Today’s Question: Your recent column reminds me that I, too, need a new laptop, but prefer a PC. I use Photoshop, using the laptop for travel, not for storage of my library. Can you suggest what requirements I should look for?
Tim’s Quick Answer: If you’re looking for a laptop that will be a secondary computer for traveling, the specifications aren’t especially critical. I would opt for a multi-core processor, at least 8GB (preferably 16GB) of RAM, and a graphics processor with DirectX 12 (Windows) or Metal (Macintosh) support.
More Detail: These days it is relatively easy to find a laptop that will support Photoshop, in large part because laptop performance overall has improved to the point that Photoshop will generally run without a problem. Still, it is a good idea to make sure the laptop you’re purchasing will support Photoshop.
If the laptop is running the latest Windows or Macintosh operating system and has at least 8GB of memory (RAM), you’re probably in pretty good shape. I do recommend opting for a relatively fast (above 2 GHz) processor, ideally with multiple cores (such as a quad-core processor).
Another key feature is a graphics processor (GPU) that supports DirectX 12 for Windows computers or Metal for Macintosh computers. You’ll want a minimum of 2GB of video memory (VRAM), though 4GB can make a big difference in terms of performance.
Obviously you’ll need adequate hard drive space as well, but the total size you need will depend on what you’ll install on the internal hard drive versus store on the external hard drive. If you’ll be using an external hard drive for much of your storage (such as photo storage) you can probably get by with a 500GB drive. A 1TB drive would provide some breathing room for additional applications and data. I do recommend an SSD drive, though a traditional hard drive may provide greater capacity at a lower price.
You can get more details about Adobe’s system requirements for Photoshop on the Adobe website here: