Last Updated on May 30, 2021
Convertible laptops and photo editing is like a perfect marriage. 2 in 1 laptops combine the best of two worlds i.e Tablets and PC. In the former instance, they provide you with the facilities to draw and edit using a stylus.
In the later instance, they have the power and the hardware to perform some very heavy tasks – something which a tablet can never perform.
In this article we will review some of the best 2 in 1 laptops for photo editing while keeping in mind different budget points.
The good news here is that you can find options ranging from very cheap all the way to premium. You can choose one depending upon your needs.
Disclosure: PCGearLab is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comparison of Convertible Laptop for Photo Editing
|16 GB||256 GB|
|HP Pavilion X360||14"|
|8 GB||128 GB|
Surface Book 3
|8 GB||1 TB|
|16 GB||512 TB|
List of Best 2 in 1 Laptops for Photo Editing in 2021
The following convertible laptops from different sizes and price ranges offer the best value in our opinion.
- Lenovo Flex 5 81X20005US – Recommended 2 in 1 Laptop for Photo Editing
- HP Pavilion X360 – Highly Affordable Laptop for Casual Photo Editing
- Microsoft Surface Book 3 – As Good As It Can Get
- HP Envy X360 13.3” – Lightweight High Performance Laptop
- HP Spectre x360 – High Performance 4K Hybrid Laptop for Photo Editing
1. Lenovo Flex 5 81X20005US – Recommended 2 in 1 Laptop for Photo Editing
A popular mid range 2 in 1 laptop featuring a decent AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor.
First up, we have the most recommended 2 in 1 laptop here. The sheer value and performance that it offers for its price is, in our opinion, incomparable.
Every generation of laptops brings with itself a model that sets a standard in terms of value. This laptops is the model that sets the standard for 2 in 1 laptops.
For starters, this laptop features a very powerful AMD Ryzen 4500U processor. The Ryzen 5 4500U is a whopping 50% better than its predecessor i.e the Ryzen 5 3500U. No other successive generation has seen such a drastic improvement.
Yet, the best part is that the cost is still quite competitive. It is still as expensive as the Ryzen 5 3500U processors were when they were first launched. At the moment the Ryzen 5 4500U is only marginally more expensive.
Couple the processor with a huge 16 GB of RAM and you practically get a powerhouse of performance particularly for photo editing. This is a laptop worthy of being worked on advanced level photo editing projects.
The 256 GB of SSD is a welcome feature albeit it is a bit low, but we do recommend that you invest in an external hard drive to expand the storage.
Other than that, this Lenovo Flex 5 comes with a beautiful 14″ FHD screen along with a Digital Pen that you can use to get started with your photography or photo editing job.
You also get a digital pen along with which can be used for enhancing your productivity.
All in all, if you want to go straight for a model that offers the best value in our opinion, then this is the best 2 in 1 laptop for photo editing.
2. HP Pavilion X360 – Highly Affordable Laptop for Casual Photo Editing
Next up, we have a model that is stupendously affordable. If you are on a tight budget or if your photo editing work is very limited, then we cannot recommend this convertible laptop enough.
Note that this is a note a laptop that you would want to use on complex project using Adobe Photoshop or other robust software.
Instead, this is for very light photo editing like applying filter, or using online applications for doing some simple touch ups to your photos.
This is basically a system for personal use instead of for professional use.
Despite being a 2 in 1 laptop, this is priced at almost the same price range as a normal laptop.
As far as the performance goes, this isn’t entirely an entry level laptop, however, it isn’t a mid range model either.
It features a high-lower range Intel Core i3-1005G processor which, in most low key settings, is more than sufficient.
Other than that, it features a reasonable 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD. Since we do not recommend using this laptop for heavier editing jobs, you can disregard upgrading the RAM UNLESS if you multitask.
We particularly recommend this laptop for those who use online applications and software for their editing and designing jobs such as Canva.
The only downside to this laptop is that it offers an HD touchscreen instead of a FHD touchscreen.
In short, if you have a limited budget, then this is the best 2 in 1 laptop for photo editing in our opinion.
3. Microsoft Surface Book 3 – As Good As It Can Get
If you want to go for the best there is and you have deep pockets to make an investment for your trade, then nothing comes close to this.
Make no mistake, the price tag on the top model is quite astounding for an average photo editor. However, if you want the industry standard for photo editing on laptops, then this is highly recommended.
