Best Video Editing Laptops of 2018
Update Dec. 11: With Lenovo's current THINKSGIVING coupon, you can get a ThinkPad X1 Extreme starting at $1,301, which is $557 off.
Few tasks require more horsepower than video editing. While you can trim small clips with even an inexpensive laptop, to work with raw HD or 4K video or to create special effects, you need a fast processor, strong discrete graphics and a high-resolution display. Here are five laptops that are powerful enough to handle even your most demanding video-editing projects.
If you're wondering if your gaming laptop can edit video, it probably can, but a dedicated media creation system is more likely to get perfect renders every time.
How much does a video editing laptop cost?
For a video editing laptop, you want something with a discrete graphics card. The cheapest on our list, which boast Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1050 GPU, start at around $1,000. For something with a more powerful card like a high-end Quadro or GTX 1060, as well as features like a high-end display, you may pay around $2,500 or more.
Best Overall: 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
If you prefer editing on an Apple machine, the new 15-inch Macbook Pro with Touch Bar is hard to top. It comes with a faster Intel Core i7 CPU, a more powerful Radeon Pro 460 GPU and a brighter and more colorful display. The Touch Bar can even adapt depending on what app you're using, so you can apply filters or scrub through a clip without ever leaving fullscreen mode. Weighing just 4 pounds and 14.9mm thick, the new MacBook is even thinner and lighter than last year's model.
Pros: Light weight for the size; Sharp Retina display; Long battery life
Cons: Has only Thunderbolt 3 ports
Key Specs: 15.4-inch, 2880 x 1800 screen; Core i7 Kaby Lake CPU; AND Radeon Pro 560 GPU; 4 pounds
Best Display: Dell XPS 15 (2018)
This baby’s 4K screen will take your eyes on a journey of color, covering 164 percent of the sRGB color gamut and blasting 447 nits of brightness. Those sharp visuals are matched by even sharper performance, with the XPS 15’s 8th Gen Core i7 CPU and Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q. The carbon-fiber beauty is even lighter than last year’s model as well, weighing only 4.2 pounds, making this a lean, portable killing machine.
Pros: Strong overall and graphics performance; Excellent battery life; Bright, vibrant screen; Runs cool; Attractive, if dated, design
Cons: Awkwardly placed webcam
Key Specs: 15.6-inch, 1080p or 4K touchscreen; Up to Intel Core i7-8750H CPU; Up to Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB GPU; 4.2 pounds
Most Versatile: Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch)
Both a powerful laptop and a portable tablet, the Surface Book 2 is the most versatile notebook you can use to edit video. It comes with a powerful 8th Gen Core i7 CPU and discrete Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU, as well as an incredibly vibrant 3240 x 2160 display. It lasted over 12 hours on our battery test, so you can edit all day without fear of losing a charge. If the 15-inch version is too big or too expensive for you, there's also a 13.5-inch option, but that steps down to either integrated or GTX 1050 graphics.
Pros: Detachable screen; Great pen experience; Long battery life;
Cons: Very expensive; No Thunderbolt 3 port;
Key Specs: 15-inch, 3240 x 2160 screen; Intel Core i7-8650U CPU; Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU;
Best Performance: HP ZBook Studio x360 G5
The HP ZBook Studio x360 is beyond powerful. It's ready to kill with its Intel Xeon processor and Nvidia Quadro graphics all packed into its aluminum, military-durable chassis. It took 10 minutes and 40 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, which blows past the 16:44 workstation average, making it an ideal candidate for editing. On top of its power, it has a stunning 4K display, bouncy keyboard and long battery life all in a 2-in-1! It was so great that we awarded it our Editor's Choice award.
Pros: Premium design; Gorgeous 4K display; Military grade durability; Great keyboard and stylus; Excellent performance and graphics; Long battery life
Cons: Lid flexes; Lackluster webcam; Expensive
Key Specs: 15.6-inch, 4K display; Up to Intel Xeon E-2186M CPU; Up to Nvidia Quadro P1000 GPU; 4.9 pounds
Best Detachable: HP ZBook x2
The HP ZBook x2 is pricey, but it gets you an adaptable tool for creative work. The matte, 14-inch 4K display lets you edit at any resolution, and, if you prefer a stylus, you can use the shortcut keys for quick actions or keep the Bluetooth keyboard nearby. The Quadro GPU could be stronger, but there are few devices that cater so directly to creatives.
