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Best Desktop Computer for Photo Editing (Mac and Windows)

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Choosing the best desktop computer for photo editing can make a massive difference in your everyday life. This is true for amateur photographers. But it’s much more so for the pro or semi-pro. Photo editing requires a lot of processing power. And video editing needs even more.

We’ve chosen a selection of the best desktop computers for your photo editing needs. You might be set on Mac or Windows, so we cover both. Or you might be open to both platforms. In which case you might like our top pick. The Apple Mac Studio is a slick, stylish, and well-equipped desktop computer for editing photos.

Mac Studio
Mac Studio
Edit photos and videos at lightning speed with the power to run multiple displays at up to 6K.

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What is the Best Desktop Computer For Photo Editing?

We’ve chosen computers at a range of prices. You’ll find macOS and Windows machines from entry-level to top-of-the-line. Before we look at them individually, here is a summary of our choices.

Computer Name
Why We Love It
Buy From
Mac Studio
Our Top Pick
  • Apple Silicon M1 processor
  • Up to 64-core GPU
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard
  • Fast SSD storage
  • Can run up to five displays
Mac Mini M2
Best Budget Mac
  • Compact design fits anywhere
  • Powerful Apple Silicon M2 processor for smooth performance
  • Up to 8 TB SSD capacity
  • High-speed connections for efficient data transfer
  • Variety of ports to connect multiple devices
Apple iMac
Best All-in-One
  • 24-inch 4.5K Retina display
  • Apple Silicon M1 Chip
  • Up to 16 GB of unified memory
  • Up to 2 TB SSD storage
  • Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse included
Acer Aspire TC-1760-UA92
Best Value Tower PC
  • Latest 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10400 processor
  • 12 GB DDR4 RAM for reliable multitasking
  • 1 TB HDD for ample storage space
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 for fast connectivity
  • Windows 10 Home OS pre-installed
HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop
Best Gaming PC
  • Powerful performance with AMD Ryzen 5 3400G processor
  • Advanced graphics with AMD Radeon RX 580
  • 8 GB DDR4 RAM for multitasking
  • 1 TB HDD for storage
  • Multiple ports for easy connectivity
Microsoft Surface Studio 2
Best Touchscreen PC
  • 28” 4.5K Ultra HD PixelSense™ Display
  • Intel® Core™ i7 Processor
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 2080 with 8GB GDDR6 Memory
  • 32 GB RAM and 2 TB SSD storage
  • Innovative zero gravity hinge and adjustable screen
Intel NUC 11 Performance Kit – Intel Core i7
Best Compact Windows PC
  • 10th Gen Intel processor
  • High-performance graphics
  • 4K Ultra HD visuals
  • Easy to upgrade and configure
  • Compact and versatile
Dell OptiPlex 7000 7400 All-in-One Desktop Computer
Best Budget Windows All-in-One
  • Compact, space-saving design
  • 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor
  • High-performance graphics
  • Expandable memory and storage
  • USB-C connectivity
27 Pavilion All-in-One PC
Best Windows All-in-One
  • 27" Full HD IPS touchscreen display
  • 9th Gen Intel Core i7 processor
  • 8 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD storage
  • Wireless 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0
  • Windows 10 Home and 3-in-1 media card reader

Choosing the Best Desktop Computer for Photo Editing

Now let’s take an in-depth look at these computers and see which one meets your needs.

1. Mac Studio

Mac Studio
Brand Apple
OS macOS
CPU Apple Silicon M1 Chip
Graphics 64-core GPU
RAM Max 128 GB
Storage 8 TB Max
Connectivity USB-C/Thunderbolt, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB 3, Headphone, SD card
Key Features Incredible performance in a small case, runs up to 5 displays simultaneously
Best For Demanding creatives looking for speed and reliability

The Mac Studio is a beautifully engineered and elegant design.

The processor is Apple’s own M1 chip. This has proved to be a revolutionary development in the improvement of Apple’s products. It is much faster and dramatically less power-hungry than its predecessors.

The latest macOS is specifically designed for the M1 and M2 chips. So if you’re on an “old” intel-based system, Monterey is as high as you can go.

