8 Advice for Buying a Video Editing Laptop

We’re actually going to share with you the 8 requirements for choosing a video editing laptop if you’re on a budget and also if you don’t want to spend more money on it. So, what is the best PC/laptop for video editing? With so many laptops to choose from many sources. We’re going to review the biggest requirements to think about when picking out a laptop coming up by covering some of the basic requirements for video editing laptops so you can help make your choice and have an informed decision going into this.

Advice for buying video editing laptop

No matter what laptop you check out, here are our eight requirements for what to look for in a video editing laptop, especially if you want to start editing things like 4K footage and doing After Effects and things like that.

The first requirement is your display. If you have a large screen like 17 inches, it doesn’t mean that the resolution of the display will support, for example, 4K editing. If you only need to do HD, you don’t necessarily need a 4K display.

For a video editing laptop, something that gets overlooked is screen resolution. It’s overlooked, but it’s also overplayed. Having a full HD screen is great but it’s not always necessary. You also have to take into consideration that the people watching your content may not be viewing it on a full HD screen. They might be viewing it on a laptop or a mobile device or a smaller screen, so it’s more about the resolution that works for you, what you can afford, and also what’s good on your eyes.

You might want to consider also getting an external monitor that can handle 4K video. This way, when you hook up an external monitor, you have the option to view in 4K video if that’s something that interests you or if you want to actually do a 4K video editing workflow and you can actually see the playback in the way that your audience is going to see it. One of the reasons that people prefer MacBook Pros is they talk about the color accuracy. The color accuracy is a matter of color calibration and that whether you’re using a Mac or a PC, they should color calibrate regardless, and for that, you should use any of the color calibrators from X-Rite, such as the ColorMunki Display, or even the ColorMunki Smile. Using these color calibrators means that you’re going to get accurate color regardless of what machine you’re using and that’s something that’s super important and you shouldn’t take for granted that your Mac may not be correctly color calibrated, especially if you bought it used or refurbished, so just kind of keep those things in mind and don’t take for granted that one thing is supposedly better than the other. Do what’s necessary, buy the right components, hardware, and accessories to make the best use of whatever is available at the time to work with.

And another thing to look for is IPS, which means in panel switching, but essentially what that means is color accuracy. As a video editor or a graphic designer, you want your monitor to be color accurate so that when you’re editing or color grading or doing things if you don’t see it right, it’s not gonna end up right on the other end when you export whatever content you’re producing. So, when you’re picking out a laptop, definitely get one that has a screen size and resolution that will support video editing that you wanna do and then look for IPS because you want your colors to be accurate.

Requirement number two is a processor. When it comes to video editing the processor is very important and basically, you want a processor that’s as fast as possible and one thing that’ll really help video editing is the more cores the better. If you can get more cores, that’s gonna speed up editing and is definitely gonna help 4K.

And so this particular one is an I7 6,700 HQ quad core processor and so it’s 2.6 GHz to to 3.5 GHz. And from real world testing, whether editing HD or 4K, this processor has been crushing it, but again when it comes to processor speed is good.

A laptop with i5 Intel processors it has eight gigs of RAM are usually our base requirements for a video editing laptop or for a Photoshop machine. A lot of people like to assume that you need a high-end GPU like you might for gaming and that that’s actually going to be what you need for video editing. While there are things and advantages you can take into consideration where a GPU is concerned, it’s not absolutely necessary.

You might think of spending over $1000 on a laptop, but we are here to tell you that that’s not the case. Let’s see the best tips to buy a laptop for video editing.

One of the things that you should look for a fast hard drive. We talked about processors. We recommend getting an i7 if you can afford it or an i5 processor. You should not go to an i3 processor unless you’re doing very basic, minimal YouTube videos, and you never are going to do anything beyond that. You can get away with that on a budget if that’s all you’re doing and there’s very light editing. You can actually get away with some basic photo editing and Photoshop work with that as well, but we recommend the i5 to i7.

