The best laptops for video editing mean that you'll never have to twiddle your thumbs waiting for a project to finish rendering again. But, with so many laptop variations out there, which ones are the best for your video editing needs? We've rounded up a selection of choices that include potent processor power, plenty of RAM memory and good quality, high-res screens. These important features are essential for choosing the best laptops for video editing, but be warned that the high performance you need won't come cheap.
Working with high resolution footage is both power- and memory-intensive, so you'll need to make sure that your machine is up to the task. While it might be tempting to opt for one of the best budget laptops instead, you'll likely find that this just won't be able to properly accommodate your needs – and you'll just find yourself wishing you'd plumped for one of these superior models anyway.
A large, beautiful screen and plenty of memory means that the best laptops for video editing tend to be larger than average. If you tend to work in one set place, then this shouldn't be an issue for you. However, if you're constantly on-the-go, you might want to opt for a scaled-down laptop. Just be aware that the power, battery life and viewing ergonomics will be severely compromised as the body of the laptop gets smaller.
If you're unsure on how to choose the right model for you, scroll down to the bottom of this article to read our top tips. Alternatively, check out our picks for best laptops for video editing in 2021 below.
• See also: Best monitors for MacBook Pro
Best laptops for video editing in 2021
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 a hugely fast Nvidia GeForce graphics card under the hood, 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, two Thunderbolt/USB-C, one HDMI 2.1 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 comes with a 512GB or 1TB SSD for storage, and the Advanced model can even be optioned with a 2TB SSD. A lightweight sub-2.2kg design and sleek finish set the Blade apart externally.
See also: the best Ultrabooks
Asus' ROG (Republic Of Gamers) laptops have historically been big beasts 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 1.9kg, which is impressive given the power lurking within.
A potent 8-core, 3.1 GHz AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS processor is easily up to the job of intensive video rendering, especially when backed up by 16, 32 or even 48GB of RAM. GPU-accelerated rendering will also be speedy thanks to Asus employing the latest Nvidia GeForce 30-series graphics cards.
But the standout feature here is the 15.6-inch WQHD 2560 x 1440 display. Its 165Hz refresh rate will make video and games play silky-smooth, while IPS display tech enables wide 178 x 178° viewing angles and an impressive 100% DCI-P3 color space coverage.
Right now, the new MacBook M1 Pro and M1 Max are the MacBook's stealing all the limelight. Said to be 70% faster than the original M1, the M1 Pro is available with up to 32GB RAM, while the top-tier M1 Max can be specced with a whopping 64GB RAM - addressing our reservation with the 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro M1 which can only be equipped with a maximum 16GB RAM.
But until we can fully review an M1 Pro or M1 Max, the older 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro just hangs on as our top pick for the best MacBook for serious video work. It can be specced with anything up to a 9th generation, octa-core Intel Core 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.
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 - a hugely impressive feat few other monitor screens can match. The display is also Pantone validated, with a color accuracy of Delta E <2, ensuring you can rely on it for color-critical work.
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.
• Check out the best portable monitors
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, or a SSD and hard drive double act, 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.
If you’re running a business and your video editors don't need MacBooks (much as they might want them), the Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 is a traditional-looking laptop with incredibly capable internals. Even the 'entry-level' version would be a pro machine for most, with 16GB RAM and an 8-core Intel i7 processor, but you can spec up the p15 to the moon and get a supercharged version capable of tackling huge 4K masterpieces. The P15 Gen 2 really is 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 4 ports and an optional Nano-SIM tray for fast 4G speeds on the go.
For editors working with HDR content the P15 Gen 2’s optional Dolby Vision 4K touch display is the screen of choice for reviewing HDR content. 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.
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 a similarly 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 2TB solid state storage it’s also an ideal machine to have when ingesting gigabytes of 4K content.
While its Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card isn’t going to stack up against some of the top-tier competition, thanks to Thunderbolt 4 connectivity 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.
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.
How to choose the best laptop for video editing
Screen size is one of the first aspects you should consider when looking for the best laptop for video editing. The best video editing software, such as Adobe Premiere Pro, will often result in your screen being split into quadrants (a preview window, timeline, effects tab and a bin for footage). Working with software like this on a small laptop will get old pretty quickly, so we'd recommend opting for at least a 15 inch laptop. However, the larger the screen size, the more comfortable you'll find the editing process. Don't forget you can also get an extra video editing monitor to help out as well.
The next thing to consider is your laptop's screen resolution. If you regularly color grade footage, then a color-accurate display is absolutely necessary to prevent any potential egg-on-face moments after your project has been exported (one of the best monitor calibrators will help too). It's also worth thinking about what resolution your footage will be. If you shoot with a 4K, 6K or 8K camera, then a Full HD screen just won't cut it.
Once you've decided what sort of screen you need, it's time to get technical and consider what sort of processor you'll need. Intel offers an excellent range of 4, 6 and 8-core mobile chips (entitled Core-i5, i7 and i9). Meanwhile, AMD's Ryzen processors are also worth considering, with the newest 3000 and 4000-series mobile processors proving to be very quick and pleasingly power-efficient.
It's also worth remembering that the more RAM you have, the better your laptop will run. If you're working with Full HD or higher res content, we'd recommend using 16GB of RAM as a minimum.
The final thing to consider is connections. For example, a Thunderbolt 3 port means that you can kit out your video editing laptop with an external graphics card. This means that you can attain desktop-grade rendering power, which will come in handy for more intensive edits.
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