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If you need to do video editing on the go, you're going to need one of the best laptops for video editing. That means a machine with top-of-the-line specs and a display to match.
Most video editing gets done on desktops, so you'll need a fairly beefy laptop to compete with that kind of performance. Portability definitely takes a back seat to performance with these laptops. The best processors and GPUs are on full display here, with a fair bit of RAM and storage to back it all up.
You're likely to spend a pretty penny on these laptops, so to save a quick buck, definitely check out our collection of the best free video editing programs.
144Hz G-Sync display.
Full-power Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics
Short battery life
The Acer Predator Helios 500 might be primarily marketed as a gaming laptop, but it’s also highly competent as an editing tool. It has an Intel Core i7-8750H 6-core processor, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and a 15.6-inch screen. That makes it more than capable of handling video editing software, as well as anything else you might want to do.
Its battery life promises to be about eight hours, which will dip down a bit when you're conducting processor-heavy tasks like gaming. It's also worth investing in extra storage if you plan on doing a lot of editing (here is our list of the best external hard drives), as the 512GB SSD is speedy but sure to run out of space if you rely on it exclusively.
The Acer Predator Helios 500 is an excellent laptop for all purposes, especially in editing applications which support GPU (or discrete graphics) acceleration. Programs like Adobe Premiere Pro (or Elements), Pinnacle Studio, and Vegas Pro can hone the aforementioned RTX 2060 to export final projects in a matter of minutes. So you can focus on your videos rather than waiting around for things to finish processing, and it all comes in a stylish package to boot. It’s lightweight (less than five pounds), includes the standard array of ports (Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1, HDMI 2.0, and Mini Display), and has a programmable RGB keyboard.
Good battery runtimes
No VGA out
Lower number of I/O ports
The HP Pavilion 15 might not be on a par with more expensive laptops but it's still definitely worth considering. For its low price tag, it comes loaded with an Intel Core Core i7-8550U processor, 8GB RAM, and a 1TB supplemented by 16GB of Optane to speed up loading and boot times, a perfect machine for editing shorter videos at 720p or 1080p. Its weakness is in its integrated Intel HD 620 graphics, which lack the fortitude to push higher resolutions such as 4K, but that's a relatively small compromise to make for such a low price.
The touchscreen, measuring 15.6 inches diagonal, is useful if you want to be tactile in your approach to design and editing. Though it comes as a separate purchase, sometimes nothing can beat drawing with a stylus in terms of precision. When you’re scrubbing through your reel, a mouse cursor doesn’t always cut it. Promised battery life is about nine hours, but you can expect a more realistic five or so while using it for anything taxing like playing back color corrected footage and tuning chroma key effects.
"If you're looking for a portable editing system to use on location, run through some quick color tests on your footage in the field, or need the flexibility to show edits to collaborators, one of these laptops can do the trick." — Aaron Pattap, Senior Managing Video Editor, Dotdash
Solid graphics performance
No full-size SD card reader
The 2019 Zenbook Pro offers plenty of verve for your editing needs. Its greatest benefit is its 15.6-inch 4K touchscreen. Coupled with a stately 8th gen Intel Core i7-8750HK processor and GTX 1050 Ti graphics, you can tell the high resolution screen is meant for video editing rather than gaming. Otherwise you would probably see a higher refresh rate than the standard 60Hz you see here. Because the 15.6-inch display is an IPS-level panel, viewing angles are superb (as in 178 degrees superb) and the 83 percent screen-to-body ratio makes the ZenBook Pro ideal for dragging and dropping video clips without ever feeling constrained.
Unlike on a gaming laptop or a more expensive creator-geared workstation, the graphics solution is anything but overkill. It may not be able to max out the latest triple-A games on its 4K display, but it packs more than enough muscle to drive GPU accelerated tasks. The CPU is the real star of the show. Its ‘HK’ moniker indicates that it is overclockable. Tune it just right and you may be able to push it beyond the 5GHz mark. And for video editing, the faster the frequency, the sooner you’ll be able to wrap up one project and move onto the next. Its experiential features are nothing to sneeze at either. It has Harman Kardon speakers for driving pristine audio fidelity and almost 10 hours of battery life.
Unlike other similarly specced laptops, the 2019 edition is pretty slim, with a form factor that's only 0.70 inches thin. It’s light, too, weighing just four pounds. The sum of its parts are housed beautifully in a metal, diamond-cut body, complete with two USB 3.1 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, an HDMI connection, and, in rare form, a microSD card slot, as well as a headphone jack.
Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
Bezels are a bit thick
No dedicated video output
Historically, Apple-based systems are considered to be perfect for graphic design work, as well as video editing (countless production companies and professional movie makers agree). And that remains the case with the latest Apple MacBook Pro (it’s actually one of the best systems on the market if you’re into cinematography), although be prepared to shell out a pretty penny for the device.
