12 Best Budget Laptops For Photo Editing in 2022 – Under $1000, $800, $600 & $400

Best Laptops for Photo Editing

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Photography can be rewarding as both a hobby and a career, but even the most skilled photographers make use of editing software. But we’re not here to talk about the photo editing software, we’re here to talk about the computers that run it.

Photo editing covers a fairly wide array of actions, some of them can be carried out on any computer with enough memory to hold the picture, while others are more demanding and require a higher amount of RAM and processing power. And above all else, you need a quality and accurate display.

So, the computer you need for photo editing depends on your level of activity and expertise, and also your budget. We’ve put together the 12 best budget laptops for photo editing in 2022, with options at several price points: Under $1000, under $800, under $600, and under $400.


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Best Laptops for Photo Editing Under $1000

Best Laptops for Photo Editing Under $800

Best Laptops for Photo Editing Under $600

Best Laptops for Photo Editing Under $400



Best Laptops for Photo Editing Under $1000

Laptops between $800-$1000 are at the upper end of what we could conceivably call “budget” laptops. These are going to be both more powerful, and more of an investment. As such, they’re going to be the best pick for professionals and high-level hobbyists on a budget.

The table below will give you a quick look at our selections for the three best laptops for photo editing under $1000 currently available on the market. To read a full review, simply click on ‘review>>’ in the respective row.

Product

Image

Rating

1. Apple MacBook Air

''Best laptop for photo editing under $1000''

9.8

2. ASUS ZenBook Flip 13 

''Best windows laptop for photo editing under $1000''

9.7

3. Acer Spin

''Honorable mention''

9.6



1. Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1

Display: 13.3″ IPS Retina | Screen Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | CPU: Apple M1 | GPU: Integrated | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Battery life: Up to 18 hours | Weight: 2.8 lbs / 1.3 kg

Apple MacBook AirREASONS TO BUY

  • Extremely sharp retina display
  • Produces rich and accurate colors
  • Covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut
  • Fantastic screen for photo editing
  • High performing M1 processor
  • Battery life up to 18 hours
  • High-quality construction
  • Exceptionally portable

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Limited connectivity
  • No touchscreen
  • Small hard drive

Our Rating:   9.8/10

For a long time, the official position of tech and creative experts alike was that when it came to creative work, Apple was the only game in town.

Advances on the Windows side of things have brought the two up to about the same level, but Apple still holds a substantial share of the creative market through a combination of advertising, tradition, and of course, brand excellence.

In a lot of ways, the MacBook Air needs no introduction. If you were looking at an Apple laptop in the 800-1000 range, you were looking at the MacBook air, full stop.

It’s an excellent laptop with an ultra-sharp 2560×1600 retina display. That’s an improvement you’ll notice over FHD by quite a bit and will allow you to edit your photos in much more detail. On top of that, the screen is perfectly bright and covers 100% of the sRGB gamut, exactly what you hope for in a laptop for photo editing.

In terms of performance, the particular model of the MacBook Air features the new M1 chip, which is an 8-core processor with a clock of 3.2 GHz. That alone will provide plenty of performance for photo editing and some pretty heavy multitasking. However, it only has 8GB of RAM which is below average for laptops in this price range, but it shouldn’t limit you in any way thanks to the great harmonization of iOS.

The MacBook Air, as the smallest of Apple’s lineup, only has a 256GB SSD. That’s going to require you to lean a bit more heavily on external devices than you would with a bigger internal storage drive, but it is still going to be enough space for all your apps, core files, and a large number of 4k pictures.

The MacBook Air also has no dedicated GPU, instead of processing all images and video through the CPU. This will still allow you to perform photo editing and some light video work but may be restrictive when it comes to more intense video operations.

Now, Apple’s connectivity problems are a long-running joke with a painful punchline. There are only two USB-C ports, one of which functions as the power port. This isn’t great if you’re doing something like photo editing, which can require a lot of peripheral devices and connections. To be fair, though, this is the only major downside to this laptop.

On the brighter side, the Macbook Air is wonderfully portable. It’s a 13-inch laptop and roughly 0.6 inches thick, so not only will it fit in most bags, it’ll take up extremely little space in doing so.

Plus, it’s only about 2.8 pounds, which makes it one of the lightest laptops on the market, and with an aluminum case, you’re not sacrificing durability. And even better, the 18-hour battery life means you’ll be able to go literally all day without charging, as long as you avoid intensive tasks.

All in all, the MacBook Air is a fantastic laptop for photo editing. It’s got an excellent retina display with accurate and rich colors which will make tasks like sharpening images and saturating colors a breeze. Admittedly, it comes up short in terms of storage and connectivity, but you can easily work around that. The bottom line is, if you’re looking for a photo editing laptop under $1000, the Apple Macbook Air is an excellent option.

