Best Laptop for Video Editing: Which One is Right for You?
Last Updated: July 18, 2017
Nowadays, more and more smartphones are being released into the market, with most of them having the capabilities to edit simple videos. However, the quality and the size may not be as good as you get from a laptop. When serious editing of videos and photos is needed, a powerful device will be a better option. As you already know, gaming, video and photo editing is an intensive task, which warrants for a powerful laptop with the specs that can match the work at hand.
The only problem here is that not many laptops have exhibited such capabilities. We came up with a review of some of the best laptops for such tasks. In here, you’ll also find the best laptop for video editing.
At a Glance: Our Top 5 Video Editing Laptop Picks
How to Choose the Best Video Editing Laptops for You
As you know with computers, it can be difficult to know what specs will work for you the best. Below we cover in detail the important specs that you should pay attention to when searching for your new laptop regardless if you are a hobbyist or edit videos for a living.
A higher resolution not only offers you more features to work with but also offers better-looking pictures. Since you are looking for a video editing laptop, the minimum resolution should be 1920 x 1080 pixels or full HD. But if you can, invest in an even higher resolution, as higher resolutions gives you the chance to view all details clearly.
With a full HD resolution, you’ll get 2,000,000 pixels to use. And you are able to spend even more, go for it. You see, a standard 1080 laptop will offer less than half the amount of pixels offered by a MacBook Pro.
Conventional screen sizes are 17.3”, 15.6”,14”, and 13.3”. Compared to a smaller screen, a larger screen will offer comfort to you especially when dealing with lengthy image editing.
However, if you are thinking of changing your screen size by either downgrading or upgrading, be ready, be assured that a larger screen will be of more service to you, but it also has a toll on your battery life. And the larger the screen, the more bulkier the laptop becomes.
Types of Displays
The quality of images on a screen is normally dictated by the LCD panel. However, in entry level laptops the most used panel is the twisted nematic (TN). And although it is cost effective, it TN does not offer quality viewing angles. Color can also change or fade when viewed on such type of displays, especially when viewed from the side.
Nowadays the most preferred option is the In-plane switching (IPS) or the Indium-gallium Zinc Oxide(IGZO) displays. Why is this? IPS and IGZO displays have unlimited viewing angles and they don’t have the same color shift/fade typical with the TN displays.
Accurate Color Reproduction
It is salient that you pay attention to the panel as it will determine if you’ll get accurate color reproduction. You see, most laptops use TN panels as they are cost effective, but these displays only offer 6 bits per RGB color, which means that the colors produced aren’t as accurate.
As for the IPS panels, they offer up to 8-12/ RGB color, which is not only more accurate but is also ideal for video editing.
Is a Touchscreen Ideal for Photo & Video Editing?
Traditionally, the software used in photo & video editing isn’t compatible with most touch screen gestures, which further complicates their usage. Most touch screen laptops cannot be termed as powerful enough to run high-powered compositing and editing software.
Although touchscreen features have many benefits such as the ability to easily swipe through the various medias and efficiently mark both ins and outs, we would still recommend using a mouse and a keyboard. However, this does not negate the fact that touch screens are better suited for some editing processes, which includes the rough cutting process.
Adobe recently released new updates; Character Animator, After Effects, and Premiere Pro, which are all compatible with some of the touch screen interactive interfaces.
Most intel-based laptops of notebooks are equipped with dual-core processors, which are best suited for casual video editing.
However, if you intend to engage in more serious video editing, a quad-core processor will be of more use to you.
A good example is the Core i7-7700HQ, which is much more quicker especially when applying complicated Adobe filters.
Since you’ll be working with numerous high resolution images in your photo and video editing work, a laptop with a RAM of between 8GB to 16GB is recommended.
In fact, if you’ll engage in casual editing, opt for a minimum of 8GB, but if you’ll be working on raw videos 16GB is much better.
Luckily, these days you can buy a laptop and add your preferred RAM to it as it is cost effective than buying a laptop with a built-in RAM of 16GB.
When it comes to photo editing laptops, storage space isn’t as important, but if you are to engage in video editing the storyline changes. That said, it is imperative that your laptop has a good SSD as the primary storage. Unlike the traditional hard disks, SSDs offer improved speeds for video editing, reading, and writing.
However, such laptops are limited to 7200rpm drives, which means that they will either get too noisy or too hot for standard laptop use. This leaves you two choices; you either opt for the slower 5400rpm drive or SSD, which is faster but offers less storage space.
The best choice here is going for a hybrid drive, which combines a standard drive with an SSD cache. This combo will give you two drives working together to improve the I/O speed of your laptop. With such a combination, you can save files on one drive and your Adobe docs on the other.
When it comes to video editing, graphics aren’t of much importance, but that does not mean that you do not need it. Any low-mid range NVIDIA or AMD graphics card will do the job just fine.
Luckily for you, integrated graphics are gaining headway with most Intel-based processors opting to use integrated Intel Iris Graphics (IIS).
And if you look at most video & photo editing software, they only require 3D acceleration for a handful of their operations, which means that video cards might not be of much use especially in terms of performance.