Under the hood is an Intel Core i7 2.6GHz processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and Radeon Pro 555X graphics. The latter is the MacBook Pro's weak point being a lower quality GPU than you would find in a gaming laptop at this price. Video producers ought not to worry about this minor setback, however, because editing doesn’t tax the graphics chip as much as gaming does. In other words, this is much more of a work machine than something designed for play. Although it will handle some games, be prepared to turn down the quality in more demanding titles.
Of course, buying a MacBook nets you some fancy Apple-exclusive technology. For instance, there’s the peculiar 16:10 Retina screen whose 2560x1600 resolution looks exceptional when watching back your edits. And its True Tone color technology means that colors are reproduced to appear more vibrant. There's also the Apple Touch Bar on the keyboard for creating a slew of tactile shortcuts, as well as Touch ID fingerprint authentication. Four USB-C ports mean you can hook it up to other devices like an additional hard drive if you need extra storage. Battery life is outstanding, too, at up to 10 hours.
Can double as a solid gaming PC
Tons of different configurations
Some configurations are a bit expensive
The Dell XPS 15's main highlight is its 15.6-inch 4K touchscreen, which boasts a resolution up to 3840x2160 pixels and has 10-finger multi-touch support. When editing images and video, you’ll be able to see even the most minute details and pinpoint any minor issues you might find. Simply put: There’s no chance of any dead pixels on an image hiding here.
As for specs, there's an Intel Core i5-8300H processor, 8GB of RAM, Geforce GTX 1050 Ti graphics, and a 1TB SSD. The processor may not be the fastest, but it's a well designed system that prioritizes balance above everything else. Plus, these days, the stigma surrounding i5 processors is largely unjustified. With four cores and up to 4GHz of performance when Turbo Boost kicks in, the Dell XPS 15 is a fortified daily driver, for video editing duties and just about everything else.
Astoundingly, the XPS 15 can sustain a 20 hours off the charger, but you should only expect it to live up to this claim in nearly idle conditions and at low brightness. During average use, expect to use it for about six hours. But hey, that's still pretty nifty for a laptop powering a gorgeous 4K screen, as well as two SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Type-A ports and a Kensington Lock slot.
Good battery life
Responsive touch screen
Expanding storage can get expensive
Dock is a bit under powered
Half laptop, half tablet, the 15-inch Microsoft Surface Book 2 sports an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1060 graphics, and 512GB of storage. To convert the device to a tablet or back to a computer is a snap, literally, because of its detachable form factor.So if you want to do some freeform drawing, just use your finger or a stylus to manipulate what's on screen, including scrolling along the track when editing video. The moment you want to treat it more like a regular laptop, simply slot it back together again. However you use it, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 has a battery life of up to 17 hours (when watching videos), which equates to about seven hours in general use.
We're not saying the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is the powerhouse you might expect of a full laptop at the same price, but if you're in need of an all-in-one solution, this is a stellar option to pursue.
Outstanding graphics and performance
Ridiculously fast and expensive, the Alienware Area-51m is the perfect laptop for those who want the very best. It sports an Intel i9-9900K processor, 32GB RAM, GeForce RTX 2080 graphics, and a 512GB SSD along with a separate 1TB and 8GB solid-state hybrid drive, or SSHD, and a 17.3-inch screen.
That's almost overwhelmingly high specced for any system right now. To be clear, the processor and RAM will ensure that everything you do during editing is lightning fast. In addition, thanks to its hard drive setup, there's plenty of redundancy arranged so that you can rest easy knowing your files and data are safe at all times, and load and boot times will be accelerated for anything stashed on the SSD. Its capacious storage means you won’t have to worry about shelling out for an external hard drive too quickly either.
If you need to do video editing on the go, the Acer Predator Helios 500 has all the power you need to keep pace with even the burliest of desktops.
Once our trusted experts get their hands on some of our top picks for video editing laptops, they'll be testing for a variety of factors. While just about any high-performance laptop will do the trick for video editing, our experts will be using tools like Cinebench to stress test how well the CPU and RAM communicate with each other which can cut down on rendering time and ensure smooth multi-tasking.
Aaron Pattap is a senior video managing producer and studio manager, I've been with Dotdash over 3 years and have produced hundreds of videos with millions of views.
Graphics - They aren't just for playing games, a higher-end graphics card is going the let you render and finalize edits much faster. Thankfully, modern laptops can handle mobile versions of Nvidia GPUs all the way up to the RTX 2080.
Storage - While you will inevitably need some kind of external storage to hold on to extra footage. Having a decent SSD under the hood can help immensely with load times and overall performance.
RAM - More RAM means being able to multi-task and have more windows open without affecting performance. In laptops, the amount of RAM you can have is typically 16GB.