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2. ASUS ZenBook Flip 13

Display: OLED 13.3” | Screen Resolution: FullHD (1920 x 1080) | CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Xe | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Battery life: 14 hours | Weight: 2.9 lbs / 1.3 kg

ASUS ZenBook Flip 13REASONS TO BUY

  • Arguably the best Windows laptop for photo editing under $1000
  • 2-in-1 functionality
  • Decent performance for multitasking
  • Exceptional display
  • Touchscreen with support for stylus
  • Bright OLED panel with thin bezels
  • Produces highly accurate and vivid colors
  • 135% sRGB and 100% DCI-P3 coverage
  • Great build quality
  • Extremely portable

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Battery life drains very quickly on moderate or heavy use
  • No SD card reader
  • Questionable price to performance for non-media uses

Our Rating:   9.7/10

The ASUS Zenbook 14 comes with everything you need from a laptop for photo editing. It offers a similarly performing display to the MacBook Air while also being noticeably better in almost every other category. 

It’s a highly portable and efficient laptop with a great display and classic design that won’t look out of place at a meeting with your MacBook Air fanboy coworkers.

What makes this such a great laptop for photo editing is the level of display quality that it’s very rare to find in a laptop, especially one that costs less than $1000. The resolution is only 1080p, but that’s still going to be extremely sharp on a 13” display.

The real goods are in the panel. The laptop comes with an OLED panel which is extremely bright and produces rich and accurate colors. With professional-grade 133% of the sRGB, and 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamuts coverage, this is by far the most accurate display in the sub-$1000 category.

In addition to the brightness and color accuracy, the display also features a touchscreen. Combined with the optional ASUS Pen and 2-in-1 functionality, you’ll be able to easily edit your photos in tablet mode using a stylus.

Under the hood, it becomes obvious how much ASUS has leaned into the display as the primary selling point for this laptop.

If you’re not used to pricing out display-forward machines like this or are looking for something that can do double-duty as an upper-midrange gaming PC you’ll find that it’s a bit light. The 11th gen i5 processor with a speed of 4.7 GHz will make quick work of any photo manipulation you’re looking to do, including complex, multi-layer edits.

The memory is a bit light for what we like to see in a media laptop, however, the 512GB hard drive can be easily supplemented by external backups. The 8GB of RAM also isn’t terrible, but a lot of other laptops at this price point are going to be able to do a bit more heavy lifting if you decide to start experimenting with video. However, for photo editing, it’s more than enough.

The ZenBook is also one of the most portable laptops of 2022, at only 2.87 pounds (1.3 kg) and 0.55 inches (13.9mm) thick. It will easily fit in any smaller bag and won’t cause any issues if you have to carry it around for longer periods of time.

At up to 14 hours, the battery on the ZenBook 13 is capable of a full workday on a single charge, though increasing the brightness or putting demands on the powerful but also very power-hungry CPU could drop that significantly. Since it has USB-C fast charging it’s going to be a lot easier to quickly top up throughout the day.

However, that USB-C charging takes up one of the only three ports available for peripherals, only one of which is a USB-A port. There’s also an HDMI port for connecting to external monitors, however, there’s no SD card reader if you do edit your own photos.

All in all, the ASUS ZenBook Flip 13 is an incredible budget laptop for photo editing. For under $1000, you get an exceptional display with a high level of detail and highly accurate colors, which will make editing images much more precise and enjoyable.

Speaking of precision, you also get a touchscreen with support for a stylus, plus, the laptop is super portable with long battery life. The bottom line is, if you’re looking for a windows laptop for photo editing for under $1000, this one’s hard to beat.

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3. Acer Spin 5

Display: IPS 13.5 | Screen Resolution: QHD (2256 x 1504) | CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7 | GPU: Integrated | RAM: 16 GB | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Battery life: 15 hours | Weight: 2.6 lbs / 1.17 kg

Acer Spin 5REASONS TO BUY

  • Active stylus included
  • 2-in-1 functionality
  • Sharp high-resolution screen
  • Covers 100% of the sRGB gamut
  • Plenty of power for multitasking
  • High-quality build
  • Lots of connectivity
  • Long battery life
  • Extremely portable

REASONS TO AVOID

  • 3:2 resolution feels like a step back
  • No media card reader

Our Rating:   9.6/10

Longtime tech staple Acer’s product line includes a lot of versatility, but perhaps nothing quite as flexible as the Spin 5. It’s a 13.5 inch 2-in-1 and is the first entry in our lineup to include a rechargeable stylus, which is a huge plus for illustrators as well as generally adding more precision to everyday tasks.

The display features a 2k resolution with an IPS panel, which allows sharp, high-resolution images to be viewed from any angle. The exact dimensions are 2256 x 1504, which is a 3:2 aspect ratio. That’s going to be much more pixels per inch than an FHD resolution, but you’re going to get a letterbox effect with a lot of HD content.

Similar to the Macbook Air, the Spin 5 also covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut providing you with accurate colors, a necessity for a photo editor of any level. Plus, the extra screen space can be good for working with portraits and will give you a cleaner experience if you’re focusing on a zoomed-in area.

In terms of performance, the processor is a 10th Generation Intel Core i7-1065G7, which is a 4-core processor with integrated graphics processing capability and a max clock rate of 3.9 GHz.

Four cores are still more than enough for photo-editing, though you will be making sacrifices if you try to go any lower. The fact that graphics are also processed through the CPU makes the lower core count a bit unfortunate but doesn’t affect photo editing capability to any meaningful degree.

