We often hear that video editing and graphic design are intensive tasks reserved for high-end desktops. The first assertion is true, the second a little less.
A laptop is certainly a little more limited than a desktop PC in terms of performance, but today the difference is increasingly small. Some laptops compete with towers and even without typing in the very high end, it is possible to find laptops perfectly suited for editing and video editing work.
Whether you are an Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Davinci Resolve, Sony Vegas or Pinnacle user, it doesn’t matter, as long as you know what components to consider and what kind of computer to choose.
CHOOSING YOUR LAPTOP FOR VIDEO EDITING: THE GUIDE
Here are the main components found in a laptop and which are important parameters to consider when choosing your laptop.
The processor (CPU): The processor is the basis of an assembly PC. The number of cores and the speed of the processor determine how quickly you can perform editing tasks.
If your laptop doesn’t have a powerful processor, it will be slow regardless of any other component. Modern editing software such as Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, and Final Cut Pro take advantage of the many processor cores and hyperthreading .
It is therefore essential to invest for a computer dedicated to video editing to be equipped with a high-performance processor.
I generally recommend to take a computer with a core i7 (six or eight cores) as the processor but if your budget is tight, you can fall back on a core i5 (four cores).
The Graphics Card (GPU): It might sound counterintuitive, but the graphics card (aka the video card) is a bit less important when it comes to video editing and creative work done with most software.
Compared to the processor, it’s generally okay to save some money and settle for a decent card, nothing more.
The exception to this rule is if you plan to edit with Resolve, you absolutely need a powerful graphics card, as this software is primarily powered by a GPU, not a CPU.
By itself, it’s not even absolutely necessary to have a dedicated graphics card to use most editing software. However, modern video editing software takes advantage of graphics cards by hardware acceleration for encoding and rendering.
Having a moderately powerful graphics card will therefore make all the difference. This will make renderings faster if you invest in a high-end graphics card, so the graphics card is kind of a bonus, useful but not mandatory.
For an entry-level video editing GPU, I recommend the GTX 1650 or GTX 1650 Ti.
At 4K or higher, a GTX 1660, 1660Ti, or RTX 2060 with 6GB of VRAM is a good choice. If you have the budget, go for the high end: RTX 2070, 2080 or the super variants of these: RTX 2070 Super and RTX 2080 super or even the latest cards from the NVIDIA RTX 3000 series.
Note: Graphics cards are very important for gaming computers. So if you plan to play PC games with your video editing PC as well, you should invest more in a high end graphics card.
Storage (HDD or SSD?): When it comes to data storage, you have two options: SSD (Solid State Drive) or conventional hard disks (HDD). Both of these options work, but SSDs offer many other advantages over HDDs.
In summary, SSDs offer much better performance than hard drives once you get into complex edit timelines that involve playing multiple clips simultaneously.
Again, your video editing PC does not need an SSD at all. A hard drive will be fine if you are just editing H.264 videos to 1080p.
That said, if you can afford it, get yourself a laptop computer equipped with at least a small SSD drive (128 GB or more) to install your operating system and important software. You will see an overall performance gain from your computer, not just in video editing.
RAM: Having enough RAM is essential in the world of video editing. If you are editing 1080p video, I recommend 8GB and I’m talking about bare minimum.
For 4k, go for 16 GB minimum. Either way, the more RAM you have, the better. Note all the same that its priority remains lower than that of a good processor and a good graphics card.
The more RAM your video editing laptop has, the better able it is to handle processes simultaneously before the computer starts to get bogged down.
If you both want to be working on a big project while having a ton of Chrome tabs open, you’ll need to have a fair amount of RAM. Standard laptops will usually have 8 GB of RAM, while laptops optimal for video will have 16 or 32 GB.
It’s also recommended that you look for video editing laptops with expandable RAM in case you need to give them a boost.
Video editing is one of the few areas that makes the most of large amounts of RAM; so invest as much as you want. 16 GB or more is not insane amounts of RAM for video editing.
The Display: Obviously, when you do video editing, the screen is a key component. Make sure that the laptop you choose has a screen that provides accurate color representation, enough brightness to use in a bright location, high resolution for the sharpest details, and a size to suit your needs.
When it comes to performance laptops in this segment, you’ll find plenty of 15 “displays, but there are also 13” ones. Your specific use case will determine which screen size is right for you, but I generally recommend against anything other than 15 ”or 17”.
Software: The majority of video editing software these days is available for at least the two major operating systems – macOS and Windows.
However, depending on your video editing preferences and the software you want to use, some of them will work with a specific operating system. If you’re a Final Cut Pro X fan, your only option is to go for a Macbook. But if you are comfortable with Adobe Premiere, you can use both Mac OS and Windows.