Whether you’re an amateur video hack making a quick video about your cat’s latest antics or a professional videographer producing ads for major corporations, there are likely times when you’ll want to edit a video while you’re on the road.
That creates some special problems because video editing has some very specific requirements. Video editing is a task that calls for a particularly powerful model with an excellent display — if it’s going to be done efficiently and with acceptable performance.
That’s why we surveyed the Digital Trends video team, evaluated the hundreds of laptops we’ve reviewed over the years, and put together this list of the best laptops for video editing, beginning with the all-around great pick Dell XPS 15.
The best video editing laptops at a glance
- The best video editing laptop: Dell XPS 15
- The best MacBook for video editing: Apple MacBook Pro 15
- The best gaming laptop for video editing: Razer Blade
- The best video editing laptop under $1,000: Dell G3 15 Gaming Laptop
- Best video editing laptop for color accuracy: Acer ConceptD 7
Why you should buy this: The Dell XPS 15 looks great, is built incredibly well, and can be configured with some of the most powerful components around.
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a fast Windows 10 laptop for video editing — and everything else.
What we thought of the Dell XPS 15:
Dell’s XPS 15 clamshell laptop has been one of our favorite portable workhorses for a couple of years. It’s incredibly well-built, sporting a solid aluminum chassis and a carbon-fiber keyboard deck that makes for comfortable long working sessions. The XPS 15 also provides some serious power, with up to Intel’s 9th-generation eight-core Core i9-9980HK CPU. This superfast, full-power (45-watt) processor is the ultimate CPU for demanding tasks like encoding video and real-time editing. That chip is featured in other laptops, but according to our tests, it’s by far the fastest in Dell’s system. The XPS 15 is also available with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU that should help considerably with live editing and encoding performance.
You can configure the XPS 15 all the way from a base model with an entry-level i5-9300H CPU up to the aforementioned Core i9-9980HK to 32GB of fast DDR4-2666MHz RAM, up to 2TB of very fast PCI-e solid-state drive (SSD) storage, and up to a gorgeous 4K OLED display that offers remarkable contrast and vibrant colors to show off your video projects with real grandeur. You’ll get a machine that also provides tons of high-speed connectivity, including a USB-C with full-speed 40 GB/s Thunderbolt 3 support, along with a solid keyboard and touchpad with the option of a fingerprint scanner for secure login via Windows 10 Hello.
Why you should buy this: You’ve bought into the Apple ecosystem, you love MacBooks, and you want one of the best video editing laptops money can buy.
Who’s it for: Any Apple user who needs a powerful video editing workstation they can take anywhere.
What we thought of the Apple MacBook Pro 15:
While Adobe’s Premiere line of video editing applications has become an industry standard, Apple’s Final Cut Pro X is on the rise again. That means that the Mac retains its place in the hearts of many creative professionals — and videographers are no different. For high-end users, that likely means the latest MacBook Pro 15-inch with Touch Bar.
This laptop provides Apple’s usual excellence in design and build quality, but also some serious power. Like Dell’s XPS 15, the just-released high-end MacBook Pro 15 models can be configured with up to the incredibly fast Intel 9th-generation eight-core i9-9980HK, up to 32GB of fast RAM, and up to a massive 4TB of fast PCI-e SSD storage. Though not quite as fast as the XPS 15, the extra cores of the Core i9 still add some faster, multi-threaded performance to this seriously thin laptop. Video editors should also opt for the dedicated AMD Radeon Pro Vega GPU to help with editing and encoding.
In addition, the MacBook Pro 15 offers up a very high-quality 15.4-inch IPS display at a sharp 2,880 x 1,800 resolution. It’s a video editor’s dream display. Note that the top configuration maxes out at a mind-boggling $5,150, while it starts at $2,400.
Why you should buy this: This laptop provides the fastest GPU you can get to speed up video encoding and live editing.
Who’s it for: Anybody who wants the fastest possible workflow without investing in a boring portable workstation.
What we thought of the Razer Blade:
The Razer Blade is our favorite gaming laptop by a country mile. It’s gorgeous, as well built as any laptop on the market, and it can be configured for very fast gaming. And there’s an interesting relationship between gaming and video editing — the GPU speeds up both tasks.
That’s why we’re not as concerned that the Razer Blade maxes out at the 9th-gen Intel Core i7-9750H, which is a fast CPU despite lacking the two extra cores of the Core i9 you can equip in the Dell XPS 15 and the Apple MacBook Pro 15. The Razer Blade can be equipped with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU, the fastest you can buy today. That means you’ll get the best video encoding performance around, even beating the Core i9 MacBook Pro in a Premiere video exporting test.
And, as if that weren’t enough, the Razer Blade can also be equipped with the same OLED display as the Dell XPS 15, which provides the best colors and contrast you’ll find on a laptop display today. Power and beauty? We’ll take it.
Why you should buy this: It provides a lot of power at a low cost.
Who’s it for: Anyone who needs fast components to churn through their video projects but has little money to spend.
What we thought of the Dell G3 15 Gaming Laptop:
Not everyone has the money for a high-powered machine like the ones listed above. For those people, there’s an option that may not be the first that comes to mind: A budget gaming laptop. Yes, that’s right, manufacturers often pack some surprisingly powerful components into gaming laptops at surprisingly low markets — because not every gamer has tons of money to spend.
One of our favorites is the Dell G3 15 Gaming Laptop. It’s not the most powerful laptop around, but it still packs in a fast six-core Intel 8th-gen Core i7-8750H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 CPU. Those are fast parts that will keep all but the most demanding video projects running at full speed.
Right now, you can pick up the laptop with the Core i7, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB PCI-e SSD for the operating system and a 1TB spinning hard disk drive (HDD) for storage, all for the low price of $830. And it still comes in under our $1,000 budget when it’s not on sale.
Why you should buy this: Acer has built a laptop from the ground up for editing perfectionists.
Who’s it for: Video editors, designers, and photographers who have plenty of demands for 2D or 3D creation and high expectations for color quality.
What we thought of the Acer ConceptD 7:
The ConceptD 7 is a laptop made specifically for creators with high demands for their portable creation machines. It offers a 9th-gen Intel 6-core processor with up to 4.5GHz, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 with 8G of dedicated VRAM. the 15.6-inch screen offers a 4K resolution for designers who like to get really close to their videos, and up to a 400 nit brightness level. There’s also up to 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB PCI-e NVMe SSD to store all your greedy video files.
But it’s the color quality where this laptop shines even brighter: It has a 100% Adobe color gamut, color accuracy of Delta E<2, and integrated color correction, plus Pantone color validation. Oh, and if you like working in low-light conditions, the keyboard has pleasant gentle backlighting that won’t distract from your work. It’s a laptop made for demanding 2D and 3D creation, and it doesn’t get much better than that…for a price.
There’s also an advanced model on the way with the ConceptD 7 Ezel Pro that offers a highly portable 2-in-1 design for those who are even more on the move than usual.
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