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, 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 family).
If you're chiefly interested in doing recreational video editing and plan to stick to 1080p resolution, there are lots of thin and light laptops powerful enough to get the job done. Just make sure you're using the best video editing software for your needs.
However, if you plan to work in 4K and/or editing video files with high bitrates, you'll want a beefy laptop with a performant CPU, speedy hard drive, lots of RAM, and a discrete graphics card. The best gaming laptops often satisfy these requirements, though they tend to eat up battery when working at full capacity.
Read on for our curated list of the best laptops for video editing, which should help make your buying decision a little easier.
What are the best laptops for video editing?
Right now, we recommend Apple's 2021 MacBook Pro as the best video editing laptop you can buy. We prefer the 16-inch model for the extra screen real estate, but it also comes in a 14-inch version that's just as powerful and a bit easier to carry. The older, Intel-based 16-inch MacBook Pros are still incredible video editing platforms thanks to their discrete GPUs, but Apple's latest round of MacBook Pros are surprisingly good thanks to the power of Apple's M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. The older 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 is a also great choice because it's capable, long-lasting, and remarkably lightweight, albeit a bit less powerful than the 2021 MacBook Pros.
If you prefer Windows over macOS, we recommend the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 as the best all-around video editing laptop for most people. While it's technically a gaming laptop, that means it has plenty of power for most video editing projects thanks to its beefy AMD Ryzen 9 CPU and discrete GeForce GPU. The 11-hour battery life is frankly incredible for a gaming laptop, plus it's easy to carry, has a great screen, and is remarkably affordable to boot.
If you want a Windows laptop for video editing and price is no object, we recommend the Alienware m17 R2 because it has a big, beautiful 17.3-inch screen and plenty of power to tackle even the toughest video editing tasks. However, if you plan to do a lot of 4K video editing, we recommend the Alienware m15 R4 instead. It was a little slower than the m17 R2 in our Handbrake video transcoding test, and it has a smaller screen, but the vibrant 4K display (which not even the fanciest MacBook Pros have) will help you keep track of every little detail in your next project.
The best laptops for video editing you can buy today
Want it all? Then you may be looking for the beastly 16-inch MacBook Pro, which is optimized for video editing and sports either M1 Pro or M1 Max chips that deliver shocking amounts of performance. An upgrade over the previous Intel-based model, this model features thinner bezels to give more space to the gorgeous mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR displays. Once you get over the notch, you'll be wowed by its contrast and smoothness, especially with its 120Hz refresh rate.
On top of that, you get the return of the ports that pros demand. That's not just the safety-focused MagSafe 3 charging port, but HDMI-out for connecting to displays and an SD memory reader for connecting memory cards for real-deal cameras. Oh, and don't think MagSafe will take USB-C charging out of the picture: the MacBook Pro's trio of Thunderbolt 4/USB4 ports also draw power. On top of that, you've got a 1080p webcam, a trio of improved microphones and a stellar six-point speaker system.
Read our full MacBook Pro (16-inch) review.
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.
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.
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.
The new 14-inch MacBook Pro is the Mac to get if you have 1) the budget and 2) the need for the video editing power of a 2021 Pro but don't want the extra bulk of the 16-inch model. The two laptops are nearly identical, which means that even on the 14-inch model the 2021 MacBook Pro's new Liquid Retina XDR display with a 120Hz refresh rate is gorgeous. Your favorite movies, and everything else, will simply look better. Oh, and the new M1 Pro (and pricier M1 Max) chips deliver even more speed than ever before, while still enabling all-day battery life.
On top of that, Apple's brought MagSafe charging, HDMI-out and a SD memory reader back to the MacBook Pro. This means you won't need to bring a USB-C dongle to connect to a display or use external memory. That said, there's still no USB-A, which is something we're starting to realize Apple has no plans of bringing back. Other notable changes include the death of the Touch Bar (which never proved its worth), which has been swapped out for physical F1-F12 keys. Apple's also bumped up the internal webcam to 1080p, from 720p. The MacBook Pro 2021 definitely feels like a Pro-level laptop again.
Read our full MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch) review.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How to choose the best video editing laptop for you
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.
How we test the best laptops for video editing
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.