You have to be careful when buying a new computer. There are lots and lots of options available with differing price tags. How can you get the best value for your budget?
We cover this and a lot more in today’s article about choosing the best laptop for photo editing.
Laptop or PC for Photo Editing
To kick things off, let’s get this question out of the way.
Which should you get? A PC or a Laptop?
Well, a PC can be a laptop as well, as it’s your personal computer. But what we mean here by PC is a Desktop vs a Laptop.
So should you get a desktop or a laptop for photo editing?
It all depends on your workflow and your needs.
If you’re a traveler and have to move around the country a lot, then yes, you should definitely go with a laptop, namely the M1 MacBook Air.
Why the MacBook Air M1?
Because it is their latest and the greatest laptop you can buy right now. It’s one of the fastest and most powerful laptops in the world right now too, which makes it a great portable machine for your needs if you’re a traveler most of the time.
As you know that power and portability do not go along well, but it’s not the case here if you get the M1 MacBook Air.
Its battery life is astonishing as well, even though it comes packed with so much power, thanks to its efficient 5nm architecture.
RAM for Photo Editing
We recommend at least 16GB of RAM when running the new Creative Cloud applications such as Photoshop CC and Lightroom Classic. RAM increases the number of tasks a CPU can handle simultaneously. Lightroom and Photoshop take up a lot of RAM.
Watch this video from Computer Clan, if you want the absolute best review of the M1 MacBook Air:
He tests out multitasking, photo editing, and even video editing capabilities of the M1 MBA, and you’ll learn a lot about your future or current mac if you already own one.
How much SSD for Photo Editing?
A 500GB SSD should be plenty for your OS, Photoshop, Lightroom, and anything else you’re going to be using. We suggest getting a second or third Hard Drive so you can use it to store all your photos, documents, and data.
HGST has the lowest failure rate of the hard drive makers. Toshiba had a failure rate of just under 3.5 percent, Seagate ranked slightly higher, but still under 4 percent, and Western Digital led the charts at just under 7 percent.
Hard drives last three to five years on average. 90% of hard drives last three and 80% last four years. But it varies from brand to brand. Backblaze’s study showed that Western Digital, Hitachi, and Panasonic’s hard drives last longer than Seagate’s.
Choosing a CPU for Photo Editing
AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X, Ryzen 9 5900X, and Ryzen 9 5950X are the fastest CPUs for Photoshop, all within a few percent of each other. The Ryzen 7 5800X is better for Photoshop because it’s cheaper and you can spend the extra cash you save on RAM and storage.
But, if you don’t want to look for a CPU yourself, we’d suggest that you simply go with the M1 MacBook Air, as it is now the fastest CPU around, even though Photoshop isn’t optimized for it yet, still performs great on M1.
Also, not only the CPU but the RAM and the GPU is also on their System on Chip (SoC) which is exceptionally faster than any other CPU and RAM combination, as most of the combinations aren’t SoCs, as Apple’s M1 chip is.
Color Accurate Display for Photo Editing
M1 MacBook Air also comes with a great color-accurate display that professionals would love to work on.
Although, its 13-inch size isn’t the best, and probably not the ideal for those who want to edit photos on it, and for this reason you’d have to buy an external monitor to go along with it.
Or, you could get the M1 Mac Mini along with the M1 MacBook Air.
The Mac Mini you’d then be able to use in your home or office, while the laptop can be used anywhere.
You’ll have the best of both worlds, portability and the huge monitor option with the M1 Mac Mini.
Do I Need To Calibrate The Monitor For Photo Editing?
Calibrate your monitor no matter what you do. As a photographer, though, it’s even more important! Monitor calibration makes sure your photos look great. It also makes the picture look good on social media and other calibrated monitors.
And it’s also a great idea if you want to leave an impact on your work and want people to consider you a perfectionist.
If you’re using the M1 MacBook Air, you probably don’t even need to calibrate it, they’ve already done it for you and it looks amazingly accurate out of the box.
Just go out into your nearest Apple Store and try it out yourself, you’ll see the difference between a normal laptop display vs the MacBook Air’s display.
It also comes with an amazing feature called “TrueTone”, which no matter what lighting condition you are in, makes sure that you get accurate colors all the time. It adjusts automatically and you don’t have to do anything, other than enabling this great feature.
Why Do Photographers Prefer Mac?
Macs tend to incorporate new innovations faster than PCs. Apple is the sole manufacturer, so they are able to move fast when they come up with new hardware innovations such as USB-C.
Macs are known for their stability mainly because of this. Yes, it’s a lot easier to handle hardware/software integration if you don’t have to deal with lots of suppliers and components.
If it is portability that you’re after, get the M1 MacBook Air. It’s the fastest laptop you’ll get your hands on.
Or maybe if you don’t like the smaller 13-inch size, you can get the MacBook Pro 16-inch, but make sure it’s equipped with their latest M1 Chip, otherwise going with older Intel models may be cheaper, but wouldn’t necessarily be the best thing to do.
If you do not want portability, or would like something else that you can use on your desk as well, we’d recommend that you get the Mac Mini as well, which is considerably cheaper than the MacBook Air, and is even more powerful.
The M1 chip will not disappoint you.
It’s capable of giving you more power in a more efficient way, producing less heat, and offering more battery life than you could ever get on a Mac or even any laptop on the market.
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.