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We focused on Windows laptops for this guide, but Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro is also an excellent option for photo and video editing if you prefer macOS and don’t mind paying a little more. The MacBook Pro also has a larger screen than many of the Windows laptops we tested; you can read more in our guide to the best MacBooks.
Dell XPS 15 9500
A screen that’s hard to beat
The XPS 15’s screen is a pleasure to work on—it’s taller than the screens in most other laptops, which gives your apps more space to spread out. The laptop performs well, its battery life is excellent, and its keyboard and trackpad are pretty good. But we wish it had a greater variety of ports.
|Processor:||Six-core Intel Core i7-10750H||Screen:||3840×2400 IPS|
|Graphics:||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti||Weight:||4.5 pounds|
|Memory:||16 GB||Tested battery life:||8.6 hours|
|Storage:||512 GB SSD|
The Dell XPS 15 9500’s screen is its best feature. It’s taller than most of the other screens in the laptops we tested, with a 3840×2400 resolution and a 16:10 ratio that gives your apps more room to spread out. Six- and eight-core Intel processors provide a good amount of speed for encoding video and other CPU-intensive tasks, while the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti graphics hardware offers enough power for running professional 3D apps, enjoying some light gaming, and connecting to multiple high-resolution external monitors. Its keyboard and trackpad feel nice to use, and its battery lasted longer than others we tested with similar specs. The downsides are that it’s heavier than some of its competitors—the 4K version weighs 4.5 pounds, a bit more than anything else we tested this time around—and that it’s limited to only Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C ports. The laptop does include a card reader, and it comes with a USB Type-A/HDMI dongle, but we would have liked to see some USB Type-A and HDMI ports built in.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3
Smaller screen, lighter laptop, killer keyboard
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme has more ports than the XPS 15, weighs significantly less, and has an outstanding keyboard and trackpad. But it doesn’t offer as much screen real estate or battery life as the XPS 15 does.
|Processor:||Six-core Intel Core i7-10750H||Screen:||3840×2160 IPS|
|Graphics:||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q||Weight:||3.75 pounds|
|Memory:||16 GB||Tested battery life:||6.9 hours|
|Storage:||512 GB SSD|
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 uses the same excellent keyboard and trackpad as Lenovo’s other ThinkPads, it performs about as well as the XPS 15 9500, and it’s three-quarters of a pound lighter. And it includes USB Type-A and HDMI ports along with its Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports and card reader, so you won’t have to use dongles to plug in your stuff. Its 4K screen is great, and Lenovo offers a more-expensive OLED option with deeper blacks and better contrast. But in day-to-day use, we much preferred the XPS 15’s taller screen for actually getting work done. The X1 Extreme Gen 3 also doesn’t last as long away from an outlet as the XPS 15 does.
We didn’t test the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen 3, which is essentially identical to the X1 Extreme Gen 3. It uses Nvidia Quadro GPUs instead of the GeForce GTX 1650 Ti (the overall performance should be similar), but the other specs, the internal and external design, and the port layout are all the same. The X1 Extreme Gen 3 is usually a bit cheaper, but buy whichever laptop gives you your preferred specs for the best price.
HP Envy 15t-ep000
Cheaper but still powerful
The Envy 15t is just as fast as our other picks, its 4K OLED screen mostly looks good, and it’s usually $500 or $600 cheaper than either the XPS 15 or the ThinkPad X1 Extreme. But it’s heavy, and we don’t like its keyboard as much.
|Processor:||Six-core Intel Core i7-10750H||Screen:||3840×2160 OLED|
|Graphics:||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti||Weight:||4.74 pounds|
|Memory:||16 GB||Tested battery life:||6.5 hours|
|Storage:||512 GB SSD|
If you want to spend $1,500 or less on a high-end laptop that makes as few compromises as possible, or if you’ll mostly use your laptop at a desk and don’t care as much about weight, we recommend the HP Envy 15t-ep000. It has the same processor and GPU as our other picks, and HP even offers higher-end GPU options if you want to pay for them. But the Envy 15t-ep000 is larger and heavier than the XPS 15 9500, even though that laptop has a taller screen and better battery life. And while its 4K screen looks fine and produces OLED’s typical deep blacks and good contrast, it can appear a little grainy in some circumstances.
Microsoft Surface Book 3 (15-inch)
Good for artists, bad for video
The Surface Book 3 uses a quad-core processor that makes it a worse choice for video editing than our other picks, but its graphics performance is still good, and its unique detachable touchscreen makes it an interesting choice for artists who want to use it as a canvas or sketchpad.
|Processor:||Quad-core Intel Core i7-1065G7||Screen:||3240×2160 IPS|
|Graphics:||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti||Weight:||4.2 pounds|
|Memory:||16 GB||Tested battery life:||9.7 hours|
|Storage:||256 GB SSD|
The 15-inch version of Microsoft’s Surface Book 3 is unique among the laptops we tested because its touchscreen completely separates from the base of the laptop, giving you a huge and reasonably lightweight canvas for sketching, taking notes, or just watching videos. And unlike the Surface Pro or other pro tablets, it attaches to a base that contains a reasonably powerful GPU, a traditional (and very good) keyboard and trackpad, additional ports, and a big battery. But if you don’t plan on using its touchscreen extensively, it has a few too many flaws for us to recommend it. The quad-core processor is much slower at video encoding and other CPU-intensive tasks than the six- and eight-core chips that our other picks offer. It’s expensive for the hardware you get, especially if you want to expand beyond the relatively paltry 256 GB of storage. And it doesn’t allow you to install more memory or storage yourself if you need an upgrade down the line. For artists who need a bit more power and a better keyboard and trackpad than most tablets offer, the Surface Book 3 is worth considering. Most other people should look at our top picks first.
Source: The NY Times
Keyword: The Best Laptops for Video and Photo Editing