The best laptops for video editing are powerful enough to tackle big edit jobs but also light enough to carry all day, with a screen vibrant and accurate enough to allow you to do your best work. Long-lasting battery life is also important if you don't want to lug a charger around alongside the laptop.
The good news is that you now have more options than ever before. This is thanks to recent advances in CPU development. AMD, Intel and even Apple have met consumer demand for smaller, more powerful laptops with some beefy laptop CPUs (or SoCs, in the case of Apple's incredible M1 chip).+Great performance+Super portable design paired with 11-hour battery life+Great display and audio-No webcam-Keyboard has backlighting issues
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is that rare gaming laptop that manages to be both powerful and portable without sacrificing battery life. The unit we reviewed achieves this thanks to its AMD Ryzen 9 processor, a very capable CPU that comes with AMD’s latest tech to deliver power without draining your battery in a matter of hours. Factor in the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU and you’re looking at a very powerful 14-inch laptop.
This gaming laptop is powerful enough to handle big edit jobs yet svelte enough to throw in a bag and forget about, but the real reason it tops this list is its excellent 11-hour battery life. That kind of battery life is almost unheard of in a high-performance laptop, and at a price that ranges from $1,049 - $1,999 the Zephyrus G14 is pretty affordable to boot. Sure, you don’t get a webcam and the keyboard backlighting has some issues, but depending on how you feel about privacy the lack of a built-in camera could actually be a positive thing. Don't let the fact that it's a gaming laptop dissuade you -- the Asus ROG Zephyrus 14 is an excellent all-around video editing laptop.
Read our full Asus ROG Zephryus G14 review.Display: 13 inches; 2560x1600CPU: Apple M1 (8-core)GPU: 8-core integratedRAM: 8GB to 16GBStorage: 256GB to 2TB SSDWeight: 3 poundsHandbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 7:46+Superb performance+Crazy long battery life+Bright and colorful display-Dated design-Just two Thunderbolt ports
Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 is a great laptop for editors on the go because it's light, long-lived, and powerful enough to handle the lion's share of editing jobs. You'll feel the lack of a discrete GPU on some big projects, but the efficiency and performance of Apple silicon should help this M1-powered MacBook Pro punch above its weight.
Plus, its Retina display is both bright and colorful, so the video you edit on the MacBook Pro will look excellent (as will the next Netflix show you binge). We just wish Apple would update its design or give you more Thunderbolt ports — the 4 USB-C port config is currently limited to older Intel-based MacBook Pros. Still, it's amazing to see how Apple's own processors have obliterated the performance seen in its old Intel-based MacBooks. It all adds up to why the 13-inch MacBook Pro is one of the best laptops for video editing. Its incredible 16-hour battery life is pretty handy to have in a pinch, too.
Read our full MacBook Pro with M1 review.Display: 15.6 inches, 1920 x 1080, 60Hz/144HzCPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4600H/Ryzen 5 4800HGPU: AMD Radeon RX 5600MRAM: 8-16GBStorage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSDWeight: 5.5 poundsHandbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 6:43+Great overall performance+Impressive battery life+Colorful display-So-so speakers-Keyboard can get cramped
If you’re after an affordable but powerful gaming laptop that can handle some serious video editing, the Dell G5 15 SE 2020 is well worth your consideration. The remarkably forgettable name belies the fact that this is a very capable machine clad in a neat, unassuming chassis for less than $1,000. And despite its price, it can keep up with some of the more expensive gaming laptops, especially at 1080p.
Dell has opted to go with an all-AMD configuration, so the G5 15 SE sports a Ryzen 5 4000-series CPU and a Radeon RX 5600M GPU to deliver some graphical muscle. With up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD space, the Dell G5 15 SE 2020 is a very capable video editing laptop — it actually completed our Handbrake video editing test a smidge faster than any other laptop on this list. You'll have to pay $1,049 for the best specs, but that price also gets you a colorful display with a 144Hz refresh rate. The G5 15 SE's plastic build might not scream ‘premium’, but it still looks pretty sharp on a desk. More importantly, it's got it where it counts.
