What’s a high-quality laptop that is good for photo editing and can store many files?

Mack Russell February 25, 2012

My wife is a photographer in her spare time and needs a new laptop to work with her pictures. We have a Toshiba but do not know whether or not to get another one or change, but we want a good one. Any suggestions?


  1. Phil Bautista
    August 13, 2012 at 7:38 am

    I'm running a custom build, i7-2630QM 2.0Ghz Quad core, 8GB DDR3 RAM, 2GB DDR3 GPU, 15.6" 1920x1080 monitor, 500GB 5400RPM HDD, running Windows 7 Premium. All for under $700. Add $170 for shipping and taxes to the Philippines and that's still a very reasonably priced, highly specced laptop. I've since replaced the HDD with an OCZ Vertex II 120GB SSD (around $150). Runs faster now and kept the old HDD as an external.

    When choosing a laptop, don't neglect the monitor. The higher the resolution, the better. An IPS one would be ideal. You don't need to spend as much on the speed of the monitor. This is more of a gamer need than a photographer need. It's also more difficult to upgrade a laptop's monitor later on so better to invest in it initially. Memory is the easiest so not the most essential to lay out money on.

    Also don't neglect to calibrate the monitor and printer because this is the most crucial for a pro since photography is a visual art. If your monitor and printer aren't color calibrated with your camera, you will have problems later on wondering why your prints aren't coming out the way you wanted. Even if she's just an amateur, she may still want the peace of mind from knowing that what you see is what you get. HTH

  2. Theresa
    August 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I have the same issue. Thanks for the info.

  3. Btchurch3
    February 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Dell Studio XPS Notebooks running Quad Core i7, 8GB of RAM, etc... 

  4. Jamie Feldman
    February 26, 2012 at 6:53 am

    The Macbook pro is hands down the best with the i7 processor and at least 4GB and preferably 8GB of RAM (cheap right now) with the largest and fastest HD you can get. Get the non-glare screen. The life expectancy is double that of any Windows laptop. It is not just the hardware, it is the Mac OS that is optimized for the hardware. Our benchmark tests show it outperforms similar Windows computers. Total cost of ownership studies consistently indicate that a similar Windows computer will cost 300-400% more over three years. The 17" is nice, but I like the 15" as the best balance of screen and mobility. You can also get a large extra monitor.

    This is what many of my photographic colleagues are using. Most of the Adobe demo people use Mac laptops with similar configs. I will be upgrading to this shortly. Be sure to have external storage for the photos and a back-up hard drive that is at least 1.5 or 2 times the internal drive. Time Machine will do auto back-ups. Get AppleCare too... worth it.

    • Mike Russell
      June 23, 2012 at 2:51 am

      I read drek like this and it makes me mad to be using a Mac. The hardware in your Mac is selected and then coded for, just like drivers on windows PC's. The hardware in your Mac is made by the same people that make things for windows PC's. The hardware in your Mac is in windows Machines. I have a windows machine going on 9 years old that i replaced the battery on 3 years ago that still works just fine. I Have this Macbook Pro 15 520m i am typing on that i paid $1800 bucks for thats been in for service 4 times! So shut the F up about how much better Apple is than a PC . They are both PC's just different OS's.

      In fact thats all you pay that extra coin for. The OS. The hardware is no where NEAR what price of the Mac costs. If it was just on average prices based on hardware a Macbook would be $599. And where is this study that says the cost of ownership will be 300% more? For the price of me buying a 2012 Macbook, i could buy a laptop that would absolutely bully my Mac into a corner where it would cry for days. When the retina display hits the laptop space, i will give Apple some credit for dealing with Samsung for that awesomeness. But for anything else, it doesnt fucking matter. Just avoid the garbage manufactures and you will be golden.

