The best laptops for video editing deliver the power and performance few other applications need. Video, especially 4K and above, requires a fast central processing unit (CPU), powerful graphics processor, and a screen that can display the most accurate color. In the past, this kind of performance required a desktop computer with a high-end production monitor but today, with advances in technology, all that muscle fits in a unit small enough to slip into your backpack.
Of course, editing video on a laptop requires some sacrifices. At home, you might have a pair of 4K monitors that allow your timeline to stretch as far as you want while still displaying your software’s many different panels. Your portable system, on the other hand, has a 17-inch panel—if you’re lucky. Laptops also have fewer USB ports than desktop machines, which makes it harder to connect all your peripherals. Some have slower CPUs, tighter caps on memory capacity, and anemic internal storage. So why bother with a laptop at all?
In a word, portability. An editing rig built around a laptop won’t tie you to a desk. You can work on your project in an editing bay, then pack it up and take it home for more tweaks. If you travel, you can edit vacation or travel vlog videos from the road. And, honestly, never underestimate the pleasure of getting work done while sitting in the park on a nice spring day.
Unfortunately, computer manufacturers rarely market their machines specifically to video editors. Instead, you need to compare complicated specs and think about how they relate to the type of work you’re doing. It’s not always easy, so we’ve put together our list of the best laptops for video editing so you can spend less time shopping and more time cutting your masterpieces.
How we selected the best laptops for video editing
When evaluating the best laptops for video editing, we looked at 12 top picks among professional editors, reviewers, and users. We focused on specs, but with an eye toward video editing specifically; some desirable features, like touch screens, aren’t important in this context. Instead, we set our sights on processing power and CPUs, graphics cards, and the size, resolution, and color accuracy of monitors.
Some laptop reviews spend time considering the computer’s size and weight, but that, too, was secondary. Many video editors spend most of their time working at a desk, even when using a laptop. Related to that, battery life took on less importance in this context. Working with video draws a lot of power, and it makes sense to keep a laptop plugged in while working.
Finally, we also paid attention to the laptop’s ports. Editors use external hard drives, monitors, and other peripherals, none of which do any good if you can’t plug them in.
Things to consider before buying the best laptop for video editing
In the simplest terms, the best laptops for video editing are jacked-up machines that deliver the most power possible. But that’s not the whole story. The laptop best suited to editing doesn’t need certain features that might appeal to other high-end laptop users, such as touchscreens. When purchasing a laptop, here are some things to consider carefully.
Nothing is more important than processor speed and memory
Video editing and real-time playback are processor-intensive, and it only gets worse when you start loading up a project with effects, graphics, and other creative bells and whistles. Most editing software takes advantage of multicore CPUs, and the best laptops for editing video come with 8-core processors. These each usually have multithreading, which allows them to handle two processing threads simultaneously. The end result is a machine that efficiently processes video files, whether playing back multiple tracks of 4K video, transcoding one format of video to another, or outputting finished movie files.
Don’t forget about RAM, either. Generally, 16GB is enough for video editing, though more is always better. If your budget is tight, it’s better to put the money toward the CPU than more memory.
What’s a graphics processor, and how important is it?
Most laptops have a built-in graphics processor to handle imaging with enough muscle to edit video. However, many better laptops come with dedicated GPUs—with their own onboard RAM—that work in conjunction with your CPU to improve video performance. You most often notice this in functions like video encoding and multitrack video playback. If you’re working on bigger projects, or if you want a faster workflow, consider springing for the best GPU you can afford.
Internal storage: How much should a laptop have?
Most professionals agree that storing video files on external drives is better than leaving them on your computer. It keeps files organized and groups in a dedicated location, and also keeps your internal drive from getting bogged down reading and writing real-time video files. External hard drives also provide easy expandability; when one fills up, you can replace it. They’re shareable among collaborators, too.
That said, if the point of using a laptop is portability, you might not want to be tied down by drives that hang off the side of your computer. In that case, an internal SSD makes a lot of sense. But remember, video files are often quite large, and you have to balance the need for more space with the price of expensive SSDs.
Having a 1TB internal SSD will keep you working on small projects when you’re trying to keep your rig lean and mean, but in the end, most of your cutting is best done using larger, less expensive, high-performance external hard drives.
Monitors: Seeing is believing
Today, all laptop monitors are at least full-HD resolution. You can get 4K monitors, too, and they’re helpful when trying to squeeze all of your software’s panels and timelines into a relatively small space. But the truth is, more important than resolution is the monitor’s physical size. Because editing on a tiny screen isn’t fun.
