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Best Laptops for Video Editing in 2023

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For video editing, having the right laptop is essential.

For video editing, having the right laptop is essential.

Video Editing on the Go: The Best Laptops for Filmmakers and YouTubers

Video editing is no longer exclusive to Hollywood studios and production shops. With the right laptop, anyone can edit videos and bring their creative visions to life.

From film students to industry professionals and YouTubers, finding the perfect laptop for video editing can be a challenge. It's important to consider factors such as power, resolution, storage, and cost when making your decision.

With the abundance of options in the market, it can be difficult to know where to start. That's where I come in. I have curated a list of the best video editing laptops currently available, and I will keep updating it regularly to ensure you always have the latest options.

I also provide in-depth advice on important components such as processors, graphics, and storage to help you make an informed decision. Join me as I navigate the world of video editing laptops and uncover the top-rated models for all your creative needs.

A Comprehensive Buying Guide

When it comes to choosing a laptop for video editing, it's important to pay attention to the display specifications. A high-quality display is essential for tasks such as shading and color correction. Additionally, a comfortable keyboard is crucial as keyboard shortcuts are an important aspect of editing and streamlining tasks.

It's worth noting that battery life may not be a major concern for video editing laptops, as the high power consumption during editing may require the laptop to be plugged in most of the time. However, if you plan on editing on the go, it may be beneficial to have a spare power adapter or ensure your travelling location has in-seat power outlets.

Touch screens and convertibles laptops that can also function as tablets are not necessarily important features when it comes to video editing. These are more suited for general use such as web browsing or watching videos after a long day of editing.

Photo by Fidel Fernando on Unsplash

Photo by Fidel Fernando on Unsplash

CPU and Memory Are Crucial

When it comes to selecting a laptop for video editing, the CPU and memory are two of the most crucial components to consider. Most video editing software is optimized to take advantage of modern multi-core CPUs, which means that the more cores a CPU has, the better it will perform. Multithreading, which allows each core to handle multiple processing threads simultaneously, is also a critical feature.

To determine the suitability of a CPU for video editing, it's best to check its specifications on Intel's product directory or AMD's Ryzen CPU product pages. Ideally, a CPU for video editing should have at least four cores and support for multithreading for eight concurrent threads of processing. High-end laptop CPUs can support up to eight cores and 16 threads (or even more).

One way to gauge the performance of a laptop's CPU for video editing is to check its score on a benchmark website. In general, the more cores and faster cores a CPU has and the more addressable threads it supports, the higher the benchmark score will be.

When it comes to selecting the best CPU for video editing, CPUs in the H series from AMD or Intel are generally the best choice. These CPUs are designed for power-laptops and offer more cores, higher voltage and often faster clock speeds than alternatives designed for thin-and-light laptops. Typically, H series CPUs can be identified by the "H" at the end of their model name.

When it comes to system memory, a good rule of thumb is to select a laptop with at least 16GB of RAM. This is the standard for many consumer laptops and is sufficient for most video editing tasks. However, some high-end laptops now offer options for 32GB or more of RAM. However, considering the cost, the money may be better spent on a faster CPU.

In short, when looking for a video editing laptop, look for a H series processor from AMD or Intel and at least 16GB of memory.

Should You Get a HDD or SSD (or Both)?

To fully optimize a laptop for video editing, a fast boot drive is essential. This means having a solid-state drive (SSD) as they can access data much faster than traditional spinning drives.

The speed difference between an SSD and a hard drive is significant when it comes to everyday computing use and loading video editing applications, especially when editing under pressure. An SSD will also provide noticeable speed gains for specialized tasks such as playing back multiple clips or working with 4K footage.

Having a large capacity hard drive in addition to a fast SSD is ideal. However, the cost of built-in SSDs can become prohibitive at capacities above 1TB. To overcome this, a laptop should ideally have a Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 connection to enable a link to a fast external drive to store most footage.

Alternatively, some larger workstation and gaming laptops can offer two drives (an SSD boot drive, and a roomy traditional hard drive) which provide both speed and mass storage without the need for an external drive.

When assessing SSDs, most laptops relevant for video editing now use SSDs that utilize the PCI Express bus, which is associated with the term "NVMe" and allows for faster data transfer than the older SATA interface. These are faster than SATA-based drives and are becoming more common in midrange and high-end laptops.

Do You Need a Dedicated GPU?

Most non-gaming laptops come with integrated graphics, which are part of the CPU and not a separate GPU. This can lead to weaker performance when playing high-detail video games, but is generally sufficient for video editing.

While some video editing suites, such as Final Cut Pro X and Blackmagic's Davinci Resolve, can take advantage of more powerful GPUs, this is not a common requirement.

It might be worth considering an entry-level discrete GPU for a moderate additional cost if it is available, as it can provide a speed boost during video export process. You can check the laptop's graphics performance by looking at its scores on benchmark tests such as 3DMark.

Photo by Tobias Lystad on Unsplash

Photo by Tobias Lystad on Unsplash

Connectivity: What Ports Do You Need?

When carrying heavy camera and lighting equipment, the last thing you want is to add weight to your bag. Luckily, many lightweight laptops that weigh less than 3 pounds are available these days, and they may come with powerful specs.

These ultraportable laptops usually don't have dedicated GPUs or large displays, but you might not require those features, especially if you have a more powerful editing station at your studio.

If you're looking for a lightweight laptop, it's important to make sure it has enough ports to accommodate your needs. I recommend having at least one Thunderbolt port, which allows you to connect to external displays, fast external drives, and a variety of USB peripherals with the right cabling or adapters.

Some laptops, like all MacBook Pro models, only come with Thunderbolt 3 ports, so you may want to look for one or two Thunderbolt ports, and one or two regular USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 ports.

