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Is a MacBook Air good for video editing? With the M1 chip and performance boost in the MacBook Air, users will be pleased to discover that the MacBook Air is good enough fit for video editing requirements no matter what type of video editing you are performing.
When choosing a MacBook, your priority when editing and rendering videos is being able to handle graphically-intensive tasks. You’ll need to prioritize three specs: a powerful graphics card, a 16Gb of RAM (memory), and a multi-core processor.
If you are running a super high-end studio level set up, then the MacBook Pro will certainly outperform the MacBook Air and is ideal for pro video editing since it can power up to 4 external screens with 4096 x 2304 resolution (and at 60Hz).
…but, if you don’t need four external monitors (most of us don’t) and you’re not performing an extreme amount of multi-tasking the MacBook Air will suffice.
In this post, I’m going to cover why exactly the MacBook Air is good enough for video editing, the specs that make this so, and what upgrades you’ll want to consider. I’ll also go over if it’s worth it to get the MacBook Pro or another alternative laptop instead.
Is a MacBook Air Good Enough for Video Editing?
Most professional video editors use powerful desktop computers for work. It is the most practical option; desktop computers give you more of everything you need for video editing at the same price as a much less powerful laptop.If these professionals had to work while on the go, they would most likely choose a powerhouse laptop like a MacBook Pro which is more expensive but is known to handle complex video editing easily.The MacBook Air, however, is a solid option for amateur and intermediate photo editors or content creators who edit and post videos on their blogs or social media platforms, such as YouTube.
Here’s what you should keep in mind when deciding if the Macbook Air will be good enough for your video editing needs:
MacBook Pros are definitely more powerful than the MacBook Air for Video editing
When it comes to video editing, the Pro receives very good analysis by experts. The Air may be good for simple video editing, especially if its RAM, processor, and storage are maxed. However, the premium you pay to upgrade a MacBook Air 13-inch could bring you to the price point of the entry-level MacBook Pro that you may as well consider the basic MacBook Pro.
The type of editing matters when considering a MacBook Air for editing video
Basic video editing can be done quite well with the Air but 4k video editing will place significantly more resource demands on the computer and we know the MacBook Air is not a workhorse. If you are a content creator, however, who posts on YouTube, or an amateur doing basic video edits, you just may find the MacBook Air adequate for your needs.
Aim to purchase a future-proofed computer
It’s ideal to grab a computer or laptop that will last you many years. Technology advances are rapid. Operating systems update regularly; so do video editing software. You want a computer that will be able to handle increasing resource requirements over the years.
When aiming to get a Macbook Air for video purposes, you’ll also want to figure out how Long Does a MacBook Air Last (The Truth)
MacBook Air: Does it reach video editing requirements?
The new MacBook Air is definitely more powerful than its predecessor. It’s also a bit cheaper as well. But, will it make the cut as far as video editing requirements are concerned?
For simple video editing, including editing for content on YouTube, blogs, and other social media platforms, a MacBook Air running on an i5 processor and 16GB RAM would be ideal.
A higher SSD storage would also be better; each frame of the video contains a lot of information (metadata, visuals, audio, timestamps, etc) that can easily increase file sizes.
We have reservations though about more complex video editing. This will place greater demands on processing power, graphics power, and even storage space. For this kind of work, we believe one should go with the MacBook Pro.
How good is the MacBook Air for 4k video editing?
Is it even possible to do 4k video editing with a MacBook Air? Technically, yes. Some video editors have been able to do 4k video editing on the Air. But before you race out to get the MacBook Air, know that performance tests show two issues when using the Air.
One, the Apple Macbook Air heats up when rendering and exporting files slightly. Frequent heating will shorten your laptop’s life. Two, the export will take a noticeable amount longer compared to if you were using the Pro version of the Macbook.
In one performance test, a 4K, 3-minute file took around 15 minutes to render. Estimates of transcoding time of 4k videos range from 4 to 16 times longer on the Air.
If your tasks are mainly 4k editing, we strongly recommend you get the MacBook Pro. The Air might still be able to do some tasks but we think it will definitely be a struggle and will take more time to complete crucial tasks.
How well does MacBook Air run video editing software?
We already know that the MacBook Air is not ideal for regular 4k video editing. But if you are doing only 1080p videos on a MacBook Air, let’s see how different video editing software stack up.
Final Cut Pro X
The good news with Final Cut Pro X is that it was made to work on ALL Macs. The caveat: The Air will do well editing at 720p and even 1080p but will start to sputter with 4k video editing, especially rendering and exporting.
A feature called proxy footages may allow you to do intermediate editing with a lower resolution footage but it can be a bit cumbersome. Final Cut Pro X, on the MacBook Air, is a great tool for professional-looking editing for YouTube and amateur film makers.
Using the MacBook Air with final cut pro X and being able to multitask, handle many different layers, add special effects, and much more is crucia, because Apple has allowed this software to specifically work more efficiently than any other video editor on the macOS.
Adobe Premiere Pro
The MacBook Air can handle basic video editing tasks. Some CPU-intensive tasks, such as rendering and exporting, may take a while longer than if you were on the MacBook Pro. Feedback from some users show that Adobe Premiere Pro is not as smooth as Final Cut Pro X on the Air. You may also sometimes experience a lag while scrubbing through footage; the video timeline may also buffer.
