Six laptops, six in-depth reviews – but which is best for processing on the go?
Having a decent computer is a must for editing high resolution RAW files and getting stuck in with advanced effects. Today’s enthusiast laptops can rival traditional desktop hardware in the speed stakes, and unlike laptops of old, many boast displays with stunning colour and wide contrast to keep highlight and shadow detail visible.
We’ve selected six laptops priced from £1000/$1200 to £1300/$1600, as this is a great price/performance sweet spot. All of our options prioritise display quality and pack at least 8GB of RAM, which is a minimum for intensive photo editing. You can decide on screen size – 15-inch laptops are larger and heavier than 13-inch options, but offer more space for Photoshop palettes.
To test which was faster, we used the Cinebench processor benchmark, plus a dedicated SSD speed analyser. Screen quality was assessed by our own trained eyes, as well as a top-end colorimeter. Looping a Full HD video was used to determine battery life.
Five things to look out for… Screen test
Laptop screen quality used to be more eye-sore than eye-candy, with appalling contrast and restricted viewing angles. IPS display tech fixes this, so don’t settle for anything less.
A must for storage is an SSD (solid state drive). A conventional HDD will bottleneck performance like flat tires on a Ferrari.
Dedicated graphics cards are great for gaming, but they’re not essential here. Today’s processors pack enough punch for photo editing.
Mac or PC?
The MacBook is favoured by many photographers, and for good reason, but comparably priced laptop PCs can offer more bang for your buck, with better upgradability.
Processor model numbers are practically impossible to decipher. Determining which is best essentially comes down to speed (in GHz), and the number of processing cores (two or four).