You'll need one of the best video editing laptops to work with raw HD or 4K video or to create special effects. While you can trim small clips with a cheap laptop, they won't boast a fast processor, strong discrete graphics or a high-resolution display.
For it to be the best video editing laptop, you'll want something with a discrete graphics card. The cheapest on our list, which boasts Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, starts at around $1,099. For something with a more powerful card like a high-end Quadro or GTX 1070, as well as features like a high-end display, you may pay around $2,500 or more.
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If you're wondering if one of the best gaming laptops can edit video, it probably can, but a dedicated media creation system is more likely to get perfect renders every time. The best video editing laptops are often among the best workstations, so if you need a great laptop for handling more graphics-intensive apps beyond video editing, you may want to go with the stronger alternative. We recently reviewed the Dell Precision 7540, which is a good example.
If you need something with intense power and battery life, consider the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, but keep in mind that its display isn't up to par with the other video editing laptops on this list. We also recently reviewed the Alienware m17 R3, which is a kick ass gaming laptop that can double as a video-editing laptop. Same goes for the MSI GS66 Stealth and the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15.
What are the best video editing laptops?
If you’re willing to spend a decent chunk of change, and you’re looking for the top video editing laptops, the Dell XPS 15 and the 16-inch MacBook Pro are your best bets. They offer gorgeous, high-res displays powered by some intense CPUs and GPUs that’ll power through most video editing projects that you can throw at them. Both laptops also sport slim aluminum chassis, making them incredibly portable.
If you’re looking for a video editing laptop under $1,000, your best bet would be to look at cheap gaming laptops. Something like the Dell G5 15 SE (2020), which sports an AMD Radeon RX 5600M GPU and a decent display, will be good enough for you to get through some of your rigorous tasks. However, when money is no object and you’re a gamer, the best video editing laptop you can buy is the Alienware Area-51m, as it boasts superpowerful components, lightning fast SSDs and is entirely upgradable.
But if you’re not a gamer and you want to focus exclusively on video editing no matter the cost, consider picking up a workstation, like the MSI WS65 9TM, which is one of the best workstations you can buy overall. Its Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 GPU is optimized for tasks such as video editing, and thanks to its super colorful 4K display, you’ll be able to see all of your creative work come to life before your eyes.
The best video editing laptops you can buy today
- Dell XPS 15 (2020)
- Dell G5 15 SE (2020)
- MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
- Alienware Area-51m
- Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch)
- HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, 2019)
- HP ZBook x2
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
- MSI WS65 9TM
- Alienware m15
- Asus ZenBook Pro 15
- Dell Precision 5540
Aluminum and carbon fiber -- a match made in techie heaven. This baby’s 3840 x 2400 screen will take your eyes on a journey of color, covering 132% of the sRGB color gamut and blasting 434 nits of brightness. Those sharp visuals are matched by even sharper performance, with the XPS 15’s Intel Core i7-10750H processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU.
The carbon-fiber beauty recently fixed its one biggest problem on the 2019 model and finally moved the webcam from the bottom bezel to the top. Not to mention that the XPS 15 is still light as ever, weighing only 4.5 pounds, making this a lean, portable killing machine -- easily at the top of the best video editing laptops. Just in case the colors aren't vivid enough for you, Dell preloaded several utilities to help. PremierColor lets you tweak color gamut, temperature and brightness.
See our full Dell XPS 15 (2020) review.
The Dell G5 15 SE (2020) is one of the first gaming laptops to pack all new AMD hardware. For $1,199, the Dell G5 15 SE with an AMD R7 4800H CPU blows its competitors out of this realm. When paired with a 15.6-inch display that covered 108% of the sRGB color gamut and emitted 301 nits of brightness, and a battery life that lasted 7 hours and 14 minutes, the G5 15 SE seems like a catch.
The Dell G5 15 SE transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 6 minutes and 43 seconds on our HandBrake benchmark, sailing past the mainstream gaming laptop average (10:35). It not only surpassed the Omen 15 (12:34) and Legion Y545 (8:51), but also topped the Zephyrus G14 (6:59). It's the best video-editing laptop for beginners.
See our full Dell G5 15 SE (2020) review.
If you prefer editing on an Apple machine, the new 16-inch Macbook Pro is hard to top. It comes with a speedy Intel Core i9 CPU and a powerful AMD Radeon Pro 5500M GPU. Its 16-inch display is bright, colorful and has super slim bezels compared to last year's model. When watching a trailer for The Mandalorian, I could make out the fine vents on the dirtied Storm Trooper helmets mounted on spikes.
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. The machine is also just 4.3 pounds and 0.6-inch thick, and the audio from the 16-inch MacBook Pro is even more impressive than the visuals. There’s a 6-speaker sound system on board with force-cancelling woofers. This system also offers beefier bass that’s half an octave deeper.
See our full MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) review.
Meet one of the best video editing laptops: The Alienware Area-51m. This baby is powered by an overclockable 9th Gen Core i9 desktop processor combined with the latest RTX 2080 GPU. It completely crushed the HandBrake benchmark, transcoding a 4K video to 1080p in just 6 minutes flat. Along with its immense, upgradable power, you get the machine's gorgeous design and an SSD with a 1,272 MBps transfer rate.