For starters, unlike the rest of the 2 in 1 laptops mentioned here, this does not feature a hinge rotate mechanism. Instead, it features a detachable screen.
While there are several configurations that you can look into, the top configuration features top of the line Intel Core i7 processors, 32 GB of RAM, 2 TB of SSD and even a dedicated NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1660Ti graphics card.
You have 13″ or 15″ screen options with 3000×2000 and 3240×2160 resolution respectively. Both of these resolution are very close to 4K.
Furthermore, unlike regular 2 in 1 laptops, the screen on this has active digitizer. Hence it can work with active styluses with very fine tip, cursor navigation, and a plethora of other features. The recommended pen to use with this is the Surface Pen.
Again, this is absolutely an expensive machine, but it is the hidden perks like optimized system, detachable screen and active digitizer with a very high resolution screen is what makes this one of the best 2 in 1 laptop for photo editing.
4. HP Envy X360 13.3″ – Lightweight High Performance Laptop
If 14″ or 15.6″ screen laptops are too heavy and large for you, then we recommend that you set your eyes on a 13.3″ laptop such as this HP Envy X360.
First off, note that the Envy is the premium ultrabook series from HP trumping the Pavilion series in terms of style and performance.
Unfortunately, that also makes Envy series more expensive.
However, if you are looking for a gorgeous, all aluminum body with an outstandingly bright screen to match, then this is the best 2 in 1 laptop for photo editing with a razor thin form factor.
Its feather light weight and thin frame would allow you to carry it around and use it on the go without much hassle.
As far as the performance goes, this laptop features the Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor. Compared to the popular AMD Ryzen 5 4500U, that defines the mid range mobile processing, this processor is more cable.
Particularly in single core performance, which matters the most for most photo editing software, the Intel Core i7-1165G7 takes the cake.
The 8 GB of RAM on this is good for multitasking and photo editing, but if you want to do some serious work, we recommend upgrading the RAM to at least 12 GB of RAM.
Other than that, it features a large 1 TB of SSD.
In short, if you want a compact and a portable powerhouse, then this is the best 2 in 1 laptop for photo editing in our opinion.
5. HP Spectre x360 – High Performance 4K Hybrid Laptop for Photo Editing
Lastly, we have a rather premium high performance 15.6″ hybrid laptop that you can use for some heavy duty photo editing.
For starters, it hails from the HP Spectre series, which in terms of quality, even beats the envy series. So as far as the looks are concerned, this is one of the most gorgeous model out there.
But obviously, it is the hardware that matters when you are photo editing on a professional level and this hybrid laptop offers just that.
For starters it has an outstanding bright 4K IPS screen. Hence you get a lot of pixel density to work on.
Secondly it features a powerful Intel Core i7-10510U processor. This is a high performance built for professional and productivity use.
Along with that it features an ample 16 GB of RAM and a huge 512 GB of SSD. Both these ratings are excellent for photo editing as 16 GB of RAM can handle fairly large photo files.
One of the most lucrative component it offers is the dedicated NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics card with 2 GB of VRAM.
Even though this is an entry level card, we have established in the FAQ section below that even an entry level dedicated GPU can offer tremendous benefit in photo editing software particularly on Photoshop.
In short, if you are looking for a large screen powerhouse, then this is the best 2 in 1 laptop for photo editing.
Additional Resources for Photo Editing Build
Can You Use Stylus / Digital Pen on 2 – in – 1 Laptops?
2 in 1 laptops come with a capacitive touchscreen. Hence any capacitive Stylus would work perfectly fine.
A capacitive stylus would work similar in fashion to your finger. So whether it is navigation, note taking, drawing or even photo editing, you should be able to do so.
The only issue with a capacitive touchscreen is that the tip of the stylus has to be large enough to induce a voltage break so that it can register, like a finger.
Hence you will see that capacitive styluses do not have a fine tip. A fine tip stylus works on specialized screen with ACTIVE DIGITIZERs. Active Digitizer screen are RARELY found on 2 in 1 laptops.
So in short, YES, certain styluses do work with 2 in 1 laptop. Basically, look for capacitive styluses if you want to use them on a 2 in 1 laptop for photo editing or drawing purposes.
What to Look for in a Convertible Laptop for Photo Editing?
Photo editing is not the same as 3D simulation or machine learning. Therefore, you don’t really need a workstation grade machine especially if you are working in a commercial studio.
Sure, industrial grade photo editing systems are a different story, but for most average users, the hardware for photo editing does not have to be as complex as a workstation PC.
