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Best laptops for video editing in 2021

best laptops for video editing
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The best laptops for video editing are the ones that are powerful enough to handle big edit jobs and light enough to carry all day, with a screen bright and accurate enough to let you do your best work. It helps to have enough battery life that you don't need to lug a charger around, either.

Luckily, you have more options than ever thanks to recent advances in the state of CPU development. Intel, AMD, and now Apple have met consumer demand for smaller, more powerful laptops with some beefy laptop CPUs (or SoCs, in the case of Apple's remarkable M1 chip), so 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 be working 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 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 its easy to carry, has a great screen, and is remarkably affordable to boot.

If 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 that will help you keep track of every little detail in your next project.

If you prefer macOS over Windows, we recommend the MacBook Pro with M1 as the best video editing laptop you can buy. 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 13-inch MacBook Pros are surprisingly good thanks to the power of Apple's M1 chip. If you want a Mac for video editing and don't expect to be doing much 4K work, the MacBook Pro with M1 is a great choice because it's capable, long-lasting, and remarkably lightweight.

The best video editing laptops for going back to school

Back to school season has arrived, and that means you may be on the hunt for a new laptop to help you or someone you love tackle their video editing coursework. Gaming laptops typically aren't the first choice when getting ready for school, but their beefy components and big screens are often invaluable when tackling big video projects. Plus, it can be nice to have a portable PC gaming machine around for entertainment while a student's away studying the finer points of video production.

Right now, we think the best laptop for video editing at school is still the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. It's light enough to carry across campus, and its 11-hour battery life can get you through a day of classes without needing to plug in.

If you're looking for something a little cheaper, the Dell G15 SE 2020 will serve you well, and you can usually get a good configuration for less than $1,000. With up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD space, this is a capable gaming laptop with decent battery life (over 7 hours, in our testing) that won't look out of place in a classroom setting — until you turn on the RGB-lit keys, of course.

The best laptops for video editing you can buy today

Best laptops for video editing: Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

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1. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

The best all-around laptop for video editing

Specifications
Display: 14-inches, 1920 x 1080
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9-4900HS
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 1TB SSD
Weight: 3.5 pounds
Handbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 6:53
Reasons to buy
+Great performance+Super portable design paired with 11-hour battery life+Great display and audio
Reasons to avoid
-No webcam-Keyboard has backlighting issues

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.

Best laptops for video editing: MacBook Pro with M1

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2. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, late 2020)

Best laptop for video editing

Specifications
Display: 13 inches; 2560x1600
CPU: Apple M1 (8-core)
GPU: 8-core integrated
RAM: 8GB to 16GB
Storage: 256GB to 2TB SSD
Weight: 3 pounds
Handbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 7:46
Reasons to buy
+Superb performance+Crazy long battery life+Bright and colorful display
Reasons to avoid
-Dated design-Just two Thunderbolt ports

The aging 16-inch MacBook Pro will always be a good laptop for video editing, but Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 is a fantastic upgrade 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.

Best laptops for video editing: Dell G5 15 SE (2020)

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3. Dell G5 15 SE

Best video editing performance for the price

Specifications
Display: 15.6 inches, 1920 x 1080, 60Hz/144Hz
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4600H/Ryzen 5 4800H
GPU: AMD Radeon RX 5600M
RAM: 8-16GB
Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD
Weight: 5.5 pounds
Handbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 6:43
Reasons to buy
+Great overall performance+Impressive battery life+Colorful display
Reasons to avoid
-So-so speakers-Keyboard can get cramped

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.

Best laptops for video editing: Asus Zenbook 13 OLED

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4. Asus Zenbook 13 OLED

Best video editing laptop when portability matters

Specifications
Display: 13.3-inch 1080p OLED
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5700U
GPU: Integrated Radeon graphics
RAM: 8 GB
Storage: 512 GB
Weight: 2.5 pounds
Handbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 8:22
Reasons to buy
+Stellar battery life+Beautiful 1080p OLED display+Great performance
Reasons to avoid
-Middling sound quality-Inconsistent webcam-No headphone jack

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.