The hard drive is a 512GB SSD, which will write and access files quickly, and provide a good amount of space for both files and programs. You’ll still want external storage, but a 512GB drive gives you plenty of flexibility and you won’t be playing file management any time you want to do something new.

Connectivity-wise, there are a total of 4 USB ports, two of them being USB-C, as well as an HDMI port for connection with larger displays. There’s no media card port, which is a bit of a downside, but there should be enough USB ports to use an external reader.

As far as portability, the Spin 5 rivals the Macbook Air, which is saying something. It’s 2.6 pounds and only 0.6 inches thick, making it a perfect laptop for photo editors on the go. The battery life is about 15 hours, which we must note is still fantastic despite being slightly shorter compared to the Macbook Air.

All things considered, this is truly an amazing laptop for the money. There’s so much to like about this laptop as a photo editor–It’s got an accurate, bright display, quality construction, lightweight design, plenty of performance, and comes with an active stylus–what more can you ask for in the sub $1000 category?

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Best Laptops for Photo Editing Under $800

Laptops in the $600-800 are typically going to be good options for casual hobbyists, creative professionals who want a backup for travel, or for use as a family computer. They’re going to be more in reach of most budgets but might struggle with some more demanding tasks.

The table below will give you a quick look at our selections for the three best laptops for photo editing under $800 currently available on the market. To read a full review, simply click on ‘review>>’ in the respective row.

Product

Image

Rating

1. Lenovo Ideapad 5 Pro 16

''Best laptop for photo editing under $800''

9.8

2. ASUS VivoBook 15 OLED

''Best laptop for photo editing under $800 runner-up''

9.7

3. Acer Swift 3

''Honorable mention''

9.6



1. Lenovo Ideapad 5 Pro 16

Display: IPS 16″ | Screen Resolution: QHD (2560 x 1600) | CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600H | GPU: AMD Radeon RX Vega 6 | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Battery life: 10 hours | Weight: 4.4 lbs / 2 kg

Lenovo Ideapad 5 Pro 16REASONS TO BUY

  • Large 16” IPS display
  • Thin bezels
  • Quality construction
  • Superior budget laptop for photo editing
  • The display covers 100% of the sRGB gamut
  • Powerful enough for multitasking and light video editing
  • Super sharp QHD screen
  • Long battery life
  • Lots of connectivity including an SD card reader

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Bulky and heavy
  • Sacrifices keyboard and mouse quality for performance in other areas

Our Rating:   9.8/10

Lenovo laptops can often get overlooked when it comes to media laptops. On one hand, it’s understandable. If you’re a creative professional you want something stylish that represents your brand and interests, and Lenovo’s major design innovations have been confined to making their brick-shaped laptops a little thinner each year.

On the other hand, if you’ve had a Lenovo laptop you know how hard they work to dial in the best possible performance for the price. The Lenovo Ideapad 5 Pro 16 is a perfect example of this. It’s within striking distance of the ZenBook 13 across all major metrics but is almost $200 cheaper.

The Ideapad 5 Pro 16 comes with a 16:10 QHD display (2560×1600), which gives you an incredible amount of detail and a larger space to work with than a lot of laptops in this price range. The max brightness of 350 nits is solidly 100 above average for a mid-range laptop, allowing you to make out more detail even in brightly lit environments.

Perhaps the most important factor for photo editing is color fidelity. The Ideapad 5 Pro 16 covers 100% of the sRGB gamut, somewhat of a rarity in the sub-$800 category.

Recently, Lenovo has trended towards using more cost-effective and power-efficient AMD processors. The Ryzen 5 5600H in this laptop still has a reasonably high max clock rate of 4.2GHz, but more crucially it has six cores and 12 threads. The higher core count will not only make this a better laptop for complex tasks and multitasking but could put some light video editing on the table.

The lower RAM does mean that this isn’t a laptop you’d want to use consistently for video, even with the higher core processor. 8 GB is more than enough for photo editing, and any other work you need to do to support your creative business, like web design.

It’s going to be hard to find a display-forward laptop that’s suitable for photo editing that’s going to have more than 512GB of disk space, but since an external hard drive is already a must that’s rarely going to be a point against it.

The biggest downside to the Lenovo Ideapad 5 Pro 16 is going to be the portability. At 0.72 (18.2mm) inches thick it’s not any thicker than a lot of laptops in 2022, but it’s 4.4 pounds (2kg), which is almost getting into gaming laptop territory.

On the other hand, averaging us out to a B on portability is its excellent battery life. Under light usage, the Ideapad 5 Pro 16 will consistently hit 10-11 hours. Even under heavier use, you can expect 6-7 hours for most tasks.

Connectivity-wise, the laptop comes equipped with two USB-A and two USB-C ports, and a full-size SD card reader which is especially nice if you’re shooting and editing your own photos.

Overall, the Lenovo Ideapad 5 Pro 16 checks every box you could want from a budget photo editing laptop. It has the best display we’ve seen on a laptop under $800 and combined with the large screen, performance, and connectivity, it’s currently the best budget laptop for photo editing under $800, hands down.