Read our full Dell G5 15 SE (2020) review.Display: 14.2 inches; 3024x1964 pixelsCPU: Apple M1 Pro or Max with 10-core CPUGPU: 16-core to 32-core integrated GPURAM: 16GB to 64GBStorage: 512GB to 8TB SSDWeight: 3.5 pounds+Stellar battery life+Beautiful 1080p OLED display+Great performance-Middling sound quality-Inconsistent webcam-No headphone jack
The AMD-equipped Asus Zenbook 13 OLED is a capable laptop for video editing that offers excellent value, delivering an eye-catching 1080p OLED display and exceptional battery life in a slim, lightweight package for less than a thousand bucks.
Sure, the speakers aren't amazing, the webcam leaves something to be desired, and there's no headphone jack, but these are stumbling blocks you can work around. The AMD Ryzen 7 5000-series CPU and 8 GB of RAM give you enough power to handle simple video editing, especially if you keep it to 1080p, and the OLED display is a joy to look at. The 15-hour battery life is pretty nice to have, too, especially on those long days. If you need a small, portable laptop with a great screen that can handle video editing and last you all day long, you can't do better than the OLED-equipped Asus Zenbook 13 at this price.
Read our full Asus Zenbook 13 OLED review.Display: 13.3 inches; 2560x1600CPU: Apple M1GPU: Integrated 8-core GPURAM: 8GB-16GBStorage: 256GB-2TB SSDWeight: 2.8 poundsHandbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 9:15+Remarkably fast performance+Strong legacy app support+Amazingly long battery life-Still has thick bezels-Light on ports
Apple's powerful M1 chips punch above their weight, rendering the 13-inch MacBook Air with M1 a remarkable effective lightweight laptop for video editing. Yes, we're living in a world where you could do serious creative work on a MacBook Air. We're as surprised as you are.
It's not quite as effective as the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1, or the 16-inch MacBook Pros, but the M1-equipped MacBook Air can still get most video editing jobs done — and it's lighter and cheaper than a Pro.
On top of that, you get stronger sound than you'd expect from a laptop this small, since it support Dolby Atmos audio. And the bright, vibrant 2,560 x 1600-pixel Retina display should be easy on the eyes during those long editing sessions.
Read our full Apple MacBook Air M1 (late 2020) review.Display: 15.6 inches; 1080p, 4K, or 3.5K OLED CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i7 GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 TiRAM: 16 GBStorage: 512 GB SSDWeight: 4.2 pounds+3.5K OLED display impresses with beautiful contrasts+Remarkable performance+Spacious, comfy keyboard+Svelte chassis still looks great-Disappointing battery life-720p webcam delivers grainy, washed-out images
Don’t let its slim and stylish design fool you — the Dell XPS 15 is an absolute workhorse, and if you trick it out it can be a decent machine for video editing on the go.
Its cutting-edge Intel CPUs deliver plenty of processing power for daily tasks, and if you pay to upgrade it with a beefy GeForce RTX GPU and some extra RAM/storage it should have more than enough oomph to get you through your next video project. Factor in a pair of impressively loud speakers and solid battery life, as well as an absolutely gorgeous OLED screen option, and you start to see why the XPS 15 is such an appealing laptop.
Read our full Dell XPS 15 OLED review.
Not interested in OLED? Don't miss our Dell XPS 15 (2020) review.Display: 15 inches, 4K OLEDCPU: Intel Core i7-10870H CPU @ 2.20GHz, 2.21 GHzGPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070RAM: 16 GBStorage: 1 TB SSDWeight: 5.3 poundsHandbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 7:07+Sleek design+Strong performance+Decent keyboard and touchpad-Fan gets very loud-Short battery life
The Alienware m15 R4 is a sleek and functional gaming laptop that's plenty powerful enough for 4K video editing, thanks (in part) to its impressive Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU. While this machine can easily run you $2,500 (or more), in return, you'll get a streamlined and relatively lightweight device with a slick white chassis that looks good on a desk. With a fast CPU, lots of hard drive space and a beautiful 4K display, the m15 R4 is a surprisingly great laptop for video editing.