Most of the best laptops for editing video come with monitors 15 inches or larger. The best provide 16 and 17 inches of workspace and, trust me, you’ll notice the difference. There are times when you might want an ultra-portable laptop, especially if you spend a lot of time working on airplanes or when you have so much other gear that shaving size and weight off anything is a blessing. However, in all other cases, bigger really will make your life better if you’re an editor.
Color accuracy is also important, especially if you perform your own color correction. Unfortunately, color standards aren’t always so standard, and TV, web, and cinema all treat video differently. This generally manifests itself in how wide a range of colors can be displayed. The best laptop monitors can conform to the wider DCI-P3 standard, which is coming into use across more platforms, including movies and the web. They can also be calibrated to match the Rec. 709 standard, which is used primarily in television.
Ports of call
The importance of ports is sometimes overlooked in the race to crank out the best performance specs, but that’s a mistake. USB ports, HDMI outputs, and SD card slots increase your laptop’s capabilities in many ways. You can plug in external drives, monitors, or audio interfaces using USB, send video to TVs through HDMI, or pull footage from cards with built-in SD slots. Unfortunately, many manufacturers today limit their laptops to a few USB-C ports, though these often work at Thunderbolt 3 or 4 speeds. That’s fine if your peripheral uses USB-C, but USB-A is still common. HDMI provides another way to connect to an external monitor without taking up the USB ports and an internal SD reader is just a handy feature for editors, who often pull footage from cameras that record to SD cards.
All that said, ports aren’t the priority. If a laptop delivers on its CPU and monitor, you’ll be fine if the port selection isn’t exactly what you’d love. After all, that’s what adapters are for.
Editing video uses a lot of power, so whenever you’re working somewhere with an outlet, take advantage of the opportunity to plug in. However, half the fun of owning a laptop is mobility, so decent battery life doesn’t hurt.
Size and weight
In almost every case, the laptops most suitable for editing video will be larger. They have bigger monitors, they accommodate more memory, and they usually have more powerful CPUs. But that doesn’t mean you can’t edit using a smaller computer if size and weight are important. Many laptops for both Windows and Mac can edit video quite well while still having monitors in the 13-inch range.
Don’t be afraid to customize
As we said, manufacturers don’t usually market their laptops specifically to editors, and many base-level configurations won’t provide the specs necessary for complex and power-hungry video applications. When buying, look to upgrade CPUs, graphics cards, and RAM.
The best laptops for video editing: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Windows laptop for video editing: Dell XPS 17
Why it made the cut: The Dell XPS 17 is the best Windows laptop for video editing because Dell XPS’s powerful graphics processing easily handles multiple tracks of 4K video files and complex effects, while the large, 17-inch screen provides room for all the panels in your workspace.
- Weight: 4.65 pounds
- Product Dimensions (HWD): 0.77 inches by 14.74 inches by 9.76 inches
- Processor: Intel Core i7 or Core i9
- Screen Size: 17-inch
- Operating System: Windows
- Large 17-inch display that can be configured for 4K
- Can be configured with a powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card
- Four Thunderbolt 3 ports and built-in SD card reader
- The best configuration for video is expensive
- No USB Type-A ports
Dell created the XPS17 laptop to not just supplement an existing desktop workstation, but to completely replace it. With a large, beautiful monitor, plenty of processing power, and ample RAM, the computer has enough muscle to handle even the most complicated video projects. It does require some configuration and upgrades when purchasing and that drives up the price, but, for your money, you get a workhorse that can cut Hollywood blockbusters at home, the beach, an editing bay, or on a plane high above the Pacific.
The base model of the XPS17 features a lovely, 17-inch high-definition screen, but it’s worth swapping it with the available 4K panel for better pixel resolution; both panels support the sRGB and DCI-P3 color space, making it easier to color-correct footage, whether it’s destined for TV, the web, or the multiplex. You’ll also want to replace the built-in graphics processor with the speedy and efficient Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 card for improved image processing and faster render times.
The best model for video editing uses the Core i7 or i9 chip, and your budget will dictate which one you choose. Either one handles most professional-level projects, with the difference being most noticeable on ones that use an excessive number of tracks, or multiple layers of effects or composited images.
Four USB-C ports connect the laptop to external hard drives and monitors. The built-in SD card slot keeps you from wasting a port on an external reader, but you will have to use one to plug in the computer’s power cord. All USB-C ports support Thunderbolt 3.
Best Mac laptop for video editing: Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro
Why it made the cut: With a large Retina display that supports the P3 color standard and a processor designed to handle heavy-weight tasks like rendering multiple layers of high-resolution video, Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pros are some of the most powerful around making them our choice for best Mac laptop for video editing.
