Photoshop is by far the most popular and comprehensive tool for image editing on the computer and laptop. But what should one pay attention to when buying a notebook so that the program runs optimally? We give basic tips and show five suitable models.
Adobe Photoshop on the laptop – what to look out for?
For Photoshop image editing to work smoothly, your laptop should have some requirements. You should pay special attention to these points:
- Display: Resolution and design are crucial to avoid frustration when working with Photoshop. Often laptops are only equipped with a 1366 x 768 pixel resolution display. However, a screen with Full-HD or even higher resolution is much better for detailed display.
- RAM: The RAM is also very important. Especially if you want to work on large projects or use batch processing, the Adobe program sucks a lot of RAM. Your laptop should have at least 4 GB main memory – 8 GB or more is better.
- CPU: The third important component is the processor. Since it is responsible for all the computing processes and usually also for the graphics display, you should not skimp here. With a newer model from the Intel Core i5 or i7 series you are on the safe side.
Light Weight Importance
You probably want to take your laptop with you from time to time. For me, the weight then also plays a certain role. Especially if you take your camera equipment and your laptop with you, you can put together a few lbs. I wouldn’t buy a laptop weighing more than 3,3 lbs today. For me, a 13.3 inch laptop is the optimal combination of size and weight.
Ranking First: Apple Macbook Pro
- High Work Speed
- Great Display
- Big Touchpad
- The powerful Apple computer puts the entire Windows competition in the shade. In the current 15-inch models, you get the latest hardware and the high-contrast Retina display. The smaller 13-inch model is also recommended.
- Among graphic designers and photographers, the Apple devices enjoy great popularity. The only negative aspect here is the steep price: depending on the equipment, 1-3K Dollars are charged for the current top model.
The new MacBook Pro has made a huge leap in performance. The new quad-core processor (Core i5-8257U), which Apple gave to the two smaller Pro models, makes sure of that. So the Pro is really fast and, especially in performance-hungry applications like Photoshop, much faster than the cheaper MacBook Air. Games also run more smoothly on the Pro, but it’s still too slow for passionate gamers: In games, it only managed 22 fps in the test even with reduced resolution (1366×768 pixels).
The new processor is a particularly economical quad-core model with a maximum power consumption of 15 watts. Up to now, Intel’s quad-core models from the powerful core series for notebooks already swallowed up to 28 watts in the U version, the stronger H models even up to 44 watts. And the lower power consumption helps conserve battery life: In tests, MacBook Pro lasted six hours on one charge. And the fans need to run less frequently. In normal use, MacBook Pro is barely audible (operating noise 0.1 sone). The fans only turn up properly under full load with 4.0 sone.
A special feature of the MacBook Pro is the touchbar: Instead of function keys, there’s a mini touchscreen above the keyboard that adapts to applications: For example, sliders are displayed for brightness and volume. Together with the huge touchpad – perfect for the built-in gesture control of macOS – only few users will miss a built-in touch screen. Apple only offers this for mobile phones like the iPhone XR or tablets like the Apple iPad Pro 11
The built-in display is top: razor-sharp, very high-contrast and with good color reproduction. A little surprising: The new display in MacBook Air 2019 is even more accurate in terms of colour reproduction. Typical for Apple, the high-gloss surface of the display reflects quite clearly. That can be annoying in bright surroundings or with ceiling lamps.
A difference to the more expensive models: The two smaller versions of the MacBook Pro 2019 have only two instead of four USB ports in the modern USB-C format: This allows the notebook to recharge and control up to two displays – all at the same time. The built-in Thunderbolt technology ensures extremely fast data transfer, just right for an external SSD like the ultrafast Samsung X5. Thanks to USB-C, however, cheaper, even if not quite as fast, SSDs like the Samsung Portable SSD T5 also fit in. More connections? Just a 3.5 millimetre jack socket for a headset or headphones.
Stylish, fast, with a great display, quiet and durable – the new MacBook Pro is a top-of-the-line notebook for working. The touch bar and huge touchpad make it easy to use, and the hefty prices put the buyer’s wallet at ease: even the tested, second smallest version (MUHP2D/A) costs over $2600.
