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. Looking for something on the creative front? -- Check out our Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 review. If you're looking for a beast with a 30-series GPU, see our beginner's guide to Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 series mobile GPUs.
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
The XPS 15 OLED is a better version of the laptop we've consistently praised over the past several years. It fixes past problems (remember the nosecam?) while refining every inch of the package. The highlight of this particular configuration is the stunning 3.5K OLED display with its jaw-dropping colors, contrast and brightness. It's a panel befitting of the XPS 15's stylish and portable design that blends a machined aluminum exterior with a woven pattern on the inside. On the deck are a gargantuan touchpad, spacious keyboard and powerful speakers.
But just as we saw with the XPS 13 OLED, opting for the high-end panel means trading in hours of battery life. It'd be tough to say goodbye to this display, but we'd ultimately go with the FHD+ screen for the extra endurance and lower price. And upgrading to this new model would mean losing a USB-A port and relying on the included adapter, a compromise many are justifiably unwilling to make. Shortcomings aside, the XPS 15 OLED is one of the best video editing laptops around and worth its steep price.
See our full Dell XPS 15 OLED (2021) 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.
At long last, after months of rumors and speculation, the 14-inch MacBook is here and it’s sporting a ton of goodies as befitting its $2,899 price tag. The ultraportable brings back a cadre of useful ports while ditching the novel, but impractical Touch Bar. The miniLED screen is positively breathtaking as is the new, improved speaker system with its spatial audio capabilities. Although it’s still in beta, macOS Monterey runs like a dream and the laptop lasted over 14 hours on our battery test.
When we ran the HandBrake video transcoding test, the MacBook Pro only took 4 minutes and 51 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p. It ran circles around the 14:15 average. This version of the MacBook Pro is outfitted with a 14.2-inch, 3024 x 1964p display with a 120Hz refresh rate. And as Apple says, the panel has 5.9 million pixels and boasts a 254 ppi (pixels per inch).
See our full Apple MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch) 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.
The Surface Book 3 is the only product where you get a full tablet and laptop in a single package. For that reason, the Surface Book 3 ($2,299 starting, reviewed at $2,799) is a compelling device, even though not much has changed in the 2.5 years since the release of the Surface Book 2.
The 15-inch Surface Book 3 starts at $2,229 and goes well beyond $3,000 once you've configured it to your liking. On top of that, the unique form factor has its limitations; The Surface Book 3 is thick and heavy and its performance is outclassed by other systems.
But if budget isn't an issue and you want a laptop and tablet in one, then the Surface Book 3 is unrivaled. It's a capable machine with a gorgeous display, premium design and very comfortable keyboard. Battery life is also a bright spot as long as you're in laptop mode. And while it isn't the quickest, the Surface Book 3's discrete Nvidia GPU gives a boost to content creators and gamers.
See our full Microsoft Surface Book 3 (15-inch) review.
This year’s HP ZBook Studio G8 holds on to the award-winning G7 series styling but bumps up the power to help content creators with their creative projects either in the studio or in the field. The $4,727 system is gorgeous, powerful, MIL-SPEC tough, and is one of the best content creator laptops on the market. Oh, I forgot to mention, its OLED 4K touchscreen is bright, vivid and positively stunning.
This salacious attention grabber comes with an 11th Gen Intel Core i9 processor, 32GB of RAM, 2TB of SSD storage, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU that will more than handle all your Adobe Creative Suite power-hungry needs and then some. It's easily one of the best video editing laptops that we've tested, even if it's priced at a whopping $4,727 as reviewed.
See our full HP ZBook Studio G8 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 couldn’t have picked a better name for the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 — extreme is the operative word here. When I think of “extreme,” phrases like “to the max,” “out of hand” and “exorbitant” come to mind, which perfectly describe this 16-inch monster. The price tag is definitely extreme with a shocking starting price of $2,951. Whew! This 16-inch laptop, packed with extreme internals such as a top-of-the-line 11th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU and powerful Nvidia 30-series graphics, was built to make its rivals sweat. Someone check on the Dell XPS 15!
This Lenovo laptop is a major improvement from the last ThinkPad X1 Extreme we reviewed (Gen 2). It’s got more battery life, a brighter display and zippier chips. But of course, every monster has its kryptonite. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is no different, especially since it’s up against some fierce competitors.
Still, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is ideal for handling extreme workloads for professionals, whether you’re a creator, architect or engineer. As a cherry on top, they can relax and play their favorite graphics-intensive games after a long day of productivity.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 review.
Is the HP ZBook Fury 17 G8 the best workstation on the market? I suppose that depends on your budget and configuration, but if your pockets are deep enough for an Intel Xeon processor and Nvidia RTX A5000 graphics (boy howdy!), this is about as future-proof as laptops get right now.
In terms of raw power, this notebook is tough to beat, and even if it runs out of battery when you’re on the go, it’s still heavy enough to fight crime with. Granted, the $6K configuration we tested is overkill for most laptop users; it’s nigh impossible for this kind of mobile muscle to fail too hard on our standard benchmarks. And that’s partially the point, in my opinion. The world of mobile tech continues to march forward at an exponential rate, and if you don’t have the right laptop for your respective career, opportunity might very well pass you by.
But that’s hardly a concern with the ZBook Fury 17 G8 thanks to a stunning 17.3-inch touchscreen, intimidating specs under the hood, and plenty of ports to power your pertinent peripherals.
See our full HP ZBook Fury 17 G8 review.
With the release of the MSI Creator Z16 ($2,549 starting, $2,999 as reviewed), the company is making a compelling case for PCs becoming a top choice for content creators. Featuring a massive 16-inch QHD touch display with an immersive 16:10 aspect ratio, a powerful Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, the Z16 easily handles all the software creatives use.
The Z16 easily handled every photo and video editing task I threw at it. With its gorgeous, QHD touch display, powerful Intel Core i9-11900H CPU, and large speedy 2TB SSD, the GPU isn’t really a deal breaker.
There’s so much to like about this elegant, punchy performer, provided you can look past the slightly steep pricing. But if you’re a content creator looking for a MacBook Pro alternative, you’ll end up saving some money in comparison to a similarly specced Apple. It's easily one of the best video editing laptops around.
See our full MSI Creator Z16 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.