Best MacBook for Photographers iMore 2020
Photographers have special needs. They just don't need a good laptop, but one with a beautiful screen and enough space and memory for all that editing. The large Retina display on the 15-inch MacBook Pro plus its impressive internals make it the ideal choice for photographers.
Experience your photographs in large, brilliant colors during post-processing
When it comes to raw power, the 15-inch MacBook Pro is Apple's best laptop on the market. The top-of-the-line laptop features a lightweight design that makes it easy to carry despite its form factor. Inside, you'll find components to help you push your photo-editing to a new level.
Who should buy the 15-inch MacBook Pro?
When photographers are looking for a laptop many important factors come to mind. The first is the size of the display, the second is the amount of storage space available, and finally, there's memory and CPU. On these points, the 15-inch MacBook impresses.
Is it a good time to buy this computer?
Apple unveiled the fourth-generation 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models in 2016 with minor updates following in June 2017 and July 2018. It's possible the company could reveal a next-generation MacBook Pro this year, but at least a minor update is likely to arrive this summer. Therefore, if you need to buy a new laptop now, look for a discount on the 2018 models. Otherwise, perhaps you should wait for a few months.
Reasons to buy
- Blistering fast storage
- Fast data transfer Thunderbolt 3 ports
- MacBook with the largest display you can buy currently
Reasons not to buy
- Generation is reaching the end of its life cycle
Why purchase the 15-inch MacBook Pro vs. the 13-inch model
The size of the display isn't the only reason as a photographer that you should purchase the 15-inch MacBook Pro over its sibling, the 13-inch model, although it's an excellent place to start. The larger model has a 2880x1800, 16:10 display at 220 PPI. Naturally, having a larger display means seeing more on the screen, which will come in handy when it's time to edit your masterpieces. It helps also that the display is great.
Meanwhile, the central processing unit (CPU) is what powers the MacBook Pro. The 2018 MacBook Pro includes Intel's Coffee Lake processors. For the 15-inch models, this means six cores rather than the quad-cores found with the 13-inch model. In other words, the larger model is more powerful, so you'll be able to handle more tasks at once.
The graphics processing unit (GPU) handles pixel renderings, which includes everything from the macOS interface to photo and video editors to video games. The 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro offers the Radeon Pro 555X or Radeon Pro 560X, both well suited for creatives.
The 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro offers the Radeon Pro 555X or Radeon Pro 560X, both well suited for creatives.
The amount of memory (RAM) in your Mac determines how many projects you can work on at once, and the kinds of programs you can run. With more RAM, you'll be able to run a heavy program like Photoshop seamlessly. It'll keep everything running super fast. You can purchase between 16GB or 32GB 2400MHz DDR4 memory on the 15-inch model, and both are more than enough for anybody, let alone a photographer.
With regards to internal storage, you have many choices. You can buy your laptop with 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, or 4TB of SSD storage. If you want to save more photos directly to your computer, you'll want to go for more storage, although that'll cost you.
Alternatives to the 15-inch MacBook Pro
If you're looking for something less expensive and want to stick with Apple, you should consider the following two alternatives.
Save some money, get mostly the same computer
If you plan on using an external monitor with your MacBook Pro, the size of its screen might not be so important. You get mostly the same computer here, just in a smaller form factor.
You can purchase a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar and Touch ID and experience most of the same internals of the 15-inch model. With this purchase, you can save hundreds of dollars. The most significant drawbacks include a slightly slower processor and graphics card. Just make sure you have plenty of storage (available with 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB) and enough RAM (chose between 8GB and 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory) to suit your needs.
Retina display goodness for much less
If you're on a tight budget and need a new MacBook, this is the one to buy as a photographer. Best of all, you'll get access to a Retina display, which will make all your photos appear gorgeous on your screen.
Launched in late 2018, the latest MacBook Air features a 13-inch Retina display and all-new internals. Remember not to skimp on memory (available with 8GB or 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory) or storage (with 256GB. 512GB, or 1.5TB), however.
If you're planning on doing a lot of photo-editing, your best bet is to go with the 15-inch MacBook Pro. This is the laptop that has the most prominent display and best components versus other MacBook models currently available. If money is the most important factor, but you still want an Apple laptop, other solutions exist. Just be aware of their limitations.
Touch Bar and Touch ID built-in, regardless of model
When buying your 15-inch MacBook Pro, you'll need to decide how much memory, storage, GPU, and CPU you need. Our advice: buy what you can afford.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. A Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate, Bryan's also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. @bryanmwolfe.
Rene Ritchie has been covering the personal technology industry for a decade. Follow him @reneritchie on Twitter and Instagram.
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