Best Laptop For Photo Editing Under 500

Even the best professional photographers on the globe can benefit from a little photo editing now and again.  And for the rest of us - what a fun and accessible hobby. Of course you’ll need a computer, and laptops are often a good way to go - no one wants a clunky PC anymore!

With the requirements for the top photo editing software being so forgiving you don’t have to blow all your savings on a newest-out, top of the range laptop - you can get a good laptop for photo editing for under $500 - we will show you how you can do quality photo editing on an amateur's budget.

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Best Laptop For Photo Editing Under 500 - Reviews

We simply had to make this one our Number 1!

As you may expect from our buying guide, this laptop has a big 15.6 inch screen and a Full HD display resolution of 1920 x 1080.

That’s not all though - its frameless four-sided NanoEdge display boasts an ultraslim 5.7mm bezel, giving an amazing 88% screen-to-body ratio for supremely immersive visuals!

It has a 2.6 to 3.5 GHz CPU - which is more processing power than you’ll need.

It’s available in differing levels of RAM and SSD storage, just choose the one which best suits you, but be aware that the price increases as the memory packages go up.  Even at the lowest end of the range however, you shouldn’t need to invest separately in an external hard drive if you didn’t want to go down that route.

We love how it comes with Windows 10 Pro pre-installed - it works much the same way as Windows 10, but with some cool additional features.

It has some other great features too: integrated graphics card, integrated webcam, fingerprint reader, backlit keyboard - the list goes on.

Pros

  • Large 15.6 inch screen
  • Great display resolution 1920x1080 pixels
  • Large storage available for your photo editing projects
  • Powerful processor
  • Loads of extra features

Cons

  • As it’s a relatively new product, there aren’t a lot of peer reviews on Amazon for this product (though it is rated 4.5 stars at the time of writing)

This is one of the bigger size screens in laptops these days, coming in at 15.6 inches!  It has that really good screen resolution you need too, at 1920 x 1080 pixels to give you crisp images that you tweak to your heart’s content!

We love how it features an 8th Generation Intel Core processor - with speeds reaching from 2.2. GHz up to 3.2 GHz - you won’t have to worry about your laptop being sluggish - this baby runs like a dream!

Gotta love the battery life too - a staggering 13.5 hour!  Great if you need to pull an all-nighter.

It has the exact integrated graphics card recommended for Adobe Photoshop, ie. an NVIDIA GeForce, and the RAM is more than sufficient at 8 GB.

The space for data storage is 256 GB which is good, but isn’t ideal - that’s why we recommend you purchase an external hard drive from Amazon.

Thanks to its CPU and fast wireless connectivity, you can use it for more than just photo editing - you can stream your favourite programs too.

It comes with Windows 10 already installed which is a big plus.  Always handy to be working from the world’s number one operating system!

Another bonus is that it has a handy 3.0 USB port for charging up your devices.

Pros

  • Big screen, 15.6 inches
  • Great display resolution, Full HD 1980x1080
  • Fast Intel Processor, 2.2 GHz
  • Fantastic battery life
  • Protection plans available
  • Uses a solid state drive for data storage

Cons

  • We recommend that if you purchase this laptop, you should also invest in an external hard drive to save all your photo editing work

For such a good price, this laptop really packs a punch!

Despite its incredible affordability, this laptop sports a 10th Generation Intel Core Processor, meaning its powerful enough, not just for photo editing, streaming and gaming - you can even edit videos!

It may come in with a screen size of 14 inches, which is relatively small for a laptop, it sports that perfect screen resolution of 1920 x 1080.  Not only that but it has an IPS display (more on that in our buying guide) as well as featuring a screen with WLED Backlit FHD. Your images will be crystal clear from every angle!

This means that your photo editing would be at just as good quality as you’d get with 15.6 inch screen, but the laptop itself would be lighter than 15.6 inch laptop, making it that bit more portable.

With its 6.5mm micro-edge bezel, almost frameless display, you’ll feel completely immersed in your photo editing.

It has plenty of RAM too, 8GB - handy if you have several apps and browser tabs open!

Its storage is pretty good, 128GB - and on a solid state drive (more on that in our buying guide).

Pros

  • 1980 x 1080 display resolution
  • IPS WLED backlit display for great viewing at any angle
  • Powerful processor
  • Plenty of RAM for multitasking
  • Decent amount of storage
  • Light (and more portable)

Cons

  • Screen is 14 inches
  • As it’s such a new product, there aren’t too many peer reviews on Amazon

Another great laptop with a nice size screen, 14 inches, and a great screen resolution, 1920 x 1080 pixels. It’ s a full HD IPS display, so you get crisp images from every angle.  It’s also anti-glare, micro-edged, and WLED backlit. Perfect for photo editing!

It’s stand out feature though is its touchscreen facility - you can really get hands on with your photo editing!

It has a 2.2GHz processor, so not as fast as some of the others we’ve featured, but has sufficient power to work with apps like Adobe Photoshop.

It has 4GB of RAM which is very good, and sports a solid state drive for your photo storage (again we recommend that you purchase an external hard drive for your photo editing projects.)

It has other great features too, like an integrated webcam, microphone and graphic cards - so you can do a lot more than photo editing.

Pros

  • Touchscreen facility
  • Perfect screen resolution
  • Full HD IPS display for crisp images from every angle
  • Has an SSD drive

Cons

  • Not the best processor, but sufficient for photo editing

Gotta love this one - it’s a 2 in one laptop, which means you can use it either as a laptop or as a tablet, thanks to its touchscreen technology and 360 degree hinge.