Even Lightroom does not have much use for the graphics card, but in the new future, they are likely to release updates that utilize the graphics card. You might want to look at your software requirements before deciding on the type of graphics card you’ll choose. A dedicated graphics card might be of use to you after all.
Our Top 5 Best Laptops for Video Editing
1. Dell XPS 15 9560 15.6" Ultra Thin Laptop
- Impeccable Build Quality
- Excellent IPS Display
- Speedy Performance
- Lackluster Battery Life
- At Extremely High Loads, the GPU Throttles
The Dell XPS is one of the high-end laptops released this year, and although it looks somewhat similar to the 9550, its performance is slightly better.
With this model, Dell opted to use carbon fiber in a bid to reduce its weight, which currently stands at 4.32 lbs. It also features a new battery pack, which is slightly larger than last year’s model, which weighed 4.29 lbs.
It is equipped with a 4K display panel combined with a 15” display that gives you ample space for 2 side-by-side windows. Its massive display not only guarantees flawless pictures but also pitch-black text. Unlike most displays that achieve a 90-99% range sRGB spectrum, the Dell XPS can achieve 99% of the spectrum.
This means that it can accurately reproduce every single color in the AdobeRGB spectrum. Dell’s 4K panel is arguably one the best option when it comes to video editing or professional photography.
The main selling point of the Dell XPS is that it has a quad-core Intel processor, which is way better than the dual core processor present in the Surface Book or the HP Spectre x360. And when it comes to performance, the Dell XPS outclasses most of its competitors with its quad-core i7 processor. It is not only ideal for video editing but also architectural work and gaming.
Although it was not specifically designed for gaming, it has some pretty nice features that suggest otherwise. It’s equipped with a NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics card. It is slightly lower than the 980m but is way better than last year’s 960m. In terms of performance, you can compare it to the GTX 970m.
Like earlier said, the XPS is not a gaming laptop but instead it’s a productivity laptop, which means that you can game on it but do not expect a seamless performance.
Its ample storage space, quality graphics and speed makes it ideal for professionals who mainly work with large files. It is also ideal for film making especially if you want to render 4K videos in Adobe Premier. It is a nice choosing but if portability is your main concern, then the Dell XPS 13 is the perfect fit for you.
2. Apple Macbook Pro 15" with Retina Display
- Travel-Friendly Design
- Fast Performance
- Great Battery Life
- Gorgeous Retina Display
- Snappy, Comfortable Keyboard
- Not Much Different From Previous Versions
- Frustrating Port Selection
For several years, Macbook has been the preferred choice for many professional photographers and even today, it still remains to be the top choice for many.
The Macbook Pro 15” has become one of the most sort after laptops for video editing, which is mainly due to its improved display, color gamut and resolution. And with the addition of Retina Display, it is now indispensable when it comes to viewing and editing photos.
The Macbook Pro 15” is not only beautiful but also features a 2500x 1600 Retina Display. When we tried viewing the videos before editing, every shot was full of life, with all the details appearing as they were intended to be. The Macbook Pro registered 460 nits of brightness when we tested it using a light meter.
It features a thin aluminum chassis that weighs in at 4 pounds. While we wouldn’t term the Touch Bar as an essential addition, it still comes in handy as it is packed with easy to access shortcuts. It will come in handy even when editing videos as its controls will morph based on the apps you are using.
The Macbook Pro 15” is a beast when it comes to performance, it easily handles video editing software without experiencing any lagging or heating issues. It packs AMD Radeon 560 graphics, which is an improvement from last year’s AMD Radeon 455.
With such graphics, you are sure to play several games without anything to worry about. However, it is not ideally suited for intense gaming.
The Macbook’s Retina Display is not only crystal clear but it is also capable of replicating highly accurate colors. And just like the Dell XPS 15, the Macbook Pro has a very minute color error of about 0.61, which means that it displays nearly perfect images. Such displays are suited for color sensitive photo and video editing.
Moreover, the Macbook Pro has a contrast ratio of 1400:1, which gives photos and videos a surreal depth perception. On the Macbook Pro, the pictures “pop” and at its maximum brightness it has a contrast ratio of 1000:1.
Due to its superior contrast ratio and phenomenal color quality, the Macbook Pro is way ahead of its competitors.
When compared to the Dell XPS 15, the Macbook Pro is better at some aspects and vice versa. And with this we can’t pick out which one between the two is better. But all in all, the XPS 15 offers you better value for your money.
3. Microsoft Surface Book
- Powerful Hardware for Video Editing
- Windows 10 Pro
- Handy & Lightweight Design
- Accurate Touchscreen
- Doesn't Have Type C USB Ports
Microsoft’s Surface Book is a 2-in-1 laptop that is powerful enough to handle professional video editing and is portable enough for everyday use. Its performance and hardware makes it a premium option. It has the ability to edit 4K videos without exhibiting any issues in terms of performance.
On paper, the 8GB of RAM should be capable of handling professional video editing seamlessly. And in reality, the Surface Book delivers a performance that can rival even the Macbook Pro and the Dell XPS 15. It does not lag and it offers exceptional editing and gaming performance.
