You can create graphics, logos, designs, illustrations, and much more in this incredible software and it’s constantly evolving each year by adding new features to take advantage of the latest hardware.
Talking of hardware, you might be thinking “what’s the best budget laptop for Photoshop?”. After all, many of you reading this article probably aren’t industry professionals or hobbyists if you wish to do your work on a budget laptop.
Normally, you would want a powerful laptop with a fast processor and lots of RAM for taking on critical projects where money is involved and time is a limited resource.
If you don’t have time to read through the entire article, our top pick is the Lenovo Legion 5. Yes, it’s a gaming laptop but that’s not a downside.
In fact, the very reason we chose this is because of its super-fast Ryzen 7 4800H processor that performs better in Photoshop than most Intel 10th and even 11th generation processors.
The Ryzen 7 4800H is included to assist this laptop with gaming performance, but it also works exceptionally well in everything else that benefits from a fast processor- like Photoshop.
Here is our list of 7 best budget laptop for Photoshop:
A Ryzen 7 4800H processor and GTX 1660ti make this one of the best gaming laptops under 1000 bucks, but you could use it for pretty much any application that requires beastly specs.
Gaming is just one of the things this laptop excels at. It is the best Photoshop laptop you can get for this price since there is nothing that even comes close to the Ryzen 7 4800H unless you’re talking about an Intel Core i7-10870H.
The Ryzen 7 4800H is an 8-core, 16-thread Zen 2 processor built on TSMC’s 7nm node which allows it to deliver exceptional performance in everything from gaming to video encoding without drawing too much power.
It is one of the most energy-efficient processors out there if you compare it to other 8-core laptop chips like the i7-10870H or even previous Ryzen processors such as the R7 3750H.
With a maximum boost clock of 4.2GHz, this processor makes short work of any task you throw at it. No matter what effect or filter you’re using, the Legion 5 will get the job done in an instant.
And the GTX 1660ti is one of the best video cards for Photoshop- it’s right at the point past which you get diminishing returns for GPU upgrades.
Photoshop isn’t a very GPU-intensive application but it certainly benefits the user to have some kind of dedicated GPU as it greatly accelerates certain functions within the program.
Note: If you want that awesome Ryzen 7 4800H processor but don’t want to shell out close to a grand for the Legion 5, check out the IdeaPad Gaming 3. You get the exact same processor, but a slightly weaker graphics card in the GTX 1650ti. And half the RAM at 8GB (which you can upgrade to 16 if you want).
If you want sleek and stylish laptops on a budget with performance that is more than adequate for casual Photoshop usage, the VivoBook series of laptops from ASUS is hard to beat.
These are laptops you can carry with you to school or office since they are so slim and lightweight. Plus, they don’t look boring like an IdeaPad or Acer Aspire which makes them stand out from the rest of the crowd (in a good way).
The VivoBook 15 series of laptops are ideal for budget Photoshop users because the display size is just right, offering a good balance between portability and productivity.
A small display (like 12 or 13 inches) will hamper your ability to use the UI as you may take longer to notice certain things in the workspace. But with 15.6” of real estate you’re good to go.
Ah, the HP Pavilion- a name so well recognized among the PC community at this point, you could turn it into a mascot for budget laptops. And there’s a good reason these machines are so popular.
They are built competently so as to not fall apart within a few months of usage, the hardware is decent for the money you pay, and the laptop itself is backed by a brand that everyone recognizes.
So you get excellent customer support and after-sales services. If you’re out of warranty and need spare parts, just walk into any computer repair shop and they will get it fixed. After all, it’s an HP, think of it as the Ford of computers.
The Pavilion 15 is a no-frills budget 15.6” laptop with a 10th generation Intel i5 processor and 1080p display. This is an Ice Lake chip, meaning it is more efficient and has better IPC than Comet Lake processors.
However, it does suffer in the clock speed department. Still, its Photoshop performance is more than adequate for 90 percent of you reading this article. You will also appreciate the long battery life afforded by the 10nm manufacturing process.
Can’t do an article on budget laptops without including any Acer Aspire models, it’s become a tradition by now. And today’s entry is the A515-44-R41B with its incredible 2nd generation Zen processor.
It is significantly faster than any Intel Ice Lake processor, not just in terms of single-core speed but also in terms of core count.
