Best video editing laptops 2024: Hands-on recommendations

Shopping for a new laptop is a tough task as it is. With the sheer number of options, it’s easier than ever to fall into a cycle of choice paralysis, where making a final decision feels literally impossible. If you’re a creative type who needs a laptop for a very specific purpose — in this case, video editing — the pressure can be even more intense because the wrong choice can really come back to bite you. So it’s better that you get it right the first time. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself with a laptop that doesn’t perform the way you need it to and end up in a deep financial hole.

To aid us in our search for the best video editing laptops, we reached out to Denver McQuaid, a creative marketing strategist who is also a seasoned VFX artist and video editor with a large following on Instagram and TikTok.


In an email conversation with Mashable, McQuaid walked us through the process of shopping for a great laptop for video editing, from the necessary specs, to budgeting, and beyond. And after surveying the top laptops available in 2024, there was one clear winner — the new MacBook Pro. Still, it’s not the only laptop we have to recommend. Here’s what McQuaid told us about picking the right device.

What makes a video editing laptop “good”?

With so many laptops offering wildly different features, it’s important to narrow down which ones matter the most. In McQuaid’s opinion, there are three qualities that a good video editing laptop absolutely needs: Speed, solid battery life, and a good display size.

Having a laptop that can process tasks quickly and efficiently is paramount for video editing. “[Speed] can be achieved in many ways,” said McQuaid, “including RAM, hard drive write speeds, processor clock speed, and graphics rendering.” Battery life is pretty self-explanatory — the less time you spend charging, the more time you’ll have to actually work on your projects. When it comes to display size, McQuaid said the more you can see, the better. “I edit on a 13-inch [laptop], but often with an external monitor.” He travels for work, so he uses a more lightweight laptop with a smaller screen, though he recommends newer editors go bigger. “I don’t regret it, but more screen space is always nice to have.”

What specs do I need in a laptop for video editing?

Your laptop’s processor, RAM, and storage space are the specs you’ll want to pay the most attention to when shopping for a video editing machine, according to McQuaid. “More RAM means faster video playback and preview times, and file caching,” he said. A higher amount of RAM is also essential for multitasking. “It’s ideal when working in multiple programs at once, like Premiere, Photoshop, After Effects, Final Cut, etcetera. This happens more often than people realize, especially on professional projects.”

When it comes to picking out a processor, it’s a little more of a dealer’s choice, although McQuaid called out Apple’s latest M3 chip as a top contender. “Typically, the number of cores is more important than processor clock speeds, as more cores at a slightly lower speed outperform fewer cores with faster speed,” he said. But McQuaid also told us that it’ll really come down to what programs you’re using to determine the processor specs that you need. “A lot of Adobe editing software and effects aren’t fully optimized for multi-core rendering and processing,” he told Mashable. “Knowing your editing workflow can help you decide what processor specs will actually be best for you.”

Perhaps the most important spec to shell out for when picking out a laptop is storage, says McQuaid. “Do not skimp on storage,” he said in our conversation. “As video files grow ever larger and get more high res, your drives will fill up faster than you expect!” He recommended that you go for at least 1TB of space and pick SSD storage over HDD because it’s faster and more reliable (although he also says it’s smart to have an external HDD on standby for long-term storage). More storage will come with a higher price tag, but it’s worth the cost, said McQuaid. “Saving a little bit of money on smaller and slower hard drives now will cause ongoing and evergrowing file management headaches indefinitely…I have personal experience with this mistake, and refuse to make it again.”

Don’t sleep on the display

We already talked about screen size being an important factor when choosing a laptop for video editing, but that’s not the only reason the display you ultimately choose matters. “The display is crucial in a few ways,” McQuaid told us. “One element people don’t often think about is the color science of different displays,” he said, mentioning that final cuts of videos will look a lot different depending on what the viewer is watching them on. That’s why making sure that your laptop can produce an accurate range of colors is a big deal. “[It] gives you the best chance at making content that will look amazing across the board,” McQuaid concluded. Though, he also added that most laptop displays today are up to snuff in that regard, so unless you’re shopping for an external monitor, you won’t have to stress too much over this.

Are cheap laptops worth it for video editing?

McQuaid warned against going too cheap when picking up a new laptop for video editing, because you’ll most likely have to pick up a new one earlier than you planned. A lot of cheap laptops won’t be able to handle serious video editing at all. You should still stay within your budget, but it’s better to invest as much as you feasibly can now so your laptop will last as long as possible, because upgrading certain laptops down the line may not be achievable (that’s why the top picks in this guide are on the expensive side). “Saving a few hundred dollars now will cost more if you have to buy a whole new laptop two to three years sooner because of outdated specs,” McQuaid said.

What are the best laptops for video editing?

Like we already said at the top, the MacBook Pro was the clear winner as the best video editing laptop for most people. (Are you surprised? Probably not.) While the latest MacBook Pro with the M3 chip is your best bet, McQuaid told us that even older MacBook Pro models will do the trick. He uses a 2019-era MacBook Pro that predates even the M1 chip, and it still works just fine for his needs. “MacBooks have some drawbacks, but the pros outweigh the cons in my opinion,” McQuaid told Mashable. “The MacBook OS is more user-friendly and ideal for transferring files from computer to phone, or vice versa, especially iPhones.” So, if you’re looking for the intersection of power, quality, and convenience, the MacBook Pro is the way to go.

Of course, we realize that not everyone wants to jump into the Apple ecosystem, so we have more recommendations for you that fall outside of the famous fruit company. Check out more of our picks below, which we’ve chosen by way of vigorous hands-on testing and expert recommendation.

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