You may be wondering how a 2-in-1 laptop is going to be sufficient for your photo editing.  And, ok, it doesn’t have a 15.6 inch screen, but at 14 inches wide, it’s not far off!

It has the perfect screen resolution at 1920 x 1080, which is in full HD, and also features an all round nano-edge frame to the display.

It’s powered by an Intel Core processor which works at a whopping 3.4GHz - more than adequate for your photo editing - you can have several apps and tabs open and it will still be super fast.

It runs on the Chrome operating system, which means it comes with built in antivirus protection, does automatic updates, and gives you access to loads of Google apps, including Google Drive to store all your office-style documents you may want to make and keep.

Pros

  • Great display resolution at 1920 x 1080
  • Touchscreen facility
  • Can be used either as a laptop or as a tablet
  • Powerful processor
  • Built in antivirus protection

Cons

  • Doesn’t support the generic Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom, but does support alternatives
  • 2-in-1 laptops don’t go up to 15.6 inches, but this one is a nice 14 inches
  • The storage facility is a little low, we recommend investing in an external hard drive for your photo editing projects - you can get one from Amazon

Best Laptop For Photo Editing Under 500 - Buyers Guide

Of course you want to ensure you get the most bang for your buck, but in finding a really good laptop for photo editing, there are some qualities that have more prominence than others.

You want a good display size to see your photos in close up.  You need the best possible display quality out there (almost goes without saying).  You need to be able to store all your photos (they take up a lot of memory). And last but certainly not least, you’re looking for affordability - it doesn’t matter how good it is if you can’t afford to buy it!

Many laptops have some other great features which you don’t necessarily need, but can be a lot of fun, like a graphics cards for gaming.

Display Size

Ideally you would want a laptop with a screen size to rival a desktop screen, to get as good a close up on your photos as possible.  However, laptop screen sizes vary from the smallest at 11.6 inches to 17.3 inches at the larger end of the spectrum. Significantly smaller than a desktop monitor.

Thankfully, for those of us with budgets to consider, screen size is rarely a significant factor in increasing a laptop’s cost.  As you can see from our Top 5, you can easily get a laptop with a decent sized screen for under $500, all the screens are 14 inch or wider, with the widest coming in at 15.6 inches..

Of course, display size isn’t the be all and end all - if you’re looking for a more portable, lightweight laptop, you could go for a laptop with a smaller screen and it will not dramatically affect picture quality.

Display Quality

Display quality is imperative.  First of all, display resolution.  Display resolution measures the number of distinct pixels in each dimension, and is quoted as width x height, with the units in pixels.  The higher the numbers, the crisper the picture.  We recommend display with full HD resolution, i.e. 1920 x 1080, for normal editing work.  Don’t be tempted by a laptop with a 4K screen, you won’t need it and the cost goes into the thousands.

In the late 1980s, laptops often came with screens with appalling contrast, viewing angles, and low quality color reproduction.  But times have moved on and now you can get a laptop with an IPS display which solves all of these limitations. And the best news is they’re within your budget - check out our Number .

Photo Storage

When it comes to average file sizes, whereas a Microsoft Word document comes in at 4 to 8 Kilobytes, some image files, like BMP, come in at 900 to 1000 Kilobytes.  That’s quite a jump! (Though it can work out less for PNGs, GIFs and JPGs.)

If an image is print quality resolution, i.e. 300 dpi (dots per inch) or higher, it can be large file size, upwards of 25 or 50 Megabytes. To put that in perspective, 1 Megabyte is 1000 Kilobytes.

Likewise if the image is many inches wide, as opposed to a tiny thumbnail, it will be a larger file size.  All in all, what this means is that you need a lot of storage space for you to churn out high quality photos.

Did you know that these days your work doesn’t have to be saved onto the systems’ hard disk drive, or HDD?  Nowadays you can get a laptop with an SSD installed, or also known as solid state drives. Unlike HDDs, SSDs aren’t at all clunky or slow.

Typically, a 500GB SSD will be adequate for your operating system, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, and any other software you might be using.

However, for the storage of all your photo editing achievements we actually recommend investing in an external hard drive, of at least 2 Terabytes, that you can physically remove from your laptop when not in use.  This will keep your cherished photos free from attack by malware or viruses. You can buy one on Amazon.

Affordability

Affordability is a prime concern for many of us, and it often pays to be thrifty.  There are certain laptops (and Chromebooks) out there that you can pick up for under $200.  In contrast, there are several laptops currently available from retailers coming in at over $2000.  However you can’t expect the same advantages in your cheaper laptops than you do in your more premium brands.  In our Top 5, we’ve shown that you can get a really good laptop for photo editing for under $500, and if you have to pick the cheapest, it's our Number .

Frequently Asked Questions

What software should I use for photo editing?

Adobe is still the best brand for photo editing but their range now goes a lot further than Photoshop, for example you could get the much coveted Adobe Lightroom.

If you wanted to do photo editing on a Chromebook however, you could try Adobe Photoshop Express, which isn’t as comprehensive as Adobe Photoshop, or you could choose from several alternative brands.

What’s the difference between Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom?

Adobe Photoshop is effectively a digital darkroom, where you can make detailed adjustments and alterations to any kind of image. Adobe Lightroom, on the other hand, is closer to an entire photography studio, as it imports, organizes, edits, and exports photographs.

How much RAM do I need for Adobe Photoshop?

You need a minimum of 2GB of RAM to run photoshop, but 8GB is recommended.

Last update on 2020-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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