The best video editing laptops in 2021


Included in this guide:

Dell XPS 15 (2020) Best video editing laptops

Dell

XPS 15 (2020)

Dell G5 15 SE (2020) best video editing laptops

Dell

G5 15 SE (2020)

Apple MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch) best video editing laptops

Apple

MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch)

Alienware Area-51m Best video editing laptops

Alienware

Area-51m

Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch) Best video editing laptops

Microsoft

Surface Book 2 (15-inch)

HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, 2019) Best video editing laptops

HP

Spectre x360 (15-inch, 2019)

HP ZBook x2 Best video editing laptops

HP

ZBook x2

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Best video editing laptops

Lenovo

ThinkPad X1 Extreme

MSI WS66 10TMT best video editing laptops

MSI

WS66 10TMT

Alienware m15 R3 (2020) review

Alienware

m15 R3 (2020)

Asus ZenBook Pro 15 Best video editing laptops

Asus

ZenBook Pro 15

Dell Precision 5540 Best video editing laptops

Dell

Precision 5540

best video editing laptops

You’ll need one of the best video editing laptops to work with raw HD or 4K video or to create special effects. While you can trim small clips with a cheap laptop, they won’t boast a fast processor, strong discrete graphics or a high-resolution display.

For it to be the best video editing laptop, you’ll want something with a discrete graphics card. The cheapest on our list, which boasts Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, starts at around $1,099. For something with a more powerful card like a high-end Quadro or GTX 1070, as well as features like a high-end display, you may pay around $2,500 or more.

If you’re wondering if one of the best gaming laptops can edit video, it probably can, but a dedicated media creation system is more likely to get perfect renders every time. The best video editing laptops are often among the best workstations, so if you need a great laptop for handling more graphics-intensive apps beyond video editing, you may want to go with the stronger alternative. See our article about why I hate Windows 11 — here’s what Microsoft needs to fix. If you’re looking for a beast with a 30-series GPU, see our beginner’s guide to Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 series mobile GPUs.

What are the best video editing laptops? 

If you’re willing to spend a decent chunk of change, and you’re looking for the top video editing laptops, the Dell XPS 15 and the 16-inch MacBook Pro are your best bets. They offer gorgeous, high-res displays powered by some intense CPUs and GPUs that’ll power through most video editing projects that you can throw at them. Both laptops also sport slim aluminum chassis, making them incredibly portable.

If you’re looking for a video editing laptop under $1,000, your best bet would be to look at cheap gaming laptops. Something like the Dell G5 15 SE (2020), which sports an AMD Radeon RX 5600M GPU and a decent display, will be good enough for you to get through some of your rigorous tasks. However, when money is no object and you’re a gamer, the best video editing laptop you can buy is the Alienware Area-51m, as it boasts superpowerful components, lightning fast SSDs and is entirely upgradable.

But if you’re not a gamer and you want to focus exclusively on video editing no matter the cost, consider picking up a workstation, like the MSI WS65 9TM, which is one of the best workstations you can buy overall. Its Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 GPU is optimized for tasks such as video editing, and thanks to its super colorful 4K display, you’ll be able to see all of your creative work come to life before your eyes.

The best video editing laptops you can buy today

1. Dell XPS 15 (2020)

The best video editing laptop you can buy

Specifications

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Aluminum and carbon fiber — a match made in techie heaven. This baby’s 3840 x 2400 screen will take your eyes on a journey of color, covering 132% of the sRGB color gamut and blasting 434 nits of brightness. Those sharp visuals are matched by even sharper performance, with the XPS 15’s Intel Core i7-10750H processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU. 

The carbon-fiber beauty recently fixed its one biggest problem on the 2019 model and finally moved the webcam from the bottom bezel to the top. Not to mention that the XPS 15 is still light as ever, weighing only 4.5 pounds, making this a lean, portable killing machine — easily at the top of the best video editing laptops. Just in case the colors aren’t vivid enough for you, Dell preloaded several utilities to help. PremierColor lets you tweak color gamut, temperature and brightness. 

2. Dell G5 15 SE (2020)

The best budget video-editing laptop

Specifications

Reasons to buy

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The Dell G5 15 SE (2020) is one of the first gaming laptops to pack all new AMD hardware. For $1,199, the Dell G5 15 SE with an AMD R7 4800H CPU blows its competitors out of this realm. When paired with a 15.6-inch display that covered 108% of the sRGB color gamut and emitted 301 nits of brightness, and a battery life that lasted 7 hours and 14 minutes, the G5 15 SE seems like a catch. 

The Dell G5 15 SE transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 6 minutes and 43 seconds on our HandBrake benchmark, sailing past the mainstream gaming laptop average (10:35). It not only surpassed the Omen 15 (12:34) and Legion Y545 (8:51), but also topped the Zephyrus G14 (6:59). It’s the best video-editing laptop for beginners.