  5. Dave
    February 26, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Dell is crap!

  6. Croc122
    February 26, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Macs are by far the best computers for design related tasks. They are what the pros use like at Pixar and Dreamworks. Plus, they are very simple to use and you do NOT need anti-virus software. If you buy a Windows PC, although it will be cheaper, you will be paying a monthly fee for anti-virus software. Why bother, when you can pay a little more and get a MacBook or MacBook Pro.

    • Dave Parrack
      February 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      Macs are good for designers, but I doubt the pros at Pixar and DreamWorks use bog-standard models in reach of everyday consumers.

      Macs can still get viruses just like Windows, and anyone who pays for anti-virus software is an idiot when there are free alternatives that do the job.

  7. Mack Russell
    February 25, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Thanks guys. 
    Guess it'll be a Toshiba or Dell.  We discussed it this morning and decided that she would go with me on the buying trip so that she might touch either one for a feel test.
    Mack Russell

  8. Anonymous
    February 25, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I have a Toshiba Satellite with good specs for photos. i7-720QM processor w/6MB L3 cache, 16 inch screen, 1GB Discreet graphics memory, 6GB main memory, a 7200 RPM 500GB hard drive. Don't settle for a slower HD though. It would be way too slow.

  9. Tilman Bauer
    February 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    The things that matter for photo editing are screen size and quality, CPU power, RAM, and harddisk size and speed.

    Regarding the screen size, is your wife planning to attach the laptop to an external screen? If not, then the laptop should have a big screen (at least 15 inches but better 17 inches) IF it doesn't matter that it will be heavy and physically big. You should also pay attention to the quality of the screen and calibrate it so that the colors are represented correctly. A matte screen is also better than a glossy screen. The best (and most expensive) thing you can buy is an RGB LED screen.

    How fast the CPU should be depends on the type of image editing she does. Generally, the faster the CPU, the faster it calculates image edits. Virtually any modern CPU is enough if she just increases the contrast and adjusts the picture brightness. However, if she does some heavier editing or batch processing, at least an Intel i5 CPU is recommendable. i7 is of course the best. Is she using Photoshop for some heavy effects and filters? Then a quad-core CPU is a good idea.

    RAM: Take as much as you can afford, at least 4GB but better 8GB.

    The harddisk is another factor that can increase the price a lot IF you really want to have a fast and big disk. SSD disks are really fantastic in terms of speed! But the larger they are, the more unpayable they get. Personally, I chose to opt for a smaller-size but fast SSD (together with an external harddrive for additional storage) rather than for a large harddisk that is by far not as fast as SSD. I really recommend an SSD because everything responds so much faster! For instance, simply starting a program like Photoshop is considerably faster (I mean, you reaaally feel the difference) if you have an SSD than if you have a normal harddisk (even at 7200rpm).

    So, to conclude, it really depends on your budget and on your wife's ambitions! The more money you are willing to spend, the better the system will be. As for laptop brands, I recommend Dell because then you can choose the individual components as you like. I have a Dell Precision (also used for Photoshopping) and I am very happy with it.

  10. Arun Singh
    February 25, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Select any laptop from dell,sony,samsung which has core processor i3 or i5 or i7 and for phto edting 1gb graphic card of Ati or Radion 6 gb ddr3 ram 1tb hard disk these laptop is feet for your requirements.

    • Oron Joffe
      February 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      No need for a powerful graphic card. Photoshop hardly makes use of it (a few filters can use the GPU).

      • Arun Singh
        February 26, 2012 at 7:16 am

         you are right but it is not harmful for a good laptop now a day 1gb graphic card in laptops that's why said .

    February 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Hello, any recent laptop with an i3 processor should be good enough to accomplish what you want.  With regards to storage space, just make sure the hard drive has at least 500 Gb of space.  Now if your wife works with photoshop and other resource intensive applications, it is better if you laptop has more than  2 cores.  

  12. Karkala Nayak
    February 25, 2012 at 10:02 am
  13. Anonymous
    February 25, 2012 at 9:27 am
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