Pros: Great stylus; Excellent shortcut management; Comfortable keyboard
Cons: Very expensive; Could have stronger graphics performance; Middling battery life;
Key Specs: 14-inch, 4K display; Up to 8th Gen Core i7 CPU; Up to Nvidia Quadro M620 GPU; Bluetooth keyboard.
Best Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
Lenovo propelled its X-series line straight into the future when it revealed that the ThinkPad X1 Extreme (starting at S1,301 with THINKSGIVING coupon) would be its first 15-inch and the first to have a discrete graphics card. It comes with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB GPU and can be outfitted with an 8th Gen Intel Core i9 CPU as well as 64GB of RAM, which makes it a monster for video editing. It only took 10 minutes and 3 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p on the HandBrake benchmark, which is twice as fast as the 20:30 category average.
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme met 12 MIL-STD-810G standards, which means it can survive high humidity, exposure to sand and dust, extreme temperatures and repeated drops. It also supports dTPM encryption, Intel vPro, a fingerprint reader and an optional Smart Card reader, making it ideal for business use. Additionally, it has an optional IR camera so you can sign into your laptop with Windows Hello facial recognition.
Pros: Phenomenal 4K HDR display; Blazing-fast performance; Luxurious design; Thin and lightweight; Comfortable keyboard
Cons: Below-average battery life; Runs warm; Expensive
Key Specs: 15.6-inch, 1080p or 4K touchscreen; Up to 8th Gen Intel Core i9 CPU; Up to Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB GPU; 3.8 pounds (4 pounds touchscreen)
Best Gaming: Alienware m15
If you plan on editing some gameplay videos, you'll need an actual gaming machine first. The Alienware m15 (starting at $1,352) comes with a speedy 8th Gen Core i7 and up to a GTX 1070 Max-Q that blazed through our HandBrake benchmark (transcoding a 4K video to 1080p) in 9 minutes and 51 seconds. You can not only game but video edit on a display capable of reproducing 150 percent of the sRGB color gamut and emitting a solid 284 nits of brightness. On top of that, this baby will last 6 hours and 25 minutes on a full charge, which is impressive for a gaming laptop of this caliber.
Pros: Sleek, lightweight design; Great overall and gaming performance; Stunning display; Comfortable keyboard; Long battery life for gaming laptop
Cons: Audio could be better; Bottom gets warm; Expensive as configured
Key Specs: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 (60Hz or 144Hz) or 4K (60Hz); Core i7-8750H CPU, Nvidia GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU; 4.8 pounds
Best Value: Lenovo Yoga 720 (15-inch)
You may flip for the Yoga 720. This convertible 2-in-1 has a 15.6-inch 1080p display, a quad-core Core i7-7700HQ CPU, a 256GB PCIe SSD and an Nvidia GTX 1050 GPU for a starting price of $999 (a 4K screen is extra).
With that kind of power under the hood, you can easily edit and transcode Ultra HD videos. You can even bend the screen back 270 degrees and edit clips in presentation or tent modes. The Yoga 720 lasted almost 9 hours the Laptop Mag Battery Test, so it will get you through a cross-country flight's worth of media creation.
Pros: 2-in-1 Design; Long battery life; Vivid display; Strong Performance
Cons: Plain design
Key Specs: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 (or 4K) screen; Core i7-7700HQ CPU, Nvidia GTX 1050 GPU; 4.55 pounds
Most Innovative: Asus ZenBook Pro 15
This 4K speed demon packs an Intel Core i9 processor and a Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti GPU in a lightweight, sexy chassis accompanied by Asus' most interesting feature: the ScreenPad. Essentially a second display, ScreenPad is built into the touchpad to enhance your multitasking. There are several apps built into the ScreenPad that can transform the secondary display according to use case including a numpad, calculator or a music player. It comes in handy when you want to game on your main display and watch a game guide on the second.
When you're not fawning over the awesome ScreenPad, you get to take-in that sexy design and enjoy that eye-popping 141 percent of sRGB color gamut on the 4K display while you're bouncing around its comfortable keyboard.
Pros: Elegant, sophisticated design; Powerful overall and graphics performance; ScreenPad complements productivity tasks; Lightning-fast transfer speeds; Supervivid, 4K touch screen
Cons: Below-average battery life; Low-res webcam
Key Specs: 15.6-inch, 4K touchscreen; Core i9-8950HK CPU, Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti GPU; 4.2 pounds