Finding the right photo editing PC is all about knowing how much you’re willing to spend and exactly what your needs are. The good news is that just about any computer can edit photos decently. However, if you’re looking for a nice machine, something that’s a pleasure to work on, what you’ll want is to consider just how much speed and quality you need. All of the computers on this list are great for basic photo tasks like adjusting brightness and contrast, and cropping. However, once you head into the realm of RAW photographs, large projects with 100s of stills, and huge image processing tasks, it would be ill-advised to get a PC that can merely “technically” do it. No one wants to spend hours waiting for photos to export. In general, the most important factor for photo editing is the processor; Adobe Lightroom, for instance, solely uses the processor. Photoshop, fortunately, is able to take advantage of the graphics card. RAM is the factor hovering over both of these; Adobe recommends 8GB of RAM for both of these programs. And of course, the hard drive plays a role in the overall speed of the computer as well. It’s a lot to keep in mind, but our list is simple.
Here are the top 10 best computers for photo editing from lowest to highest price. Keep an eye out for the Editor’s Choice. This is the PC that offers the most bang for one’s buck for photography editing tasks.
1. Acer Aspire Desktop
Processor / Passmark Speed i5-7400 //| RAM 12GB DDR4 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 2000GB, 7200RPM |
For those looking for a solid photo editing PC at a great price, this Acer desktop offers a ton of value at a low price. With a zippy i5 processor, 12GB of RAM, and a large hard disk drive (2TB at 7200RPM!), it is more than fast enough for processing RAW photos, large swaths of jpegs and more. Users love it for its capable outputs (it can easily handle multiple displays), and very low price; sure some want to build a custom machine, but you’re at $100 out of the gate just for Windows. Due to the lack of a video card, however, this PC won’t be able to play modern games, but for older stuff that’s not too intensive it should be fine. Also note that since Photoshop relies on the processor not a graphics card, this has no effect on its performance.
This isn’t the most powerful PC in the world, but at about $500, it gets the job done well and extremely affordably.
- Powerful workstation for a low price
- Hard drive has solid capacity for RAW photos and large JPEGs
- Great value for the price
- Good starting point to build a PC; adding a graphics card will make it capable of gaming
- RAM could be better
- SSD would make it a lot faster (but it can be upgraded)
2. Aspire E 15, 15.6″
Processor / Passmark Speed i5-8250U // 7658 | RAM 8GB | Graphics Card MX150 | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | Weight 5.27lbs | Display 15.6″, 1080P | Extras Ethernet, DVD |
For those looking to edit photos on the go, this recently upgraded Aspire E 15 boasts a new, 8th gen Intel processor, solid RAM, and an acceptable graphics card. On top of this, it also has a 256GB SSD, which is decent storage for most photographers; though if you’re shooting 100s of RAW photographs, it’d be best to build a habit of working off an external drive. This laptop also includes an ethernet port and DVD drive. It’s a great deal for overall value, but it is a bit on the heavy side, at 5.27lbs. Still, considering it has a full HD display and plenty of speed under the hood, it’s hard to call it anything but a bargain – just don’t go hiking with it.
- Plenty of memory for most tasks
- Fast SSD
- Processor offers huge improvement and great value
- Up to 15 hours of battery life
- Graphics card allows for playing modern games at low settings
- Graphics card isn’t very capable
- Tracking pad scroll direction cannot be changed
3. Dell Inspiron 3000 Series
Processor i3-6100U | RAM 8GB DDR3 | Hard Disk 500GB (5400RPM) | Graphics Card Integrated | Type All-in-one | Display 23.8″ IPS, 1080p |
For those looking for an all-in-one solution, this Dell has a great price and acceptable specs. The RAM and processor are fast enough for basic photo-editing and with a 1080P IPS screen, one should be able to get a great idea of what their photographs look like. That said, a minor issue here is this PC’s relatively slow hard drive. While 500GB is plenty of space, 5400RPM is slower than 7200RPM and much slower than an SSD. For JPEG editing and simple stuff, this PC is fine. However, like the first computer on our list, this computer is not recommended as part of a RAW workflow or for use in large projects.
