Recommending a Laptop for Video Editing

Lisa, who is shopping for a new computer, asks….

Hi Bob, I’m looking to buy a laptop I can use Adobe Premier and InDesign. Currently I am using a Toshiba Satellite P55-A5312 (1TB and 6 GB, i5) and editing videos is impossible due to lagging. I’m thinking 16GB, 1TB would be a better configuration. Am I on the right track? Could you recommend a few laptops under $1400? ($900-$1200 would be better.) Thank you

Hi Lisa,
I don’t follow the laptop market too closely and I don’t use Adobe products so my knowledge of specific Windows laptops is pretty limited. Below is my attempt to answer your question as well as some other options to consider.

Getting Started…

The good news is that given the age and specifications of your current laptop, almost any new machine will be an improvement.
Performance with Premiere is going to vary depending on how complicated your video editing workflow is. Some of the factors include

  • Are your editing 1080p or 4K video
  • Are you outputting 1080p or 4K
  • are you rending 1080p or 4K out
  • are you working with 8bit or 10bit video
  • Are you applying color correction or effects

Windows Laptops recommendation

As I don’t have a lot of experience with current windows laptops, I’m going to point you to a number of YouTube videos from creators I’d trust. Note that in some of these videos, you’ll see comparisons between MacBooks.

Gigabyte Aero 15, at the high end of your budget

This video from Ben G Kaiser

Dell XPS 13, see this video from the Everyday Dad

On a side note, one thing to be aware of is that some windows laptops run much faster when plugged in to the wall then they do when using the battery. The processors in Windows laptops are power hungry and they can use more power when plugged in to the wall they they do on battery.

Consider a desktop computer…

If your workflow allows consider a desktop computer for Premiere video editing and In-Design work. Laptops are great, but dollar for dollar, you’ll get far more performance per dollar from a desktop computer than a laptop. Given your budget of between $900 and $1500 you’ll have the options for a faster CPU, better graphics performance, and bigger storage options. You’ll can buy a preconfiguted system or if you are adventurous build you own.

Upgrade your existing laptop

Your Satellite P55-A5312 is never going to be a editing video beast, but updating the memory and hard disk could make a big improvement in its speeds. Your computer supports a maximum of 16GB of ram, and upgrading the RAM will improve performance.
The biggest performance improvement would be to update your computer to use a SSD (solid state disk) instead of a mechanical hard disk. Replacing RAM and the disk are pretty straight forward and you’ll be amazed by the speed of the SSD for all operations.

Consider a MacBook Air with Apple’s new M! chip

In 2021, the best overall value in terms of performance is Apple’s new MacBook Air. Apple has replaced Intel processors with their own with incredible improvements. It used to be the Apple MacBook’s commanded a price premium over Windows laptops, but this laptop changes that. Not only its the computer faster than most other laptops in the $900 to $1500 range, but the keyboard, trackpad, and display are of incredible quality.

See this Dave2D video

If you buy a MacBook Air from Apple you can return it for a full refund in 14 days if it isn’t right for you. That is enough time to set up Premiere and try out your projects on it and see if you are happy with the performance. One thing, I’ll mention is that Adobe, has yet to optimize their software for Apple’s M1 chip, so the software will get faster later when they do. You Creative Cloud license will alow you to install the Mac version and swap the license back and forth between your current machine.

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