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Best Budget Photo Editing Laptops of 2022 (Photoshop & Lightroom)

A laptop is essential for any photographer, whether professional or hobbyist. Sooner or later, the great content you just took will require editing. You may have editing skills and a laptop, but the question is whether the laptop can run the editing program.

That’s why, in today’s article, we will discuss the best budget photo editing laptop.

A Quick Look at My Favorite Budget Laptops for Video Editing

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Best Value
Lenovo IdeaPad 3i
Lenovo IdeaPad 3i
10
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Most Affordable
Acer Aspire 5
Acer Aspire 5
9
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Best For Mac Users
Apple MacBook Air
Apple MacBook Air
8.6
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Best Runner-Up
Lenovo Legion 5
Lenovo Legion 5
8.5
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Best All-Rounder
Acer Predator Helios 300
Acer Predator Helios 300
8.6
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Key Takeaways

  • The Apple Macbook Air M1 is definitely the best inexpensive laptop you can get for editing photos. The Display is amazing and it can handle anything you throw at it.
  • If you want something more versatile, you should go with the Lenovo Legion 5. It’s great for gaming too.
  • When buying a laptop, the most important things you should look for are the Display, Processor, RAM memory and Storage.
  • Make sure your video editing software is compatible with the laptop you buy. Some Mac applications don’t work with Windows, and vice versa.

Top 5 Best Budget Photo Editing Laptop

5. Lenovo Ideapad 3i – Best Value

Lenovo Ideapad 3ii

What I Like

  • Great Value For Your Money
  • Lightweight
  • Easy To Use
  • Great Specs For The Price

What I Don’t Like

  • The Keyboard Is Not Visible In Dark Environments

Let’s start with a Lenovo laptop, an Ideapad, which offers a price-point value that is nearly impossible to beat.

With its nifty tricks under its sleeve, Lenovo’s Ideapad 3i is a newly introduced Laptop that is dominating all the charts in the budget and mid-range categories.

Lenovo has a history of producing beautiful laptops, regardless of price, and the new IdeaPad 3 is no different. With its brushed aluminum lid and keyboard surround, it doesn’t look like a budget laptop. It is relatively light, weighing only 2 kilograms, making transportation a breeze.

Apart from the unique up and down arrows, the sleek keyboard is neatly spaced out, with a special function row at the top, and the keys are a decent size.

As far as the display goes, it is a basic FHD (1920×1080) resolution. There is nothing groundbreaking to see here.

Under its hood, it features an Intel Core i5-10210U Processor (4-Core, 1.6 GHz) that goes up to a max turbo frequency of 4.2 GHz. This CPU offers speedy connectivity and contributes to battery life. As for the GPU, it uses an integrated one, Intel UHD Graphics.

The RAM memory is unquestionably the star of the show here. It comes with a massive 20GB of DDR4 SDRAM. The storage, on the other hand, is excellent, with a 512GB SSD. With that being said, performance-wise, when it comes to editing on a budget, it won’t disappoint.

I wouldn’t call the battery life exceptional, but it’s not bad either. It’s merely adequate and, in some ways, reasonable for the price.

Why should you buy it?

Lenovo brings some amazing laptops for many people, and if you are a fan of it, you should know that the Lenovo Ideapad 3i is one to check out. It accepts most editing software that you may want to work with.

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4. Acer Aspire 5 – Most Affordable

Acer Aspire 5

What I Like

  • Extremely Cheap
  • Great For Beginners
  • Good Display

What I Don’t Like

  • Battery Life

If you’re looking for a laptop that will meet your demands but are on a tight budget, look no further and shut everything you’re currently doing, don’t lose time, and grab the Acer Aspire 5 right away.

The Aspire 5 is a laptop that is extremely affordable yet provides performance comparable to that of a mid-range PC. Simply told, this laptop is a godsend for photographers in college or who only require a laptop for light editing.

The Aspire 5 is the epitome of minimalism. It’s not flashy nor flamboyant, but that’s one of the reasons why I love it.
It’s silver in color with an aluminum finish and weighs 3.97 pounds, making it a perfect travel companion.

It comes with a fantastic 15.6-inch display with a maximum resolution of 1920x1080p, it boasts detailed colors and crisp, clear frames. I can’t possibly exaggerate or lie about it.

The display isn’t quite up to par with the competition’s higher-end models, but it still remains a great value.