- Built-in card reader
- Great family PC
- Reliable and easy to use
- Specs are acceptable for straightforward photo editing
- Very affordable all-in-one solution
- Will struggle with large photography projects; wouldn’t go with this to edit hundreds of RAW photos
- Can’t play modern games or edit 1080p video
- Not for pro photographers
4. Skytech Shadow
Processor AMD FX-3400 3.8ghz | RAM 8GB DDR3 | Hard Disk 1TB HDD (7200 RPM) | Graphics Card GTX 1050 (2GB VRAM) | Type Tower |
While this PC has the aesthetics of a gaming PC, it has all of the fundamental hardware to make for a great editing PC as well. Boasting 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive (that runs at a decent spend) and a solid video card, it has all of the necessary parts to make for a seamless and reasonably fast editing process. That said, the processor could be better and if you’re a professional, it will likely be worth spending the money to get something faster. Still, for most users who are just editing dozens of RAW photos every so often, this PC will be fine. For those who will be editing massive projects frequently, the processor will be a sticking point that won’t be worth fighting against.For most people, it will get the job done easily and effectively, and with plenty of space left to store your photos.
- Fast boot time
- Processor is decently fast
- Graphics card allows playing modern games at decent settings and editing 1080p video reasonably smoothly
- Acceptable RAM
- One year warranty from manufacturer
- Decent, but some may just want to spend mroe and get a far superior processor
- Case is a bit large
5. CyberPowerPC Xtreme VR
Processor i5-7400 at 3.0GHZ | RAM 8GB DDR4 | Hard Disk 120GB SSD with 1 terabyte HDD | Graphics Card GTX 1060 (3GB) | Type Full-sized desktop |
This PC is similar to the one above, but its processor is around 20% more powerful. It has decent RAM and offers a similar hard drive configuration, with a one terabyte data drive that’s always nice to have around. The biggest upgrade is the GTX 1060 (3GB) which allows it to play “VR” games, but relevant to the Photo Editor here, this PC just has more power. While Adobe Lightroom does not use a graphics card, Photoshop can. This helps overall performance. Lightroom, unfortunately, solely uses a computer’s processor and thus will receive no benefit here. Still, for many, this is a great PC that offers a ton of value. That said, it is in an awkward place price-wise. At this point, one can get a lot more bang for their buck by spending just a few hundred more dollars. Still, if this is as much as you want to spend, this is a solid PC.
- Includes DVD-RW drive
- 1 year parts and labour warranty from manufacturer
- Tons of USB ports (6) with ethernet and Wi-Fi
- Can play modern games at high settings
- Great for photo editing
- Decent for editing video at 1080p
- Will struggle with 4K video
- Processor could be better for large projects
- RAM could be better, but should suffice for most people
6. Dell Inspiron Gaming Laptop
Processor i7 7700HQ | RAM 8GB DDR4 | Hard Disk 128GB SSD + 1 TB HDD (5400 RPM) | Graphics Card GTX 1050 | Type Laptop | Display 1080P, 15.6″ |
In another case of a “gaming” computer offering a lot of features useful for Photo Editors, this Inspiron is pretty sweet with some minor drawbacks. For one, its processor, is about 20% faster than the i5 above. On top of this, it also boasts an SSD and a data drive, but do note that the data drive is 5400RPM, a detectable decrease in speed. Still, with a GTX 1050, it has a solid amount of power for Photoshop, and will actually perform better with Lightroom, but the bottleneck could very well be the slow hard drive. Therefore, the performance is likely to be very comparable to the above PC. However, if you’re looking for a laptop this isn’t much of a tradeoff. Plus, one can always edit their photos on the SSD and use the data drive strictly for storage.
- Solid price to performance
- SSD and data drive included
- Fast and powerful enough for most photography uses
- Decent for modern games and video editing
- Backlit keyboard is a nice touch
- Nice speakers and thin for its specs (1″)
- Bloatware included on device
- 4 hours of battery life (even with non-intensive use)
- Display quality is only OK
7. Vision Computer Tower
Processor i7-7700 | RAM 16GB DDR4 | Hard Disk 512GB SSD | Graphics Card Integrated | Type Tower |
Now this is a beast of a PC, particularly for Lightroom users. The i7-7700 is a very fast processor. Plus, this PC has a great amount of RAM and a lightning fast SSD drive that’s big enough to hold a good amount of projects. The biggest drawback to this computer is its lack of a graphics card. The good news is that it’s straightforward to upgrade it (graphics cards are plug and play devices), but it will take an extra couple of hundred bucks should you choose to add this. Still, this PC offers a ton of value and will work well with Photoshop and about as it gets with LIghtroom. It’s a great value if it fits your needs, or if it’s on the right track and you’re wanting to upgrade later.