- Weight: 3.5 pounds
- Product Dimensions (HWD): 0.61 inches by 12.31 inches by 8.71 inches
- Processor: Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max
- Screen Size: 16-inch
- Operating System: macOS
- Large Retina display supports P3 color standard
- Powerful M1 Pro or M1 Max chips inside
- Unique architecture makes for super-efficient operation
- Up to 8TB SSD storage
- Built-in SD reader
- Lots of ports
- Expensive to configure for high-end video editing
Apple has a deep history building computers favored by creatives, with the machines finding homes with photographers and designers, musicians and record producers, and, of course, video editors. The new 16-inch MacBook Pros incorporate Apple’s impressively powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max chips while adding a few very welcome upgrades.
The new MacBook Pro offers a choice between the M1 Pro chip and the top-of-the-line M1 Max chip. Obviously, the Max provides the highest level of performance, but even the M1 Pro provides enough oomph for intense editing jobs.
Apple has brought back the MagSafe power adapter with a burly 140W charging brick. Plus, the 16-inch model now offers Three USB-C Thunderbolt ports, an HDMI out, and even a built-in SD card reader. While the reader itself isn’t super fast, it’s handy in a pinch for dumping footage or images.
The laptop also benefits from its bright, 16-inch Retina display, which supports the P3 wide-color standard used by Hollywood, as well as multiple refresh rates. Of course, it can be configured to match other color standards, like rec.709 (used for TV). This helps with accuracy when color-correcting your videos.
Users can configure the MacBook Pro with up to 64GB of memory, and a whopping 8TB of internal SSD storage. The large drive is nice if you spend a lot of time cutting projects while away from an editing bay or office. However, upgrading from the included 1TB SSD to an 8TB drive nearly doubles the laptop’s price.
When buying a MacBook Pro, get the best configuration you can afford when you make the purchase. Unfortunately, for many years, Apple hasn’t allowed after-market upgrades. If you initially opt for less memory and decide to upgrade later, you’re stuck.
Best laptop for YouTube video editing: Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro
Why it made the cut: The 13-inch MacBook Pro boasts a muscular M1 chip capable of handling most video projects, while its compact size makes it ideal for YouTubers who like to work while maintaining a fast-moving lifestyle making this the best laptop for Youtube video editing.
- Weight: 3 pounds
- Product Dimensions (HWD): 0.61 inches by 11.97 inches by 8.36 inches
- Processor: 8-Core M1
- Screen Size: 13 inches
- Operating System: macOS
- High-performance M1 processor
- Compact size and weight
- Gorgeous Retina display
- Longest battery life of Apple’s laptops
- Limited to only 16GB of memory
- Only two USB-C ports
Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro delivers solid video performance while remaining small enough to make and post YouTube videos from the road. When you’re a content creator traveling with a camera, tripod, and other filmmaking tools, you’ll come to appreciate a laptop that doesn’t weigh you down.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro takes advantage of Apple’s new M1 chip to deliver fast and robust video performance. You can’t configure the laptop with a third-party graphics processor, but the system graphics perform well and are more than enough to handle most HD or 4K projects destined for the web.
The high-resolution Retina display supports the P3 color standard and is nice and bright for working outdoors. That said, it’s still only 13 inches; the trade-off for easy mobility is a cramped work environment.
The reported 20 hours of battery life is almost twice as long as the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s. This is great if you’re spending time cutting videos while at conventions, concerts, or on vacation. It’s also useful even when you’re back at home base; with one of the two USB-C ports needed for plugging in a power cord, there will be times when you’ll have to rely on the battery in order to operate two peripherals.
As with other Mac laptops, you can’t perform after-market upgrades, so be sure to configure the 13-inch MacBook Pro exactly how you want it at the time of purchase.
Best laptop for video editing and gaming: Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XC
Why it made the cut: The Aero 15 OLED XC splits the difference between an editing workstation and a full-powered gaming laptop by including enough processing power to handle 4K video, as well as a graphics driver that’s fast enough to deliver video-game frame rates.
- Weight: 4.4 pounds
- Product Dimensions (HWD): 0.78 inches by 14 inches by 9.8 inches
- Processor: Intel 8-core i7
- Screen Size: 15.6-inch
- Operating System: Windows
- Powerful 8-core i7 processor
- Pantone-certified 4K OLED screen
- RGB light-up keyboard
- An abundance of ports
- Poor webcam
- i9 processor upgrade is expensive
If you like to wrap up a day of editing by relaxing with some gaming, look no further than Gigabyte’s Aero 15 OLED XC. While some of its performance specs don’t quite match those of the top laptops for either video editing or gaming, they’re certainly up to the task of cutting your 4K movie and then running your favorite first-person shooter.
