Best budget laptops for photoshop - header

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Whether you are a professional photographer or budding hobbyist, you are going to need a good photo-editing application. Adobe Photoshop is one of the best and most popular photo-editing software available and is usually the go-to photo-editing app for many photographers or hobbyists.

It’s an open secret that Photoshop is a very demanding program due to the vast array of tools and features it offers to users. As a result, you can’t just use any laptop for Photoshop. You need a laptop with a powerful processor and high RAM bandwidth to handle the complex requirements of photo editing.

You’ll also need a high-resolution display to accurately display colors, high storage capacity to save your files, and a comfortable and well-spaced keyboard and touchpad to allow you to work for long hours with ease. Usually, laptops that meet these requirements are quite pricey. However, there are a number of budget laptops on the market that can run Photoshop very well.

I carried out extensive research and testing to bring you the best budget laptops for Photoshop available today. Below you’ll find the best budget laptops for Photoshop, their pros, cons, and a buying guide to help choose a laptop that fulfills your requirements.

The 7 Best Budget Laptops for Photoshop for 2021

HP Pavilion 15″ Laptop

HP Pavilion 15 Laptop, 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 Processor, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD Storage, Full HD IPS Micro-Edge Display, Windows 10 Pro, Compact Design, Long Battery Life (15-eg0021nr, 2020)

$1,019.00  in stock
55 new from $944.99
8 used from $959.99
Amazon.com
as of October 24, 2021 5:03 am

The HP Pavilion 15 is a laptop well-equipped to run Photoshop smoothly. The 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor is very powerful and more than capable of handling the rigorous demands of Photoshop. Combine this with the 16GB RAM and you get a very potent combination that can handle some of the most difficult photo-editing tasks.

Thanks to the 15.6” full HD widescreen with a resolution of 1920×1080, this laptop will generate high-quality, crystal-clear, and razor-sharp images. There is also the Intel Iris X graphics card which massively enhances the quality of generated images. Prepare yourself to enjoy a new level of stunning visuals.

This laptop has an ultra-thin and compact design that makes it travel-friendly. If you are the type that moves around a lot, you’ll appreciate the portability of this system. There is also the fast and spacious 512GB SSD storage that can save all your files. The battery life is good as you get about 8 hours of backup battery after a full charge. And this should be enough to take you through most of your day.

 Quick Specifications

  • Screen size: 15.6 inches
  • Laptop size: 14.18 x 9.21 x 0.7 in / 35.8 x 23 x 1.7 cm
  • Weight: 3.85 lbs / 1750 g
  • Processor:  11th Gen Intel Core i7
  • RAM:  16GB
  • Graphics card:  Intel Iris X Graphics
  • Hard disk:  512GB SSD
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Battery life: up to 8 hours depending on use

Pros

  • Ultra-thin and lightweight.
  • Fast and powerful processor.
  • High-resolution display.
  • High RAM bandwidth.
  • Powerful graphics card.
  • High storage capacity.
  • Comfortable keyboard.
  • Good battery life.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings. The two USB ports though may slightly disappoint some users.

Lenovo ThinkPad E15 15.6″ Laptop

2020 Lenovo ThinkPad E15 15.6” FHD Business Laptop Computer, 10th gen Intel i5-10210U (up to 4.20GHz,Beat i7-8550u), 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD, WiFi HDMI Win10 Pro w/Ghost Manta Accessories

$1,285.88  in stock
4 new from $1,285.88
Amazon.com
as of October 24, 2021 5:03 am

What is there not to like about this upgraded Lenovo ThinkPad E15? The sleek metallic finish makes this laptop aesthetically pleasing while the lightweight design makes it a laptop Ideal for life on the go. But it is the performance of this laptop that makes it a real beast.

The 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor is more than the minimum requirements of Photoshop and will have no problem running the program. You are going to be blown away by the outrageous RAM bandwidth of 32GB! This laptop is never going to lag. That’s not all, you also get 1TB SSD storage. Good luck exhausting the monstrous storage capacity.

The 15.6″ display is wide and produces images of amazing resolution. The integrated Intel UHD graphics card generates crisp and crystal clear images on the screen that is close to real-life. I like the keyboard as the well-spaced design brings about a comfortable typing experience.

