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Whether you’re making your own indie blockbuster, making a YouTube video, or just making holiday videos, the right laptop makes video editing a breeze.
Best Lenovo Laptops For Video Editing
While most modern laptops can handle basic video editing, an underpowered device will quickly run into issues like playback, overheating, and endless waits for videos to export. For those serious about video editing, there are a number of laptops designed specifically for demanding content creators.
Best Laptops For Video Editing 2023
With so many specs and seemingly endless configurations to choose from, upgrading to the right video editing laptop can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, we’ve reviewed more than our share of laptops and put each one through its paces.
Below is a quick video editing laptop buying guide so you know which features to look out for, followed by a list of the best laptops for video editing from the wide range of models we’ve reviewed.
How to choose the best laptop for video editing, should you buy a MacBook or a Windows 10 laptop?
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Ah, the eternal rivalry. While you’ll get plenty of debate as to whether any of them offer better value for money when it comes to video editing, the decision largely comes down to the video editing software you choose.
Industry standard applications such as Black Magic DaVinci Resolve, Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects are supported by both operating systems. However, if you prefer Apple’s Final Cut Pro X or Motion, you should opt for a MacOS device. Meanwhile, Vegas Pro is a Windows exclusive.
Before we dive into the hardware specs, the next thing to consider is the screen size and resolution. The screen size is quite self-explanatory. The larger screen gives you more screen space for watching videos and working with video editing software.
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Most video editing programs, such as Adobe Premiere and Final Cut, divide the screen into several smaller panels, moving controls for viewing and editing video into smaller windows. While a 13-inch laptop will give you an advantage when it comes to portability, a larger 17-inch model can be really useful for editing busy workstations full of small icons and controls. 15-inch and 16-inch models can offer the perfect balance between the two, with some models even offering the luxury of two screens.
Resolution refers to the total number of pixels on the screen. This will affect the detail on your screen, which is useful not only for viewing footage critically, but also for those little tips and controls that video editing programs are known for.
Size and resolution are important when choosing a screen. While simply going to a larger screen may seem like an easy choice, it doesn’t actually display more information than the smaller model unless it also has a higher resolution. Therefore, you want to find the right balance. Pixels per square inch (ppi) is a good indicator of screen brightness.
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It’s also worth noting that not all screens are created equal, so once you’ve decided on a screen size and resolution, you’ll want to check the color accuracy of each model. This can be very important when it comes to color matching, especially skin tones.
When it comes to hardware specifications, the CPU is the main component to look out for. As the brain of any system, the CPU does the heavy lifting, and video editing has a lot to do.
Ideally, you’ll want to look for a system that uses an 8th generation or later Intel Core i7 or Core i9 processor, or Ryzen 7 or 9 from AMD’s 4000 or 5000 series, as this will provide the best performance. If you’re on a budget, the six-core Intel Core i5 and AMD Ryzen 5 machines are also worth considering.
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You should also make sure the CPUs have H or HK terminals, avoid U or Y terminals, as the latter are designed primarily for power efficiency, not direct horsepower. Apple’s new in-house M1 processor is also an exceptionally powerful choice, although it’s a relatively new architecture, so you’ll need to check if it’s supported by your video editing software of choice.
Next is RAM. How much you need depends on the type of content you want to create. Generally speaking, more is better, and unless you’re going Mac with an M1, 16GB is the minimum you want to aim for. If you intend to do more complex and sophisticated editing at 4K and above, you should consider 32 GB.
For storage, you’ll find that solid state drives (SSDs) are pretty standard on all laptops these days. This is good news for video editors, as SSDs offer a significant speed advantage over older mechanical hard drives. There are two things to consider when weighing drives: speed and size. While any SSD will outperform an old mechanical hard drive, some are faster than others. We recommend choosing a PCI-E SSD as it will be better than the old SATA drive.
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When it comes to SSD size, you need to make sure that there is enough space for editing programs and project files. While you can easily work with a 256GB drive, you ideally need a system with 512GB or more, especially if you plan to work with 4K footage.
Although the cost of SSD storage is much cheaper than it used to be, the cost of SSD storage still increases exponentially as the size of the drive increases. So it’s a good idea to make sure the laptop you choose has the fastest external connection when it comes to connecting to desktop drives (more on that later). And despite the trend towards non-updated laptops, it should be noted that there are still some systems that have free space inside the laptop, so you can increase the amount of memory as funds allow.
While a dedicated GPU (graphics card) isn’t as important as a good CPU, and on-chip graphics have gotten much better in recent years, it’s definitely nice to have a more powerful GPU. A GPU with dedicated VRAM can increase the responsiveness of your video editing program of choice and in some cases speed up rendering times.
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However, keep in mind that the benefits you get from a GPU will vary by application, brand, and model. And whether it will speed anything up will also depend on the service file type. In short, a GPU can help, but it’s by no means guaranteed to help, so it’s a good idea to check what your video editing software supports before you spend a lot of money.
When evaluating a physical connection, it’s helpful to consider how the laptop will fit into your overall video editing workflow: What external devices will you need to get the job done, and how will you connect to them? Will you need an SD card reader (a rarer sight) to import files? What about the ability to connect an external high definition monitor? Will you need a wired Internet connection to upload and download large video files from your local network?
For convenience, it’s a good idea to have as many ports as possible on your laptop, but it’s not necessary. The proliferation of USB-C these days means that even if you only have one or two ports, you can still connect a variety of peripherals, and the selection of ports and slots can easily be expanded by purchasing a USB-C dock or dongle.
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However, keep in mind that not all USB-C ports are created equal, and some laptops have faster ports than others. As with RAM, you want to choose the fastest and most powerful connection. Thunderbolt 3 or 4 and USB 4 top the list for speed and capabilities. The former provides a data transfer rate of up to 40 Gbps and supports up to 4K external display connection. The USB 4 ports are rated at 20 Gbps or 40 Gbps and support only one external display.
The most common form of connection is the old USB 3. But it’s a lot more confusing because speeds range from 5 Gbps to 20 Gbps, some ports support external displays and some don’t, some offer charging and some only data . . . Also, when the USB standards body changes its mind about names, it can be difficult to distinguish one port from another. Here’s a quick reference table that explains what all the different USB 3 standards actually mean:
Video editing is a demanding task for any laptop, so no matter how big the battery or how efficient the CPU, no laptop will leave much time for editing.
The Best Laptops For Video Editing In 2023
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