Ranking Second: Dell XPS 13
- High Work Speed
- Great Display
- Good Battery
- Some Ports are missing
- As the best Windows laptop for Photoshop, we choose the DELL XPS 15 or its little brother XPS 13, which can be optionally equipped with an Intel Core i7 and a display in UHD resolution. Thanks to a calibration function, colors are reproduced very realistically.
- Especially the very thin frame around the display is striking – so the notebook stays relatively compact despite its display size. The top equipment is relatively cheap to its’ performance: You have to pay under $1000 for it.
The noble version of the Dell XPS 13 (4K) has a special feature: 100% Adobe RGB coverage (depending on the configuration – see here). While there are quite a few options for monitors when it comes to good Adobe RGB coverage, the options for laptops with Adobe RGB are limited. The other key data are also quite interesting for photographers and graphic designers: IGZO-IPS panel, Intel Core i7-8750H, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB GDDR5 and 512 GB SSD (M.2 PCIe). The display also has a 4K resolution and touchscreen functionality.
The current generation of the Dell XPS 13 is available in several versions: For the CPU you can choose between different Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i7. Additionally, the Ultrabook is optionally available with a Full HD or 4K touch display. This review is explicitly about the Dell XPS 13 (9380-D8HNF) with Intel Core i7-8565U and FHD display. Our impressions of the 4K variant can be found in a separate review. However, the following applies to all XPS 13 variants: A revolution in comparison to the predecessor is missing. After all, the fingerprint sensor is now comfortably accommodated in the power button and the webcam has moved up again from the “frog’s eye view” at the bottom of the screen – thus, an old worsening improvement has been cancelled.
With regard to workmanship and ergonomics, we can refer almost entirely to the explanations on the predecessor. The high-quality aluminium housing is excellently finished and reminiscent of the MacBook Pro with its matt and minimalist surface. The dimensions of the 13-incher are still minimal and are just 30 x 20 x 1.7 centimetres. Nevertheless, the thin case remains sufficiently stable and can hardly be twisted.
But the XPS 13’s backlit keyboard shows that slimness can be too much, and like its predecessor, it’s recessed into the C-Cover and has almost no stroke length. The keys don’t always turn out square, but have a larger width than depth. There is also a lot of space saved around the keyboard. The keys are unusually close to the display and there’s hardly any room for the ball of the thumb to rest when writing. All in all, the keyboard feels strange despite the actually crisp counterpressure. In return, the touchpad is sufficiently large, doesn’t stick and reacts precisely and quickly to input. Only the relatively loud clicking can get annoying in the long run.
The biggest differences to the predecessor are in the hardware used. Dell relies on the newest mobile CPU generation in the current variants of the XPS 13. Therefore, an Intel Core i7-8565U with a base clock of 1.8 GHz and a TurboBoost of up to 4.6 GHz is used in the XPS 13 (9380-D8HNF). The CPU is supported by a brisk 512 GByte SSD and 16 GByte LPDDR3 RAM with 2.133 MT/s (a high value for notebooks); there is no dedicated graphics unit.
Thanks to this hardware, everyday performance could hardly be better. For normal office and internet tasks, the XPS 13 doesn’t even run warm and even complex photo and video editing up to the 4K range is no problem for the device. Or expressed in numbers: The XPS 13 scores a proud 5,286 points in the benchmark test PCMark 8, where neither the current MacBook Pro (5,072 points) nor the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 (4,582 points) can keep up.
Unfortunately, little has changed in the other configuration in comparison to the predecessor: The Ultrabook has three USB ports of type C, of which two USB 3.1 Gen 2 and Thunderbolt 3 support, and one 3.1 Gen 1. You’ll search in vain for classic USB A ports. A suitable adapter is included in the scope of delivery, but it’s still quite cumbersome, since currently almost all hard drives and USB sticks still rely on the “old” standard. The same applies to external monitors: Models with HDMI or DisplayPort can only be connected to the XPS 13 via adapter. Even the SD card slot has fallen victim to the slimming mania. Only MicroSD cards can be inserted into the device. The admittedly up-to-date, but not quite practical equipment is rounded off with a fingerprint sensor, WLAN-ac and Bluetooth.
