Here are a few things to consider when picking the perfect portable video editing laptop.

While a designated desktop computer for video editing is ideal, it’s not always convenient to bring your huge desktop computer around, especially if you’re a filmmaker on the go. Here are a few tips for picking out the perfect laptop for video editing.

Storage

How to Pick the Perfect Laptop for Video Editing: SSD

When it comes to video editing, picking the right hard drive is probably the most important decision you will make. There’s often a trade-off between speed and size when it comes to storage, especially if your budget isn’t spectacular.

Why Speed is Important

For video editors, the speed of the hard drive is important because your hard drive is where all of your programs are stored on your computer. If you have a slow hard drive, it will take longer to perform basic operations like opening your software and exporting footage. For this reason, you should always get an SSD hard drive when editing video. They are much faster and less prone to failure than HDDs and Fusion Drives.

How to Pick the Perfect Laptop for Video Editing: SSD Hardrive

Why Size is Important

Another consideration that is incredibly important for editing on a laptop is the actual size of the hard drive. Typically when you edit on a desktop computer, you will be at a workstation with external hard drives. If you’re on the market for a video editing laptop, chances are you want to edit remotely from a location outside of your normal editing bay. That means external hard drives may be difficult to deal with. It’s for this reason that you probably want to get a big hard drive.

As a video editing professional, you can never have too much hard drive storage. – Video Maker

Odds are you will be dumping footage onto your laptop while on set, so you want to make sure there is at least enough room to backup your footage. I’ve made the mistake of thinking that I would simply get a portable hard drive or SSD and carry it around with my laptop. In reality, another device is just one more thing to forget.

Storage Recommendations

When it comes to hard drives for video editing, you should always get an SSD if you can. They will tend to be more expensive, but they’re well worth it. You should also look into getting a hard drive that is 500GB or higher. This way you can dump footage to your laptop and even edit smaller projects without the need for an external hard drive.

Many editors say that, for the sake of speed, you should export your footage to a different hard drive than where it’s stored. But in my experience, the difference in speed is not noticeable enough to justify the hassle of having an external hard drive, especially if you have an internal SSD.

Processor

How to Pick the Perfect Laptop for Video Editing: Processor

In line with storage, a quality processor is vital for video editing. As PC Advisor puts it:

When you’re editing video, the processor is much more important than the graphics card. Video is very processor (and memory) intensive, especially if you want to edit HD or even 4K video.

If you have the bad habit of having a lot of different applications open at the same time, you will definitely want to get a good processor with a lot of threads. It should be noted that a quad core is not always better than a dual core.

Processor Recommendations

Try to get at least an Intel i5 processor or an i7 if you have the budget. Be careful here: it can be easy to overcommit to the processor and limit yourself when it comes to RAM, storage, and video card. A healthy balance of all of them will leave you with the best results.

The best thing to do is look up the recommended processor for the specific programs that you use the most. FCPX, Premiere Pro, and Avid all have recommended computer specs.

Memory (RAM)

How to Pick the Perfect Laptop for Video Editing: RAM Sticks

When you get down and start editing or working with motion graphics, your computer needs a place to put all of the temporary work files it creates. This is where your laptop’s memory will come into play. The larger your RAM, the more space your computer will have to store these temporary files and the faster your computer will work. If you want your computer to have real-time playback without dropped frames, increased RAM is the way to go.

However, it’s not enough to simply have a lot of memory on your computer. You will also need to designate portions of that RAM to work with your program. You should be able to see these preferences in you NLE of choice.

Memory Recommendations

While it is a slow painful process, the reality is that we’re going to be primarily using 4K footage in the next few years, so I recommend no less than 8GB of memory. For most computers, it’s fairly easy to upgrade further down the road. So if your budget can’t afford to get the most memory possible right now, you can always upgrade in the future.

Graphics Card

How to Pick the Perfect Laptop for Video Editing: Graphics Card

A graphics card is a device in your laptop that transitions the footage from data into pixels. So, as you can imagine,  having a lightning-fast graphics card is incredibly important for video editing.

Two brands stick out when thinking about graphics cards: NVIDIA and AMD Graphics. Both companies produce amazing cards and all three companies produce sub-standard cards. So you will need to do some research to make sure you are getting a good deal.

Graphics Card Recommendations

The confusing thing when it comes to graphics cards is the obscure product names, so instead of looking at numbers and codes, check out the recommendation page from your NLE of choice.

Quick Accessory Considerations

How to Pick the Perfect Laptop for Video Editing: Accessories

In addition to the basics, you will also want to make sure your laptop is equipped with extra features that can make your life much easier when you sit down to edit. For example, an SD card slot is helpful for dumping audio from cards or pictures. You will also want a good battery life, as video editing tends to kill batteries. You will also want a good ergonomic mouse, since trackpads tend to get really uncomfortable during long editing sessions.

Conclusion

When it comes to picking the right laptop for video editing, it’s all about balance. Having a great hard drive with only a little RAM is a mistake. If you want to learn more about picking the right lap top for your video projects check out the following links:

  1. 10 Best Laptop for Video Editing 2015 – Wiknix
  2. The Best Laptops for Video Editing – Extreme Tech
  3. Video Editing: Mac Book Pro or Windows Laptop? – NoFilmSchool

Have any tips for finding a great video editing laptop? Share in the comments below.