Unlike the XPS 15, which displays 99% on the sRGB scale, the Surface Book manages 91% on the same scale. It has a color error of 1.05 deltaE, which is ideal for video editing as it has a near perfect color accuracy.
Its display also achieved a contrast ratio of 1440:1, which is close to the likes of the Macbook Pro and the Yoga X1. With such contrast ratios, you are sure to enjoy watching dark scenes from movies, as they look deep and true. Even when the brightness turned up, the colors remain vivid and consistent.
The Surface Book offers an excellent display and it is a good choice for both work and play. It offers an advanced display with an outstanding resolution of 3000x 2000, which is quite impressive considering its size.
However, for you to achieve your desired effect you’ll have to tweak the screen to an aspect ratio of 3:2. At first, it will seem awkward but as time goes on, it will come in handy especially when handling specific applications.
Although there are numerous touch screen options, the Surface Book has made a name for itself in the video editing industry due to its enhanced performance and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M graphics card. Its high performance specs and portability makes it an ideal choice for many.
4. Asus Zenbook Pro UX501VW-US71
- Touchscreen with Full HD Quality
- Dedicated NVIDIA Graphics Card
- 100% RGB Color Reproduction
- Thunderbolt 3 Port
- Type C USB Port
- Poor Battery Life
- Touchpad Sometimes Unresponsive
The Asus Zenbook Pro is equipped with a 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB SSD, NVIDIA 960M dedicated graphics card, and Intel Core i7 CPU. It is relatively cheaper than most other options on this review.
Like the Surface Book, the Zenbook Pro features a touch screen display with a 4K UHD resolution. This makes it ideal for photo and video editing. It has a solid aluminum frame, which makes it an ideal option for numerous consumers.
Although it was initially designed for gaming, the Asus Zenbook Pro is also idea video editing as it has a powerful GPU that is able to handle even the most complex video editing software with ease.
It comes with the Thunderbolt 3 port that allows for faster transfer of files. And while the earlier models of the Zenbook series had pretty average features, the Zenbook Pro is one of the premium laptops to be ever produced by ASUS.
The Zenbook Pro features a 15.6” 3840 x 2160 display and has an outstanding gamut, which was able to reproduce 100% of the sRGB gamut. It even surpassed the Dell XPS 15. It managed an above average 74% on the Adobe RGB.
However, despite such impressive ratings it did not manage to reproduce the same vibrant color displays seen in the Dell XPS 15 or the Macbook Pro 15”.
When it came to color accuracy, the Zenbook managed a modest rating of 4.37 Delta-E. The only issue here is that the closer to zero the color rating is, the more accurate and desirable it is. And due to this, the Zenbook had a significantly lower color accuracy than the Macbook Pro (0.61) and the Dell XPS (1.23).
Its sleek design and price makes it the ideal option for those working with a tight budget. Therefore, if you need an affordable high performance laptop, the Zenbook Pro is certainly the best bet for you.
5. MSI GL72M 7RD-056 15.6" Gaming Laptop
- Cost Effective
- Little to No Noise During Editing or Gaming
- Has Optical Drives
- Generous Port Selection
- Slim Design
- Contrast Ratio of 788:1
- Low Brightness Compared to Others
- No Touchscreen
This option is equipped with an i7 quad core processor, 128GB SSD together with a 1TB HDD, NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics card and 16GB of RAM. Unlike some of the models we’ve reviewed, it does not have a touchscreen display. And considering the performance and the apps this thing can handle, it is actually a nice bargain.
This MSI laptop was specifically designed for gaming but can also handle video editing software with ease. It does not produce much noise when editing videos or gaming nor does it lag when performing both tasks.
For example, when gaming, there is no thermal throttling. Also, the combination of an optical drive, generous port selections, and a gamer oriented tuning, sets this laptop apart from the much hyped XPS 15” and the Macbook Pro 15”.
This model comes with a 1920 x 1080 IPS display with a high pixel density that allows for a sharper screen view. The GL72M offers has a less brighter display compared to the other similar MSI GL62M.
The GL62M achieves 290 nits of brightness while the GL72M achieves 260 nits. Both models were able to garner 100% on the sRGB spectrum and 70% on Adobe RGB. However, unlike the Dell XPS 15, these displays are not full Adobe RGB gamut displays. But they offer quality graphics and performance for intensive video editing.
With such displays, the black was reasonable and the contrast ratio stood at 788:1. These two machines are not only ideal for video editing but also online gaming.
There you go, you now have a list of some of the best laptops for video editing. According to our experts, the Dell XPS 15 is the best laptop for video editing as it has a 4K display panel, a sleek design and long lasting battery life. It also has high performance GPU that guarantees for fast performance even when carrying our intense video editing. What more could you want?
With our comprehensive list, we are hoping that from our review, you will find a laptop for your video editing. Video and photo editing is an interesting profession but with a high-performance laptop, the experience is surreal.
The profession depends heavily on various kinds of software and hardware to achieve the desired result. And a high-performance laptop such as those mentioned above will be of great service to you. Grab yourself one and enjoy the benefits of both video editing and gaming.