 Quick Specifications

  • Screen size: 15.6 inches
  • Laptop size: 14.5 x 9.7 x 0.7 in / 36.8 x 24.6 x 1.7 cm
  • Weight:  4.3 lbs / 1950 g
  • Processor:  10th Gen Intel Core i5
  • RAM:  32GB
  • Graphics card:  Intel UHD Graphics
  • Hard disk:  1TB SSD
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Battery life: up to 11 hours depending on use

Pros

  • Sleek and stylish design.
  • Compact and portable.
  • Fast and powerful processor.
  • Stunning RAM bandwidth.
  • Enormous storage.
  • Good graphics card.
  • Great battery life.
  • Comfortable keyboard.

Cons

  • No major shortcoming.

Apple MacBook Pro Laptop

New Apple MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage) - Silver (Latest Model)

$1,299.00
$1,169.00
 in stock
4 new from $1,169.00
2 used from $1,075.48
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 24, 2021 5:03 am

You can always expect to get quality products from Apple and the MacBook Pro doesn’t disappoint. This laptop comes with a stylish and ultra-thin design that makes it easy to carry around. The integrated M1 chip makes this laptop outrageously fast and powerful ripping through complex workflows and heavy workloads. Photoshop is going to run smoothly on this laptop.

The integrated graphics card is also very powerful, delivering images of stunning colors and clarity. You’ll be impressed with the 13.6″ display with high resolution that renders images of an incredible level of detail and realism.

This laptop doesn’t disappoint when it comes to RAM bandwidth. The 8GB RAM is more than capable of running Photoshop smoothly and the 256GB SSD storage will be enough for most users. I also like the keyboard is designed to bring about a quiet, fast, responsive, and convenient typing experience.

The battery life of the MacBook Pro is downright amazing at a staggering 20 hours. This is more than enough to get you through the day without having to connect the laptop to a power outlet.

 Quick Specifications

  • Screen size: 13.8 inches
  • Laptop size: 13.41 x 11.97 x 0.61 in / 34 x 30 x 1.5 cm
  • Weight:  3 lbs / 1360 g
  • Processor:  Integrated M1 Chip
  • RAM:  8GB
  • Graphics card:  Integrated 8-core GPU
  • Hard disk:  256GB SSD
  • Operating System: MacOS
  • Battery life: up to 20 hours depending on use

Pros

  • Ultra-thin and portable design.
  • Ultra-fast and powerful processor.
  • Impressive display.
  • Powerful graphics card.
  • Good RAM bandwidth.
  • Efficient and comfortable keyboard.
  • Stunning battery life.

Cons

  • 256GB SSD storage may disappoint some users but this is standard at this range. There is the 512GB model that costs a bit more.

Apple MacBook Air Laptop

2020 Apple MacBook Air with Apple M1 Chip (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage) - Space Gray

$999.00
$929.00
 in stock
5 new from $929.00
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 24, 2021 5:03 am

Another budget Apple laptop for photoshoping. The MacBook Air comes with a similar ultra-thin and lightweight design as the MacBook Pro above offering you unparalleled ease of transport. This MacBook Air also sports the powerful M1 processor which can handle complex tasks with photo-editing with ease.

The RAM bandwidth of 8GB makes Photoshop run smoothly and allows you to multitask with minimal lag. Thanks to the retina display, you are going to see lifelike colors as you’ve never seen before on the 13.3inch screen. The Apple 8-core graphics card also enhances the quality of the image produced by this laptop.

Apple referred to the keyboard of this laptop as ‘Magic Keyboard’ and I couldn’t agree more. The scissor mechanism with 1mm travel makes typing a breeze. And the 256SSD storage is fast while also providing you with enough scar to save your files.

The battery life of 18 hours is stunning and you’ll easily get through your day without having to charge this laptop.

 Quick Specifications

  • Screen size: 13.3 inches
  • Laptop size: 11.2 x 8.3 x 0.6 in / 28 x 21 x 1.5 cm
  • Weight:  2.8 lbs / 1270 g
  • Processor:  Integrated M1 Chip
  • RAM:  8GB
  • Graphics card:  Integrated 8-core GPU
  • Hard disk:  256GB SSD
  • Operating System: MacOS
  • Battery life: up to 18 hours depending on use

Pros

  • Sleek, stylish, and lightweight.
  • Fast and powerful M1 processor.
  • High-resolution display.
  • Powerful integrated graphics.
  • Good RAM bandwidth.
  • ‘Magic’ keyboard.
  • Stunning battery life.

