Pro laptops fit the power of a gaming notebook into a sleek, understated design, along with decent battery life and a large, high-quality screen great for getting work done. If you edit photos or videos or render 3D graphics for a living and you want something that isn’t a MacBook Pro, we think Dell’s XPS 15 9500 provides the best combination of performance, weight, screen quality, and battery life.
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.
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.$1,567* from Dell
*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,666.
|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.
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.$1,643 from Lenovo
|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. TFSBS