Video editing is hard work. You can spend hours shooting all of your footage, only to get home and find you can’t edit it. Video editing stresses even the most powerful of computers, so what do you do when you need to edit on the move?
Here are four of the best laptops for video editing, using both Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut. From budget to premium options, you’ll be able to get your movie edited on the go with these machines.
Video Editing Hardware Requirements
Before making any purchase, it’s important to figure out what your requirements are. If you’re editing basic home videos, then you can get away with lower specs than if you’re editing 4K video.
As a general rule, you want the best CPU and as much RAM as you can afford. A good graphics processing unit (GPU) can help, but may not always be necessary if your budget will not stretch to it. An SSD will help with editing files, but a “traditional” mechanical HDD will provide more storage space at a lower price.
Powerful hardware will come at a cost, however. Not only are good editing machines expensive, but they may often be big and bulky. It’s not possible to purchase an ultra-thin, light, and powerful laptop on a tiny budget.
As Apple’s Final Cut Pro only works on Apple computers, you have limited choices, especially when shopping on a budget.
The MacBook and MacBook Air are Apple’s budget models, but you’ll have a hard time editing video on them. The tiny screens and low-powered processors will make things very difficult for you.
The 13-inch, 2017 MacBook Pro (without Touch Bar) strikes the perfect balance between cost and performance. You pay a hefty “Apple tax”, but for this, you get a beautiful machine, which is well designed, with an operating system optimized for Final Cut Pro.
The base model comes with a 2.3GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor, 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and a 128GB SSD. If you can afford it, upgrading to the i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a larger SSD will yield noticeable performance increases, but with a significant increase in price.
As video editing is extremely demanding on your processor, don’t expect this machine to handle everything you throw at it. It will be fine for basic edits, but if you start working with complex effects or 4K video, then you may want to purchase a faster machine.
For a premium Apple laptop, able to handle nearly anything you can throw at it (within reason), the 15-inch 2018 MacBook Pro (with Touch Bar) is a brilliant machine.
This model comes with a 2.6GHz 6-core Intel i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a Radeon Pro 560X GPU, and a 512GB SSD. If you can afford it, upgrading to the Intel i9 processor and 32GB of RAM will significantly boost the performance.
If that’s still not enough power, then you can purchase an External GPU to boost power at home. These are the best external GPUs for a MacBook Pro, and don’t forget to read up on everything you need to know about external GPUs.
By editing with Adobe Premiere Pro, it’s possible to ditch Apple altogether and buy a Windows computer at a fraction of the cost (sorry Linux users, the Adobe Creative Cloud won’t work for you).
Adobe is bad at optimizing its software for Windows, and Final Cut Pro is very well optimized, so to achieve similar performance levels to the Apple computers above, you’ll need faster hardware. The good news is that prices are cheaper for Windows machines.
For a budget choice, the Lenovo Yoga 720 is an excellent choice. You get an Intel dual-core i5 processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU.
Remember this is a budget machine. The GPU and SSD will help with some editing tasks, but the i5 processor and 8GB of RAM could be limiting you.
If you can afford it, the 15-inch 730 upgrades to a 4-core Intel i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 4K Ultra HD screen.
If you’re still struggling with performance issues, then have you considered offline video editing? it’s a great way to edit larger files on low-powered machines.
For the ultimate Windows video editing laptop, the Dell XPS 15 is an awesome laptop.
It’s half the price of a similar maxed out MacBook Pro. You get an Intel i9 6-core processor, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti GPU, and a 4K Ultra HD touchscreen.
If you’re after a beefy machine, but don’t quite need all the power of a maxed out XPS 15, then the base model reigns back the price a little. You get the Intel i7 processor (with six cores), a 1TB SSD, and a 1080P, non-touch display. You still get the 32GB of RAM and the GTX 1050Ti GPU.
Perhaps a Video Editing Desktop Will Suffice?
As these prices show, video editing laptops can be expensive. However, if you can live with a desktop computer, it’s possible to build a 4K video editing computer for less than $1,000. If you really must have a laptop, then you’ll have to pay the premium for a portable machine.