August 09, 2021

Article
8 min

Buying a Laptop for Video Editing: Specs & Requirements

This guide will go over the most important specs and requirements to consider when buying a laptop for video editing, along with some tips and tricks to make the most out of your new machine.

What's Inside
  • Laptop Specifications

    Laptops designed for video editing will have the same components as other computers, such as processors, graphics cards, and hard drives. What makes editing machines stand out from other high-end computers is the configuration of these components.

  • Other Specs to Watch

    While the core components are very important and will have the most significant effect on overall performance, there are still some other specifications to consider when buying a laptop for video editing.

  • Tips to Remember

    Learn more about some of the key considerations when purchasing a laptop for video editing.

  • Summary

    Video editing is one of the most intensive things you can do on a PC, and laptops make it possible to get even the most intense work done almost anywhere.

One of the most intensive tasks you can do on a computer is edit video. Even high-end gaming computers can struggle to meet requirements when it comes to professional-level video editing. Components in an editing machine will be similar to other high-end computers, but some are worth prioritizing over others.

When purchasing a laptop for video editing, you also need to consider that laptops are less upgradeable than desktop PCs, so it is worth spending more on your initial purchase. Editing laptops are fantastic for getting work done in any location and collaborating on projects with others. However, some features and specifications can help prioritize getting the most out of your laptop for video editing. This guide will go over the most important specs and requirements to consider when buying a laptop for video editing, along with some tips and tricks to make the most out of your new machine.

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Laptop Specifications

Laptops designed for video editing will have all the same components as other computers, such as processors, graphics cards, and hard drives. What makes editing machines stand out from other high-end computers is the configuration of these components. Each will need to be powerful individually, but some components outweigh others in terms of importance.

It is also essential to think of the resolution you will be working in when choosing a laptop. Working in 1080P, for instance, requires far less powerful hardware than 1440P or 4K. Below you can find which specifications to focus on when buying a laptop for video editing and how they will affect your computer's overall performance.

Storage

The most important specification to pay attention to when choosing a video editing laptop is storage. Often, laptops will have minimal amounts of local storage to reduce the form factor or lower the machine's overall cost. For most basic computer use, this is fine, but you will need all of the storage space you can get when it comes to video editing.

Not only is the amount of storage important, but even more so is the speed of your data storage device:

  • Mechanical hard drives or HDDs are great for storing finished projects or video archives but are incredibly slow and can be challenging to work with when editing.
  • Solid-state drives are more expensive storage solutions but allow for a smoother workflow when editing and processing video.

Storage in most laptops can be upgraded or increased later, so it is not entirely necessary to overspend on excess storage at the time of initial purchase. Another solution is to use external hard drives, which are a great way to increase space and store finished products. The ideal editing laptop will have ample SSD space for active work and a separate mechanical drive for long-term storage. Using only solid-state storage is superior but quite expensive, so keep that in mind when searching for your next laptop for video editing.

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CPU

The processor or CPU is like your computer's brain and is vital to the performance of your editing laptop, especially when working with high-resolution or larger video files. Like storage, this is one of the most important specifications when it comes to editing. Make sure you check the software you plan to use to edit to ensure your CPU meets the minimum requirements for use. Remember as well that a processor in a laptop cannot be upgraded later on, so it is advised to spend more on a CPU to increase your new machine's longevity.

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GPU

Graphics cards or GPUs are another vital component when it comes to video editing. Like with processors, integrated and dedicated graphics cards on laptops cannot be upgraded. Dedicated graphics are always more expensive than integrated, but they are often a requirement for video editing and worth the higher price tags.

This device handles the processing of recorded footage into edited video files and thus needs significant power to handle video effects and larger resolutions. It is wise to prioritize a CPU or speedy storage over a graphics card, but it would be a mistake to skip or try and save money on a budget GPU.

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Memory

RAM or Random Access Memory is like your workspace for video editing. Every active piece of data you are working with will be stored in your RAM. Having more memory means faster importing and processing of footage. Working with multiple clips, effects, sounds, and animations can quickly take up all your available RAM, so a computer with 16GB minimum is recommended for video editing. High-end machines can even have 32 or 64+ GB of memory. Luckily, RAM is easily upgradable even in laptops, so this can be an area where you can initially save on costs.

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Other Specs to Watch

While the core components are very important and will have the most significant effect on overall performance, there are still some other specifications to consider when buying a laptop for video editing. By paying attention to these details, you can get even more out of your purchase. Here’s what you need to know.

Display Resolution

When looking for a laptop for video editing, it is good to get an idea of the type of footage you will be working with beforehand. Suppose you plan on using 4K or higher video. In that case, you will want a high-resolution display or possibly even an external monitor to make sure you get the clearest image possible. Conversely, if you know most of your work will be done in 1080P, you can save some of your budget for other components by getting a laptop with a more standard display. 

Ports & Connections

Often the most overlooked part of any laptop is the number and type of available connections on the device. With slim form factors becoming the standard, finding laptops with two or sometimes even fewer ports on the device is not uncommon. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what you are looking for when purchasing a video editing laptop. It is a good idea to think of all the possible peripheral devices you are going to use, including how you will transfer footage from the camera to your PC to be worked on. Your ideal laptop needs to have at least that many ports and probably one or two extras for special situations. A lack of ports can have a severe effect on productivity and make working on your laptop a hassle.

MicroSD or SD card readers are another specific port to look for when purchasing a laptop for video editing because they allow for the quick and easy transfer of raw video files.

Software Support

Remember that not all editing software is alike, and some may have very specific operating system or PC hardware requirements. This is why it is good practice to know the exact programs you plan to use while editing before making a purchase. That way, you can find a laptop that is perfectly tailored to your needs and will excel at using the software you are most comfortable with. All programs will have information available to tell you the different hardware requirements needed to fully utilize the software. This is a great place to start if you are unsure of what you are looking for in a PC. 

Tips to Remember

  • External hard drives can help you save on initial costs. You can use one or multiple external hard drives to archive finished projects and raw video files from your computer's primary storage. This will help your laptop run as efficiently as possible and is cheaper than upgrading your internal storage.
  • Resolution is more important than you think. Depending on what video resolution you will be primarily working with, your computer can have vastly different hardware requirements. To sum things up, a laptop for working on 1080P footage can be much more affordable than one designed to work in 4K or higher resolutions.
  • Peripherals and hardware accessories are only useful if they can properly connect to your PC. Make sure to research how your recording equipment will interact with your PC. Not having the proper ports or connections could seriously reduce your productivity and efficiency. Devices like USB hubs can help to connect multiple devices at once to your laptop.
  • Higher initial costs mean longer machine lifespans. When purchasing a new computer, the more you spend upfront, the longer your machine will last. This is especially true for laptops. The reduced upgradability also means that it is often worth it to get a more powerful laptop than you need so that the computer will have a longer viable lifespan. 

Summary

Purchasing a new computer is a daunting task no matter what the machine will be used for. These days, laptops can come with some hefty price tags, so understanding their specifications and what you need in a computer is crucial to getting the best value.

Video editing is one of the most intensive things you can do on a PC, and laptops make it possible to get even the most intense work done almost anywhere. It is important to remember that laptops are less modifiable than desktop computers, so it is worth taking your time and spending more initially when purchasing a laptop for video editing.

Like with any piece of technology, it is best to know how you will use it and what software the device will need to support before going through with a purchase. This will ensure that you get the ideal laptop for you, and there will be minimal issues further down the road.