Requirement number three is the graphics card. You should look for NVIDIA graphics cards. The important thing is if you edit on Adobe Premiere Pro, which has what’s called the Mercury Playback Engine and you go into your Premiere settings, you could see just software acceleration for video editing or you could see GPU acceleration for video editing, meaning that you’ve got the right kind of video card that works with Premiere that allows you to speed up your editing, speed up rendering, real-time rendering, and just really enhances video editing performance. And so NVIDIA is kinda the best there. There are a couple other workflows that work, NVIDIA is our choice. And what you’re also looking for is CUDA cores. The more CUDA cores the better. And so you can look at how many CUDA cores each graphics card has. You would want hardware acceleration when you’re video editing and you’ll get high performance.

Requirement number four is your hard drive. If you can get SSD drives, those are a lot faster typically. Speeds of SSDs varies as well. For example, if you pick out the 2TB drive for extra data storage, but it’s actually 5,400 RPMs, that’s how fast the hard drive spins while the 1TB version’s 7,200 RPMs, meaning it spins faster. That means you’re gonna be able to access your data faster, and it does speed up editing. And the other thing that is important here is Premiere, or whatever video editing software you have installed, is on your SSD, but you want your data files on a separate drive. And so that’s why ideally you maybe you’re editing off an external hard drive, but with an internal hard drive, which is almost always gonna be faster. So, you can move your data files over to that internal hard drive and then edit on the SSD. And so a multi-drive workflow speeds up video editing. Actually, ideally, you want your software on one hard drive, your media cache files, all the temp files from video editing on another hard drive, and then your data files on another hard drive. And you want all three of those to be as fast as possible, especially if you get into 4K because it’s pulling on these large data files, big video files that you’re editing. In short, you definitely should consider your hard drive workflow when picking out a laptop.

For hard drives, a normal laptop like this comes with a basic hard drive that does 5400 Rotations Per Minute: RPM. If you are on a budget, you should go ahead and buy something that doesn’t have the SSD on them and then just to swap it out or to swap out the DVD drive for a second hard drive that is an SSD. This is probably going to cost you $80 to $120 and you can do it yourself. Having a second hard drive is going to be really great for you for video editing for a lot of reasons. Having both of your hard drives, or at least one of them be an SSD is going to mean that the hard drive is faster and if you drop the laptop, it’s less likely to do any damage or corrupt your files or do anything because it doesn’t have any moving parts. It basically is a giant version of this flash thumb drive. So just keep that in mind that having those faster hard drives means that you’re going to be able to read and write the video editing files a lot quicker, which means that importing and going through all of your footage, that’s going to be super quick. Playing it back, that’s going to be better and smoother. A GPU, a graphics card, does help with that as well. It also helps with when you’re exporting the videos a little bit depending on what software you’re using, such as the Adobe software can take advantage of that, and will get you those faster render times, but again, you don’t have to have that. But you should have the fastest hard drive you can have and the fastest processor you can have, and as much RAM as possible.

Requirement number five is your RAM. And so you want really as much as possible at some point for video editing it’s not going to take a ton of RAM, the need for speed, like the more, is better. But RAM is especially important for After Effects or Cinema 4D, or some of these other things. Having a lot of RAM can really support doing motion graphics projects and whatnot. Sometimes you want kind of that buffer and you also just multi-tasking in general. RAM is where like the working files are sitting as you’re working on projects. And so having as much as possible is good. You shouldn’t go below 16GB if you’re picking out a laptop for video editing these days and if you can go higher than that, that’s even better.

On the RAM side, eight gigs is the minimum that we recommend. Eight is a good sweet spot if that’s all you can afford or if that’s the maximum that a budget laptop can take, but if you can upgrade to 16 or buy something with 16 outright, that is for the best.

If you can get a much more robust Windows laptop like maybe something in the higher end from Asus, you might be able to get a laptop that has 32 gigs of RAM, and that’s tremendous. If you plan to do advanced animation, if you’re planning to do Adobe After Effects work, then we would recommend 16 to 32 gigs of RAM, and a GPU graphics card, preferably NVIDIA, and if you can get a two gig dedicated graphics card, that’s probably going to be very good for you. A gaming rig is ideal if you’re planning to do After Effects work, advanced color grading, or work with 4K footage.

These laptops are going to cost you anywhere from $1000 to $3000. They’re not going to be super cheap. The brands that you should go for that are Asus, Lenovo, and the Apple MacBook Pro. There are some other great laptop solutions out there.