Macs have been popular with creatives for decades now. They are harder (or impossible) to upgrade. And there’s not much to be done under the bonnet. This is attractive to users who are focused on producing content. But if you like to swap out GPUs and PSUs, this Mac is probably not for you.

But for anyone who wants not just blistering speed and performance, but also panache, Mac is the way to go. You can drive up to five displays from the Mac Studio—four Pro XDRs and one 4K TV.  And it’s just too pretty to hide under the desk. The Mac Studio is absolutely fantastic for photo editing.

2. Mac Mini M2

Mac Mini M2
Brand Apple
OS macOS
CPU Apple Silicon M2 Chip
Graphics 16-core GPU
RAM 32 GB (max)
Storage 8 TB (max)
Connectivity Thunderbolt 4, USB A, 3, 4, HDMI, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Headphone
Key Features Up to 3 displays (2 at 6K, 1 at 4K), tiny form factor
Best For Anyone looking for top Mac performance at a bargain price

The Mac Mini has been Apple’s entry-level Mac since 2005. It assumes you have a mouse, monitor, and keyboard. Although it is still the cheapest Mac available, it delivers a lot of performance for a small price. And it’s packed into a small space too.

It’s a pretty versatile model, too. There is an impressive budget-friendly base model. But the top-of-the-range model boasts an M2 Pro chip and up to 8 TB SSD.

The M series chips have proven to be very fast and highly regarded. The latest Mac Mini with the M2 chips will run the latest macOS for years to come.

The Mac Mini is a great choice if you want Mac performance and OS at a decent price. This is especially the case if you have the accessories for it. If you need to add a monitor, check out the best monitors for photo editing .

3. Apple iMac

Apple iMac
Brand Apple
OS macOS
CPU Apple Silicon M1 Chip
Graphics 8-core GPU
RAM 16 GB (max)
Storage 2 TB (max)
Connectivity Displayport, Thunderbolt 4, USB 3, 4, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Headphone
Key Features All-in-one simplicity, color-matched keyboard, and Magic Mouse
Best For Anyone looking for a simple, out-of-the-box high-performance computer

This iMac is the latest version of the all-in-one computer that arguably saved Apple Computers . The first model, released in 1998, was a very different beast. But its genes are evident in the first M1 chip iMac. A one-box machine available in a range of colors offers simple computing for everyone. But that simplicity doesn’t mean basic.

The flat panel computer comes with up to 8-core CPU and GPU. It is super fast and will handle all your photo editing with ease. The 4.5K 24-inch screen will display them crisply and cleanly. And there’s plenty of storage available with up to 2 TB of SSD as an option.

If you’re already in the Apple ecosystem, you’ll appreciate Handoff. This is the ability to take over the work you’re doing on a different device with your current one. Your iPad can easily be added as an extra screen. And you can answer calls to your iPhone (even normal phone calls) straight from your Mac.

The iMac is a great choice for a desktop photo editing computer. At its simplest, it takes up little space. Yet it gives access to all the best photo editing apps . And it offers excellent speed and easy viewing.

4. Acer Aspire TC-1760-UA92

Acer Aspire TC-1760-UA92
Brand Acer
OS Windows 11 Home
CPU Intel Core i5-12400
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 730
Storage 512 GB
Connectivity USB-C, USB 2, HDMI, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Audio ports
Key Features 12x optical read/write drive, 5.1-channel surround sound
Best For Anyone looking for an affordable Windows machine

The Acer Aspire TC-1760-UA92 offers an Inter i5 processor and decent levels of storage at an attractive price. It also has an optical read/write drive—something that has been missing from Macs for many years.

Windows 11 comes as standard and will be familiar to its users. If you’re upgrading from an earlier version, there might be some tweaks you want to make. Some users don’t like the new Start menu location. But the default setting can be changed to move it back to the familiar bottom-left corner.

This Acer has the power required to run photo editing apps. In fact, for the price, it impresses with its processing speed. The 512 GB SSD is a little on the small end. Photos take up a lot of space. And we take a lot of them these days. The good news is that the enclosure has room for extra SSDs.