Let us review the critical components here as well as the general specifications.
What are the Requirements for Photo Editing?
You can tell the generation requirements for photo editing by heading over to the system requirements of your favorite software.
Since Adobe Photoshop is perhaps the most famous Photo Editing software, below are the typical specifications.
The official system requirements for most software, including Adobe Photoshop, are generally a bit vague.
This is intentionally done so because the type of hardware you choose entirely depends upon your level of expertise, your budget and the complexity of your projects.
With that said, let us look at each component in detail below.
What Kind of Processor Do You Need for Photo Editing?
This is by far the most important and the key consideration when choosing the convertible laptop, or any laptop, for photo editing.
A good processor has a direct effect on the performance of the photo editing software. Let us take Photoshop, for instance.
Photoshop relies heavily on the processing power. It benefits not just from a good single thread performance but also from multi cores.
Therefore, keep processor as your first priority when choosing the right machine. A processor inadvertently also defines your overall budget for the system.
Do You Need Many Cores for Photo Editing?
It should be noted that the BEST of the BEST may not be right choice of processor to go for.
This is because, the primary difference USUALLY between a less expensive and a more expensive processor is the amount of core counts (among other things).
Unfortunately though, not all software are designed to use the multiple cores effectively.
Take Photoshop for instance again, this does not benefit from a processor with a higher than 8 cores.
The ideal deal here would be to choose a processor with about 8 cores with the MAXIMUM possible clock speed.
Single core performance (attributed mostly to clockspeed) is equally important as the core counts.
Do You Need a Good Graphics Card for Photo Editing?
This is not critical, but is often required for GPU accelerated features and effects.
In most cases the integrated graphics card should be more than enough. It is also true that you do not see a huge benefit in terms of performance when upgrading from a low end graphics card to a high end model.
Of course, if you work on 3D graphics as well then that is a completely different story. 3D graphics and simulation would benefit from a good GPU.
However, here we are only considering systems for photo editing which is 2D in nature. Hence, while you will definitely benefit from a dedicated graphics card, it is not an absolute necessity AT THE MOMENT.
Software like Adobe Photoshop are increasing their capacity over time to use GPU acceleration. In the future, Photo Editing may be mostly GPU driven, but at the moment that is not the case.
In short, we recommend going for at least a Low-End dedicated graphics if your budget allows, otherwise, onboard graphics should do just fine.
How Much RAM Do You Need in a Photo Editing Laptop?
RAM, along with a good processor, is a very important consideration.
The higher the RAM, the higher the amount of pixels your laptop would be able to handle without showing any signs of lag.
A higher RAM also helps in multitasking and is great particularly for multiple monitor setups whereby you will have multiple software operating at a time.
The amount of RAM is directly related to the complexity of your projects. Larger files require more RAM.
16 GB of RAM, for most part, is more than enough. However, if you work on a file that very large, say larger than a 500 MB or a GB, than 32GB or even more would be warranted.
What Storage Option s Do You Have?
We would always recommend that you go for an SSD drive. Most of the laptops feature the NVME/PCIE SSD. These SSDs are at least 5 times faster than the inferior SATA SSDs, which in turn are 5 times faster than the average HDD.
So basically, an SSD in a laptop would give you about 25x faster speeds than a conventional hard drive.
From booting your system to opening software and large files, everything will be done in a jiffy.
The downside, however, is that they are expensive. Hence large capacities are only found in the most premium laptops.
We can assume that as a photo editors you will have very large medial files to archive. In that case, we would recommend that you invest in an external HDD.
Does the Laptop Screen Matter for Photo Editing?
Finally, one of the best investment that you can make for yourself is investing in a good monitor.
Many laptops have the facility to connect to a monitor via either the HDMI port, DVI or a Thunderbolt 3 port.
There are multiple aspects that differentiate an average monitor from a photo editing monitor.
From a higher bit depth, coverage of sRGB or Adobe RGB color space to having a premium IPS panel, high resolution, bright screen, local dimming etc. All these matter when it comes to picture perfect color uniformity.
Getting the right hardware is essential when choosing the best 2 in 1 laptops for photo editing for yourself. For that you should be well versed with the functionality of each hardware component.
In this article we had a look at some of the top options. 2 in 1 laptops are generally preferred by photo editors since they have a touchscreen, hence they can be used with a Digital Pen or a Stylus.
In addition to that the tablet and the tent mode is also quite appealing. But unfortunately, they are also more expensive compared to a regular laptop.