And even though Photoshop doesn’t scale drastically from 4 cores to 6 cores, it does give you more headroom for other tasks in the background.
Overall, a 6 core 6 thread processor is equivalent to a 4 core 8 thread processor unless you’re running some task that really takes advantage of extra threads. Like a Blender render.
Otherwise, we recommend the Ryzen 5 4500U over the i5-1035G1. It may be slightly behind in terms of IPC compared to Ice Lake, but the increased clock speed (both max and average) more than makeup for that weakness.
Note: Want the Intel 11th gen version of this laptop? Check out the Aspire 5 A515-56-50RS which costs slightly more but has an arguably superior processor in the i5-1135G7. Tiger Lake has better IPC and doesn’t suffer from the clock speed issues of Ice Lake. Plus, the new Xe graphics is better than even the Radeon graphics in the Ryzen 5 4500U. And you get Wi-Fi 6 instead of Wi-Fi 5. Oh, and there’s a fingerprint reader built into the trackpad. That’s something the AMD-powered A515-44-R41B lacks.
We decided to throw in a 2-in-1 laptop to give you guys additional options, plus having a touchscreen can be a major benefit for applications such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, etc.
It gives you a very intuitive input system that feels natural if you’re drawing. The Flex 5i’s display is also a touch above the rest, it’s one of the best 1080p IPS displays around.
And in terms of performance, it isn’t lagging behind the competition. You’d think Lenovo made some compromises on processing power to accommodate the 2-in-1 design and touchscreen, but no.
This is still a very fast laptop thanks to the Intel i5-1135G7 CPU. The only REAL downside is the tiny 128GB SSD which although very fast by virtue of it being PCIe NVMe is nevertheless too small for anyone looking to do serious work within Photoshop.
Thankfully, you can upgrade that drive by plopping in an M.2 drive of your choice. But, you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket for that.
This might just be THE laptop for budget Photoshop users who are either students or small business owners. It is cheap enough not to hurt your wallet, but the performance doesn’t reduce your workflow to a crawl.
If you see an Inspiron laptop cheaper than this one, and it has a “Celeron” processor- stay away. Don’t get a laptop with an Intel Celeron or AMD Athlon for Photoshop.
You will save 50 or 60 bucks but lose around 50 to 60 percent of performance which is a lot more performance lost than the money you saved.
Newer Inspiron laptops are lighter than the previous generation and boast a good feature set- NVMe storage, upgradeable RAM, etc.
If you’re a beginner who is just learning Photoshop basics, this laptop is perfectly adequate for your needs.
If you want to gift it to a colleague or family member who just uses Photoshop for retouching photos or doing light edits, it’s the ideal choice.
The only laptop on this list with a 4K touch display, albeit a rather small one at just 13.3”. Still, you’ll get much sharper images compared to any other laptop we’ve reviewed in this article.
The display isn’t just high on the resolution, it also has excellent color accuracy which is of paramount importance if you’re working with images in Photoshop. With Gorilla Glass protection, you can rest assured your laptop’s touchscreen won’t get scratched.
The CPU powering this Envy laptop is an Intel Ice Lake i7 processor (i7-1065G7) with 4 cores and 8 threads.
The base clock is a little on the low side at just 1.3Ghz but most of the time when you’re working or gaming, the CPU will boost at least 1 core to over 3Ghz. The max boost clock is 3.9Ghz which is pretty good for a low-power laptop CPU.
And the Iris Plus graphics provides you with an edge compared to older Intel chips in GPU accelerated workloads within Photoshop.
How To Select The Best Budget Laptop For Photoshop
The single most important thing to consider while purchasing a laptop for Photoshop is processor speed. And when we say processor speed, we’re referring to its single-core performance which is decided primarily by two things-
1. IPC: This is the Instructions Per Clock that each CPU core processes on every clock cycle. More IPC means the processor can get more work done in the same amount of time.
2. Clock Speed: This is the number of clock cycles the CPU can hit in a given amount of time, measured in hertz (1 hertz = one cycle per second). For photoshop, you want a processor that can hit at least 2GHz.
Modern low-power laptop CPUs are designed so they have a low base clock to conserve power but can boost to 2 or even 3 times that base clock speed when performance is needed.
So if your webpages are mostly text, your CPU will sit close to that base clock for most of the time. However, as soon as you open up a file in Photoshop or start a game the boost clocks will kick in to give you the performance you need.