Best laptops for video editing: macbook air with m1

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5. Apple MacBook Air with M1

The other best MacBook for video editing

Specifications
Display: 13.3 inches; 2560x1600
CPU: Apple M1
GPU: Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB-16GB
Storage: 256GB-2TB SSD
Weight: 2.8 pounds
Handbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 9:15
Reasons to buy
+Remarkably fast performance+Strong legacy app support+Amazingly long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Still has thick bezels-Light on ports

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 Pro with its Intel CPUs and discrete GPUs, 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

Best laptops for video editing: Dell XPS 15

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6. Dell XPS 15 (2020)

Best 15-inch video editing laptop

Specifications
Display: 15.6 inches; 1080p or 4K
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5 / i7
GPU: Intel UHD / Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti
RAM: 8GB / 16GB / 32GB / 64GB
Storage: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB SSD
Weight: 4-4.5 pounds
Handbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 10:06
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous, immersive display+Great overall performance+Comfortable keyboard and touchpad
Reasons to avoid
-So-so battery life-Gets loud under pressure

Don’t let its slim and stylish design fool you — the Dell XPS 15 2020 is an absolute workhorse, and its immersive 15.6-inch InfinityEdge 4K display is a joy to work on. It's powerful enough to handle some pretty serious video editing work too, thanks to its 10th Gen Intel Core processors and the optional Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU you can configure it with. 

Factor in a pair of impressively loud speakers and solid battery life for a 4K laptop, and the new XPS 15 is one of the best 15-inch laptops you can buy for video editing. You can get similar performance, value, and screen quality out of its siblings, the pint-sized Dell XPS 13 and the big XPS 17, but we think the XPS 15 delivers the perfect balance of screen size and portability for video editors on the go. 

Read our full Dell XPS 15 (2020) review.

Best laptops for video editing: Alienware m15 R4

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7. Alienware m15 R4

The best 4K laptop for video editing

Specifications
Display: 15 inches, 4K OLED
CPU: Intel Core i7-10870H CPU @ 2.20GHz, 2.21 GHz
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
RAM: 16 GB
Storage: 1 TB SSD
Weight: 5.3 pounds
Handbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 7:07
Reasons to buy
+Sleek design+Strong performance+Decent keyboard and touchpad
Reasons to avoid
-Fan gets very loud-Short battery life

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.

Best laptops for video editing: razer blade 14

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8. Razer Blade 14

The best 14-inch video editing laptop when price is no object

Specifications
Display: 14-inch, up to QHD, 165 Hz
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX
GPU: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
RAM: 16 GB
Storage: 1 TB SSD
Dimensions: 12.6 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches
Handbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 7:20
Reasons to buy
+Excellent gaming performance+Powerful components+Compact design+Gorgeous screen
Reasons to avoid
-Cramped keyboard-Software oddities

The first 14-inch Razer laptop in years, the Razer Blade 14 offers powerful components and excellent performance in a compact and lightweight package. The Asus ROG Zephyrus 14 offers slightly better value, but if you're willing to spend up to $3k for a fully kitted-out Razer Blade 14 you'll get a beefy video editing laptop that's svelte and easy to carry.

Of course, the catch-22 of the Razer Blade 14 is that while it's remarkably slim and easy to carry, it also eats up battery, lasting barely 90 minutes under heavy load. That means you'll need to worry about carrying a charger if you expect to do a lot of video editing on the go. But if you can stomach the high price and low battery life, the Razer Blade 14 is an excellent gaming laptop that doubles as a great laptop for video editing.

Read our full Razer Blade 14 (2021) review.

Best laptops for video editing: Alienware m17 R2

Alienware m17 R2 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

9. Alienware m17 R2

Best laptop for video editing at a desk

Specifications
Display: 17.3 inches, 1920 x 1080
CPU: Intel Core i5-i9, 2.4-2.6 GHz
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti-RTX 2080 Max-Q
RAM: 8-16GB
Storage: 256GB SSD-4TB
Weight: 5.7 pounds
Handbrake 4K-1080p video transcode time: 6:53
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight, above-average battery life+Solid performance
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Crackly speakers

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.

Alex Wawro

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both. He currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice. Got a hot tip? Get in touch by sending a friendly email to alex.wawro@futurenet.com.