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Best laptops for photo editing: Retina is important, but it’s not everything

Photo editing pushes laptop capabilities right to the very edge. Top-quality work demands a high-resolution, color-accurate display, and a fast processor. But the rigors of traveling with photo gear plus a computer make small, lightweight machines with long battery lives a real plus. Similarly, storing thousands of high-resolutions calls for a large hard drive, while peak performance is only possible with an SSD. When we last looked at the best options in the market last year, there were some clear leaders. We’ve updated our list, with new and improved models have have come on the market over the last year.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the best laptops for photo editing, but if you are in the market, one of these is likely to suit your needs.

It was hard to pick out just a few machines from the dozens of excellent laptop models out there. For many, apparently small features like backlit keyboards, multiple USB 3.0 ports, choice of DisplayPort, HDMI, or VGA output, or battery life can easily change which model is right for your particular needs. This is especially true with Windows ultrabooks — with literally dozens of very similar models crowding the sub-four-pound SSD-powered Windows laptop space. Unfortunately, laptop makers seem to be making it increasingly difficult to compare the actual specifications for their units. Manufacturers often completely neglect to state maximum RAM capacity, base CPU speed (they seem to like bragging about the higher Turbo Boost speed instead), or drive RPMs. Hopefully, though, the models we’ve described can serve as a baseline for your shopping so you’ll know what’s available and what some of your alternatives are.

If you have a very-high-end photography workflow, that involves a lot of multi-layer Photoshop images, and are okay with lugging around something larger, also take a look at our best laptops for engineers guide for ideas.

If you have a different laptop you love for your photo editing work, let us know about it in the comments.

Now read: The top laptops for everyone

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