3. Apple MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch)

Our favorite Apple laptop

Specifications

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

At long last, after months of rumors and speculation, the 14-inch MacBook is here and it’s sporting a ton of goodies as befitting its $2,899 price tag. The ultraportable brings back a cadre of useful ports while ditching the novel, but impractical Touch Bar. The miniLED screen is positively breathtaking as is the new, improved speaker system with its spatial audio capabilities. Although it’s still in beta, macOS Monterey runs like a dream and the laptop lasted over 14 hours on our battery test. 

When we ran the HandBrake video transcoding test, the MacBook Pro only took 4 minutes and 51 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p. It ran circles around the 14:15 average. This version of the MacBook Pro is outfitted with a 14.2-inch, 3024 x 1964p display with a 120Hz refresh rate. And as Apple says, the panel has 5.9 million pixels and boasts a 254 ppi (pixels per inch).

4. Alienware Area-51m

The most powerful video editing laptop

Specifications

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Meet one of the best video editing laptops: The Alienware Area-51m. This baby is powered by an overclockable 9th Gen Core i9 desktop processor combined with the latest RTX 2080 GPU. It completely crushed the HandBrake benchmark, transcoding a 4K video to 1080p in just 6 minutes flat. Along with its immense, upgradable power, you get the machine’s gorgeous design and an SSD with a 1,272 MBps transfer rate.

War has never looked so good on a 17.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 display. From the bronze, sun-scorched deserts to pristine white snow dunes illuminated by the ethereal emerald glow of the aurora borealis, Battlefield V was devastatingly beautiful. And hidden behind a pair of black glossy vents, the Area-51m’s hiding a powerful pair of speakers.

5. Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch)

Most versatile video editing laptop

Specifications

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Both a powerful laptop and a portable tablet, the Surface Book 2 is the most versatile notebook you can use to edit video. It comes with a powerful 8th Gen Core i7 CPU and discrete Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU, as well as an incredibly vibrant 3240 x 2160 display. The Surface Book 2’s 3240 x 2160 display is bright and vivid, so it’s perfect for drawing, video editing or just kicking back and watching five or six too many YouTube videos.

It lasted over 12 hours on our battery test, so you can edit all day without fear of losing a charge. If the 15-inch version is too big or too expensive for you, there’s also a 13.5-inch option, but that steps down to either integrated or GTX 1050 graphics.

6. HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, 2019)

Best 2-in-1 video editing laptop

Specifications

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

The HP Spectre x360 is an elegant machine capable of completing the HandBrake benchmark in 10 minutes and 45 seconds. The Spectre x360’s 15.6-inch, 4K, glossy display is a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s ridiculously colorful and sharp, but on the other, this screen is annoyingly dim and comes with distracting glare. 

However, the Spectre x360 features a super comfortable keyboard and a battery that can last up to 8 hours and 9 minutes on a charge.The included HP Active Pen has two programmable buttons and 2,048 pressure sensitivity levels. The Spectre x360’s aluminum build is lathered in a premium Poseidon Blue that evokes the Greek god himself. On top of that, the hinges and surrounding area of the chassis are elegantly cut, creating a diamond-esque design.

7. HP ZBook x2

Best detachable video editing laptop

Specifications

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

The HP ZBook x2 is pricey, but it gets you an adaptable tool for creative work. The matte, 14-inch 4K display lets you edit at any resolution, and, if you prefer a stylus, you can use the shortcut keys for quick actions or keep the Bluetooth keyboard nearby. The Quadro GPU could be stronger, but there are few devices that cater so directly to creatives.

You can get brighter displays, but the ZBook’s 14-inch, 4K panel ranks as one of the most vivid we’ve ever measured. It’s also one of the few matte touch screens I’ve seen, and it has a chemical coating that, when paired with the stylus, feels like you’re writing on paper. The ZBook has what HP calls a DreamColor display, which means it can show 1 billion different colors. 

8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

Our favorite Lenovo laptop

Specifications

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Lenovo propelled its X-series line straight into the future when it revealed that the ThinkPad X1 Extreme (starting at $1,673) would be its first 15-inch and the first to have a discrete graphics card. It comes with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB GPU and can be outfitted with an 8th Gen Intel Core i9 CPU as well as 64GB of RAM, which makes it a monster for video editing. It only took 10 minutes and 3 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p on the HandBrake benchmark, which is twice as fast as the 20:30 category average. 

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme met 12 MIL-STD-810G standards, which means it can survive high humidity, exposure to sand and dust, extreme temperatures and repeated drops. It also supports dTPM encryption, Intel vPro, a fingerprint reader and an optional Smart Card reader, making it ideal for business use. Additionally, it has an optional IR camera so you can sign into your laptop with Windows Hello facial recognition.

