In 2016, photographers are using computers more than ever as digital technologies continue to affect how photographers create, manage, and distribute their work. Whether photography is your business, your art, or your hobby, having a good laptop to support what you do is an important component of your success.
For photographers, after much deliberation, we determined that the best laptop is the Apple MacBook Pro.
Table of Contents
- 1 How we chose the best laptop for photography
- 2 The five best laptops for photography
- 3 The most important consideration when choosing the best laptop for photography
- 4 Other considerations when choosing the best laptop for photography
- 5 The Best Laptop for Photography
- 6 The four other laptops for photography we tested
- 7 The bottom line
How we chose the best laptop for photography
We spent a significant amount of time gathering feedback and reviews from photographers and tech experts to uncover the best laptops out there for photography. After extensive consideration, we narrowed down the Top 5 and put the MacBook Pro at the top of the list.
Every laptop we compared was analysed on key features specifically recommended for laptops used for photography. The feedback we gathered helped us to create a list of five of the most important considerations for photographers:
There are many other features that go into a great laptop, but these five were the most recommended across the board. Without sufficient strength in each of these five areas, other features become less effective.
The five best laptops for photography
Here’s a list of the best laptops for photography;
|Apple Macbook Pro MJLT2LL/A 15-inch...||from $1,498.89||Read Amazon Reviews »|
|ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW-US71...||from $1,526.99||Read Amazon Reviews »|
|Dell Inspiron i5759-8835SLV 17.3...||$947.84||Read Amazon Reviews »|
|Toshiba Satellite S70-BBT2N23...||No new offers available||Read Amazon Reviews »|
|Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E560 15.6" FHD...||Currently not available||Read Amazon Reviews »|
The most important consideration when choosing the best laptop for photography
Photographers must think about many different options and features when considering laptops. Different laptops are suited to different purposes, and choosing the wrong laptop for photography can lead to frustration, loss of time and productivity, and even impact the final product you’ve worked so hard to create.
After reviewing an extensive list of features, we narrowed it down to the five most important considerations for a photography laptop.
Each of our five criteria have a direct impact on how useful the laptop is for photographers. It was a tough call picking out the most important feature, but we analysed numerous sources of feedback to boil it down.
Based on our analysis of feedback gathered from photographers and tech experts, we came to the conclusion that the most important consideration for a laptop for photography is the laptop’s CPU.
Photographers need a lot of processing power to store, view, and manipulate photographs, not to mention all of the associated work of sharing, collaborating, and other day-to-day uses.
Having the right CPU is vital to ensuring that your machine can keep up with the demands you place on it. The Intel i7 processors are some of the best on the market for avoiding situations where your computer lags or freezes up.
If you are on a budget, an i5 is also a good option but we recommend not skimping on this feature. You’ll thank yourself later!
Other considerations when choosing the best laptop for photography
A second important consideration when choosing a laptop is how much memory it provides. Like the CPU, your RAM is directly tied to how well your machine functions. You will get the most out of your CPU when you have the RAM to support it.
Having sufficient RAM is also important for running many photo editing tools, particularly if your go-to program for photo editing is Photoshop. If you prefer to focus your search on finding the best laptop for Photoshop, check out our Top 5 laptops for Photoshop here.
Generally speaking, the more RAM you have the better. However, more RAM also means a more expensive device and there’s no need to pay for more than you will realistically utilise. We recommend that you consider a minimum of 16 GB, depending on your use case.
The resolution of your laptop will make a big difference in how you experience viewing and editing your photos.
Poor resolution can cause significant eyestrain and headaches which is especially problematic for photographers who spend hours focusing their eyes on small details on the screen. Good screen resolution can help you avoid the problem.
Using a machine with low resolution can also lead to discrepancies between how your finished product looks on the screen and in print. This is an important consideration for professional photographers in particular, as well as anyone else who plans to create physical items from their photography.
You’ll want to choose a laptop with an absolute minimum resolution of 1600 x 900 depending on screen size. All of the laptops on our Top 5 list have a screen resolution of at least 1920 x 1080.
Along with screen resolution, another consideration for photographers choosing a laptop is the size of the screen. Even with the best resolution, trying to view and edit photographs on a small screen can be tricky and frustrating.
While some photographers prefer a smaller laptop for reasons of portability, most of the feedback we gathered indicated that when it comes to screen size, the larger the better!
We recommend that you chose a laptop with a screen size of at least 15” in order to get the best experience when you’re viewing and editing your photos.
A final consideration that came up repeatedly in our analysis is the need for sufficient hard drive space. As nice as the Cloud is, many photographers still find it easier, safer, and more efficient to store their photos on their computers.
Unfortunately, the large file sizes associated with high resolution images can add up quickly, and the more you use your laptop the more you’ll want that extra space.
While it is true that you can store files on an external hard drive, carrying that hard drive around when you’re on the move can be inconvenient and cumbersome for many people.
It’s best to save your external hard drive for backing up files. Choose a laptop with a minimum of 500 GB hard drive space to store your working library of photographs.
Any extra money you spend in this area will be recouped by not having to pay fees for high resolution photo storage online.
The Best Laptop for Photography
After comparing many laptops on these five features and narrowing down the Top 5 contenders, the Apple MacBook Pro came in as our #1 Pick for best laptop for photography.
