is the best windows laptop for photo editing. I see so many reviews some bad, some good and just wanted your opinions on what you think or what you have as your photo editing laptop. Top brands such as HP, Asus, Dell? All help appreciated. Not sure if i can post about computers here but will give it a try. Thanks to all in advance.
  2. I left Windows behind over a year ago, and I'm not looking back. Laptops are not ideal for photo editing, largely because of their limited memory and internal disk size. Furthermore the screen color and brightness are uneven across the screen and can vary widely in time due to power issues. That said, the MacBookPro is the best photo laptop I have ever used. The Retina screen has extremely high resolution and the color and brightness are even and stable with time. I particularly like the Force Touch Pad. It has fast and intuitive operation, and replaces many mouse or key strokes in Photoshop and Lightroom. I use a variety of external drives for space, from 1 TB to 4 TB, including a 1 TB SSD (Thunderbolt 2) for compact travel.

    If you subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud, you can share the allowed two downloads between Windows and OS. If you don't subscribe, it's time you gave it some thought.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
  3. In some ways I agree with Ed, that laptops are not ideal for photo editing. My Asus 13 inch Zenbook was bought a few years ago as a compromise between portability and usefulness for limited photo editing. I like its very capable IPS 1920x1080 screen, but it's painfully slow and limited in storage. I normally use a Windows desktop with a NEC PA272 monitor, and there is no comparison.

    Currently, if you must use a Windows laptop extensively for editing photos, look at the MSI offerings, (listed here at B&H) for their IPS screens, storage, and processing capabilities. I haven't used them, just looked them over when it seemed possible likely that I'd have to do serious editing away from home. Make sure you can try them out before purchasing, especially because the resolution is very high for a 17 inch screen.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
  4. It depends a bit on what you expect from your notebook. If you expect to use it completely for colour-critical post-processing, then I completely agree that notebook screens are too much of an issue. If you need a laptop for quick and dirty editing on the road, while using a good quality, colour-calibrared screen "at home" to do the final touches (= check your colours on that screen), then any notebook with good build quality, 8 to 16GB of RAM and a Core i5 or faster can do the job. A high(er) resolution IPS screen in the notebook should also certainly be on the wishlist, though it will drive up the price.

    There are no vast differences between the major manufacterers for Windows notebooks, so it's more a matter of budget, the quality of the service in your country and possibly looks. Personally, I favour business notebooks, as they've usually got better build quality and no-thrills design, but at a cost. Since you do not mention any budget, it's a wild guess.
    If the budget is ample, absolutely worth considering too are the Surface Pro or Surface Book - costly, but reviews do show that they've got screens that are well above average.

    A seperate, good quality, monitor, a good quality mouse and keyboard should be on the shopping list as they make working for longer sessions much more comfortable than using the notebook screen, keyboard and touchpad.
    Finally, if mobility isn't important, meaning you will nearly always use the notebook at home, then just get a desktop: you get a lot more processing power and more storage for the money.
    William Kahn likes this.
  5. If you use a laptop for photo editing, then a separate monitor is definitely needed. Monitor calibration is essential, and most (if not all) laptops do not permit manual adjustment of monitor properties, which is needed for proper calibration. An external monitor solves that problem.

    I'd also suggest using a USB3 external hard drive for storing your work, for safety, and to reduce the impact on your laptop's internal memory.
  6. Forget the brand, you need specs.
    A FAST multi-core processor, I would go with a 4-core at 3GHz or faster (faster the better), and enough memory that the editor does not swap to disk.

    I shot my nephew's wedding, and after the wedding only processed a couple dozen shots for them to have, as it took way too much time to do a single shot on my 2-core laptop with 6GB of RAM and a SSD. I was processor bound.
    I had to wait till I got home on my desktop, with its 4 core 3.4 GHz i7 processor, to do all the photos. And even then it was not FAST. I would watch the progress bar move, when I did the final convert to JPG.

    I agree about a separate BIG monitor.
    I hate editing on small laptop screens. It is too difficult to really see what is going on in the image, as you also have the tools of the editor taking up some of the limited screen space.
  7. Let me assume a couple of things:

    1) You already have a Windows desktop with all the specs and dual 24 or 27 inch monitors for hardcore photo editing.
    2) You want a Windows laptop to use the same software and share documents with your desktop, i.e., it won't be a dedicated photo editor

    If both of the above are true, then I'd recommend a Dell XPS laptop (which is what I've been using (as #2 above), although I'd probably also take a good look at the Surface Pro or Surface Book 2.
  8. Gary has it, I think.

    It's not the brand that matters. What you need is as large a screen with as many pixels as you can get., fast processor, etc.
    You can hook up a quality monitor to most laptops, but honestly the best solution is to have a powerful desktop machine and a decent laptop for field use.
    That way the size and weight of the laptop can be manageable.

    an all-purpose computer is not that good at all that it will do.

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