- Very fast PC with snappy RAM
- Excellent hard drive for photo editing
- Great price per performance especially for Lightroom users (see description above for explanation)
- High quality case with good cooling
- Machine can be noisy
- Lack of a GPU means it’s limited for other applications such as video-editing or gaming
8. Acer Predator Helios 300
Processor i7 7700HQ | RAM 16GB DDR4 | Hard Disk 256GB SSD | Graphics Card GTX 1060 6GB | Type Laptop | Display 1080p |
Now this is one beast of a laptop. Boasting a fast i7 processor, plenty of RAM, and a monstrous graphics card, the GTX 1060, this laptop only has one real issue: its rather small SSD. The good news is, this is fairly straightforward to upgrade; one can either use an external hard drive or add an internal one. Another nice perk of this laptop and its robust graphics cards is that attaching a 4K monitor can be a nice at home setup with dual screens. This is a great laptop for basically all purposes. It will handle Photoshop and LIghtroom well. One minor note, however, the 7700HQ while a decent process, is about 30% slower than its similarly-named desktop brother, the i7-7700. So don’t think this laptop is faster than the Vision PC above it.
Price: $1049 (5 percent off MSRP)
- Price per performance is outstanding
- Can play modern games and edit 1080p video easily
- Will devour most photo editing projects easily
- SSD is snappy, and RAM is decent
- Compred to similarly priced PC, the processor is weaker
- One may wish to opt for a laptop with a better screen
9. CyberPower PC with Ryzen 1700X, RX 580 (Editor’s Choice)
Processor Ryzen 1700X Processor // Passmark 14,614 | RAM 8GB DDR4 | Hard Disk 1TB HDD | Graphics Card RX 580 (4GB) | Type Tower |
For those who follow the processor wars, the Ryzen is AMD’s new champion. This processor boasts amazing performance and at a great price. While some of Intel’s newest processors are starting to stack up (the i7 7800x comes to mind), the value is undeniable. Check out Passmark’s chart (performance compared to price) showing that this processor is only matched by significantly less powerful processors (i3, c’mon!). The truth is that if you want a lot of bang, then the Ryzen is by far the best bang for one’s buck.
This PC is therefore unreal for photo editing. Since Photoshop only uses the processor, one can maximize the incredible performance of the Ryzen. Plus, it has plenty of storage space with one terabyte, and a formidable graphics card, the RX 580, which means its capable of playing modern games at medium to high settings or editing video of any sort. This PC is the editor’s choice because out of the box, it will be great for large photography projects that need a lot of processor power. That’s simply not true anywhere down the line. It’s also considerably future proof. This is a great PC at a great price and there’s not much it isn’t capable of.
- Amazingly fast processor has many cores and extremely high passmark score (almost 20% higher than i7 7700K
- Attractive exterior
- One year parts and labor warranty from manufacturer
- Powerful enough for simple to advanced photography uses, video editing, and playing modern games
- Overkill for basic use
- More RAM would be better
10. iMac 2017
Processor i5 | RAM 8GB DDR4 | Hard Disk 2TB HDD (7200 RPM), Fusion | Graphics Card Radeon Pro 580 | Type All-in-One |
As a PC reviewer, I own both Macs and PCs and I am willing to say: Macs tend to be worth it for certain things. The iMac is a great machine to own if you can afford it. The best part about it is not the performance, in fact, for Photoshop and other programs, it’s not going to blow many of these PCs out of the water. In fact, it may even be slower. That said, it will be very stable. So then, if this machine isn’t particularly fast, why is it on this list? Here’s why: the display is out of this world. There is almost no equivalent display on the market. It’s so bright it hurts. The color is outstanding. And it’s just a plain great looking machine.
Some other general perks are that it has a good sized hard drive, and a good graphics card, meaning video editing will go great. The i5, however, is going to suffer when editing 4K video or huge RAW photo files; it will do the job, just don’t expect the fastest performance. Still, for those who are Mac-inclined, this is a great machine. If you’ve got a bit more to spend, you can ready my article, iMac Pro vs. iMac 2017 vs Windows PC. One big aspect of this machine, however, is that it is toward the end of its lifecycle. We can expect a new iMac in the next 300 days or so. If that bothers you, then you may want to wait.
Price: $2149 (7 percent off MSRP)
- Unparalled display makes editing well, anything, enjoyable
- Solid graphics card
- Fast processor
- Can run modern games at medium settings (but less of a game selection than Windows)
- Great for editing 4K video (Final Cut, Premiere Pro is doable, but not fantastic)
- Included keyboard has a great feel and look
- RAM can be upgraded
- Overkill for simple photo editing