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2. ASUS VivoBook 15 OLED

Display: OLED 15.6″ | Screen Resolution: FullHD (1920 x 1080) | CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Xe | RAM: 12 GB | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Battery life: 4 hours | Weight: 4 lbs / 1.8 kg

ASUS VivoBook 15 OLED K513REASONS TO BUY

  • Fantastic OLED display
  • High-quality construction
  • Very good color fidelity
  • Bright and sharp screen
  • Covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut
  • Extra RAM unlocks better multitasking potential
  • Plenty of connectivity including a microSD card reader

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Bulky, especially for a VivoBook
  • Screen brightness is inconsistent despite high max and wide range
  • Only a FullHD resolution
  • Shorter battery life

Our Rating:   9.7/10

The ASUS VivoBook 15 OLED is one of the incredibly high number and range of models available from ASUS’s VivoBook lineup. If you’re looking for a laptop, chances are one of the many, many VivoBooks will work.

The question is always which one, and that question becomes even more pointed when you’re looking at a fairly specific and often professional task like photo editing.

Photo editing isn’t a very demanding task when it comes to performance, so the biggest question is always going to be display quality. The VivoBook 15 shines in a couple of areas, but definitely has room for improvement in others.

Part of that shine is literal: the VivoBook 15 has a 390 nit max brightness, making it one of the brightest budget laptops available in 2022 and therefore suitable for the widest range of environments. Color fidelity is also a strong point, with 100% sRGB coverage, giving you a solid indication of how your images are going to look on most screens and platforms.

Now the bad news: this VivoBook 15 is only FHD (1920×1080). If this was 2019 we would not bat an eye. Even in 2022, we’re not going to be mad if a gaming or work laptop is only 1080p if it makes up for it in other areas, like price and/or performance.

However the VivoBook 15 isn’t the cheapest laptop out there, and everything else about it makes it clear that it’s designed for content creation. You can still get by on FHD, especially if your editing is more grand-scale stuff like lighting and color balancing, so it’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s a point against it.

The screen brightness is also inconsistent at the extreme ends, with there being noticeable differences between center and edges at maximum and minimum brightness.

In terms of raw performance, the VivoBook 15 has all the key metrics we’d look for on an upper-midrange creative laptop. The quad-core i5 processor will handle any and all complex photo editing tasks and software, especially with the extra boost from the 12GB RAM, compared to the 8GB that most of the laptops on our list have. Even if the 512GB of storage is enough for you, you should still get an external backup.

The VivoBook 15 is in a similar place to the Lenovo IdeaPad when it comes to portability. The battery life isn’t very good, at around five hours depending on the usage, but it’s also quite bulky. It weighs 3.97 pounds (1.8kg) and is 0.7 inches thick (17.8mm). You could take it with you in a pinch, but if you’re constantly on the go, there are several lighter options.

Lastly, it’s good on peripherals, with three USB-A ports, one USB-C port, an HDMI port, and a micro-SD card reader. If we’re nitpicking, a full SD reader might be more useful but that’s not the end of the world.

In summary, this is another amazing budget laptop for photo editors on budget. Compared to the Ideapad 5 Pro, the FullHD screen is a bit of a drawback, but the OLED panel will bring more life and contrast to the screen. Plus, it’s plenty bright, with good multitasking performance, and connectivity–It has everything you need in a cheap photo editing laptop.

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3. Acer Swift 3

Display: IPS 14″ | Screen Resolution: FullHD (1920 x 1080) | CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5700U | GPU: Integrated | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Battery life: 12 hours | Weight: 2.6 lbs / 1.2 kg

Acer Swift 3REASONS TO BUY

  • Highly compact and portable design
  • Powerful processor and a decent amount of storage
  • Very powerful laptop for the price point
  • Good brightness and color accuracy for photo editing
  • Wide viewing angles
  • High-quality construction
  • Long battery life

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No SD card reader
  • Limited connectivity
  • Lower resolution display

Our Rating:   9.6/10

The Acer Swift 3 is a phenomenal example of just how much laptop you can still get if you drop the screen size by an inch. A 14-inch laptop like this does have the obvious disadvantage of being a smaller space to work with your photos, but it will make lower resolutions appear sharper and can leave more room in the design budget for more powerful components.

The combination of a 14-inch screen and a 1920×1080 resolution does start the Acer Swift 3 off at a disadvantage. Even with the smaller screen size, you’re still almost 30 pixels per inch behind a QHD 15 or 16-inch screen, so fine detail editing is going to be tricky for a couple of reasons.

In 2022, we would definitely expect a $700-800 laptop designed for content creation to be a higher resolution than 1080p. It can be done, and anyone who consciously decides not without majorly compensating in other areas to is going to be at a disadvantage. The Swift 3 recovers a few points with its 330 nit brightness and 100% sRGB color gamut for a lot of brightness and highly accurate colors.

But, with all that said, the Acer Swift 3 actually performs really well when hooked to a larger display. The integrated graphics on the 8-core Ryzen 7 can handle a much larger display, especially if you’re only working with static images.

Video editing could also be feasible because of the high core count but is still going to be dicey with only 8GB of RAM and you’re probably going to want something with a dedicated GPU as well, especially on a bigger screen. If you use it to power a bigger display, you end up with a fairly powerful workstation that has a decent 7/10 display for when you take it on the road.