3. Processor: Now, you want an Intel Core series processor or AMD Ryzen processor. Stay AWAY from the following- Athlon, Pentium, Atom, Celeron, etc. Look for at least 2 cores, we recommend a minimum of 4 with SMT/ hyperthreading.
Photoshop doesn’t take advantage of super high core counts which is why you see diminishing returns past 8 cores. However, it does scale with more cores to a certain point.
4. Graphics: As for the graphics, you don’t need a super expensive one. Any midrange GPU will do, as long as it’s dedicated and not integrated. If you’re on a tight budget, get the best integrated GPU you can (Iris Plus, Xe, Vega 8, etc.).
Certain tasks in Photoshop won’t work unless you have a GPU, like 3D, Birds Eye View, Oil Paint, Perspective Warp, etc. Now, these features will work with any GPU (even integrated) but they work better with a dedicated GPU.
Certain features like Blur Gallery, Neural Filters, Select and Mask, Smart Sharpen, Lens Blur, etc. benefit from GPU acceleration (OpenCL acceleration). Both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs work fine.
5. RAM: As for RAM, you want at least 8GB for a smooth experience. If you’re a prosumer user, you need 16GB. If you work with tons of high-resolution raw camera files and use a bunch of complex effects/ filters, you need anywhere from 32 to 64GB of RAM.
6. Storage: When it comes to storage, more is obviously better. But even more important is the type of storage you use. Try and stay away from mechanical hard drives for your project files/ scratch disk if you can.
Modern laptops come with SSDs by default, and you can upgrade these in the future (they are usually M.2 style SSDs) if you need more capacity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do I need a card reader on my laptop?
A. Normally, that is a feature you don’t use a lot. But if you’re working with a camera (like a photographer who uses Photoshop) that card reader can come in pretty handy.
Q. Which aspects of a laptop display are important for Photoshop?
A. The color accuracy and resolution, in that order. As a rule, avoid displays under 1080p resolution. FHD should be the bare minimum. Ideally, you want a 4k display with high DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB color accuracy.
Q. How cheap can I go for a Photoshop Laptop?
A. Photoshop isn’t exactly a super demanding application to run, but it still takes more resources than browsing webpages and watching movies. So you don’t need a beefy rig, just one that isn’t complete garbage.
A good processor is essential, and you don’t find those in laptops below 500 bucks. So the lowest we recommend is the 500 to 600 dollar range for a Photoshop laptop. However, you will get the most value for your money in the 800 to 900 dollar range.
Q. Can I set up multiple storage drives for Photoshop?
A. You absolutely can, in fact, most professional users have 2 or 3 drive setups. One for the OS and software, another for the project files, and a 3rd as the scratch disk (think of it as temporary high-speed storage for files you’re currently working on in Photoshop).
Most budget laptops (or even premium thin and light models) only have space for 1 drive. If you want a multiple drive setup, you’ll have to buy a chunky gaming laptop. Not one of those thin gaming laptops, but a proper beefy one with multiple storage bays.
Q. Does Photoshop scale well with more cores?
A. It does scale with cores, but not much beyond a certain point. With certain filters and effects, you’ll find Photoshop using 16 threads or more. But most users will be more than happy with 6 or 8 cores.
Adobe is constantly updating the software to take advantage of more cores where possible. But you have to understand that some workloads exist which just can’t be distributed well between multiple cores.
As we explained earlier, our top pick is the Lenovo Legion 5. A “gaming laptop” that packs the most powerful CPU we’ve seen on any laptop this side of 1000 dollars.
And that alone is more than enough to crown it as the best budget laptop for Photoshop. However, the Legion 5 also has a GTX 1660ti which is one of the best graphics cards you can get for Photoshop.If you’re on a tighter budget and don’t really care for dedicated graphics, check out the Acer Aspire 5 A515-44-R41B. It has a Ryzen 5 4500U processor with 6 cores. Since it’s a Zen 2 chip, the IPC is pretty good and the clocks are decent too. Overall, it’s a well-built machine with a good FHD IPS display and will fulfill the needs of most amateurs/ beginners/ light users.
Saurav has been writing about technology for the past 4 years, but has been a fan of all things computer related since he was 7 years old. He is a ghostwriter for multiple sites, and covers everything from PC hardware to chainsaws and mobile game development (yep, the guy has a lot of range).