War has never looked so good on a 17.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 display. From the bronze, sun-scorched deserts to pristine white snow dunes illuminated by the ethereal emerald glow of the aurora borealis, Battlefield V was devastatingly beautiful. And hidden behind a pair of black glossy vents, the Area-51m's hiding a powerful pair of speakers.
See our full Alienware Area-51m review.
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. The Surface Book 2's 3240 x 2160 display is bright and vivid, so it's perfect for drawing, video editing or just kicking back and watching five or six too many YouTube videos.
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.
See our full Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch) review.
The HP Spectre x360 is an elegant machine capable of completing the HandBrake benchmark in 10 minutes and 45 seconds. The Spectre x360's 15.6-inch, 4K, glossy display is a mixed bag. On one hand, it's ridiculously colorful and sharp, but on the other, this screen is annoyingly dim and comes with distracting glare.
However, the Spectre x360 features a super comfortable keyboard and a battery that can last up to 8 hours and 9 minutes on a charge.The included HP Active Pen has two programmable buttons and 2,048 pressure sensitivity levels. The Spectre x360's aluminum build is lathered in a premium Poseidon Blue that evokes the Greek god himself. On top of that, the hinges and surrounding area of the chassis are elegantly cut, creating a diamond-esque design.
See our full HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, 2019) review.
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.
You can get brighter displays, but the ZBook's 14-inch, 4K panel ranks as one of the most vivid we've ever measured. It's also one of the few matte touch screens I've seen, and it has a chemical coating that, when paired with the stylus, feels like you're writing on paper. The ZBook has what HP calls a DreamColor display, which means it can show 1 billion different colors.
See our full HP ZBook x2 review.
Lenovo propelled its X-series line straight into the future when it revealed that the ThinkPad X1 Extreme (starting at $1,673) 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.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review.
With a beastly Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 GPU and 16GB of VRAM, the MSI WS65 9TM is a kick-ass video editing machine. Top that off with its 17.3-inch, 4K display is also ridiculously vivid, as it covered 251 percent of the sRGB color gamut and emitted 393 nits of brightness. Jack Black's green-and-brown bow tie in the Jumanji: Next Level trailer might've been glossed over on another panel because of the darker shades, but it popped on the MSI WS65's panel.
On top of that, passed several MIL-SPEC durability tests and even has a decently long battery life for a souped up workstation. The MSI WS65 took a speedy 10 minutes and 36 seconds to complete our HandBrake benchmark. Taking pointers from the MSI GS75 Stealth and the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin, the MSI WS65 sports a svelte aluminum chassis layered in matte black-and-gold diamond trimming around the lid.
See our full MSI WS65 9TM review.
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. Even more a gaming laptop, it's one of the best laptops for video editing.
See our full Alienware m15 review.
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.
See our full Asus ZenBook Pro 15 review.
Dell basically took the XPS 15 and stuffed workstation components inside, which brought the Dell Precision 5540 into life. It's packing an Intel Core i9-9980HK processor, an Nvidia Quadro T2000 GPU and 32GB of RAM. When you're on the go, you don't have to worry about the Precision getting all scuffed up thanks to its MIL-SPEC chassis. It also sports a 15.6-inch, 4K OLED panel, which is perfect for video editing.
The screen covers 200% of the sRGB color gamut and averages 384 nits of brightness. In the Stranger Things, ahem, I mean Ghostbusters: Afterlife trailer, Finn Wolfhard's blue shirt popped on the Precision 5540's screen. Even though the quick shot of the diner was dimly lit, I could spot the details of the coffee pots on the counter.
See our full Dell Precision 5540 review.
How to choose the best video editing laptops for you
Choosing the best video editing laptop for you depends on a couple of things. One is your budget -- how much are you willing to spend? And another is what you’ll be using it for -- of course you’re video editing, but are you simply trimming small clips in 720p? Or are you editing massive projects in 4K? Your answer will determine what kind of system you need.
If you want to get into video editing as a hobby, we recommend starting out with a cheap gaming laptop. It’ll offer you a decent amount of power and you’ll get a feel if you want to stick with video editing for the future. If you’re a professional that needs a top-of-the-line video editing laptop, you’re going to need a sharper and brighter display to get your work done, which will cost a pretty penny. So when you’re buying a video editing laptop, ask yourself -- how much do you actually need it?
How we test the best video editing laptops
There’s a number of tests that we run on video editing laptops to make sure they’re up to par with our standards, such as Geekbench, which measures the overall performance of the CPU, and the HandBrake video editing test, which determines how long a laptop takes to transcode a video from 4K to 1080p. To test the GPU, we use synthetic benchmarks like 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited and 3DMark Fire Strike.
Performance isn’t the only thing you have to worry about when you’re looking to buy a video editing laptop. We also take into account the display, specifically the resolution, the sRGB color gamut coverage and average number of nits that its panel can produce. Considering that content is frequently consumed on phones with OLED screens or giant colorful TVs, you need to make sure you’re able to see what your users will be seeing when you’re editing videos.