Another reason to consider using it this way: the Acer Swift 3 is very compact and light, only 0.63 inches (16mm) thick and 2.63 pounds (1.19kg). It won’t take up much room on your desk and can be very feasibly carried around for a day of work or classes.

In addition, the battery life for the Swift 3 is also one of the best on this list, with up to 16 hours of light use, and 8-10 of moderate use, comfortably blowing past the “full workday on a single charge” standard we like to use.

The Swift 3 is one of the few laptops on our list that doesn’t have an SD card reader of any form, which feels like an obvious and incredibly avoidable oversight. You can get adapters for the USB ports, but with only two USB-A and one USB-C port, that doesn’t leave a lot of space for other peripherals.

High portability notwithstanding, the Swift 3 seems to be designed to power a workstation, rather than work as a content creation device on its own. This becomes even more clear looking at its much more powerful sibling, the Swift X. The Swift 3 is working back from that laptop to create something similar that’s more budget-friendly. Whether they’ve achieved that is going to depend on what you need it for.

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Best Laptops for Photo Editing Under $600

Laptops in the $400-600 range are into what we would firmly consider budget territory. They’re still going to perform all the operations you need, but you might notice they struggle when trying to perform complex photo-editing tasks. These will be good for bloggers and hobbyists who want to touch up their photos before sharing them with the world.

The table below will give you a quick look at our selections for the three best laptops for photo editing under $600 currently available on the market. To read a full review, simply click on ‘review>>’ in the respective row.

Product

Image

Rating

1. Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5

''Best budget laptop for photo editing under $600''

9.6

2. Lenovo IdeaPad 3

''Best budget laptop for photo editing under $600 runner-up''

9.5

3. Dell Inspiron 13

''Honorable mention''

9.3



1. Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5

Display: IPS 14″ | Screen Resolution: FullHD (1920 x 1080) | CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U | GPU: Integrated | RAM: 16 GB | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Battery life: 9 hours | Weight: 3.63 lbs / 1.64 kg

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5REASONS TO BUY

  • Excellent performance for the price
  • Perfect for hobbyist photo editors
  • Sharp touchscreen display
  • Ships with a digital stylus
  • 2-in-1 functionality
  • Powerful six-core processor
  • 16GB of RAM
  • Long battery life

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Heavier
  • The display covers only 63% of the sRGB gamut
  • Small hard drive
  • Lower max clock rate

Our Rating:   9.6/10

This is one of the more budget-friendly versions of the Lenovo Flex 5, which makes surprisingly few sacrifices to achieve its lower price and even manages to be a bit more portable than its more expensive siblings.

In terms of display, the Flex 5 features a 14-inch screen with 2-in-1 functionality. It’s an FHD (1920×1080) IPS panel display, which is going to have rich, sharp pictures and allow you to interact with them directly. This version of the Flex 5 also ships with a digital stylus, which will allow you to make better use of the touchscreen.

So far, all the laptops on our list had an extremely accurate color reproduction. However, once you drop below $600, it’s nearly impossible to find a laptop with a display suitable for professional use. With that, the display on the Flex 5 is only capable of reproducing 63% of the sRGB color gamut.

That isn’t terrible, especially at this price point, but it makes it hard for us to recommend this laptop to professionals. If you absolutely need a color-accurate display (as you should have for photo editing), consider choosing one of the laptops from our sub-$800 category.

Now, back to the Flex 5. It has one of the better processors you’ll find for a laptop at this price, an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U. This is technically a previous-gen processor, but that usually means a much larger cut in price than in performance.

It’s a six-core processor, with a clock rate of up to 3.2GHz. That’s not quite as quick as some of the current-gen offerings, but the extra cores make it much more feasible for multitasking. The included 16GB of RAM is going to give you a lot of speed and multitasking ability as well.

The hard drive is the main area where you’ll be taking a cut on this laptop. It uses an SSD, which means good speeds, and is going to be better than a larger HDD might be, but it is only 256GB. That’s going to necessitate a lot more careful file management and more rigorous backups.

Besides that, there’s no dedicated GPU, but the extra cores in the processor mean that you’re not going to be drawing as high of a percentage of power for graphics processing tasks.

Connectivity-wise, there’s plenty of support for external devices, with two USB ports, a USB-C port, a media card reader, and an HDMI port to connect with larger displays.

In terms of construction, the Flex 5 is roughly 0.8 inches thick but weighs only 3.6 pounds. It’s not the most portable option on our list, but it’s pretty good, especially for a Lenovo. The battery life is also surprisingly good, with up to 9 hours of light use. As usual, this will become around 5-6 hours if you’re going to edit photos on max brightness.

Overall, the Lenovo Flex 5 is one of the best laptops for photo editing under $600. Admittedly, the display isn’t capable of producing highly accurate colors, which is crucial for photo editing, but neither does any other laptop in this price range.

Apart from that, it’s got everything you need to edit photos–lots of performance, large display, 2-in-1 functionality, digital stylus, and lots of connectivity including an SD card reader. Dollar for dollar, this is one of the best laptops on our list.

