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Running video editing software takes up a ton of your computer’s memory and processing speed, and not just any ordinary laptop is going to cut it. The search for the right one can actually be pretty similar to finding a laptop for gaming, since drive size, native resolution, cooling fans, and battery life are a huge part of finding the right machine for you and your needs.
If you’re looking for the best laptop for editing, it’s recommended to go for something with at least 16GB of RAM, though you can always upgrade to more. A nice big and full HD display is important too, and not just for precise color accuracy. Since there’s always so much other stuff on the screen during video editing, a bigger display will give you more room to enlarge your playback window and comfortably move things around. This is also where aspect ratio comes in, which simply refers to the ratio of the width and height of a screen (16:9 is the most common screen standard these days).
Screen quality is a common attribute that manufacturers tend to cut back on when offering more budget-friendly laptops, specifically color accuracy and palette, sharpness and brightness. If you’re only doing minor personal projects, this isn’t as big of a deal, and you may not need the most high-end detailed display. But for professional looking videos, these are vitally important, and a low-res screen without the ability to show a wide spectrum of color isn’t worth it to save some cash in the end.
If your setup is permanent in one place at home, you won’t really need to worry much about weight and durability. However, if you’ll be taking this with you while traveling or commuting, it’s worth taking a look at both of these things. A too-heavy laptop can become a real literal pain in transit, no matter how well it performs. Same goes for durability – if there’s a chance this’ll get knocked around, go for one with a tough screen and a body that can handle some minor dings and drops (or at least spring for a good protective case).
Another aspect that can be overlooked when getting distracted by the dazzling displays is noise, specifically from the fans and cooling systems inside. Keeping your laptop cool is crucial, as is dissipating the heat generated from heavy usage. But some fans are louder than others, or have an alternate way of preventing overheating altogether. It may not be top of the list when looking, but it’s worth considering especially in an office setting or where other people will be around.
Finally, saved video files can be massive, and that’s just from the projects you’re working on. Uploading and storing all the footage you’ve filmed from your camera onto your laptop means that your drive is going to fill up fast if there’s not a lot of space. One terabyte (TB) should be way more than enough for an average amateur editor, but for the professional filmmakers, an external drive is an extremely helpful addition.
1. Apple MacBook Pro
The big and bright 16-inch LED-backlit retina display on this MacBook Pro is eye-poppingly gorgeous with 500 nits of brightness, and a 3072 x 1920 native resolution at 226 pixels per inch, with support for millions of colors. The MacBook features AMD’s Radion Pro 5300M Graphics for fast rendering, and with the speed to back it up: the Intel i7 Core Processor keeps things moving along with no lag, and up to an immense 8TB of SSD storage, which is the highest of any notebook.
Increased airflow inside keeps things cool, which means more processing power for your project, and up to 394GB per second of memory bandwidth.
It’s not all about video though, as the audio sounds great here too thanks to the six-speaker sound system with studio-quality mics.
There are four Thunderbolt ports and a USB 3.1 to connect wired devices. As for the usability itself, things like a large trackpad, TouchBar and TouchID make streamlining your tasks even faster once you get the hang of it. And with 11 hours of battery life, there’s plenty of time to play around with it as well as finishing up your edits before you need to go find a power source.
2. Dell XPS 15 Laptop
The 9th gen Intel Core i7-9750H CPU processor here makes rendering and importing files fast, and the GeForce GTX 1650 video card gives your studio programs a turbo boost. Bottom line: this machine is nicely speedy and powerful.
The unit comes with 1TB of SSD storage and 16GB of RAM, both of which are upgradable. WiFi 6 is included for super fast connections too.
At 4.2 pounds, it’s still pretty light considering what’s inside, and the aluminum/plastic build helps keep the weight off. There are no shortage of ports here either, including multiple USBs, HDMI, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The colors are smooth and plentiful on the 4K 15-inch anti-glare touchscreen, but for those looking for a non-touch OLED display, Dell offers a model for that as well.
3. Alienware M15 FHD Gaming Laptop
This laptop was designed not just for gamers, but for those gamers who record themselves and make videos of their gaming. Which means that this relatively thin and light machine can handle a lot – both the speeds of gaming and the strains of video editing software.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB GDDR5 allows for smooth and lag-less usage, while the 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8750H (6-Core, 9MB Cache, up to 4.1GHz w/ Turbo Boost) ensures things are running fast. The 1TB (+8GB SSHD) Hybrid Drive leaves plenty of space for your projects, both past and ongoing, and the 1920 x 1080 resolution of the anti-glare screen looks stunning, with a 60Hz refresh rate.
Copper composite heat pipes help dissipate the thermal activity inside, keeping things cool along with the powerful fans that run surprisingly quietly.
4. Acer Spin 5 Convertible Laptop
If you’re looking for a hybrid of a laptop and a touchscreen tablet, this lightweight, 360-degree model might be just what you need.
The screen itself is spacious and a little taller than other laptops in its class, with a 3:2 aspect ratio and extremely thin 0.3-inch side bezels. It’s also nicely durable too thanks to the Corning Gorilla Glass Display.
The side Stylus Dock is a practically placed port for the precise and sensitive Wacom pen, and charges it up fast – just 15 seconds for 90 minutes of use. There are also two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and the battery lasts a long 15 hours. (A 30 minute charge is all you need to go from empty to four hours).
With a wide color gamut range, the integrated Iris Plus Graphics look crisp and vivacious, and 16GB of RAM come standard, as well as 512GB of SSD storage.