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
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4yS7KfJTLo

This video from Ben G Kaiser https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8wgpXg8O8I

Dell XPS 13, see this video from the Everyday Dad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgo4h6_YovY

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztTY788z9NE

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.

2 Comments

  1. Lisa S | | Reply

    Bob,

    Thank you so much for this informational reply! I appreciate the different range of options, which include updating my current computer. If it weren’t for the fact that it has one foot in the grave, I might take that option! It has had a good run, but has taken too much abuse.

    The Max Yuryev comparison video was very eye opening. Apple continues to be superior!

    Ben Kaiser recommends laptops with between 256GB and 1TB which of storage, which is interesting. If this is true (and I can do video editing with 256GB SSD storage) that might sway me to get the Macbook Air. The Macbook Air – with 16GB, 1TB ram is about $1700. With 16GB and 256 GB SSD memory is about $1200. Why Apple doesn’t let you update memory card, etc. is a mystery to me! It makes the initial purchase a little unnerving, although like you said, they have that return policy in the event it doesn’t actually work. I may do that.

    My other best option, I think is the mid-range Microsoft laptops Kaiser recommends. Lenovo IdeaPad L340 is under $800 right now!

    I see the desktops really are the better and more reliable performers, but it’s not very transportable. Working from home often means working from libraries, offices, and other people’s houses. Having a laptop might be a better option based on those needs.

    Thank you again. I feel more confident in what to get. Thanks!

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      You are welcome.
      If you have any more questions feel free to ask.
      You may be able to get by with only 8GB of RAM in a MacBook. Tests show that 8GB works pretty well with the new M1 Macs.
      I traded in my expensive 2019 Intel Core i9 16 MacBook Pro and bought the cheapest available Mac mini M1 with 8GB and 256GB of internal storage. I edit off of an fast external disk.
      My editing needs are light, I use Final Cut Pro. I find the new Mac to be faster, no lag, and no fans.

      One thing to consider that some people have a laptop for general work and use, and a desktop for video editing. Something to think about.

      If your laptop doesn’t have an SSD that is a cheap upgrade that will add new life to it for whatever you use it for.

      If you decide to order a that MacBook Air, take advantage of the education store discount. That same configuration is $1509
      https://www.apple.com/us-hed/shop/buy-mac/macbook-air/space-gray-apple-m1-chip-with-8-core-cpu-and-8-core-gpu-512gb# If you pick it up at the Apple store in Delaware, you’ll pay no sales tax.

      if you are not required to use Adobe product, you get get the Apple final cut bundle for $199 or Check out Divinci Resolve (windows or Mac) for free.
      For indesign and photoshop alternatives check out https://affinity.serif.com
      Some people are required to use Adobe for their jobs or if you earn enough money from your work, using Adobe CC is fine. An number of people that are tired of the recurring costs are going the affinity and Resolve routes.

      finally, we may see new Macs in the beginning of June so, there may be some new MacBook Pros then

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