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2. Lenovo IdeaPad 3

Display: IPS 14″ | Screen Resolution: FullHD (1920 x 1080) | CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5500U | GPU: AMD Radeon 7 | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Battery life: 11 hours | Weight: 3.1 lbs / 1.4 kg

Lenovo IdeaPad 3REASONS TO BUY

  • Good price for the level of performance
  • One of the best CPUs you can get in this price range
  • Fairly compact and portable design
  • Quality construction
  • Good IPS panel with thin bezels
  • Bright display
  • Plenty of connectivity including a media card reader
  • Long battery life

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Small hard drive
  • The display covers only 60% of the sRGB gamut
  • Spongy keyboard

Our Rating:   9.5/10

The IdeaPad series is the core of Lenovo’s laptop line. They offer stable performance at just about any price point, and end up being a little cheaper than an exact equivalent from one of their competitors might be.

The IdeaPad 3 is a great example of this. It’s solid on basically all metrics, and while not without some shortcomings, they’re ones that could only be addressed by a more expensive model.

It offers a 14-inch FHD (1920×1080) IPS panel display, which is selected for its sharp colors and wide viewing angles. It’s unfortunately not a touchscreen, which may not be a loss for some people. Besides that, the 14-inch display is a bit small for something that doesn’t have a tablet mode and so if you work with a lot of large images, you might need to cast to a larger display.

Again, it’s impossible to find a color-accurate laptop in the sub-$600 category (unless you opt for a renewed laptop). And so, the IdeaPad 3 comes with around a 60% coverage of the sRGB gamut. However, Lenovo balanced it out with a fairly good brightness (300 nits), and a sharp IPS panel.

Performance-wise, the IdeaPad 3 is powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 5500U, which is a 6-core processor with up to a 4.0 GHz clock rate. Six cores is more than enough for photo editing and will provide snappy performance for multitasking and overall productivity.

Additionally, there is only 8GB of RAM, which is the minimum we’d recommend, though it’s not as comfortable of a minimum. Combined, it’ll do everything you need, but might not be as quick when multitasking or performing edits with multiple layers.

The storage is probably the biggest drawback you’re going to face here. The IdeaPad 3 has a 256GB SSD, which isn’t a ton of space but will allow you to quickly write and transfer files. It’s enough for basic operations, and since you’ll want an external storage device anyway, it’s hard to count this as too big of a mark against it.

All graphics processing is done through the CPU, which is more than adequate for photo editing. If you’re looking to do video as well you may want a more powerful option, or consider a gaming laptop in the same price range.

Lenovo has included a built-in media card reader, which is a big selling point for any laptop that’s going to be used for photo editing. On top of that, there are two USB ports and a single USB Type-C port. The laptop also comes with a standard HDMI port, which will come in handy if you need to view closer detail of your photos.

The lower and middle-tier Lenovo laptops tend not to be as bulky, which is good news if you need your laptop to travel with you frequently. It’s approximately 0.8 inches thick and weighs 3.1 pounds. That and the small screen size make it extremely easy to fit into any backpack, briefcase, or even some larger purses.

And finally, the battery life is also one of the better ones we’ve seen on budget laptops, with up to around 10-11 hours of light use–If you travel a lot with your laptop, it will go a full workday without needing to be recharged.

Overall, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is one of the most powerful laptops you can buy under $600. The display isn’t quite up to par when it comes to professional photo editing, but neither is any other laptop in this price range. So apart from that, you get a high-performing, portable laptop, with lots of connectivity and long battery life.

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3. Dell Inspiron 13

Display: IPS 13.3″ | Screen Resolution: FullHD (1920 x 1080) | CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2500U | GPU: Integrated | RAM: 16 GB | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Battery life: 6 hours | Weight: 3.1 lbs / 1.39 kg

Dell Inspiron 13REASONS TO BUY

  • Features a touchscreen display
  • Sharp IPS panel
  • 2-in-1 functionality
  • Decent processor
  • Extremely portable
  • Decent connectivity
  • Thin and compact design

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Older model, which means somewhat slower speeds
  • No dedicated GPU
  • Poor battery life
  • Smaller hard drive

Our Rating:   9.3/10

The Inspiron’s ability to remain consistent across several price points is exactly why it’s the laptop that appears most frequently on our lists. This specific model is a couple of years old, which means it might not be quite as quick, but is going to have the power to work through most major tasks.

The 2-in-1 function combined with a touchscreen allows you to make close inspections and precise edits of your photos. The 13-inch FHD (1920×1080) IPS panel display is going to look incredibly sharp on a screen this size, and will also offer decent color accuracy.

The processor is an AMD Ryzen 5 2500U, which is obviously a previous-gen processor but has four cores and a max clock rate of 3.6GHz. That’s pretty good for an older processor, and the four cores are going to be capable of handling all of the necessary operations.

In addition, the 16GB of RAM even opens up the possibility of some more complex edits, or at the very least will make them quicker than they might be on some otherwise similar laptops.

Hard drive space is again limited, which is common at this price point. The 256GB drive is an SSD, which will mean more responsive memory access, but that still can’t fully make up for the smaller size.

For graphics processing, it uses AMD Radeon RX Vega 8 Graphics, which is a processing capability integrated into your CPU, which means the whole laptop could slow down when trying to perform graphically intensive tasks. It’s important to note that this does not include photo editing, which is working with a single still image.