Cons

  • 256GB SSD storage may disappoint some users but this is standard at this range. There is the 512GB model that costs a bit more.

HP 15.6″ Touchscreen Laptop

2020 Newest HP 15.6 FHD IPS Touchscreen Laptop,10th Gen Intel Quad-Core i5-1035G1 (Up to 3.60GHz, Beat i7-8550U), 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Fast Charge, Webcam, HDMI, USB-A&C, WiFi, Win10,w/GM Accessories

 out of stock
Amazon.com
as of October 24, 2021 5:03 am

HP has a thing for producing aesthetically pleasing laptops and this laptop is very stylish thanks to the ultra-thin design and silvery-white finish. This laptop can be easily transported from one place to another making it an ideal travel laptop.

The Intel Core i5 is an extremely fast and powerful processor that will rip through some of the most complex and difficult tasks with ease. This combined with the enormous RAM capacity of 32GB makes this system more than capable of running Photoshop without any lag.

Thanks to the 15.6 IPS display and the Integrated UHD graphics card, this laptop renders images of stunning quality. The storage is enormous at a staggering capacity of 1TB SSD. You also get up to 10 hours of battery life depending on use and the well-designed keyboard makes typing comfortable. I like the integrated precision touchpad that comes with multi-touch support to speed up both navigation and productivity.

 Quick Specifications

  • Screen size: 15.6 inches
  • Laptop size: 14.11 x 9.53 x 0.78 in / 35.8 x 24.2 x 1.98 cm
  • Weight:  3.75 lbs / 1700 g
  • Processor:  Integrated Core i5
  • RAM:  32GB
  • Graphics card:  Integrated Intel UHD Graphics
  • Hard disk:  1TB SSD
  • Operating System: Window 10
  • Battery life: up to 10 hours depending on use

Pros

  • Stylish and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Lightweight.
  • Fast and powerful processor.
  • High-resolution display.
  • Enormous RAM bandwidth.
  • Enormous storage capacity.
  • Well-designed keyboard.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Acer Aspire 5 15.6″ LaptopOur Top Pick

2020 Acer Aspire 5 Slim 15.6" FHD Laptop Computer, AMD Ryzen 3-3200U CPU, 32GB RAM, 2TB PCIe SSD, Backlit Keyboard, AMD Radeon Vega 3 Graphics, HD Webcam, Win 10S, Silver, 32GB SnowBell USB Card

$959.00  in stock
Amazon.com
as of October 24, 2021 5:03 am

The Acer Aspire 5 comes with mouth-watering specs. Starting from the appearance, you’ll see a stylish and portable laptop that’s very travel-friendly. But as pleasing as the appearance is, it’s the performance of this laptop that’s most enticing.

Thanks to the AMD Ryzen 3-3200U CPU, you get a fast and powerful processor capable of handling complex and complicated tasks. The 32GB is far more than what Photoshop requires so the software is going to run super fast and smooth.

The AMD Vega 3 graphics card is very powerful and produces life-like images. This makes this laptop suitable for photo-editing as well as gaming. The 15.6″ FHD IPS Display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution boasts impressive color and clarity. There’s also the anti-glare feature to protect your eyes.

I was blown away with the storage capacity of this laptop which is a staggering 2TB SSD. This provides you with all the space you’ll ever need and the backlit keyboard brings about a comfortable and accurate typing experience, even in dark or dim conditions.

 Quick Specifications

  • Screen size: 15.6 inches
  • Laptop size: 14.3 x 9.74 x 0.71 in / 36.3 x 24.6 x 1.98 cm
  • Weight:  3.97 lbs / 1800 g
  • Processor:  AMD Ryzen 3-3200U
  • RAM:  32GB
  • Graphics card:  AMD Vega 3
  • Hard disk:  2TB SSD
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Battery life: up to 8 hours depending on use

Pros

  • Stylish and portable.
  • Fast and powerful AMD processor.
  • Powerful graphics card.
  • Impressive display quality.
  • Astonishing RAM bandwidth.
  • Astonishing storage capacity.
  • Comfortable keyboard.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

MSI GF75 17.3″ Laptop

2020 MSI GF75 Thin Gaming Laptop: 10th Gen Core i5-10300H, 512GB SSD, 17.3" Full HD 120Hz Display, NVIDIA GTX 1650, 8GB RAM

$897.00  in stock
7 new from $897.00
2 used from $755.00
Amazon.com
as of October 24, 2021 5:03 am

The MSI GF75 comes with a number of features that makes it well-suited for CPU and GPU-intensive tasks like photo-editing and gaming. Thanks to the 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, this laptop can handle the most complicated tasks. The 8GB RAM is also well capable of handling Photoshop and other intensive software.

