The 5 Best Laptops For Photographers: 14″ and Below (Mid 2017)

The laptop market, and computing in general really, is constantly changing with new processors, updated batteries, more color accurate displays. It can be hard for a photographer to wade through all of that when it comes time to purchase your next mobile photo processing machine, and so today we have decided to take a look at the current state of the market to make some recommendations regarding what options out there are currently the best options for photographers.

There are a lot of laptops out there though, and not everyone is looking for the same things, so for this post we are focusing our attention on laptops with a screen size of 14-inches or less. These laptops are the most common for photographers who travel with their gear, as larger laptops are usually more of an issue to travel with. So with this one caveat about size (we plan on talking about 15″ and up in another post), here are our selections for the top laptops on the market right now for photographers. 

*This list is not in any particular order, each of the options has advantages and disadvantages that may mean more to some of you than others.*

Razor Blade Stealth

The Razor Blade Stealth is a premium thin and light laptop that enjoys some impressive specs that are more than enough for a photographers needs when it comes to image editing and processing. It’s 4K display (there is also a lesser 2k variant) features excellent color reproduction and paired with even its base model specs, it makes for an excellent photography tool. This can also act as a powerful editing rig at home, when paired with Razor’s Core you can connect an external GPU for even better performance.

Our Recommended Configuration

  • Intel Core i7-7500U
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512 GB SSD
  • 12.5″ 4k UHD Display (100% Adobe RGB)
[amazon_textlink asin=’B01L3EXAC6′ text=’Buy on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’acebeb9f-51f1-11e7-a0ca-a10d03fac451′] (Currently Listed at [amazon_textlink asin=’B01L3EXAC6′ text=’Razor Blade Stealth’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’acebeb9f-51f1-11e7-a0ca-a10d03fac451′]) – QHD Version is available [amazon_textlink asin=’B01N2HO0VA’ text=’Here’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2c29ece9-51f2-11e7-b155-c3953a64b120′] ($899)

Macbook Pro with Touchbar

Macbook Pros have long been a popular option for photographers and creatives in general. Despite the current Macbook Pro failing to feature an SD card slot, a feature many photographers still use often and like to have, the forward thinking of Apple to include very versatile Thunderbolt 3 ports means that this laptop will be more apt to be compatible long into the future with a wide variety of storage mediums. The downside in the present is that yes, you will need to get a lot of adapters and dongles to connect with external drives and card readers that you may already own.

But for the curious, Phoblographer’s Editor in Chief Chris Gampat recently bought a suped-up 2015 MacBook and couldn’t be happier.

Our Recommended Configuration

  • 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • Intel Iris 550
[amazon_textlink asin=’B01LTHXA5O’ text=’Buy on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6cfc5c0f-51f3-11e7-8b69-01a85722e8a3′] (Currently [amazon_textlink asin=’B01LTHXA5O’ text=’Apple Macbook Pro 13.3″‘ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6cfc5c0f-51f3-11e7-8b69-01a85722e8a3′])

Microsoft Surface Book

Despite a somewhat overlooked launch, Microsoft’s Surface Book is on this list thanks to it being one of the most capable laptops in this form factor thanks to its dedicated Nvidia GPU – something most other laptops in this form factor simply can’t compete with. But as we know, graphics cards only help in the photo editing world so much (they make much more difference on the video side of things). Beyond the GPU, the Surface Book offers excellent build quality, a absolutely stunning display, and touch/pen compatibility that puts it in the position to replace your tablet, your current laptop, and your Wacom (though the jury is still out on that last point).

Our Recommended Configuration

  • Intel Core i5
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • Dedicated Nvidia GPU
[amazon_textlink asin=’B0163GS05Q’ text=’Buy on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8ba36277-51f4-11e7-bd33-5be3587bab4f’] (Currently [amazon_textlink asin=’B0163GS05Q’ text=’Microsoft Surface Book’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8ba36277-51f4-11e7-bd33-5be3587bab4f’])

Dell XPS 13

Aside from the Macbook Pro, on the Windows/PC side of things a very popular laptop for photographers has been Dell’s XPS 13 line of laptops. These feature a great selection of ports, a high quality touch screen display, excellent battery life, and built quality that is right up there with every other laptop mentioned on this list. The more common version of these feature a sub-par (in relation to this list) FHD 1080p that despite looking good is severely outclassed by the other options on this list, the touch model however, does feature an excellent QHD display that is on par with the others on this list in terms of resolution.

Our Recommended Configuration

  • Core i7-6500U
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512 GB SSD
  • 13.3″ QHD Touch Display
[amazon_textlink asin=’B01AS5WYRS’ text=’Buy it on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c773030a-51f5-11e7-a93b-2b20f77269d6′] (Currently [amazon_textlink asin=’B01AS5WYRS’ text=’Dell XPS 13′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c11c1555-51f5-11e7-a7e4-4733c13c9168′])

Asus ZenBook UX303UB

Another top option to consider in this range is the Asus Zenbook UX303UB, which at its base configuration is one of the best deals on this list in terms of specs and raw performance (though like the XPS 13 suffers from an excellent, but lower resolution 1080p display). Asus is not a brand that many of you may be familiar with if you have not bought a computer in many years, but the company has developed a strong reputation for some of the best performance/$ options on the market with excellent build quality and feature sets. If none of the above options strike your fancy, then this is a great option for you to consider.

Our Recommended Configuration

  • Intel Core i7-6500U
  • 12GB RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • IPS QHD Touch Display
[amazon_textlink asin=’B014VHVZFQ’ text=’Buy on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’34034151-51f7-11e7-bf1c-f3835d7f4d1e’] (Currently [amazon_textlink asin=’B014VHVZFQ’ text=’Asus ZenBook UX303UB’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2a6f2b4c-51f7-11e7-86d7-ad03d10e9462′])

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, our 5 selections for the top laptops currently available for photographers. There are, of course, other options out there but these 5 models stood out the most to us after taking a look at specs that we felt make the most difference to photographers, namely the screen (resolution and color accuracy), processor, ram, and storage (type and capacity).

Please don’t just take our word for it though, do some research on your own for sure and make sure to select a model that fits your particular needs (which may differ from our general photographer needs in some way).

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.