For a budget, as-is Windows machine, the Acer Aspire is an attractive choice. It is limited in upgrade options. But to get you going with photo editing, it’s a sound decision.

5. HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop

HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop
Brand HP
OS Windows 11 Home
CPU AMD Ryzen 5300G
Graphics AMD Radeon RX 5500
Storage 512 GB
Connectivity USB 2, USB-C, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Audio ports
Key Features HP QuickDrop file sharing, Open Gaming Hub for HP gaming systems
Best For Anyone looking for a budget Windows machine that will work for gaming and editing photos

The HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop is designed for, well, gaming. But the features that make it good for gaming are also good for photo editing. Retailing for a similar price to the Acer Aspire, it provides an alternative with similar capabilities.

It is less common for a gaming desktop to feature AMD chips for both the CPU and GPU. But this is what you find here. And the setup impresses with its speed at this price point. It will run a 1080p display for video. So you’ll have no problem with working on your photos with a decent display.

The 512 GB SSD will probably need upgrading unless you carefully discard unwanted photos, or use an online storage solution. Unlike the Acer, there’s no optical drive.

The HP Pavilion is another good choice if you want a budget Windows machine. It’s not the cheapest, but it has the power you need for editing.

6. Microsoft Surface Studio 2

Microsoft Surface Studio 2
Brand Microsoft
OS Windows 10 Pro
CPU Intel Core i7
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce
RAM 32 GB (max)
Storage 1 TB
Connectivity USB 3, USB-C, Ethernet, SD card, Headphone
Key Features Spring-assisted tilting display, all-in-one design, Surface Pen
Best For Graphic designers and others looking for integrated PC and drawing tablet capabilities

The Microsoft Surface Studio 2 immediately calls to mind the Apple iMac. But it doesn’t hide in Apple’s shadow. Its unique feature is that its large 28-inch display pivots from a vertical to a drawing-board angle. This makes it ideal for using the included Surface pen.

Microsoft’s pen delivers 4,069 pressure sensitivity levels. It is almost lag-free in use. When combined with the display, you have a super sharp and clear drawing surface. For photo editing, there’s no doubt the Surface has the processing power you need. But then this is far from a budget machine.

One disadvantage of the angled display is reflections. The glossy surface is pointed at the ceiling in drawing mode. So any overhead lights can easily distract. We all know to avoid facing a display at a window. But this makes positioning or lighting a little trickier.

The performance of the most common photo editing tasks is impressive. You won’t find the Surface Studio 2 lacking in oomph. It is a little stingy with connection ports, especially USB-C. But it’s a striking choice and offers a Mac-like style for Windows users.

7. NUC 11 Performance Kit

Intel NUC 11 Performance Kit – Intel Core i7
Brand Intel
OS Windows 10 Pro
CPU Intel Core i7
Graphics Intel Iris Xe
Storage 512 GB
Connectivity USB 3, USB-C, Thunderbolt 3 and 4, Ethernet, HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Key Features Supports up to four 4K displays, can be mounted to a display with Vesa mount
Best For Anyone looking for a compact Windows machine

The Intel NUC 11 Performance can be seen as a direct Windows competitor for the Mac Mini. It has a similar compact form. And it doesn’t come with a display, keyboard, or mouse. And it’s probably a fair comparison.

If you want a compact Windows computer for editing, it has many benefits. One neat feature is that you can attach it to the back of your monitor using the display’s Vesa mount. That gets it out of the way. I have worked on older desktop PCs with a similar concept. And it’s certainly a space saver.

It certainly has enough power to make a decent job of editing your photos and video. There’s a whole range of configuration options. If you like, you can configure RAM, SSDs, and GPUs to your taste.

For anyone who already has a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, the Intel NUC 11 gives you an easy way of upgrading your Windows machine.

