Fed up with hanging around while working through an edit? Upgrade to one of the best laptops for video editing and you'll get fast rendering times thanks to potent processor power and lots of memory (RAM). Add a quality, high resolution screen and you'll be in image editing heaven. All this performance won't come cheap, but working with high-res footage is a power- and memory-intensive task, so cheaping-out on a bargain-bin machine just isn't going to cut it and would be a false economy.
All this will inevitably also result in a larger than average laptop, but this may not be that big an issue if you do most of your editing at home. Scaling things down will of course improve portability, but you'll soon find power, battery life and viewing ergonomics get severely compromised.
Screen size is therefore is the first thing to consider. Working within software like Adobe Premiere Pro often results in your screen being split into quadrants – a preview window, timeline, effects tab and a bin for all your footage. A small laptop won’t give you enough screen to comfortably work on long edits; 15 inches is a good balance of portability and screen real estate, but the larger you go, the more comfortable you'll find the editing process.
Then there’s the question of screen resolution and quality. Are you color-grading footage? If so, you likely want the most color-accurate display possible. Do you shoot and edit 4K or even 8K content? If so, then a Full HD screen won't cut it.
It gets more complicated when you consider a laptop's central processor. Intel offers a baffling range of 4, 6 and 8-core mobile chips branded Core-i5, i7 and i9. Competitor AMD's latest line of Ryzen processors is also worth considering, as while AMD's processor speed has trailed Intel's equivalent chips in recent years, its newest Ryzen 3000 and 4000-series mobile processors are extremely quick and power-efficient.
Video editing laptops also need plenty of RAM which is used to temporarily store the footage you're currently editing - consider 16GB a minimum if you'll be working with Full HD or higher res content.
And don't forget connections. A Thunderbolt 3 port, for example, will mean a laptop can be kitted out with an external graphics card, giving it desktop-grade rendering power when you have space for this extra hardware. Meanwhile, an SD card reader will save you having to use dongles or adapters when importing footage, but sadly integrated readers are becoming a rarity in today's wafer-thin laptop chassis'.
With all these factors in mind, here are the best laptops for video editing in 2021.
Best laptops for video editing in 2021
Right now, the 13-inch MacBook Pro M1 is the latest 'Pro and is worthy of rave reviews thanks to its stunning blend of performance and efficiency. However, it's only available with a 13-inch screen, and its max 16GB RAM could be limiting for 4K video editing.
We reckon the slightly older - but still current - 16-inch MacBook Pro is better suited for serious video work. It can be specced with anything up to a 9th generation, octa-core Intel Core i i9 processor, a whopping 64GB of RAM and Radeon Pro 5500M graphics. But even an entry-level 16-inch MacBook Pro should keep you going whether you’re working through large edits or complex After Effects projects.
The MacBook’s context sensitivity is what really sets it apart though. For example, the Touch Bar, a touch-sensitive horizontal screen above the keyboard, changes depending on what app you’re using. In Premiere Pro, for example, it presents quick options to scrub through footage, showcase keyboards and more.
Meanwhile, the laptop’s trackpad vibrates when interacting with different elements in different apps – it gives you haptic feedback, for example, when one clip you’re dragging snaps to another in video-editing apps. Combined with up to an 8TB SSD and a gorgeous, sharp display, it’s no wonder so many love it.
You'll need deep pockets though. At close to £3,000 / $4,000 for the highest-specced machine (and it's even possible to spend around £/$6000 if you max out the options list!), it’s anything but cheap.
If you’ve got a lot of cash to invest, the Acer ConceptD line is a series of laptops and desktops that have been fine-tuned for designers and editors. Specifically, the ConceptD 7-series laptop has gaming laptop power without any of the gaudy casing or attention-grabbing RGB lighting. It’s also quiet, staying cool without loud fans whirring/roaring away.
Ideal for color grading, the Acer ConceptD 7’s 4K UHD display covers 100% of the Adobe RGB gamut, and its color fidelity is Pantone validated, with a color accuracy of Delta E <2. With the latest hexa-core i7 internals from Intel, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card and up to 32GB RAM, whether you’re processing out Full HD or 4K footage, Acer’s ConceptD should make short work of it.
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The Razer Blade 15 is special in that it features an optional OLED display rather than a traditional LCD. With deep, inky blacks and punchy, vibrant colors, it looks incredible, and with its 4K resolution equating to a pixel density of 282 ppi, it's super-sharp – perfect for editing your UHD content on.
With its hugely fast Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super graphics card, it’s up to the task when it comes to even the most demanding projects, and when you consider how many ports this thing has – three USB-A ports, one USB-C, one HDMI 2.0b port, a Thunderbolt 3 port, and a headphone jack, it’s versatile too. If you opt for the base version, you even get an Ethernet port for fast, wired internet, while the Advanced models trades this for a useful SD card reader instead.
The Razer Blade 15 can be specced with a fast 256GB or 512GB SSD for storage, and the Advanced model can even be had with a 1TB SSD. A lightweight sub-2.2kg design and sleek finish set the Blade apart externally.
Asus' ROG (Republic Of Gamers) laptops have historically been big beats designed for ultimate power at the expense of portability. But not with the ROG Zephyrus G15. This relatively svelte machine measures 36 x 25.2 x 1.99cm and weighs just 2.1kg, which is impressive given the power lurking within.