In return, we can unreservedly recommend the pre-installed power management software. It monitors the ultrabook’s performance and power consumption in the background and automatically adjusts the performance to the current usage. Alternatively, even inexperienced users can influence these two factors thanks to various presets and thus control the performance more specifically than is possible with the on-board resources of the pre-installed Windows 10 Home.
The fact that Dell also offers a 4K version of the XPS 13 doesn’t mean that the Full HD version is necessarily worse. On the contrary: The resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels is completely sufficient on the 13.3 inch small screen in everyday use. If you haven’t yet gotten used to a 4K display, you won’t miss anything in terms of sharpness. Thanks to the matt IPS panel and the high maximum brightness of 395 cd/m², the ultrabook is even suitable for outdoor work. The brightness distribution turns out very good with 94 percent; we couldn’t detect any annoying backlight bleeding, i.e. overlighting of individual display areas. There’s also nothing to complain about in terms of viewing angle stability and color representation. The XPS 13 convinces with a natural, unadulterated image and covers the sRGB color space to 99 percent and the Adobe color space to a good 76 percent. In return, the chessboard contrast of 143 to 1 is not a peak value, but is still in average. A touch screen isn’t available in this version, though.
The Dell XPS 13 2019 FHD finally managed a small surprise in the runtime test. The 52 watt hour battery lasts a proud 13:37 hours in pure video rendering. Even the UHD version of the XPS 13, which only runs for 9:51 hours in the video runtime test, can’t keep up with this. Only the HP Spectre Folio 13 is better here at the time of the test, but it has a significantly lower performance and a worse display. In simulated everyday use, the Dell laptop reaches a full 8:51 hours thanks to great energy management – a new best value. For comparison: The second placed ThinkPad X1 only reaches 7:13 hours. As the XPS 13 is also pleasantly light with 2.6 lbs and very compact in design, it rightly sets a new best value for mobility.
With the Dell XPS 13 2019 FHD (9380-D8HNF), the American manufacturer succeeds in a coup in the ultrabook segment: The 13.3 inch laptop achieves dream rates in our best list. The reasons for this are the excellent performance in the test, the great mobility and the colorful Full-HD display. The Dell XPS 13’s configuration even turns out a bit too up-to-date. We lack many classic connections here. The device isn’t a bargain, but the price for the offered hardware is reasonable in any case.
Ranking Third: HP Spectre 13-af003ng
- Good Work Speed
- Fast SSD
- Display a bit dark
At the heart of the HP Spectre x360 is a Core i7-8550U processor of the Kaby Lake refresh generation, which is accompanied by 16 GB of RAM. Programs, data, videos and co. find a home on a 512 GByte SSD. HP takes a pleasant middle course in the interface offer and installs a classic USB 3.0 port next to two contemporary USB type C ports (including Thunderbolt protocol). Thus, at least older USB sticks, mice and external hard disks can be connected without adapter madness. Due to the thin construction, there is only one MicroSD card reader. The notebook standards Bluetooth and WLAN-ac are used for wireless communication.
The Spectre not only shines from the outside, the Convertible also knows how to present itself in terms of performance. It scored a good 4,805 points in the benchmark “PCMark 8 Creative” – a solid fourth place in the premium notebook comparison test. The SSD built in by HP is unbeatable, however – with measured 411.1 MB/s in the benchmark “PCMark 8 storage rate”, the Spectre outclasses the former quick memory king Apple with its MacBook Pro. All in all, the HP laptop’s performance is easily sufficient for image and video editing as well as the odd round of casual gaming. However, 4K video editing and current high-end games are not possible with the i7 processor with its Intel UHD Graphics 620 chipset – but this can be helped out with an external graphics card and the built-in Thunderbolt ports.
The real highlight of the HP Spectre x360, the 13.3-inch 4K touch display (3,840 x 2,160 pixels), weakens in the test with a somewhat dark maximum brightness of 335.3 candela per square meter. Because especially reflective convertible displays need a powerful panel to counteract any reflections. The chessboard contrast of 155 to 1 should also turn out a bit better. Similar to the Dell XPS 13, the Spectre lacks color space coverage. Thus, we measured a coverage of 96 percent in the sRGB color space and only 74.3 percent in the AdobeRGB color space, which is important for image editing. So, if you attach importance to a high color accuracy, you should better reach for the comparison test winner, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (to the detailed review).