The MacBook packs plenty of processing power with an Intel i7 CPU and 16 GB of RAM, making it versatile enough to handle your photography needs with ease.
Resolution on the MacBook Pro is also excellent at 2880 x 1800 pixels. The Retina display is an advantage both for your day-to-day photography use and when working on an extended project.
The MacBook Pro comes in two screen sizes, 13.3” and 15.4”. While the 13.3” size may be sufficient for some photographers, we recommend going with 15.4” to get the most out of your display.
Hard drive space is more limited with the MacBook Pro than with some of the other laptops on our list. However, the 512 GB SSD will meet the needs of most photographers. It can also be configured up to 1 TB if needed, although this option is more expensive.
The MacBook Pro came in first because of its strong scores across each of our five criteria. When compared to the other laptops on our list, this device is the best all-around laptop for photography.
The four other laptops for photography we tested
The ASUS ZenBook comes in second on our list, but it very nearly made it to the top! Like the MacBook Pro, the ASUS ZenBook has an i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of hard drive space. It has a screen size of 15.6”, making it large enough to use comfortably while remaining nicely portable.
If you choose this laptop, you’ll have a superior viewing experience with a fantastic 3820 x 2160 resolution.
Ultimately, the ASUS ZenBook dropped to second place in spite of these great features because it has slightly less color accuracy than the MacBook Pro. However, the ASUS ZenBook is still an excellent choice for most photographers and definitely earns its high ranking.
- 15.6" Touch IPS 4K Ultra-HD display, 3840 x 2160 resolution
- Powerful Intel Skylake Core i7-6700HQ 2.6 GHz Quadcore CPU (turbo to...
- 512GB SSD with transfer speeds of 1400MB/s and 16GB DDR4 RAM
The Dell Inspiron was a close contender for our second place spot. Like the MacBook Pro and the ASUS ZenBook, the Dell Inspiron has phenomenal processing power with an i7 CPU and 16 GB of RAM.
The Dell Inspiron comes with a whopping 2 TB of hard drive space, making it a superb choice for photographers with high storage needs. The screen clocks in at 17.3”, slightly less portable than our first and second picks but great for viewing and editing photos.
In the end, the Dell Inspiron came in third because its resolution wasn’t as good as some of our other picks. At 1920 x 1080 pixels, the resolution does well for most photographers. However, there are higher resolution options out there such as the MacBook Pro and the ASUS ZenBook.
- Intel Dual Core i7-6500U 2.5 GHz Processor
- 16 GB DDR3L SDRAM
- 2 TB HDD Storage; Tray load DVD Drive (Reads and Writes to DVD/CD)
Our fourth place pick is the Toshiba Satellite, an excellent choice for most photographers. Like the other laptops on our list, the Toshiba Satellite has great processing power with an i7 CPU and 16 GB of RAM. Like the Dell Inspiron, the Toshiba Satellite has a large screen size of 17.3” and good screen resolution at 1920×1080.
The Toshiba Satellite has less hard drive space than the Dell Inspiron but still offers a roomy 1 TB. Screen resolution on this machine is 1920 x 1080.
When taken together, the hard drive and screen resolution dropped the Toshiba Satellite to fourth place when compared to other laptops on our list. Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic laptop with a lot to offer.
- 4th Gen Intel Core i7-4710HQ (2.5GHz/3.5GHz) Quad Core Processor, Genuine...
- 17.3-inch Full HD TruBrite LED Backlit Display (1920 x 1080); HDMI with 4K Ultra...
- 2GB GDDR5 VRAM AMD RadeonTM R9 M265X Graphics; 16GB DDR3L 1600MHz RAM; Blu-ray...
The Lenovo ThinkPad, while an excellent machine, came in last on our list due to a combination of less hard drive space and lower screen resolution.
At 500 GB, the hard drive on the Lenovo ThinkPad is the smallest on our list but still meets our minimum recommendations. However, the Lenovo ThinkPad has the same processing power as other laptops on our list, with an i7 CPU and 16 GB of RAM. The screen size is 15.6” with a resolution of 1920 x 1080.
Although the Lenovo ThinkPad came in last, it is still a powerful laptop which will serve you well depending on your needs. By making it onto the Top 5 list, it beat out many other laptops on the market for photography.
- Processor: Intel Dual Core i7-6500U (2 cores, 2.5GHz - 3.1GHz, 4MB cache)
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Pro x64 preinstalled with free upgrade to...
- Display: 15.6" FHD Screen (1920x1080); Graphics: AMD Radeon R7 M370
The MacBook Pro is our #1 Pick for best laptop for photography. This laptop is the all-round best choice for photographers, with excellent processing power, plenty of memory, and fantastic screen resolution for viewing and editing photographs. The hard drive is not as big as some, but will be big enough to meet the needs of most photographers and can be configured up to 1 TB for those who need it.
The other laptops on our list were close contenders for best laptop for photography, especially the ASUS ZenBook which came in at number two. Any of these four laptops would make a great laptop for photography and you may find that one of these is a better match for your personal situation. We recommend considering each of them in relation to your particular photography needs.
While the MacBook Pro definitely earned its spot as our #1 Pick, all of the laptops on our Top 5 list are an excellent choice for professionals and hobbyists alike.