Armed with an 8-core i7 processor, the Aero 15 can edit and process large video files. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 graphics driver isn’t the fastest on the block, but it delivers enough performance to keep video games looking smooth and sharp, and performs well when rendering 3D graphics, lighting, and other power-hungry types of imaging.
The Aero 15 features a bright 15.6-inch Samsung OLED display with strong contrast. It covers 100 percent of the wide DCI-P3 color gamut, the Hollywood standard that’s making strong in-roads on the web as well. This makes color-correcting tasks much easier, and video games pop with vibrancy.
Unsurprisingly, the strong OLED display, not to mention a funky, light-up keyboard, runs down the battery quickly. Reports and tests put it at about 8.5 hours, which is certainly enough to get you through the day before needing to plug in, but just barely.
Unlike so many of the best laptops for video editing, Gigabyte’s doesn’t skimp on the number and kind of ports. On the sides of the laptop, you get an HDMI and mini DisplayPort for video output, four USB-A ports, a USB-C port delivering Thunderbolt 3 performance, an SD card slot, and a port for the AC adapter. Given the bus speed required by video, replacing a USB-A port with another USB-C/Thunderbolt-3 port would be a nice upgrade. However, the Aero 15 XC gets big thumbs up for providing dedicated connections for both AC power and video output.
Best budget laptop for video editing: Razer Book
Why it made the cut: The relatively low price of the Razer Book 13 belies its admirable specs as a solid laptop for video editing, making it an excellent tool for beginners or casual cutters and the best budget laptop for video editing.
- Weight: 2.95 pounds
- Product Dimensions (HWD): 0.6 inches by 11.6 inches by 7.8 inches
- Processor: Core i7
- Screen Size: 13.4 inches
- Operating System: Windows
- Lovely edge-to-edge HD display
- Wide variety of ports
- Compact and lightweight design
- 256GB internal storage a bit stingy
Razer is known for its gaming computers and, unsurprisingly, the company delivers a solidly performing machine with the Razer Book 13, one that can serve comfortably as the heart of an inexpensive editing rig.
One of the Razer’s greatest strengths is its 16:10, edge-to-edge HD screen, which delivers high contrast and bright, bold colors. There are three available configurations: full-HD with touch capabilities, full-HD without, and 4K. Having a 4K monitor is nice, especially when fitting a timeline and multiple editing panels into a 13-inch monitor, but it’s an upgrade that starts taking the laptop out of the “budget” category.
Razer is a company that thankfully understands the value of having a variety of ports. With the Razer Book 13, you get one USB-A 3.1, one USB-C Thunderbolt 4, a microSD card slot, and an HDMI connection. Having another USB-C port would be nice, as would a slot for a full-size SD card. The Razer Book 13 can be configured with an i5 or i7 chip and you’ll want the latter for video work; it’s powerful enough to handle most video projects, including 4K. Even with this upgrade, the price remains budget-friendly by the standards of editing laptops.
Q: Is 8GB RAM enough for video editing?
Generally, 8GB RAM is not enough for video editing. Expect files, especially ones with multiple layers of video or effects, to move sluggishly. 16GB of RAM is considered the minimum for editing video, and you’ll never go wrong with more.
Q: Is a graphics card necessary for video editing in laptop?
A graphics card isn’t necessary for video editing on a laptop, and the computer’s native graphics processing should handle your export and playback needs. However, many editing programs can take advantage of a graphics card to deliver better and faster video performance. Whenever possible, it doesn’t hurt to upgrade the computer’s graphics capabilities.
Q: Which laptop is best for Adobe Premiere Pro?
Any laptop with a powerful, multi-core processor and multithreading will be best for Adobe Premiere Pro. This powerful, industry-standard editing software runs on both Macs and Windows machines. Try to use a laptop with a large monitor, or connect your laptop to an external monitor; Premiere Pro uses a lot of panels and space is at a premium!
Final thoughts on selecting the best laptops for video editing
The best laptops for video editing have powerful, multicore CPUs with multithreading, 32GB or more RAM, and spacious, color-accurate monitors. For Windows users, the Dell XPS 17 delivers all the specs necessary to run the top editing programs. Mac users want the 16-inch MacBook Pro; whether you get the M1 Pro chip or splurge on the M1 Max, it’s one of the best laptops for cutting movies. For any laptop, don’t forget to properly configure your laptop when you buy it, upgrading the CPU, graphics card, and RAM as much as your budget allows.