9. MSI WS66 10TMT

The best workstation

Specifications

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Sleek, metal and unashamedly rectangular, the MSI WS66 10TMT reminds us of a retro sports car. The image of a DeLorean (the Back to the Future car) surfaces in our mind whenever we glance at this square hunk of aluminum. On top of that, passed several MIL-SPEC durability tests and even has a decently long battery life for a souped up workstation.

With a beastly Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 GPU and 16GB of VRAM, the MSI WS66 10TMT is a kick-ass video editing machine. Our workstation benchmarking gauntlet was no match for the WS66 10TMT, nor were its direct competitors. The WS66 scored a monstrous 6,735 on the Geekbench 5.0 test, surpassing the ProArt StudioBook 15 (6,076, Core i7-9750H), the WS65 9TM (5,573, Core i7-9750H) and the workstation average (4,178). The MSI WS66 also took a speedy 8 minutes and 28 seconds to complete our HandBrake benchmark.

10. Alienware m15 R3 (2020)

Best gaming laptop

Specifications

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Good things typically come in threes. Such is the case of the Alienware m15 R3 ($2,379 reviewed, $1,449 starting) which comes to the table bearing a powerful 10th Gen processor and Nvidia RTX GPU. It’s also sporting a downright gorgeous 4K display and Alienware’s trademark customizable lighting. And let’s not forget that comfortable keyboard and those powerful speakers. During the Handbrake test, the m15 transcoded a 4K to 1080p resolution in 8 minutes and 38 seconds.

You can not only game but video edit on a display capable of reproducing 149.7% on the DCI-P3 color gamut and emitting a vibrant 369 nits of brightness. However, its battery did last only 4 hours and 38 minutes. But overall, the Alienware m15 R3 is an excellent workhorse not to mention an even better gaming laptop.

11. Asus ZenBook Pro 15

Most innovative video editing laptop

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Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

This 4K speed demon packs an Intel Core i9 processor and a Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti GPU in a lightweight, sexy chassis accompanied by Asus’ most interesting feature: the ScreenPad. Essentially a second display, ScreenPad is built into the touchpad to enhance your multitasking. 

There are several apps built into the ScreenPad that can transform the secondary display according to use case including a numpad, calculator or a music player. It comes in handy when you want to game on your main display and watch a game guide on the second. When you’re not fawning over the awesome ScreenPad, you get to take-in that sexy design and enjoy that eye-popping 141 percent of sRGB color gamut on the 4K display while you’re bouncing around its comfortable keyboard.

12. Dell Precision 5540

The best XPS 15 alternative

Specifications

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Dell basically took the XPS 15 and stuffed workstation components inside, which brought the Dell Precision 5540 into life. It’s packing an Intel Core i9-9980HK processor, an Nvidia Quadro T2000 GPU and 32GB of RAM. When you’re on the go, you don’t have to worry about the Precision getting all scuffed up thanks to its MIL-SPEC chassis. It also sports a 15.6-inch, 4K OLED panel, which is perfect for video editing. 

The screen covers 200% of the sRGB color gamut and averages 384 nits of brightness. In the Stranger Things, ahem, I mean Ghostbusters: Afterlife trailer, Finn Wolfhard’s blue shirt popped on the Precision 5540’s screen. Even though the quick shot of the diner was dimly lit, I could spot the details of the coffee pots on the counter.

How to choose the best video editing laptops for you 

Choosing the best video editing laptop for you depends on a couple of things. One is your budget — how much are you willing to spend? And another is what you’ll be using it for — of course you’re video editing, but are you simply trimming small clips in 720p? Or are you editing massive projects in 4K? Your answer will determine what kind of system you need.

If you want to get into video editing as a hobby, we recommend starting out with a cheap gaming laptop. It’ll offer you a decent amount of power and you’ll get a feel if you want to stick with video editing for the future. If you’re a professional that needs a top-of-the-line video editing laptop, you’re going to need a sharper and brighter display to get your work done, which will cost a pretty penny. So when you’re buying a video editing laptop, ask yourself — how much do you actually need it?

How we test the best video editing laptops 

There’s a number of tests that we run on video editing laptops to make sure they’re up to par with our standards, such as Geekbench, which measures the overall performance of the CPU, and the HandBrake video editing test, which determines how long a laptop takes to transcode a video from 4K to 1080p. To test the GPU, we use synthetic benchmarks like 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited and 3DMark Fire Strike.

Performance isn’t the only thing you have to worry about when you’re looking to buy a video editing laptop. We also take into account the display, specifically the resolution, the sRGB color gamut coverage and average number of nits that its panel can produce. Considering that content is frequently consumed on phones with OLED screens or giant colorful TVs, you need to make sure you’re able to see what your users will be seeing when you’re editing videos.

Rami Tabari is a Senior Writer for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder’s dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.