Despite the fact that it was designed primarily for students and on-the-go productivity, the Asper 5 sports a powerful CPU, the AMD Ryzen 3 3350U Quad-Core, as well as excellent graphics capabilities. However, it is limited on RAM, with only 4 GB available, which is its biggest flaw, preventing it from becoming the ultimate laptop.

Looking at the bright side it is upgradeable, and I would advise you to do so because photo editing consumes a lot of RAM. It contains a 128 GB NVME SSD for storage, which may be sufficient for many individuals, but I would recommend expanding it as it provides that option.

As for battery life, a nice amount of 10-8 hours is promised.

Why should you buy it?

Laptops are expensive, but here is the Acer Aspire 5 is the cheapest editing laptop for this article. You will find some amazing features on it, the main one being 128 GB NVME SSD of storage.

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3. Apple MacBook Air – Best For Mac Users

Apple MacBook Air

What I Like

  • Very Portable
  • Excellent Display
  • Great Keyboard
  • Very Good Battery Life
  • Quiet & Durable

What I Don’t Like

  • The Webcam isn’t that good

I’ll then present the MacBook Air to Apple fans.

The Air is a good-looking laptop that screams minimalism and premium at the same time, and it comes in three colors: gold, silver, and grey, as expected from Apple.
It is only 2.8 pounds in weight. Don’t be fooled by the lightweight and small screen; it’s made of high-quality materials that make it extremely sturdy and long-lasting.

The keyboard, on the other hand, is quite relaxing to use and it feels amazing to push buttons on it.

The MacBook Air has a 13-inch screen with a full resolution of 2500 × 1600 pixels. It features Apple’s well-known retina display. This laptop has a Retina display, which is an IPS LCD and OLED display with a greater pixel density. With its stunning display, this laptop stands out from the crowd.

It is powered by yet another self-made component that strokes the CPU world, Apple M1. The Apple M1 CPU has eight cores and is 3.5 times quicker than previous models. It will easily handle everything you throw it, whether it’s editing, easy tasks, or even gaming.

In terms of memory and storage, it features 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, but you can upgrade to a 512GB SSD for a higher price. However, I believe that 256GB is sufficient.

I had the opportunity to test a MacBook Air, and it easily lasted 8–10 hours while running some intensive editing software.

Why should you buy it?

If you are an Apple fan, I have the best editing laptop that you can use, and it is Apple Macbook Air! You should choose it because of its impressive clarity of the screen as well as it is super fast.

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2. Lenovo Legion 5 – Best Runner-Up

Lenovo Legion 5

What I Like

  • Can be used for gaming too
  • Colorful Screen
  • Durable
  • Comes with an AMD Ryzen CPU

What I Don’t Like

  • Gaming Look

Lenovo makes it on the list once again, but this time with a prominent gaming laptop, the Legion 5.

Because of their strong components, gaming laptops tend to function best with editing software, and a little gaming now and then hasn’t hurt anyone, right?

As usual, the design is outstanding. It has slim bezels and a phantom blue hood that matches the prismatic Legion emblem on the top-left side. It also comes with a keyboard that flows in flashy RGB colors.

In terms of display, the 15.6-inch full HD IPS display has a 165Hz refresh rate, a 3 ms response time, and 100% sRGB color accuracy. Moreover, it supports the Dolby Vision® and AMD FreeSyncTM Premium.

The laptop is powered by an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU with 8 cores and a base clock speed of 3.3 GHz, with a maximum clock speed of 4.4 GHz. Legion combines this powerful CPU with a dedicated Nvidia RTX 3050Ti GPU, a 512GB NVMe SSD, and a whopping 16GB DDR4 RAM.

I won’t lie and I can’t sugarcoat the battery life. It isn’t great, but then again, neither is the price, when you take into account the powerful performance this laptop gives.

In terms of overall usage, it should last about 5-6 hours. It’s understandable given that it’s a gaming laptop rather than a productivity one.

Why should you buy it?

This laptop’s powerful CPU makes it one of the greatest laptops to use while editing a picture. Besides that, it has a great display that will show your pictures perfectly.

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1. Acer Predator Helios 300 – Best All-Rounder

Acer Predator Helios 300

What I Like

  • 144Hz Refresh Rate
  • High Quality IPS Display
  • Clean & Beautiful Design
  • Amazing Keyboard

What I Don’t Like

  • None At All

Last but not least, we have the Acer Helios, which is one of my favorite laptop lineups of all time.

A powerful laptop with a stunning design! It comes in black color and is composed of extremely robust materials, implying that this laptop will last a long time.