In return, the Convertible’s touch input is on a very good level and also very practical in everyday work, away from graphic applications and games like Hearthstone, The Elder Scrolls: Legends and Gwent.
Moreover, the Spectre is super suitable for on the go. It only weighs around 2.8 lbs and has a good battery life. It lasts for more than 10 hours in office applications, a good 8.5 hours in video playback and still more than 5 hours in demanding use with many open programs, image editing, office applications and simulated video calls.
Even if special design ideas are not included in our evaluation, we are still happy about clever features. And the Spectre has a very special feature in contrast to convertibles from other manufacturers: apart from the power button, there are no other buttons in the immediate vicinity. This sounds banal, but it prevents operating errors, for example when you want the sound to be a bit louder or quieter.
In the predecessor model, the HP Spectre x360 13-4151ng, the power and volume buttons that are usually built into the case side of convertibles are even better designed. They are flush with the case. This means that there is no possibility of incorrect operation, for example if you use the quick-change artist as a tablet on your lap. The predecessor model trumped with another clever idea: The key for the keyboard lighting was permanently illuminated. It’s a pity that these small but fine design highlights didn’t make it into the current Spectre chassis.
The HP Spectre x360 13-ae046ng (2PS93EA#ABD) shines in the test with strong performance, a high-quality and stylish case and good mobility. HP takes a practical middle course between a classic USB and modern type C port in the configuration. The quick-change artist shows small weaknesses in the display, because the built-in 4K panel lacks radiance and color space display. Nevertheless, the HP Spectre x360 remains a great premium notebook with a practical convertible function at a reasonable price.
Ranking Fourth: Microsoft Surface Pro 6
- Good 3:2 Format Display
- Stable Built
- Pen and Keyboard cost extra
The 12.3-inch Surface Pro 6 in its smallest expansion stage costs $750 without any additional accessories. The extremely stable aluminum case of the Microsoft convertible then contains the Intel Core i5-8520U, 8 GByte RAM and a 256 GByte PCIe SSD, which is already enough for a very solid laptop performance. Interestingly enough, it was a lot higher in the test than Toshiba’s rival, which should actually have a clear lead with the clearly stronger Intel Core i7-8550U.
This is another advantage not only over the Toshiba Portégé X30T-E, but also over all other comparable devices: The Core i5 version of the Surface Pro 6 does not require active cooling, regardless of the individual configuration, and therefore runs completely silently. However, you have to live with fan noise in the Core-i7 version of the Microsoft Convertible, which should also develop considerably more performance due to the better heat dissipation.
Our Core i5 model was able to score points for this with its very good energy efficiency. With 9:10 hours, it was almost as persistent as the Portégé X30T-E-109 in terms of battery life.
But there is still something important missing in the price mentioned in the beginning: The Surface Pro 6 only becomes a convertible if one also puts the optional docking keyboard into the shopping cart, the type cover. Depending on the model, the backlit keyboard costs between $150 (Surface Pro Type Cover) and $170 (Surface Pro Signature Type Cover, covered with Alcantara material). It is available in various colors from black to platinum gray to burgundy red.
Microsoft is also paying extra for the digital Surface Pen, which costs $110. The total price for our test model thus rose to $1200.
Because the keyboard only counts as an accessory in the Surface Pro 6, all connections are located on the tablet unit. However, they turn out somewhat meager with USB 3.0, Mini-DisplayPort, MicroSD card reader and the headset port. If you need more interfaces, they can be retrofitted via the optional Surface Dock ($230). Then four USB 3.0 ports, two Mini DisplayPorts, Gigabit Ethernet and an audio output are added to the connection assortment.
The IPS screen of the Surface Pro 6 has a resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixels, which corresponds to the practical 3:2 aspect ratio. In portrait and landscape format, users can see more content than with classic 16:9 displays, which lack height.
Due to the high brightness of an average of 464 cd/m², the reflective display surface isn’t dramatic either, although not as ergonomic as the Toshiba Converter’s matt screen.