A potent 8-core, 3 GHz AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS processor is easily up to the job of intensive video rendering, especially when backed up by 16 or 32GB of RAM. GPU-accelerated rendering will also be speedy thanks to a fast Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card with 6GB VRAM.
But the standout feature here is the 15.6-inch FullHD 1920 x 1080 display. Its 240Hz refresh rate will make video and games play silky-smooth, while IPS display tech enables wide 178 x 178° viewing angles and 100% sRGB coverage for consistent color and contrast.
The Microsoft Surface Book 3 is an incredible feat of engineering, with an electro-magnetic latch that securely connects the tablet section to the keyboard without a wiggle or a wobble in sight.
The laptop can be specced up to become the ultimate editing device with Intel Core i7 graphics and up to 1TB SSD storage. It’s also got an SD card reader in the keyboard section, and supports pen input, whether you’re using it as a tablet or laptop.
With Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics, the 15-inch Surface Book 3 can also handle advanced 3D gaming, video edits, and even take After Effects renders in its stride; and thanks to a stunningly sharp, vibrant, 15-inch 3240 x 2160 PixelSense display with a 1600:1 contrast ratio, everything it showcases looks stellar.
The overall experience is rounded off with great battery life of up to 17.5 hours and ultimate versatility; as a package, the Surface Book 3 is one of the most impressive bits of tech we’ve ever used.
The Dell XPS 15 is the 4K OLED-screened laptop to go for if you're not into gaming. While it uses an identically specced display to the Razer Blade 15, which is also in this roundup, its design and feature set are better suited to video editing.
For starters, it has an SD card slot, and up to Intel Core i9 power, not to mention up to a huge 64GB RAM – and with up to 1TB solid state storage it’s also an ideal machine to have when ingesting gigabytes of 4K content.
While its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics aren’t going to stack up against some of the top-tier competition, thanks to the Thunderbolt 3 port you can supplement it with an external, desktop GPU for more demanding projects – and for quick edits on the fly, it'll be more than up to the task.
The HP ZBook Studio is the option for an editor who needs maxed-out specs, portability and versatility. If you delve into HP's workstation configurator, it can be specced up to include a whopping 64GB RAM, 4TB of SSD storage (comprised of 2x 2TB SSDs) and Intel Core i9 power.
Its screen folds back over itself to deliver a tablet form factor, and thanks to the Wacom digitizer under the display the included pen delivers 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity – perfect for anyone who needs to illustrate elements of their video edits or animations.
Available with a range of display options, peaking with the 4K DreamColor panel, it covers 100% of the Adobe RGB gamut, with one billion colors and a max brightness of 600 nits – all top-of-the-line credentials.
Combine all that with an SD card slot and a solid array of ports, and the ZBook Studio X360 could well justify its high asking price if you need an incredibly versatile, powerful machine.
Acer’s Helios line delivers gaming power at a comparatively affordable price when looking at the competition, especially given how much is crammed into these laptops. That also means video professionals can benefit from its clout without necessarily breaking the bank.
Available with Intel Core i7 power coupled with up to 32GB RAM in its top-of-the-line guise, it can rival some of the best laptops around, and thanks to ample storage – up to a 1TB SSD plus a 2TB hard disk drive, it’s a perfect option for 4K footage hoarders.
Like some other gaming laptops, there’s a Turbo button you can hit to overclock performance for intense editing bouts, and there’s also granular control over the fan, so you can ramp it up or down depending on whether you’re in the mood for a cool laptop or a quiet workspace.
Huawei’s MateBook X Pro is a MacBook alternative with a difference – the difference being, it actually out-MacBooks the MacBook in a few key areas. It packs a gorgeous metal build, biometric security and excellent speakers considering how thin it is, feeling more like a MacBook Air than a Pro. Meanwhile, it still manages to get an 8th-gen i7 processor loaded up inside and a full-sized USB port, so you won’t have to carry a dongle with you.
Given its size, it’s excusable that there isn’t a beefier graphics card inside for heavy edits, but the GeForce MX250 is up to light-to-moderate editing work, and thanks to its Thunderbolt 3 port it can be supplemented with an external GPU when you really need to power-up your performance.
With up to 1TB SSD storage, 16GB RAM, and a stunning 3000 x 2000 touch-sensitive display, if you need something thin and light the MateBook X Pro is definitely worthy of your consideration. As for its Achilles’ heel, its pop-up webcam, while great from a security point of view, is frankly terrible for video calls - a feature to avoid.
If you’re running a business and your video editors don't need MacBooks (much as they might want them), the Lenovo ThinkPad P53 is a traditional-looking laptop with incredibly capable internals. Available in options ranging from an entry-level configuration that will handle basic edits, through to a supercharged version capable of tackling huge 4K masterpieces, it’s as versatile as your business needs it to be.
One of the only laptops on our list with an Ethernet port, the latest version also features two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a SIM tray for fast 4G speeds on the go.
For editors working with HDR content the P53’s optional Dolby Vision 4K touch display is on another level, with tones that other laptops will completely miss. And with a huge choice of customization options (with up to 128GB of RAM is possible, along with an incredible 6TB storage space courtesy of three separate SSD drives!) this laptop will fly through edits and give you plenty of space to store them.