Despite its “heavy” and aggressive design, it weighs 2 kg and is classified as a portable laptop.

The Full HD display on the 15-inch screen has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, and the refresh rate sits at 144Hz.

The keyboard, on the other hand, is a very comfortable full-size plus model with RGB lighting that will light up your world.

You’ll have a really powerful session of editing whatever you want, thanks to the Intel Core i7-11800H processor and the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060. Doesn’t stop there, it also includes 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage.

Due to the components being demanding, this helios is capable of lasting only 6 hours, which is quite decent for a gaming laptop.

Why should you buy it?

Acer is a beast, and choosing the Acer Predator Helios 300 is the best thing to do! It has a great screen, is portable, and has an impressive processor.

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Buying Guide: What to Look for When Purchasing an Editing Laptop

An example of a photo that has been edited.

While the overall quality of the laptop should be considered, when it comes to editing some are more important than one another.

Display

First things first, you want your laptop to have a great display.

No matter how good your content might look, the screen that displays it is pointless. You should get a decent display that shows the colors in the right order, with the right brightness, vibrance, etc.

Possibly, the bigger the screen resolution, the better, but it is not groundbreaking. Also, the refresh rates play a role if you are into editing videos, yet again the smoother the video, the better the editing process goes.

Processor

The CPU is basically the heart of the computer, it’s the component that keeps it running.

Like a photo editor, you’ll need to run demanding programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Yes, you’ll need a powerful processor to operate those photo editing programs smoothly. You don’t want them to crash or lag all the time.

CPU can be difficult to grasp, at least for me. Prior to buying your laptop, make sure to ask a friend who knows computers, or do your research.

Buying a laptop with a weak CPU that can’t run the software you need, will require an upgrade, meaning that you will end up spending pointless money.

Ram

Another essential factor to consider when it comes to photo editing is the amount of RAM available. You’ll be able to edit photos faster if you have more RAM on your computer. Because a computer with more RAM has more resources at its disposal, it can complete more demanding tasks.

You’ll need at least 8 GB of free space for photo editing software to run correctly.

However, 16 GB or more is preferred. You’ll notice that everything runs more smoothly as a result. Moreover, it also allows you to put up a higher number of layers.

Storage

Even though they appear to be small, pictures can take up a lot of storage space.

Photographers should be aware of this, particularly those with limited storage who are used to changing and removing the SD Cards on a regular basis.

Your laptop’s storage will either have an SSD or an HDD. Both of these have their benefits.

An SSD will greatly increase the overall speed of your laptop while also limiting the amount of storage to a lower number. On the other hand, the HDD is much slower but offers a high number of storage options, such as 1 TB.

This is more of a preference thing, but in my opinion, a 256GB SSD should do plenty of work.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some good Photo Editing Softwares?

Probably, with Photoshop and Gimp following right behind it, I consider Gimp a “killer alternative” to Photoshop.

What should a laptop have for photo editing?

A laptop should have a CPU that is capable of running the editing software, a decent GPU be it integrated or dedicated, a good amount of RAM, and lastly some storage.

What computer do most photographers use?

I can’t directly answer that since every photographer has their own taste and won’t buy a laptop specifically just because another photographer has it. All of the above laptops are used by photographers, but if they don’t appeal to you, just try to get a laptop that comes from a prominent manufacturer.


Final Words

All of the laptops on my list are excellent value for money and are definitely worth a look.

While there are higher-end options that offer better overall performance, the laptops mentioned above are still an absolute bargain for photographers on a budget.

But yeah, sometimes even if you have the right tools, you might lack the idea.

To put it another way, you should be as creative as possible. Even the newest flagship won’t do the job if you don’t nourish your creativity; it’s all about creativity.

Further Reading

If you’re a traveler and you don’t want to carry a heavy laptop with you at all times, you should probably get a tablet for photo editing instead.

If you enjoyed what you’ve read thus far, I recommend that you continue reading. For example, if you own a Sony A7s III, you might want to look into some amazing gimbals for it, as well as lenses if that’s what you require.

If you own a Canon M50, I’ve written an article about its battery life, some excellent zoom lenses for canon m50, and even tripods for the canon m50. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also an article about the entire set of accessories for Canon M50.

I’ve also got you covered if you want to know how much you can sell your photo rights for, if you want to read some nice comparison blogs like Matte vs Glossy, or if you want to know which sensor is better, Full Frame or Crop Sensor? Furthermore, there is a difference between 35mm and 28mm lenses.

That’s all for today, Enjoy!

Taras Golubov