The Inspiron 13 has all of the connection ports we’d expect from a photo editing laptop, starting with an SD card reader. Besides that, it comes with two USB ports and one USB-C port, which is going to be plenty of space for external devices. There’s also an HDMI port and a headphone jack for better audio and visual setups.

The laptop is almost surprisingly thin, only 0.6 inches, and only a hair over 3 pounds. This makes it one of the most portable laptops on our list, and the only one in this price range we’d consider assigning ultraportable status.

The only major drawback is the battery life, which is around 6 hours. That’s enough for most commuters, or a couple of hours working outside, but it’s a lot shorter than we’d like to see.

Overall, the Dell Inspiron 13 is still a great cheap laptop for photo editing, mainly because of its 2-in-1 functionality and touchscreen. Otherwise, the performance and display are lacking a bit compared to our tops picks. If, however, you’re looking for a cheap 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop in this price range, this is one of your only options.

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Best Laptops for Photo Editing Under $400

Laptops under $400 will typically be pretty limited in performance. A lot of them will have below the recommended processing power for photo editing, and will mostly be good for making minor adjustments or viewing your pictures on a larger display. Some will still be functional for more in-depth tasks, and we’ve done our best to find them for you here.

The table below will give you a quick look at our selections for the three best laptops for photo editing under $400 currently available on the market. To read a full review, simply click on ‘review>>’ in the respective row.

Product

Image

Rating

1. ASUS VivoBook Flip

''Best laptop for photo editing under $400''

9.6

2. ASUS Chromebook Flip C433

''Best laptop for photo editing under $400 runner-up''

9.5

3. ASUS VivoBook 15

''Honorable mention''

9.3



1. ASUS VivoBook Flip

Display: IPS 14″ | Screen Resolution: FullHD (1920 x 1080) | CPU: Intel Pentium Silver N5030 | GPU: Integrated | RAM: 4 GB | Storage: 128 GB SSD | Battery life: 6 hours | Weight: 3.3 lbs / 1.49 kg

ASUS VivoBook FlipREASONS TO BUY

  • Very budget-friendly
  • Sharp IPS display 
  • 2-in-1 functionality
  • Comes with support for a stylus
  • Quality overall construction
  • Good connectivity including an SD card reader
  • Compact and portable design
  • Decent processing power

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Only 4GB of RAM
  • Smaller hard drive
  • Poor battery life

Our Rating:   9.6/10

We saw a version of the VivoBook earlier on this list, so it was only common sense to consider a cheaper version for our extreme budget lineup. The biggest drawback for this one is going to be the memory, but it still has a surprising amount of processing power.

Like its more expensive sibling, this version of the VivoBook Flip is a 2-in-1 with a 14-inch touchscreen. It’s still an FHD (1920×1080) IPS panel display, so you’re not losing any of the image quality, even with the downgrade in price.

The processor is an Intel Pentium Silver N5030, which is a couple of years old and even then not as fast as a lot of the other processors in its generation. It does have 4 cores, which means you’ll still get a solid amount of work capacity, and the max clock rate is 3.1GHz which isn’t bad. The thing that’s more likely to slow you down is the 4GB of RAM.

The hard drive in this laptop is a 128 GB SSD, and a lot of that is going to be taken up by core system files. By the time you add your photo editing software, it’s going to be a gamble on how much (if any) room you still have for your photos.

In terms of connectivity, there are no full-sized USB ports, which makes connective external devices tricky. There are two USB-C ports, a micro-USB port, and an SD card slot, which still gives you options for getting your files on and off, but it will be a little trickier. There is also a micro-HDMI port, which means you’ll need a specialized cable or adapter to connect it to larger displays.

You do gain a bit of portability with the smaller components. It’s only 0.6 inches thick and weighs 3.3 pounds, which makes it one of the thinnest, lightest options on our list. However, that’s offset slightly by the shorter battery life. ASUS talks up the battery on this one quite a bit, but it doesn’t seem to last much longer than 6 hours under any sort of use.

With that being said, the ASUS VivoBook Flip is one of the best laptops for photo editing when shopping on a really tight budget. It’s obviously far from what we’d recommend to professional editors, but given the price, it offers great performance across the board and some excellent features.

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2. ASUS Chromebook Flip C433

Display: IPS 14″ | Screen Resolution: FullHD (1920 x 1080) | CPU: Intel m3-8100Y | GPU: Integrated | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 64 GB eMMC | Battery Life: 10 hours | Weight: 3.31 lbs / 1.5 kg

REASONS TO BUY

  • Extremely compact and portable
  • Excellent value for the money
  • Sleek design
  • Responsive touchscreen
  • Slick web-centered performance
  • Good construction quality
  • 2-in-1 functionality
  • Good connectivity including microSD card reader
  • Lots of RAM 
  • Long battery life

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Weak multitasking capability
  • Very small hard drive
  • Frustrating configuration of access ports

Our Rating:   9.5/10

One typically excellent option for budget laptops is Chromebooks. These will typically be more akin to a tablet or other mobile device, using a lighter operating system, and expecting the user to rely more heavily on cloud-based storage.