Equipped with NVIDIA GTX 1650 graphics card, the photo-editing and gaming experience with this laptop will feel like a breeze.  The display is wide at 17.3″, something photo-editing and gaming enthusiasts will love. The display also has a full HD resolution which boasts impressive colors and clarity.

With a storage capacity of 512GB SSD, you have enough space to save all your files. I like the keyboard which has a red backlit that makes it easy to type in a dim or dark environment. Overall, the keyboard design is cool and comfortable.

 Quick Specifications

  • Screen size: 17.3 inches
  • Laptop size: 15.6 x 10 x 0.9 in / 39.6 x 25.4 x 2.2 cm
  • Weight:  4.85 lbs / 2199 g
  • Processor: 10th Gen Intel Core i5
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA GTX 1650
  • Hard disk:  512GB SSD
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Battery life: up to 8 hours depending on use

Pros

  • Great screen resolution.
  • Amazing graphics and resolution.
  • High-storage capacity.
  • Good RAM bandwidth.
  • High storage capacity.
  • Backlit and comfortable keyboard.

Cons

  • The audio quality could be a bit better.

Best Laptops For Photoshop – The Guide 

I always include a buying guide after recommending the best products in a particular category. The purpose of the buying guide is to help you understand how the features of a laptop make them particularly suitable for photo-editing. This will, in turn, help you understand what to look out for when making a decision about what laptop to choose for Photoshop.

Below are the factors you should consider before buying an laptop for Photoshop.

What Are The Minimum System Requirements For Photoshop?

Here are the minimum and recommended system requirements to run Photoshop, as presented on the Adobe website:

For Windows

  Minimum Recommended
Processor Intel® or AMD processor with 64-bit support; 2 GHz or faster processor with SSE 4.2 or later
Operating system Windows 10 (64-bit) version 1809 or later; LTSC versions are not supported
RAM 8 GB 16 GB or more
Graphics card
  • GPU with DirectX 12 support
  • 2 GB of GPU memory
  • GPU with DirectX 12 support
  • 4 GB of GPU memory for 4k displays and greater
See the Photoshop graphics processor (GPU) card FAQ
Monitor resolution 1280 x 800 display at 100% UI scaling 1920 x 1080 display or greater at 100% UI scaling
Hard disk space 4 GB of available hard-disk space; additional space is required for installation

4 GB of available hard-disk space; additional space is required for installation

  • Fast internal SSD for app installation
  • Separate internal drive for scratch disks.
Internet Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.

For macOS

  Minimum Recommended
Processor Intel processor with 64-bit support; 2 GHz or faster processor with SSE 4.2 or later
Operating system macOS Mojave (version 10.14) or later macOS Big Sur (version 11)
macOS Catalina (version 10.15)
RAM 8 GB 16 GB or more
Graphics card
  • GPU with Metal support
  • 2 GB of GPU memory
  • GPU with Metal support
  • 4 GB of GPU memory for 4k displays and greater

To find out if your computer supports Metal, see Mac computers that support Metal

See the Photoshop graphics processor (GPU) card FAQ

Monitor resolution 1280 x 800 display at 100% UI scaling 1920 x 1080 display or greater at 100% UI scaling
Hard disk space 4 GB of available hard-disk space; additional space is required for installation

4 GB of available hard-disk space; additional space is required for installation

  • Fast internal SSD for app installation
  • Additional high-speed drive(s) or SSD to set up scratch disks
Photoshop will not install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system
Internet Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, membership validation, and access to online services.

 

How To Choose Your Laptop For Photoshop

Screen Quality, Size, and Resolution

It’s important to have a laptop with good screen quality if you are into photo-editing. As a graphic designer, you want to make sure that your end result is well-read, something that can be difficult to achieve if your laptop doesn’t have a quality screen.

