Should I buy a laptop or desktop for video editing? It is a confusing question, and it comes down to the type of work, budget, and the machine you are currently using for video editing.
You’ll find multiple blogs on different websites in favor of laptops for video editing and others that will tell you the advantages of having a PC. Both have their pros and cons, but I suggest you first consider your requirements and then make any solid decision to invest an immense amount of 2K-3K bucks.
In this article, I have tried to make a detailed comparison between video editing computers and laptops, along with their advantages and drawbacks, which one suits your needs, and discussed the specifications that video editing machines must-have.
- 1 Desktop or laptop as video editing machine?
- 2 Which is the best video editing computer for you?
- 3 When is the time to get a new computer to edit videos?
- 4 What to look for in a video editing workstation?
- 5 Is a Mac or PC Better for video editing?
- 6 Can I do 8K raw editing on a laptop?
- 7 Why are Desktop workstations cost-effective for large production and video editors teams?
- 8 Frequently asked Questions
- 9 Conclusion:
Desktop or laptop as video editing machine?
Let’s first start with analyzing our expectations from the best video editing computer:
The first question is, do you need to take my video editing setup anywhere and work, or do you work from your studio. If your work does not require a computer for video editing from everywhere, then desktop computers are the best option.
Portability is the most significant advantage of having a laptop, and this should not be compromised at any cost if wish to work from anywhere rather than from a specific place.
No matter what dream video editing computer you want to get or design, it all comes down to the money in your account. Usually, PCs are cheaper than laptops; the specifications you’ll get in a 2K-2.5K dollars in desktop computers. You have to spend 4K-5K to get the exact specifications in a laptop.
But While getting a PC, we have to invest separately in input and output peripherals like Monitors, Mouse, and speakers. In contrast, a laptop is a single unit with all the essential I/O devices.
Heat Management System
Professional video editing machines must have a good heat management system; otherwise, it hampers the computer’s productivity a lot.
PCs have a large body that can accommodate more fans to have good heat circulation than laptops. Laptops have a compact body with all the components soldered on the motherboard; there are also dedicated fans installed, but heat is trapped because of less space.
So if you are a professional video editor and want your computer to work with the same efficiency for 8 to 10 hours while running heavy video editing software like adobe premiere pro, the PCs are the right option; they can work for more than 8 hours without getting heated up.
In laptops, people try to install additional fans and use cooling pads to reduce heat, which helps decrease heat levels. But using a Laptop on a sofa or lap (most people do) can store so much heat in a few hours that its efficiency decreases drastically.
Freedom to upgrade
The laptop is a single body device with all the essential peripherals to work with; once you buy it, you don’t have to worry much about getting something else to work done. If you edit videos for personal use, your Instagram profile, or YouTube videos, laptops work best for you.
But if you are a professional video editor or aiming to become the one, then the freedom to upgrade video editing computers is imperative. The desktop computer allows you the freedom to upgrade. You can start with a simple gaming PC with a good graphics card and FHD display monitor. Add additional components like additional storage or color-accurate monitor as your projects increase and your budget expands.
You can attach thunderbolt external storage to expand storage size or attach an external monitor with a laptop, but it will impose constraints to work from the same place, but laptops are meant mobile workstations. So if you are planning to expand your business, I suggest you go for a video editing PC.
Which is the best video editing computer for you?
The best video editing computers are those which fulfill your goals of editing videos, so let’s start by figuring out the type of work you want to do from a new computer:
Are you a beginner?
Suppose you’ve recently discovered your passion for making movies by looking at the work of incredible video editors and want to dive right in. In case all you need is a computer that you already own, whether it’s a laptop or a desktop, regardless of the specifications. There is a golden rule “If your computer is working well, then just don’t go into putting new stuff,” start with what you have.
This is because you’re new to video editing, have a few ideas of expressing your creativity with this contemporary art, or want to make marketing and sales videos to supplement your income.
I propose starting with your current computer, using an online video editing program. They are easy to understand for beginners, and there are multiple tutorials available on YouTube to make your work hassle-free.
Here is the list of online editing software; some of them are free of cost, and few require a nominal subscription fee for their pro version:
- Video Toolbox
- Hippo Video
- Online Video Cutter
Are you a Content Creator?
For content creators who routinely create YouTube videos or Linked In videos to boost their professional profile, a laptop will suffice to get their videos out there. You don’t need pricey gear or cameras with high processing power CPUs as their no powerful graphics work involved in it. There is a person who is talking and conveying his story, and also, you don’t require industry-leading software or computers to edit videos.
You have to work on the basics of content creations, the key points that make your content stand out from the rest. What makes compelling YouTube videos, your storytelling, the message you want to convey to the viewer, or the problem you are trying to solve.
A typical viewer looks for the solution or gets entertained while watching a YouTube video, so a mid-price video editing laptop ranging from 1000-1500 dollars will be good enough. And if you don’t travel much and are short of budget, try to get desktop computer.
Are you a Filmmaker?
Do you wish to become the most famous Filmmaker or Cinematographer whose work is praised all over the globe? Then your work is all about minute details, settings, brightness, motion transitions, voice synchronization.
Creative professionals require high-end gears with powerful desktop PCs that can run heavy video editing software and a content creation strategy. below mentioned are the most used video editing software
- Premiere Pro CC for PC is a program developed by Adobe.
- Final Cut Pro X for Mac is an application developed by Apple.
- Media Composer by Avid for PC or Mac
A laptop computer is not an excellent idea for this kind of work because of the lack of upgradability option. If you get a laptop with high-end specs like 4K display, ample solid-state drive internal storage, and the latest graphics cards, it will cost you about 5000 bucks, which you can quickly get in a desktop workstation at 2500 to 3000 bucks.