They typically won’t have the in-depth functionality of a full PC, but for casual photographers, they’ll perform a lot of the necessary tasks at a much better price. The ASUS Chromebook Flip C433 is an excellent example of this dynamic.

A fair amount of the budget for this one went into preserving the 2-in-1 function that we saw in the rest of ASUS offerings. It has a 14-inch FHD display, with an IPS panel screen. This is going to deliver image quality that’s on par with some of the more expensive laptops on our list.

The processor is a small but quick Intel Core m3-8100Y, which has only 2 cores but a max clock rate of 3.6GHz. This is going to limit the number of background apps you might be able to run but will be quick and responsive when focusing on one task at a time, including photo editing software.

In addition, there is a full 8GB of RAM, which is good for a laptop at this price point and is going to give you better speeds, especially on more complex tasks.

The hard drive is all but non-existent at 64GB. Since this uses a Chrome OS rather than Windows 10, you won’t see as much space taken up by your OS and core programs but you still won’t have a lot of storage space.

Connectivity-wise, there is a single USB port and two USB-C ports (though one functions as the charging port). There’s also a micro-SD card adapter, though most cameras use a full-size SD card. You might need to get creative with the adapters to get the full function out of this one.

Another area where Chromebooks shine is in portability. The Flip C433 is 0.65 inches thick and only 3.3 pounds, which means that you’ll be able to fit it easily into most bags and carrying cases. The battery life is also pretty good at about 10 hours and should be enough to get you through a full day out of use.

Overall, the ASUS Flip Chromebook C433 is another solid budget laptop for photo editing in this price range. If you’re more comfortable or familiar with mobile devices, this Chromebook is going to be a lot more intuitive than a lot of the laptops on our list, while at the same time delivering more power and image detail than a phone or tablet.

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3. ASUS VivoBook 15

Display: IPS 15.6″ | Screen Resolution: FullHD (1920 x 1080) | CPU: Intel core i3-1005G1 | GPU: Integrated | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 128 GB SSD | Battery life: 6 hours | Weight: 3.75 lbs / 1.7 kg

ASUS VivoBook 15REASONS TO BUY

  • Large, sharp display for editing photos
  • Good overall performance for the money
  • Good quantity of RAM
  • Plenty of connection ports
  • Fairly compact and portable

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Smaller hard drive
  • Poor battery life
  • Weaker processor
  • No touchscreen
  • Disappointing build quality

Our Rating:   9.3/10

If the ASUS VivoBook is a good, budget-friendly laptop in its 2-in-1 configuration (and it is) then simplifying it into a conventional laptop should give you the same or better power at a lower price. And in fact, that’s what the VivoBook 15 does.

The first thing to notice is that this is a 15.6-inch FHD (1920×1080) display, which gives you more viewing space and the ability to examine detailed areas of your photos more closely. It is not a touchscreen, so you may want a mouse for finer manipulation of your photos unless you’re extremely good with a trackpad.

We had hoped that some of the money saved from abandoning the touchscreen and the 2-in-1 functionality would go into the processor, which as it stands is a 10th generation Intel i3-1005G1 CPU. It has 2 cores, which is low for any laptop, let alone one that you’re expecting to do media editing.

The clock rate is a maximum of 3.4 GHz, which is fairly quick, but not even as fast as the other 2-core processors on our list. It does slightly make up for it with 8GB of RAM, but your ability to perform complex tasks or multitask is going to be severely hindered.

In terms of your storage, the hard drive is a 128GD SSD. You’ll definitely need the speeds of the SSD because with that little space you’ll be moving and rewriting files constantly.

There is actually a surprising amount of connection potential from this laptop. There are a total of 3 USB ports, a USB Type-C port, a micro-SD reader, and an HDMI port. You’ll be able to connect plenty of external devices, even finding workarounds for the lack of a full-size SD card reader.

The VivoBook 15 does run into an issue that’s common among cheaper laptops: it’s bulkier and not as carefully constructed as more expensive laptops. It’s 0.8 inches thick and weighs 3.75 pounds, though some of that is down to the larger screen. The battery life is only 6 hours, which is tied for the worst on this list as well.

If you’re not really sold on the whole touchscreen 2-in-1 thing, then the ASUS VivoBook is going to be your best option to cut that out and bring the price for a functional laptop down to the floor. If you’re serious about photography as a long-term pursuit, you’ll want something better, but this can be a good way to get your feet wet.

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In Conclusion

These were the 12 best budget laptops for photo editing in 2022. The best laptop for you is the one that fits your budget and performs the tasks you need. The higher your levels of skill, the more you’re ultimately going to want to spend on your hardware.

To pick these laptops, we mostly looked at the display quality and then RAM and CPU, which are going to be the biggest drivers of performance. You’ll notice that with very few exceptions all of the laptops on our list have between 4 and 6 processor cores and between 8GB and 16GB of RAM.

Other factors can enter in as well: an FHD screen is a minimum you’ll want to work with, and you can never go wrong with more hard drive space.

About Richard Gamin 174 Articles
My name's Richard and over the years, I have personally built many PCs for myself and my friends. I love gaming, programming, graphics designing and basically anything that has to do with computers and technology. If you ever need a hand with anything, feel free to contact me and I will be more than happy to help you out.

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