Want free and open-source video editing software? Take a look at OpenShot. It is a cross-platform software that works on Macs, Windows, and Linux.
Open Shot has a long list of impressive features and gets regular updates per year. However, user forums are rife with problems using the software — from popup warnings about malware to hanging and lagging issues. You can try OpenShot (just because it’s free) but be prepared to eventually ante up some money to get more stable apps like Final Cut Pro X.
iMovie comes installed with every Mac so if you are looking for a basic app that is both free and robust, this may just be the one for you. I have used iMovie for simple video edits and have had no problems at all. The user interface is beginner-friendly and there are enough features in it for fairly decent videos that I normally upload to YouTube. My MacBook Air has had no problems at all running iMovie.
Can you edit YouTube videos on MacBook Air?
Yes with a BUT. You absolutely can use the MacBook Air for video editing YouTube videos. Many content creators I know do and they are fine with it.
However, there are limits as to which video editing software you can use. If your video editing is limited to iMovie or Final Cut Pro X, and all you need are 1080p videos, you should be fine. Even on the base model of the MacBook Air, with an i3 processor, video editing using Final Cut Pro X was pretty fast. It should be about the same with iMovie.
There is a marked difference, however, when rendering and exporting files. The i5 processor significantly cuts down the time. In one performance test, a 4-minute 1080p video at 30 frames per second (fps) took roughly 25 minutes on an i3 processor while it only took about 4 minutes on an i5 processor. If you are thinking long-term, it will be good to go for the i5 processor and a minimum of 16GB RAM.
Is the MacBook Air good for photo editing?
If the MacBook Air can handle video editing, it can surely do the same with photo editing. Lightroom and Photoshop are popular photo editing apps. Photoshop, for example, can easily handle even high-resolution images from smartphones and handheld cameras. Lightroom should be able to do the same. It is when you start working with high-resolution RAW files and opening multiple applications when some hiccups can occur.
Feedback from some people using Lightroom Classic shows that on the Air, photos take a while to render and edits made to contrast, exposure, for example, take a few seconds to be reflected onscreen. A workaround is to run Lightroom in low resolution mode, disable graphic acceleration, and use smart previews instead of the original images for developing in order to speed up Lightroom. Uploading and downloading photos can also challenge patience.
A good argument for using the MacBook Air for photo editing would be its portability and light weight. Our strong recommendation, if you decide to go for the Air, is to go for the highest RAM, more powerful processor, and largest storage your budget can afford. This will make performance a little better for you.
But if performance is more important to you than mobile convenience, consider the MacBook Pro which takes performance to a different level and can readily handle even the resource-heavy photo editing software.
If you’re planning to use a stylus to draw, and retouch photos, see our post: 7 Best Stylus for Photoshop & Adobe Illustrator
Which is better for Video editing: Apple’s Macbook Pro or Macbook Air?
When choosing the right laptop for video editing, creators are considering between the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. So which is better?
It will come to no surprise the MacBook Pro is technically better at handle video editing better as well as high-performing CPU intensive tasks due to it’s more powerful M1 processor, upgradable graphics card, 16GB base RAM, and 16-inch display (which makes a difference).
When you take price into account when deciding between which MacBook model you will use for video editing, it’s a different ballgame.
The MacBook Air is not only lighter and more thin but it is also a priced at lower cost; making it very appealing for video editors graphic designers, and content creators.
The fact that the MacBook Air has a bit lower storage capacity does not effect its ability to process and handle 4k video, but it might matter for some who don’t utilize the cloud to store their videos.
Because both MacBook models are able to handle final cut pro in both have a SSD solid-state drive, the two will compete fairly closely when it comes to casual and every day video editing.
If you’re planning on using Procreate, an iPad is more ideal. See more on our post: Which iPad is Best for Procreate?
One big noticeable difference between the two was that the MacBook Pro was able to export 4K video significantly quicker compared to the MacBook Air.
Does MacBook Air have video editing software
Yes the MacBook Air has video editing software you can use Final Cut Pro X as well as the Adobe suite and any other macOS compatible software.
While the Apple MacBook comes with iMovie already installed, the more advanced video editors will enable you to add additional layers. You’ll even be able to adjust special effects colors and other adjustments like saturation, and filters.
For knowing when to shut your Mac down, see our post How Often Should I Shut Down my MacBook?
How to Edit Videos on Macbook Air
You can edit videos on the MacBook Air to be used with content, YouTube videos, Vimeo, and other popular media sites. In order to do so, you’ll need to install a software. Some examples include Apple final cut pro, da Vinci resolve 17, and Camtasia (to name a few).
First you upload the video that you want to edit, then you use the different features with in the software to change the exposure, color, and apply filters.
You’ll also be cutting certain parts of the video and placing them at different points within the timeline of the editor. Finally once you’re done you can export the video in the desired format.
If you’re using Final Cut Pro you can even export to the exact platform you choose online.
If you were looking to video edit casually and you’re wondering if the MacBook Air is good enough for video editing, then you can rest assured that it’s performance, speed, display, and overall capabilities will enable adequate video editing for Casual and intermediate video editors.
If you were looking to edit video professionally, such as in a studio the MacBook Pro will outshine the MacBook Air because it’s not only more powerful but he performed much faster and more efficiently when we tested the two laptops side by side.