7 Best Budget Laptop For Photoshop: Find Our Top Choices

a photographer working on his laptop

Photoshop is widely used across the PC (and Mac) communities for everything from casual photo editing and retouching to large-scale studio projects involving 3D and special effects.

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:

  • Lenovo Legion 5
  • ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51
  • HP Pavilion 15
  • Acer Aspire 5 A515-44-R41B
  • Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i
  • Dell Inspiron 15 3000
  • HP Envy

Lenovo Legion 5

Lenovo Legion 5 Gaming Laptop, 15.6" FHD (1920x1080) IPS Screen, AMD Ryzen 7 4800H Processor, 16GB DDR4, 512GB SSD, NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti, Windows 10, 82B1000AUS, Phantom Black
  • Welcome to the next generation of gaming performance with the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H mobile processor, 16GB 3200MHz DDR4 memory, and 512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD storage
  • Enjoy fast refresh and deep colors with a 144 Hz refresh rate and outstanding clarity on a 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS display
  • The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti GPU is a blazing-fast supercharger for your favorite games and the newest titles
  • Get maximum performance via Dual Burn Support, which pushes the CPU and GPU together for improved framerates, and Legion Coldfront 2.0 for thermal tuning
  • The Legion TrueStrike keyboard with soft-landing switches delivers hair-trigger inputs

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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.

Pros

  • Ryzen 7 4800H 8-core Zen 2 processor with SMT and 4.2GHz max boost, the best choice for apps like Photoshop which rely on good single-core performance
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660ti 6GB GDDR6 graphics card for GPU acceleration within Photoshop
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM in dual channel
  • 512GB PCIe SSD with Windows 10 loaded
  • Full-size backlit keyboard with good key travel and well-designed keycaps
  • Soft-touch palm rest feels great to type on
  • Robust cooling solution guaranteed consistent performance after several hours of load (gaming, encoding, editing, etc.)
  • Styling isn’t too tacky or “gamery”, for the most part, it’s quite restrained and mature
  • Unlike many cheap gaming laptops, this one has an IPS 144Hz display which is miles better than a TN display

Cons

  • The battery life is below average if you’re pushing the CPU and GPU hard
  • Mediocre webcam

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).

ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51

ASUS VivoBook F512 Thin and Lightweight Laptop, 15.6” FHD WideView NanoEdge , AMD R5-3500U CPU, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD, Backlit KB, Fingerprint Reader, Windows 10, Peacock Blue, F512DA-EB51
  • 15.6 inch FHD 4 way NanoEdge bezel display with a stunning 88% screen-to-body ratio
  • Powerful AMD Quad Core Ryzen 5 3500U Processor (2M Cache, up to 3.6 GHz)
  • AMD Radeon Vega 8 discrete graphics with Windows 10 Home
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM and 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
  • Ergonomic backlit keyboard with fingerprint sensor activated via Windows Hello

[spacer height="-20px"]Last update on 2021-07-30 at 08:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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.

Pros

  • Brilliant performance for the money, thanks to an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U quad-core processor with SMT and 3.7GHz turbo boost
  • Vega 8 integrated graphics beats Intel HD
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 256GB PCIe SSD loaded with Windows 10 Home
  • Sleek and lightweight (just 3.5lbs), with a nice slate gray finish
  • Full-size backlit keyboard
  • Fingerprint reader built into the trackpad
  • Thin bezel display, FHD resolution
  • All the ports you need- Type A, Type C, HDMI out, micro SD card reader, etc. (no Ethernet though)

Cons

  • It uses a TN panel instead of an IPS panel
  • Limited RAM upgradability because half the memory is soldered onto the mainboard

HP Pavilion 15

2021 HP Pavilion 15 Laptop, 15.6" Display, Intel Core i7-1165G7, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, Backlit Keyboard, Fingerprint Reader, Win 10 (16GB DDR4 RAM | 1TB PCIe SSD, FHD Display | Win 10 Home)
  • 【Memory & Storage】16GB high-bandwidth RAM to smoothly run multiple applications and browser tabs all at once. 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 Solid State Drive to allow fast bootup and data transfer. Original Seal is opened for upgrade ONLY, 1-years warranty on Upgraded RAM/SSD from PConline365, and original 1-Year Manufacture warranty on remaining components
  • 【Processor】11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 1.20GHz Quad-Core Processor (12MB Intel Smart Cache, up to 4.7GHz)
  • 【Display】15.6" diagonal FHD IPS anti-glare micro-edge WLED-backlit, 250 nits
  • 【Ports and Operating System】1 x SuperSpeed USB Type-C 10Gbps signaling rate, 2 x SuperSpeed USB Type-A, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x Combination audio jack, 1 x Multi-format SD media card reader, Windows 10 Home 64-Bit
  • 【Included in the package】Mousepad from PConline365

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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.

Pros

  • Intel Core i5-1035G1 with 4 cores, 8 threads, and a 3.6Ghz boost clock
  • G1 integrated graphics (Iris Plus), far better than Intel HD graphics
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 256GB SSD with Windows 10 Home
  • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11 ax)
  • Plenty of I/O- HDMI 1.4b output, USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C, media card reader, 3.5mm combo jack, and USB Type-A (still no Ethernet port)
  • Excellent battery life
  • FHD 15.6” display

Cons

  • The audio sounds tinny and lacks clarity on the high end
  • TN display with just 220 nits of brightness and mediocre colors

Acer Aspire 5 A515-44-R41B

Acer Aspire 5 A515-44-R41B, 15.6" Full HD, AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Hexa-Core Mobile Processor with Radeon Graphics, 8GB DDR4, 256GB NVMe SSD, WiFi 5, HD Webcam, Backlit Keyboard, Windows 10 Home
  • AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Hexa-Core Mobile Processor with Radeon Graphics (Up to 4.0GHz) | 8GB DDR4 Memory | 256GB NVMe SSD
  • 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) Acer ComfyView Widescreen LED-backlit IPS Display
  • 802.11ac WiFi 5 (Dual-Band 2.4GHz and 5GHz) | Backlit Keyboard | HD Webcam | Up to 10 Hours Battery Life
  • 1 - USB 3.2 (Type-C) Gen 1 port (up to 5 Gbps) | 2 - USB 3.2 Gen 1 Port (one with Power-off Charging) | 1 - USB 2.0 Port | 1 - HDMI Port with HDCP support
  • Windows 10 Home

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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. 

