The Best Laptops for Video Editing in 2021

Powerful laptops

ChromebooksStudents are the target audience. As a result, you’ll have to choose features from a variety of standard laptop categories, such as graphics.ultraportables, gaming laptops, and mobile workstationsBut at the very least, you’ll have a place to start making compromises. Your wish list of features might end up being for a dream machine that doesn’t match any laptop currently on the market. ..

Devoting most of your budget to a powerful CPU, a buffed-up graphics card, and a large amount of memory are safe bets, but ancillary features likestorageWeight is also important, because even a few extra pounds can push your already heavy bag over an airline’s weight limit or cause your carry-on to be too big to fit into an overhead bin. For you, the input/output options, and the operating system are far more important than they are for the average laptop buyer.

A comfortable keyboard is also essential, as keyboard shortcuts can help you speed up many editing tasks, such as starting and stopping playback and adding keyframes. The display specifications are particularly important if you intend to use your laptop for more advanced editing tasks like shading and color correction.

The most important of these is battery life, as video editing consumes so much power that your laptop will most likely be plugged in the majority of the time. You won’t get much use out of a touch screen or a computer. Finally, there are a few features found on laptops that you won’t find on a mobile video editing station. If you need to edit while on the road, bring a spare power adapter and double-check that your flight has in-seat power outlets before purchasing a ticket. convertible laptopUnless you’re looking for a machine that you’ll use for web browsing and watching videos after a long day of shooting and editing, avoid anything that doubles as a tablet.

The Key Engines of Editing: CPU and Memory

The majority of applications are designed to take advantage of modern multi-core CPUs, so the more cores you have, the better. Look up the CPU in the laptop you’re interested in to learn more about it. The CPU and memory are the two most important laptop components for video editors. Multithreading is also important, as it allows each core to handle two processing threads at the same time. Intel’s product directoryor the Ryzen CPU product pages from AMD. Check out our comprehensive guide to laptop CPUs for a more in-depth look. Laptop processors can have up to eight cores and 16 threads. Any chip you’re considering for serious video work should have at least four cores and multithreading support for up to eight concurrent processing threads. ( )understanding the CPUs that go into notebooks.)

Although a variety of factors can influence the score, the faster the image renders, the more (and faster) cores the CPU has and the more addressable threads it supports. This test employs Maxon’s software to generate a proprietary score based on how quickly the PC can render a 3D image. Check out how well the laptop you’re considering performs on our Cinebench benchmark, which is listed in the performance section of each review, for a bird’s-eye view of how a higher processor core count increases performance.

The principle is the same for video-editing software such as Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro, which, like Cinebench, are designed to distribute compute tasks across multiple cores.

In general, CPUs from AMD or Intel’s H series for power laptops (look for an “H” near the end of the model name) are the best match for video editing. They have more addressable cores and threads, higher voltages, and occasionally faster clock speeds than thin-and-light laptop alternatives (the U series, which nowadays ends in a “U” or “G,” with the G followed by a number). On their mobile CPUs, AMD and Intel follow the same conventions (except for the “G” in AMD’s case).

This is the limit for many consumer ultraportables, though creator-class laptops with 32GB or more are now available. When it comes to main system memory, a good rule of thumb is to get a laptop with 16GB of RAM. However, because the cost is often prohibitive, and we believe that the money would be better spent on a faster CPU, we’ve designated 16GB as the sweet spot.

Should I get a video editing laptop with a hard drive or an SSD (or both)?

Although these factors are important for video editing (loading editing applications can take a long time if you edit under duress), an SSD will still provide significant speed improvements for specialized tasks like playing back multiple clips at once or working with 4K footage. In almost all cases these days, this means installing a solid-state drive (SSD), which is much faster than older spinning drives at accessing data. You’ll need a fast boot drive to complete the trifecta of main specs. Because an SSD’s main skill is decreasing boot times and making apps load faster, the speed difference between an SSD and a spinning-platter hard drive is vast for everyday computing use.

Ideally, you want a capacious hard drive in addition toa fast SSD, but because the cost of built-in SSDs skyrockets above 1TB, it’s more cost effective to ensure your laptop has a Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C port. Thunderbolt 4 connection to enable a link to a fast external driveThis is where you’ll keep the majority of your footage. However, some larger workstation and gaming machines can come with two drives (an SSD boot drive and a roomy platter-based hard drive), and if you’re looking for a big machine, this is an ideal setup for video editors: you get both speed and mass storage without having to deal with external drives.

( ) These are faster than drives with the older SATA interface, which are becoming less common in midrange and high-end laptops. When it comes to SSDs, most machines that are relevant for video editing have shifted to SSDs that use the PCI Express bus (often referred to as “NVMe” for a protocol that allows for faster data transfers than ever before). See our favorite internal SSDs.)

Graphics Acceleration: Dedicated GPU or Not?

If you’re playing AAA-grade games with a lot of detail, this setup will let you down. Graphics-acceleration silicon is built into most non-gaming laptops, rather than a separate graphics processing chip (GPU). video games, but it’s adequate for a wide range of video-editing scenarios. Almost all video editing suites are built to take advantage of faster processors, but graphics-processing hardware isn’t as common.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. A discrete GPU, for example, can speed up the video encoding process inFinal Cut Pro X, and Blackmagic Design’s Davinci Resolve editing suite has a GPU-optimized video-playback engine. Still, GPU-accelerated editing tasks should be saved for when you return to the studio.