You’ll need a wide-view display with a minimum resolution of 1920 x 1080 for your video editing tasks. Adobe Photoshop can still work with a lower resolution as per the minimum specifications but I don’t think there’s any graphics designer that will want to go below Full HD resolution. There are laptops that offer 4k resolutions but they are a lot more expensive and definitely not budget Photoshop laptops.

Some laptops come with In-Plane Switching (IPS) which offers the widest viewing angles. This will particularly benefit professional photo-editors, photographers and even gamers.

RAM

RAM (Random Access Memory) is the short-term memory of your laptop and files are temporarily stored/loaded here as you work on them. This makes it easy and fast for your laptop to recall these files when you need them.

Adobe Photoshop uses your RAM a lot when you are editing pictures. The minimum RAM bandwidth for Photoshop is 8GB which will multitask and run the software smoothly. 8GB RAM is good and anything above it is better. Even Adobe recommends a RAM bandwidth of 16GB for better performance.

You can always upgrade your 8GB RAM laptop or buy laptops with higher RAM bandwidths. There are laptops with enormous RAM bandwidth of up to 32GB on this list. Imagine how Photoshop is going to run on them!

Overall, 8GB RAM is good, 16GB RAM is ideal, and 32GB RAM is a luxury.

Best budget laptops for photoshop - Guide

 CPU/Processor

We were all taught in elementary school that the CPU/processor of a computer is the brain of the computer. And that statement is completely correct. The CPU of your laptop is essentially a small chip that controls all the operations of the laptop including software and Photoshop is no exception.

Photoshop uses the processor of computers a lot and the minimum processor requirement by Adobe is a 2 GHz processor or faster. Gigahertz (GHz) is the clock speed of your processor. The higher it is, the faster your laptop gets work done.

The laptops on this list have fast and powerful processors that can run Photoshop smoothly.

Storage Space

Photoshop isn’t concerned about the total storage capacity of your laptop. Its own is that you have 4GB free space on your hard disk and another extra space for installation.

However, you’ll need a laptop that can store all the apps you use and your files. It’s also important to have a fast storage that will speed up booting and software launching times. There are two types of hard disk technology available today – Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) and Solid State Drives (SSDs).

SSDs are faster and speed up booting and software launching times. HDDs are the conventional hard disk drives and do not offer these benefits. However, HDDs are cheaper than SSDs.

For Photoshop, you need SSD storage because of their improved performance for best results. The standard SSD storage you’ll get from most laptops at this range varies from 256GB to 1TB. You may even get up to 2TB from some already upgraded laptops or you can do the upgrade yourself.

Graphics

When it comes to Photoshop, the RAM and processor are more important than the graphics card (GPU). And when you consider the fact that most modern laptops have integrated graphicss card that can power your monitor, a dedicated graphics card starts to look like a luxury. Also, some Photoshop features do not really require a GPU.

Some laptops on this list have powerful integrated graphics like the AMD Radeon or NVIDIA GeForce graphics. Having a dedicated graphic,s card h,owever is a good thing. The performance and speed of a number of operations will be improved.  If you have an NVIDIA or Radeon graphics card, you may not need to get a dedicated GPU.

Operating System

It’s a matter of Windows vs macOS when the operating system for Photoshop is concerned. Both Windows and Mac laptops are very reliable. However, Windows OS wins here because it’s compatible with all major software that has to do with graphics designing.

Battery Life

Laptop manufacturers have made a well-needed and honorable effort to improve the battery life of their laptops. It’s now possible to see laptops with battery life of over 10 hours. The MacBook Pro on this list even has a battery life of about 20 hours.

I don’t think you should go for a laptop with a battery life of less than 8 hours. 8 hours should be the minimum and anything more than that is a welcome addition.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, the best laptops for Photoshop on a budget. Photoshop is a relatively heavy software that requires your laptop to meet certain specifications. The laptops on this list meet, and most times exceeds, the minimum requirements of Adobe Photoshop.

By having any of these laptops, you’ll be able to carry out your photo-editing tasks in a fast and efficient manner and that can only be a good thing. Get one of them today and see Photoshop running smoothly and without lag. Happy photo-editing!

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