Pros

  • Ryzen 5 4500U hexacore processor
  • Radeon graphics with 6 CUs
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 256GB NVMe SSD (way faster than SATA III SSDs)
  • FHD IPS display, 15.6” screen size
  • Good battery life, you get around 8 to 10 hours with light usage
  • Well built, the laptop seems rigid enough for daily use and traveling
  • Full-size backlit keyboard
  • All the I/O you need- Type A, Type C, HDMI out, Ethernet, 802.11ac, etc

Cons

  • Audio quality is bad due to the speaker design and positioning
  • The LED notification lights are placed in a spot where they are hard to notice

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.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14" Convertible Laptop, FHD (1920 x 1080) Touch Display, Intel Core i5-1135G7 Processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, Windows 10, 82HS000FUS, Graphite Grey
  • Combine performance, creativity, and entertainment! This 2-in-1 laptop has a 14-inch touchscreen, Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD, and integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics
  • A narrow bezel on 4 sides gives you more viewing area and less clutter to interfere with the task at hand. Get the most out of your FHD screen with IPS panel technology and 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • With digital pen support (pen sold separately), the IdeaPad Flex 5i lets you capture moments of inspiration or take notes on the fly
  • From zero to 360° in a flash – this touchscreen laptop is designed for you to keep your ideas flowing, anywhere, anytime with the ability to use it in multi-mode capacity. Use 'Laptop' mode for everyday computing, 'Tent' mode for sharing, 'Stand' mode for binge-watching, or 'Tablet' mode for intuitive interaction
  • A physical shutter on the webcam ensures you keep out unwanted attention when you are concerned about your privacy

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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.

Pros

  • FHD IPS touchscreen with excellent colors, great for Photoshop and any other creative work/ content development
  • Intel Tiger Lake i5-1135G7 processor with Xe graphics (4 cores and 8 threads, 4.2GHz turbo boost)
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 360° hinge for 2-in-1 operation (use it as a tablet, laptop, or anything in between)
  • Excellent build quality considering the price
  • Good top-firing stereo speakers positioned on either side of the keyboard

Cons

  • The 128GB NVMe SSD is definitely fast, but it’s on the smaller side
  • Memory is soldered on, so it can’t be upgraded

Dell Inspiron 15 3000

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 FHD 1080p, AMD Ryzen 5, 8GB Memory, 256GB SSD, AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics, Windows 10 Home, Black (Latest Model)
  • Elevate your efficiency with AMD processors
  • Travel light: At approximately 16% lighter than its previous generation, the Inspiron 15 3000 is ready to go whenever you are.
  • Dell Mobile Connect provides a seamless wireless integration between smartphones and PCs, allowing users to make calls, send texts and get notifications on your PC.
  • Connect to a TV or monitor with the HDMI port, download photos via the SD card slot or enjoy fast transfer speeds from all your accessories with two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports.

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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.

Pros

  • AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor with 4 cores and 8 threads, Zen+ architecture
  • Vega 8 integrated graphics, better than Intel HD
  • 8GB DDR4 2400Mhz RAM
  • 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Slim bezel 1920 x 1080 15.6” display
  • Extremely slim and light for a 15.6” laptop

Cons

  • The audio quality could have been better
  • Mediocre webcam

HP Envy

2020 HP Envy 13.3" 4K Ultra HD Touch-Screen Laptop 10th Gen Intel i7-1065G7 8GB DDR4 Memory 512GB SSD WiFi 6 Bluetooth 5.0 Weigh 2.6 lbs. Natural Silver
  • 13.3" diagonal 4K IPS BrightView micro-edge WLED-backlit multitouch-enabled edge-to-edge glass with Corning Gorilla Glass NBT, 400 nits, 72% NTSC (3840 x 2160);Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 Processor (1.3 GHz base frequency, up to 3.9 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, 8 MB L3 cache, 4 cores); Upgraded performance with smooth responsiveness and fast load times for an exceptional PC experience. Stream premium content or even create your own.
  • 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (5 Gb/s signaling rate, Power Delivery 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, HP Sleep and Charge); 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A (HP Sleep and Charge); 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A (Data Transfer Only); 1 AC smart pin; 1 headphone/microphone combo
  • Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX 201 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5 Combo (Supporting Gigabit file transfer speeds)
  • 4-cell, 53 Wh Li-ion polymer; Audio by Bang & Olufsen; Quad speakers; HP Audio Boost 2.0;

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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. 

Pros

  • 13.3” 4K UHD touch display with Corning Gorilla Glass protection and 400nits of brightness
  • Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor with 4 cores and 8 threads
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • USB Type C port with Power Delivery and Display Port support
  • Bang & Olufsen quad-speaker setup for a premium audio experience
  • Under 0.6 inches thick and just 1.17kg (2.58lbs)
  • All-day battery life if you lower display brightness and operate it at 1080p resolution (which looks fine on a 13.3” screen)

Cons

  • Quite limited on ports, you have to rely on Type C for all your display output needs
  • The trackpad is “alright”, but on a laptop of this caliber, it could’ve been done better

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

Conclusion

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.