A full-size SD card slot is also useful for transferring footage directly from your camera to your laptop, and an audio port is a must for connecting headphones while editing on-the-go.

Display: What's the Best Screen Size?

When choosing a laptop for video editing, screen size and resolution are important factors to consider. Most mainstream laptops these days offer at least full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) resolution, so your main focus should be on the screen size.

A 15-inch or 17-inch display allows you to see more of your project timeline but comes with the trade-off of added weight and size. On the other hand, a 12-inch display may be too small to comfortably view your content.

The best balance, if you plan to travel with your editing machine, is a 13-inch or 14-inch display. Many laptops are able to fit these larger screens into a compact chassis by slimming down the bezel around the display. However, it's important to note that most laptops with this screen size come with U-series processors, which tend to be less powerful than the processors found in larger laptops. This is because larger laptops have more thermal space for more powerful components.

While full HD resolution is suitable for most editing tasks, if you frequently shoot in 4K, you will want a screen with a resolution to match. But, keep in mind that a 4K screen, combined with a six- or eight-core processor, and a discrete GPU, may result in shorter battery life.

So, if you choose a 4K screen, make sure you plan to work close to a power outlet or invest in an external battery charger for backup power.

For tasks like arranging clips, mixing audio, and the like, color capabilities may not be as important. However, for more artistic or precision-oriented jobs such as shading and color correction, it's important to pay attention to the number of colors the screen can display and how it calibrates the color profile.

Look for features such as DCI-P3 or Adobe RGB color-gamut support and automatic calibration, which are often bundled into marketing terms like HP's DreamColor. OLED screens and those with HDR support also offer greater color contrast and could be helpful.

Touch screens may not be necessary for video editing as it involves precision and repetition, which are best suited to keyboard shortcuts and a mouse. However, MacBook Pro's Touch Bar is an exception, a narrow touch screen between the keyboard and the display.

It's designed for apps like Final Cut Pro and the Adobe Creative Suite, and offers context-relevant shortcuts with supported software. It essentially acts as a function row for professional content creators that adapts according to the program in use.

Best Laptop for Video Editing

Apple 2021 MacBook Pro 16

Apple 2021 MacBook Pro 16

Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021)

The best laptop for editing videos that I've seen is the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021), it is a premium mobile workstation with sleek design and durable construction. The M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs in the laptop are designed to handle high-resolution video editing with ease and they don't throttle under load and runs cool. This laptop can support upto 64GB of memory and 8TB of storage, but users should keep in mind that components are not upgradable.

This laptop has a Mini LED screen which is very bright, display deep blacks, and covers the entire sRGB and DCI P3 color spaces. The factory calibration is superb, so users get accurate colors out of the box.

It has a wide range of ports including three USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI, an SD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, with plenty of power to drive high-impedance headphones. Battery life will vary depending on usage but can last for all day on light tasks, but for demanding tasks such as video editing, it will likely last for a little over two hours. Users will need to bring a charger.

If portability is more important than screen size, the smaller Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021) is similar to this laptop, just in a more compact chassis. Battery life is a little shorter but not significantly, and while the speakers don't sound as good as its larger sibling's, they're still excellent.

For Windows users, the MSI WS76 (2021) is a good option. It is a 17.3-inch mobile workstation available with Intel 11th Gen processors and NVIDIA discrete GPUs, performing exceptionally well and can handle demanding workloads, but it's not as portable as it's bulkier and heavier and its battery lasts less than 8 hours on light use. Also, the display's factory calibration isn't as good in the DCI P3 color space, so you'll have to calibrate it before doing any color work.

Best Mid-Range Laptop for Video Editing

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14

If you are looking for an affordable alternative to the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021) for video editing, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is a great option. Gaming laptops are also well-suited for video editing as the hardware requirements are often similar.

The G14 particularly stands out, as it features a sharp 16:10 QHD panel with full DCI P3 coverage. Its factory calibration is good but it may need to be fine-tuned before color work.

It is equipped with a powerful 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS CPU, and users can choose between an AMD Radeon RX 6700S or 6800S GPU, both of which have enough power to handle video editing. But, there are also some downsides to keep in mind.

Firstly, this laptop gets hot and loud under load, you can change the fan settings to reduce the noise, but that might decrease the performance.

Secondly, the battery lasts for a little over an hour when performing demanding tasks such as video editing and gaming, which means you will need to keep the charger nearby.

Thirdly, the USB-C ports support USB 3.2 Gen 2 standards, which is slower than USB4 or Thunderbolt 4, ASUS promised to add USB4 support but there is no word on the update.

Although it may not have the premium feel of the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021), it is still an excellent laptop for video editing, and it can also double as a gaming PC.

Best Budget Laptop for Video Editing

Lenovo - Legion 5

Lenovo - Legion 5

Lenovo Legion 5

The Lenovo Legion 5 is the best budget laptop for video editing. This gaming laptop can be configured with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H or Ryzen 7 5800H CPU and offers multiple GPU options, from the entry-level NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 to the powerful NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070.

It's on the heavier side, so it may not be the most portable, but it's well-built and has a professional design that won't stand out in a work environment. The keyboard is spacious and comfortable, and there are plenty of ports for peripherals and external displays.

The memory and storage are user-replaceable, allowing you to start with a cheaper configuration and upgrade later. The main downside is that it's only available with sRGB displays, so you may need an external monitor for wider color spaces.

It also lacks biometrics for quick login and has a very short battery life, around four hours of light use and one hour of intensive workload.

Bottom Line

Having a powerful laptop with good performance is essential for both professional and amateur video editors, as video editing is a demanding task that requires a lot of processing power.

A powerful laptop will provide a smoother experience when manipulating footage, play high-resolution videos without frame drops, and render videos faster, saving you valuable time.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Ionel Anton