At first glance, the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (KJU-00003) seems to be a real high-end bargain. The performance in the test is excellent thanks to the current Kaby-Lake CPU, the equipment is lavish and the battery life is long. Moreover, the purchase price is clearly below that of the predecessor. In contrast to the previous generation, the type cover and stylus are not included in the scope of delivery, but have to be purchased at a high price. But this only denies the Surface Pro 6 the designation “bargain” – a strong 2-in-1 tablet is the business device nevertheless.
Ranking Fifth: Lenovo Yoga 730
- Strong i5-8250U Processor
- Many Ports
- Good Quality
- Battery not the best
The Lenovo Yoga S730 is not a convertible notebook. Introduced in Berlin at the end of summer, the laptop has introduced a completely new and potentially confusing nomenclature: At Lenovo, yoga no longer stands for the flexible 360-degree notebooks, but now generally refers to the manufacturer’s premium devices.
If there is now a “C” in front of the model number, it means a convertible. For example the Lenovo Yoga C630 with Windows 10 ARM or the Lenovo Yoga C930. A “D” stands for a 2-in-1 and “A” for all-in-one PCs like the Lenovo Yoga A940. The “S” in the Lenovo Yoga S730 stands for “slim”, in the sense of especially thin and light notebooks.
The Lenovo Yoga S730, an extraordinarily thin and light Ultrabook, which has established itself among the absolute high-end devices in terms of price, is such a notebook. It should offer premium without the frills. You don’t want to compromise on performance or battery life. We put the new Yoga notebook to the test in our review.
With a depth of less than 12 millimetres, the Lenovo Yoga S730 lives up to its name. The device itself is wrapped in a silver aluminum case, which is high-quality manufactured. Despite its shallow depth, the keyboard can hardly be dented, the display hardly allows any bending and overall the thin notebook looks very solid. At most the lower cover, which is held by 9 Torx screws, doesn’t feel as solid as the rest of the device. The gaps are small, but get irregularly larger towards the middle. But this is all within the normal range, the overall good workmanship of the device doesn’t do any harm.
The design of the Lenovo Yoga S730 is very simple and really doesn’t show any abnormalities. It’s a normal, simple laptop design. The completely silver notebook only has a comparatively small and very discreetly engraved yoga logo on the lid at the top right and the keyboard is kept in dark grey.
Simple, but not unspectacular, I would say. I like the simple look and thanks to its shallow depth it really knows how to impress. The thin notebook is really an eye-catcher.
However, the shallow depth naturally requires savings in terms of connection options. I do not want to call this a compromise. The Lenovo Yoga S730 doesn’t have a USB type-A port. Instead, there are three USB-C ports and a 3.5 millimeter jack plug. For me personally, this is no problem because Lenovo has undoubtedly made the best of it. Two of the ports are Thunderbolt 3 ports with 4 PCIe lanes each. All ports can be used to charge the device, you can connect external displays, hubs and even external graphics cards. The advantages of USB-C are clear and you only need one charger for your smartphone, Nintendo Switch, laptop and powerbank in your backpack and if you take the one from the laptop for all devices, there is no confusion as some USB-C opponents, who are blinded by my opinion, think. At the latest after the first charging, even the biggest DAU will notice that a Core i7 laptop can’t be charged with a 5W power supply.
Going all-in with USB-C is in my opinion just the right step and the result is great on the Lenovo Yoga S730. The only thing I would have wished for is a microSD card slot so that I don’t need an adapter at least for transferring photos from the camera. But USB-C hardware is getting cheaper and more common.
The Lenovo Yoga S730 has a 13.3-inch FullHD IPS display that is the same across all configurations. The resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels on this diagonal is sufficient, especially in the upper mid-range price range.
The IPS display has a good color representation with realistic colors, solid contrasts and black levels. The Lenovo Yoga S730’s brightness is impressive, so that the device can definitely be used in direct sunlight. Contents are still easily recognizable in sunlight and use is thus possible without a doubt despite the glazed and thus reflective surface. The brightness is better than that of the Surface Pro 6 and the HP Spectre x360 and is about on par with that of the Surface Laptop 2.
The Lenovo Yoga S730 we tested is the top model without touchscreen. The Ultrabook is thus equipped with an Intel Core i7-8565U processor (Whiskey Lake), 16 gigabytes of RAM and a 1 terabyte SSD. Regularly, the manufacturer wants to have just under $1,500 for this, but the street prices are closer to the $1,300 mark. Thus, the Yoga S730 is, purely in terms of hardware, priced significantly below the high-end laptop competition.