However, if the laptop you’re considering includes an entry-level discrete GPU for a reasonable price (say, $200), there’s little reason not to upgrade and benefit from the extra speed boost when exporting video. By comparing the results of our 3DMark benchmark tests, you can get a good idea of a laptop’s graphics performance.

What Ports Should I Look for in a Video Editing Laptop?

Fortunately, many powerful laptops now weigh less than 3 pounds. The last thing you want to do is add weight to your bag when you’re already carrying dozens of pounds of camera and lighting gear. Discrete GPUs and displays larger than 14 inches aren’t available on the thinnest and lightest models, but you might be able to get by without them if you have a studio with a more powerful editing station where you do most of your cutting.

However, if you’re trying to lose weight, don’t lose too many ports. At the very least, one is recommended.ThunderboltExternal displays, lightning-fast external drives, and pretty much any USB peripheral, such as external hard drives, can all be connected to the port via the DisplayPort standard.mice or keyboardsOne or two Thunderbolt ports, plus one or two regular USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 ports, is the sweet spot. , or via an adapter if you have the proper cabling. Only Thunderbolt 3 ports are available on some laptops, including all MacBook Pro models. (USB Type-C ports are physically and electrically compatible with Thunderbolt 3 or 4 ports.)

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

A full-size SD card slot is also useful for directly transferring footage from your camera to your laptop, and all laptops should have an audio port for connecting headphones to use while editing on the plane or in a cafe.

Choosing a Display: What Screen Size Is Best for a Video-Editing Laptop?

Meanwhile, a 12-inch screen may cause you to squint. A 15-inch or 17-inch display will allow you to see more of your project timeline, but it will add weight and heft to your computer. With most mainstream and better laptops now offering at least full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) resolution, the size of the screen, not the pixel count, should be your primary consideration.

If you need to travel with your editing machine, the sweet spot is 13 or 14 inches. Many laptops slim down the bezel, or border, around the screen to fit a 13-inch or 14-inch screen into a chassis that would otherwise hold a smaller display. But there’s one thing to remember: Most The reason for this is that the larger the laptop, the more thermal leeway the designer has to include more powerful components. The most powerful CPUs are usually found in models that are 15 inches or larger. Laptops with this display size will default to a U-series processor.

While full HD resolution is sufficient for many editing tasks, if you shoot in 4K, you’ll need a screen with the same resolution. So, if you decide on a 4K screen, make sure you’ll be able to keep it near a power outlet for the majority of the time, and consider purchasing an external battery charger to use in an emergency. When you combine a 4K (or 3,840-by-2,160-pixel) screen with a six- or eight-core processor and a discrete GPU, you’re likely to get a short battery life.

On the other hand, in any video-editing machine, don’t select a resolution lower than full HD (1,366 by 768 pixels). New laptops with screens that are less than full HD are rare, except in the most basic models.

You probably don’t need to worry about the display’s color capabilities if your video-editing tasks mostly consist of arranging clips, mixing audio, and the like. Look for features like DCI-P3 or Adobe RGB color gamut support, as well as automatic calibration, which are often bundled together under a single marketing moniker, such as HP’s DreamColor. (As an example, see OLED screens and those with HDR support provide more color contrast, which may be beneficial. However, for more artistic or precise jobs like shading and color correction, you’ll want to consider how many colors the screen can display and how the color profile is calibrated. our favorite OLED-screen laptops so far.)

It’s made for apps like Final Cut Pro and Adobe Creative Suite, and it’ll show you context-relevant shortcuts when you use it. The MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar, a narrow, secondary touch screen perched forward of the keyboard, between it and the screen, is the only exception. Precision and repetition are better suited to keyboard shortcuts and a mouse than touch inputs in video editing. It’s basically a function row for serious content creators that changes depending on the program. As previously stated, the presence of a touch screen on the laptop is unlikely to be a factor.

Editing Platform Basics: Mac or PC?

Video editors are among the creative professionals who, according to stereotype, prefer Macs to PCs. Whether or not you fit that stereotype, if you’re a seasoned pro, you’ve probably already made up your mind, so we won’t try to persuade you otherwise.

If you don’t care about the operating system, however, you can choose from a wide range of hardware options if you prefer a PC to a Mac laptop. The most significant benefit of going withWindows 10or Linux is the ability to purchase a workstation-class laptop with a multi-core Intel Xeon processor, which is something that no Mac portable offers.

Your preferred video-editing software is another OS consideration. Final Cut Pro, for example, is only available on Macs, whereas most other editing suites, such as Premiere Pro and Avid Media Composer, are available on multiple platforms. If you’re set on a particular program, we’d expect it to influence your decision as much as, if not more than, the operating system or the hardware available.

So, which laptop should I buy if I’m going to do video editing?

Some are designed for content creators, while others are mobile workstations or thin-and-light models. Below are a number of our top-rated models for video editing. Any of them should be capable of at least light editing, and some are powerful enough to handle major tasks.

Whether you plan to use your video-editing laptop only for quick work in the field or bring it back to the studio, plug it in, and use it as your primary machine will ultimately determine how much you’ll have to budget. If you’re going the former route, you should also check out ourbest desktopsIf you choose the latter, you might want to read through our list of resources. when it’s time to replace your main computer. best gaming laptops, one of which might have the power you need for marathon editing sessions on deadline night—especially the more powerful CPU. Color-accurate screens aren’t their strong suit, but good gaming laptops share many of the same characteristics as good video editing laptops.