You know how people say that you have the same amount of computing power in your smartphone that NASA had in the computers that were used to go to the moon? The same thing is happening with video editing. A task that once required a full edit bay with high-powered computers and multiple monitors has been simplified, improved, and shrunk.
Now the software to make Hollywood quality films is readily available and the machinery required to run it has made its way into portable, more affordable machines. And the use of these tools is on the rise, too, as the creator economy grows.
Want to make a feature-length film? How about just a YouTube video or TikTok that might catch someone’s eye or go viral? You’re going to need to know your way around some video editing tools.
The best way to get started with video editing is by getting yourself a laptop that is capable of running video editing software. But what makes for a good laptop for video editing, and which one should you choose?
Can you do professional video editing on a laptop?
In a word? Yes. Professional-level video editing software and equipment has become more accessible than ever, and the fact that powerful processors continue to shrink without losing capabilities has made it possible to do high-level video editing on a laptop.
Most high-end laptops, often marketed as gaming laptops, are now capable of running powerful video editing software like Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premier, After Effects, and others. These apps are essential for professional-grade editing, capable of doing everything from cutting, performing colour correction, and doing exports of high-resolution footage.
What kind of processor is best for video editing?
One of the most important parts of your laptop when it comes to handling the resource-intensive process of video editing is your processor. The processor (or CPU) is what enables your computer to perform all of the tasks that you throw at it, including running specific software.
There are indicators about the processor that are worth looking at when picking out a laptop for video editing — though specs don’t always tell the full story.
One good indicator is how many cores your processor has. Cores allow your computer to multitask. The more cores your CPU has, the better equipped it will be to take on different tasks, like running multiple applications at the same time. An 8-core processor should do the trick for video editing, but there are certainly more powerful processors out there. In some cases, a 4-core processor capable of multithreading can make more use of fewer cores.
Another good indicator of a processor’s capabilities is clock speed. This is typically measured in gigahertz or GHz. When you see a processor that has a clock speed of 3GHz, that means that its internal clock beats 3 billion times per second — and each beat is an opportunity for the processor to manipulate and process data. A clock speed of 3.0GHz is a good baseline to look for in a processor for your video editing laptop.
How much RAM is needed for video editing?
Much like your computer’s processor, RAM (Random Access Memory) is an important component in handling video editing tasks. Think of RAM as your machine’s short-term memory. This is for handling tasks that are active or have been active recently — basically anything that is running on your device. This makes it important for running programs needed for video editing.
16GB of RAM is a good place to start when determining how much RAM you need — though you can do with less. Some laptops have a graphics card that can handle more intensive tasks like video processing, meaning that you can get by with less RAM. A machine with less RAM but a powerful graphics card or processor should still be more than capable of handling video editing software.
Can a laptop handle 4K video editing?
4K video is super-high quality footage. For video editors, having a machine that can handle this type of footage is essential. Most laptops with a powerful processor and sufficient RAM can do this task — but not all of them will be able to display the footage at full resolution. If being able to see 4K video footage at the quality intended is important to you, you’re going to want to pick a laptop with a screen capable of displaying 4K resolution.
Mac or PC?
Do you remember the old Mac vs. PC adverts? PCs were often portrayed as boring, buttoned-up machines for professionals and boring tasks while Macs were marketed for creatives. The debate has quieted down a bit in recent years because both operating systems are more than capable of handling video editing software. Popular products from Adobe and Sony run on both Mac and PC. However, Apple’s popular video editing tool Final Cut Pro X is only available for macOS. If you’re used to the Apple ecosystem or prefer Final Cut to alternatives like Premier or Vegas, this is something that may weigh heavy on your decision.
What are the best laptops for video editing?
Now that you have a better idea of what to look for in a laptop for video editing, you can start narrowing down your potential options. We’ve made the process even easier by picking some of your best options.
There should be something for everyone and every budget in this list, with popular devices from top brands like Apple and Microsoft included. We recommend carefully considering all the laptops, and weighing each option up against your priorities and lifestyle.
These are the best laptops for video editing in 2021.