The Lenovo Yoga S730 is typically optimized for ultrabooks in terms of performance to work rather cool and quietly instead of testing the cooling systems and processor to their limits under higher load. Accordingly, some thermal throttling is noticeable, especially when working under very high load.
However, this doesn’t mean that the Lenovo Yoga S730 remains completely silent in the long run. If you start a more demanding task, the fan occasionally turns up audibly. In normal use, this happens, for example, when you apply a somewhat more resource-intensive filter in Photoshop and only work for these few seconds while the PC is under full load. In everyday use the fan is either not audible at all or whisper quiet. Enough quiet to use the notebook without any problems inconspicuously in a lecture hall, a library or a very boring office.
In the stress test, the Lenovo Yoga S730 shows that it can hold the maximum clock rate of 4.2 GHz for less than 60 seconds before the throttling under load starts. After about 50 seconds, the CPU’s clock rate levelled off at a maximum of 1.8 GHz while the GPU and CPU temperature wasn’t allowed to exceed the 70 degree mark. It becomes clear that Lenovo has concentrated on keeping the notebook rather cool and quiet, even under load. The fan was of course audible in the benchmark under full load in the form of a fairly discreet noise.
The Lenovo Yoga S730 is an overall good ultrabook, which is thin, light and yet very well made. The notebook Lenovo wants to position itself as a premium flagship killer, but is biting its teeth at the tough competition in the upper middle class.
It’s obvious what you pay for with the Lenovo Yoga S730 and where you have to make certain savings. Thunderbolt 3 with 4 PCIe lanes, the bright display, the slightly better workmanship and less depth than its competition make the compromise of a smaller battery necessary overall.
However, since the battery life is well within the upper average, the Lenovo Yoga S730 is a quite solid alternative to devices like the Apple Macbook Pro or Dell XPS. Especially if you want to use an external graphic card or if several USB ports with Thunderbolt 3 connection are a mandatory requirement.
Photoshop Laptop or PC/Computer?
Maybe you are not quite sure yet whether you should choose a laptop or a desktop PC for your image editing with Photoshop. If you’re on the road a lot and you want to be flexible and edit your pictures, then it can be very useful to choose a laptop for image editing. Before you decide on your device, you should take the time to check how you want to use your future laptop. A laptop offers a lot of advantages in the areas of mobility and flexibility, a desktop PC offers more in the area of comfort. The big advantage of a laptop for image editing is the possibility to use it flexibly: For example, if you decide to take your laptop with you on vacation to edit your new vacation photos while you are still on vacation, then you can easily implement this plan. If you decide to use a desktop PC, for example, then you have no flexibility in this area. Before you buy your new laptop, check your specific requirements and demands on your new device and then decide whether a desktop PC or a laptop is the right choice for you.
Tip at the end:
If you should ask yourself the question where you should buy your laptop for image processing in the future: It can be very useful to buy the laptop online, because you often have the possibility to compare components, models and prices with just a few clicks and thus possibly benefit in the long run. Very often the feedback of other buyers is also very helpful, especially if they have similar demands and requirements to the device as you do.
External Monitor for Photoshop
When buying your new laptop, keep in mind that the screen of a 13 inch laptop might be too small for you in the long run. Even though smaller laptops have some other advantages (e.g. mobility), it is often not easy to work with images on a small screen for a long time. So if you decide to use a laptop with a 13 inch monitor, for example, you may have to budget for additional costs for an external monitor. If you don’t want to use an external monitor in the future and only want to work on your images on your laptop, you should at least decide on a 15 inch laptop.
Keyboard, Trackpad and mouse for Photoshop
If you want to pursue your passion or your job stress-free with your new laptop for Photoship editing in the future, you should consider the keyboard, a possible trackpad and also the corresponding mouse when buying it (see also: Laptop for programming). You will probably edit your pictures with external components (keyboard, trackpad and mouse) in the future anyway and not with the already integrated components, but you should still make sure that the keyboard and the trackpad, for example, meet your individual requirements. It is very important that you want to take advantage of the functions and possibilities of your new laptop, so you should consider them when buying.