Of course, like most Alienware laptops (and gaming laptops in general), the m15 R4 has pretty meager battery life, managing barely 4 hours of web surfing on a full battery. The fans get remarkably loud under heavy workloads too, but if you're editing video with headphones on you'll barely notice.
Read our full Alienware m15 R4 review.Display: 17.3 inches, 1920 x 1080CPU: Intel Core i5-i9, 2.4-2.6 GHzGPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti-RTX 2080 Max-QRAM: 8-16GBStorage: 256GB SSD-4TBWeight: 5.7 poundsHandbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 6:53+Lightweight, above-average battery life+Solid performance-Expensive-Crackly speakers
Like all Alienware gaming laptops, the Alienware m17 R2 is expensive, and the battery life is nothing to write home about. However, if you need a beefy laptop with a big screen for video editing, shelling out for a kitted-out m17 R2 makes sense: you'll get top-of-the-line GeForce RTX GPUs, Core i9 CPUs, a big 17.3-inch display, and more storage space than a U-Haul facility. It's one of the oldest laptops on this list, yet it still managed to earn one of the fastest times in our Handbrake video transcoding test.However, we clocked the battery life of the m17 R2 at about 4 hours on a full charge; that's actually pretty good for a gaming laptop, but it does mean you shouldn't invest in an M17 R2 if you expect to be working away from an outlet for extended periods. But if you just need a powerful big-screen laptop to sit on a desk and edit videos, the m17 R2 is a great choice that won't let you down.
Read our full Alienware m17 R2 review.
Performance: If you want good performance when editing video, you should get a laptop with at least a Core i5 CPU, 8 to 16GB of RAM and a 256GB to 512GB SSD. That will be enough for most 1080p projects, but for working in 4K or on big projects you'll want to try and upgrade to at least a Core i7 CPU, 16 to 32 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB SSD.
Graphics: Most mainstream laptops feature integrated graphics, which can handle lightweight video editing at 1080p but aren't ideal for big videos, especially those in 4K. For that, you'll want a laptop with a discrete graphics card, ideally something on the higher end of the Nvidia GTX 3000-series.
Size: Consider how mobile you want your laptop to be. Ultraportables like the Asus Zenbook 13 OLED and Dell XPS 15 are slim and light, while gaming notebooks such as the Alienware m17 R2 are big and bulky — but offer big power in exchange,
Operating system: If you want to use the most common video editing software, you'll want to stick with a relatively recent version of Windows or macOS — Linux and Chrome OS laptops don't have what it takes to excel at video editing. Right now you'll want a laptop with the latest version of Windows 10 or macOS Big Sur, though Windows 11 and macOS 12 Monterey laptops are right around the corner.
To find the best laptops for video editing, we run every machine we review through a rigorous suite of benchmarks and real-world tests to gauge how it will perform during everyday use.
We measure the average brightness and color quality of each laptop's display using our in-house light meter and colorimeter. For general performance, we run laptops through a series of tests that include Geekbench 5 (CPU performance), as well as various 3DMark tests to measure graphics capabilities. We also run a file transfer test to measure how fast a machine's hard drive is, and a custom battery test that has the machine browse the internet over Wi-Fi until it runs out of juice.
Most importantly for video editors, we also benchmark the video editing capabilities of every laptop we review by timing how long it takes them to transcode a 4K video down to 1080p in Handbrake. Most laptops accomplish this in 6-20 minutes, and for the purposes of this list we only included laptops that could do it in less than 10.
Finally, when testing dedicated gaming laptops we also run benchmarks for popular games such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Far Cry: New Dawn.