8. Dell OptiPlex 7000 7400 All-in-One Desktop Computer

Dell OptiPlex 7000 7400 All-in-One Desktop Computer
Brand Dell
OS Windows 11 Pro
CPU Intel Core i5
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 530
Storage 256 GB
Connectivity USB, and 3, HDMI, Displayport, SD card, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Headphone
Key Features 4K display, built-in camera, and flexible connection options
Best For Anyone looking for a Windows-based all-in-one solution

The Dell OptiPlex 7000 7400 is an obvious Windows competitor for the iMac. However, it makes no attempt to emulate the Apple one-box offering for the style. This looks like a cookie-cutter flat-screen monitor in dark grey plastic.

Thankfully, its performance is more attractive than its case. So you get good processing power and the display is crisp 4K. There are plenty of connection options too. (But their placement is less than ideal.)

It’s probably more aimed at the business user. But the Dell Optiplex provides enough performance for photo editing to make it attractive to a Windows user. It’s a neat all-in-one solution.

9. HP 27 Pavilion All-in-One PC

27 Pavilion All-in-One PC
Brand HP
OS Windows 10 Pro
CPU Intel Core i7
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 630
Storage 1 TB
Connectivity USB 3, USB-C, HDMI, Ethernet, SD card, Headphone
Key Features Pop-up webcam for privacy, Bang and Olufsen sound system
Best For Anyone looking for a stylish and powerful Windows all-in-one

The HP Pavilion All-in-One PC is a stylish Windows alternative to the iMac. The brushed aluminum and accessories are very reminiscent of Apple’s offering. But it’s not trying to copy it entirely.

HP has a neat solution to webcam privacy concerns, for instance. If a hacker takes over your webcam, they won’t see much. That’s because it pops up from the top of the monitor when in use. That’s a neat trick.

You also won’t find a touchscreen on your iMac. But the HP comes with one as standard. The display doesn’t tilt as much as the Microsoft Surface Studio. The HP does have lots of potential and actual performance power in its neat case. So your photo editing won’t be left wanting by the processor.

And if you listen to music while you work, you’ll like the sound system. It’s been developed in conjunction with Bang & Olufsen. If anyone knows about putting quality technology into stylish cases, it’s B&O.

The HP Pavilion makes a lot of sense if you want a neat, stylish Windows machine for your photo editing.

Choosing the Best Desktop Computer for Photo Editing

There are many considerations as you look for a new desktop computer for photo editing. If you want more portability, then you might also want to consider a laptop computer.

Operating System

Although there’s Linux and Chrome, for most people this is a choice between Apple and Windows. You might be firmly in one camp or the other. Or you might have an open mind. Mostly, you can expect the same features and performance from either system.

If you have peripherals or software for one platform, this might be a factor. Apple computers are more prevalent in the creative world than in the general population. But there are still plenty of Windows users. Choose what works best for you.

Processor Speed and Power

Whether it’s Mac or PC, you’ll want to choose the fastest processor you can. All the data in your RAW files or your video are demanding on the processor. So when comparing desktops, look for the speed and capability of the chip.

The same goes for graphic cards or GPUs. Images are central to your needs, so get the fastest your wallet will allow.


Whether you choose an all-in-one solution or a standalone box, the display is an important question. I run two (sometimes three) additional displays off my iMac. It makes life much easier. So make sure you have enough capacity to meet your needs. And if you’re shooting 6K video with your camera, you need a display that’s going to help you work with that.

If you are attaching a separate monitor, you might need to calibrate your monitor to display the colors correctly.

Memory and Storage

RAM helps your processor handle the big files involved in photo editing. The more RAM you have, the quicker the processor can work.

Storage gives you somewhere to put your files. All the computers in this review have Solid State Drives for storage. The more storage you have, the better.


The more ports (and types of ports) you have, the easier life will be. As USB-C becomes more and more common, USB-C ports become vital on a computer. But other connections are useful too. If you have a spare HDTV, then an HDMI output on the computer is ideal. You can use the TV as an additional monitor.

Conclusion: The Best Desktop Computer For Photo Editing

If you want a Windows machine for your photo editing, then the HP Pavilion All-in-One PC offers a great value choice. All other things being equal, we think the Mac Studio gives the best blend of price and performance. Whatever machine you choose, you might want to improve your Lightroom technique as well.

Mac Studio
Mac Studio
Edit photos and videos at lightning speed with the power to run multiple displays at up to 6K.
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