Most of the things that you’re going to do if you’re someone who’s in creative services, a designer or video editor, you’re gonna be living in your application, you’re gonna be living in Adobe anyway, so you’re not even going to really see the operating system. With that being said, the hardware, the actual specs do matter, and we already qualified what those are. The fastest processors you can get, as much RAM as you can get, the fastest hard drive that you can get. In terms of storage space on those hard drives.

A laptop with SSD drives or flash-based storage with 128, 256 is a great option. You really want 112 if you’re doing video editing if you can’t go higher and go to the terabyte range If you have to go cheaper, then make sure you’re storing the bulk of your files on an external hard drive.

Requirement number six is all of the additional features that we think are really important to consider when picking up a laptop. And so, one we’re talking about USB 3.0 ports. How many USB 3.0 ports do you have? If you’re gonna run an external hard drive you definitely wanna make sure that external hard drive is USB 3.0 and that you also have ports that can support that, so you get the full speed benefit. Even better would be USB Type C, which is the new smaller USB connection that also is even faster. Another one is it has a full-size back lit keyboard. With a back lit keyboard, you can edit in the dark or just better visibility on the road, traveling on airplanes, at night they turn the lights off or whatever. It just kinda helps to be able to work on whatever you’re working on. The other thing is the webcam. Sometimes you might want to have high quality on the laptop you’re looking for to get live on Google, YouTube, Skype calls with the best quality of videos.

Sometimes you might have a fast SD card, but if the card reader isn’t USB 3.0, then the transfer speeds aren’t as high. With USB 2.0, it’s like 40mbs, it kinda caps out at, but with USB 3.0 you will see the transfer speeds at almost 90mbs. That is important and everything matters.

Requirement number seven – The battery life is a huge consideration as you’re looking for laptops. One of the other things is that the higher-end laptops also tend to have a longer battery life. This can be important if you’re working on the go and don’t have access to a power outlet, so keep this in mind that budgets do have their drawbacks. Budget laptops like this might only last you two to four hours depending on your situation whereas if you have something a little bit more robust, you might get twice as long of the work-life out of it.

Requirement number eight is of course style. Style matters because you actually wanna like the design, you wanna like the look.

And then lastly a few tips, whether you’re getting a new laptop or even with your current laptop, is you always wanna update the drivers. If you ever need higher performance out of your gear, firmware updates, driver updates, any kind of updates, could always be a key to really pushing your stuff to the next level.

In general, If you don’t need to edit 4K, then you don’t necessarily need the best performance across the board, you could probably be grabbing a solid video editing laptop in like the $700, $700-$1,000 range. If you wanna do 4K, it’s but you know, a little bit more investment.

To sum up, regardless of what your budget is, you need to keep a couple of things in mind when buying your video editing laptop. You need to go ahead and make sure that it has the fastest processors that it possibly can, the i5s or i7s. As long as they are over two gigahertz, you should be fine if you want to get into the technical speeds that they should be. Get the highest speed that you can afford.

In terms of RAM, our sweet spot is eight gigabytes. If you can get 16 gigs of RAM, 32 that’s absolutely amazing, and that’s going to help you a lot with processing your files.

Editing, rendering, playback, everything’s going to move quicker and faster based on the RAM. In terms of rendering, RAM and CPU are the two most important things, not your video card. Video card helps with smooth playback and great display capabilities, and it can help make rendering a little faster, but ultimately it is not going to be the dealbreaker when it comes to rendering. Depending on how much GPU you have to leverage, maybe your editing goes tremendously faster, but what a lot of people take for granted is that if they have an expensive GPU, they also probably have a lot of RAM and a very expensive CPU Intel processor to begin with, so it’s more of that than just the video card by itself making the difference.

Get fast hard drives. If you can get SSD hard drives,

that’s probably for the best. If you have an internal hard drive that’s not that fast, consider upgrading it or adding a secondary hard drive. Take advantage of two hard drives to make your editing workflow faster by using one as a media cache if your software allows for that. You could also do this with external drives just depending on what your situation is.

If possible, get a full keyboard so that you can take advantage of the arrow keys and of shortcuts and number keys and things like that whenever possible, and also make sure that you’re getting at least a 13 to 15 inch laptop so that you have a better screen with more space for an editing workflow and hopefully HD capabilities. It doesn’t have to be full HD, but that can help sometimes with your eye situation or you may just be more comfortable with that.

This might help you figure out what you need to know in order to buy a video editing laptop.