When is the time to get a new computer to edit videos?
The simple answer to this question is “when you feel the need to get the new one.” If you feel like your job is being slowed down, or you’d prefer a more excellent monitor with a larger screen, color accuracy with perfect calibration, or you’re sick of your laptop, get a new one!
Many video editors love to have both a laptop and a PC. They keep gaming PCs for long and heavy videos and a Laptop for small video footage.
What to look for in a video editing workstation?
You might have got a good idea of whether you want to have the best video editing laptop or computer that you want to have. But here I want you to describe the essential features that your computer for video editing must have to do all sorts of editing smoothly and you won’t regret your investment.
Try to get ample SSD storage space
There are two types of storage devices HDDs and SSDs. HDDs use mechanical movement to store and retrieve, whereas SSDs are optical devices that use light to store data.
Hard drives are less expensive, but they are also slower and less reliable, so whenever possible, choose an SSD. When assembling many clips on an HDD-based PC, HDDs can start to struggle under the strain of working with 4K footage. Thus you may notice stuttering frames.
If you’re thinking about buying a video editing workstation or a high-end laptop, many SSDs might be a good idea. And if your laptop body does not allow you to install more SSDs, then get thunderbolt external storage SSD.
Powerful CPU and GPU
The processing power of the CPU determines the rendering performance of video editing software. It has a direct effect on editing software efficiency. It’s vital to have a high-speed processor in your editing workstation.
Most video editing software works on distributing work to multiple layers or multiple cores of the CPU. Large the number of cores better will be the performance.
I suggest you get at least an Intel Core i7 with a fifth-generation above processing unit. If you can invest more than it’s highly recommended to get Intel Core i9, it can run the latest heavy editing software, which can help you to get new clients.
A dedicated graphics card plays an essential role in speeding up the video encoding process; that’s why it is recommended to get a graphics card with 4GB RAM if you are a professional video editor.
But if you are editing videos just for your personal Channel, Insta Profile, you don’t have to spend this much.
Lots of RAM
The amount of data your video editing program can work with at once is determined by the amount of RAM.
Video editing software usually requires large temporary memory to store its file while running operations. The best computer for video editing must have 16GB RAM, and if you can upgrade it to 32 GB then, it’ll be good enough. You’ll find the 8GB RAM requirement in editing videos software description, but it fills up whole temporary memory, and you’ll feel lag in the computer’s operation.
The more you have RAM; the more efficient will be computer’s performance. If you have to work primarily on 4K video editing, then try to get 64GB RAM, but at the start, if you are tight on budget, then 32 GB can also work but to some extent.
Screen Size and Resolution
Screen size is critical in the best computer for video editing. Larger the display, the easier the editing work becomes. But it doesn’t mean to get a giant screen of a 17-inch laptop, first analyze the nature of your work and make any decision.
If your video editing work encompasses arranging video clips or mixing different sorts of audio, then you don’t have to give much attention to the display’s color capabilities. However, for more artistic or precise jobs like shading and color correction, you’ll have to consider the number of colors the screen can display and how the color profile is calibrated. Look for features like compatibility for the DCI-P3 or Adobe RGB color gamuts, as well as automatic calibration.
Desktop computers beat laptops in offering a variety of screen selections. You can start with an 80 or 100 bucks monitor screen and upgrade it as your business expands and client project requirement advances.
But if you are a vlogger, sometimes desktop can not work for you, try to get a 13-15 inch laptop. No doubt 17-inch laptop has a larger screen and large chassis to accommodate more internal components, but it can make the system heavy and challenging to carry.
Try to get a laptop with FHD resolution, but if you edit simple videos with more podcast stuff, convertible laptops are also a perfect option. But make sure the convertible laptop is equipped with an H series processor so that you won’t experience any lag.
While full HD resolution is sufficient for many editing operations, if you shoot in 4K, you’ll need a screen with the exact resolution when you combine a 4K (or 3,840-by-2,160-pixel) screen.
And to support 4K shoot, your computer must be equipped with a six or up to eight cores processor and a discrete GPU. But in the case of a Laptop, it will affect battery life.
You’re going to get short battery life. So, if you decide on a 4K screen, make sure you’ll keep it near a power outlet for the majority of the time and consider purchasing an external battery; in case of emergency for long journey.
A desktop PC comes with many ports, but for travel vloggers, it is essential to have a lightweight laptop; that’s why they prefer to have a slim yet powerful Laptop.
However, if you’re trying to lose weight, don’t drop too many ports. A laptop must have one or two Thunderbolt ports so that you may connect to external displays via the DisplayPort standard, external and thunderbolt storage, and pretty much any external I/O device.
This right combination of USB ports is also essential, including one or two standard USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 ports.
Is a Mac or PC Better for video editing?
Mac vs Windows PC as video editing computer? It’s a debate that will never settle; people on both ends have their relevant reason to choose it.
Typically artistic work like graphics and animation is closely related to MacBooks or desktop computers like mac mini. Apple has the first-mover advantage over all the other windows laptops and PCs. In the early 2000s, Apple was the first company to introduce new designing tools and fonts in the computer industry and actively encouraged artists to express their art digitally.
But now, a variety of editing suites have been introduced for Windows operating system, especially by Adobe like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, adobe premiere pro, Adobe after effects, which can produce incredible videos.
The most significant benefit of using Windows or Linux is the ability to purchase a mobile workstation-class laptop with multiple cores Intel Xeon CPU, which is not accessible on any Mac portable.
The choice of the operating system is highly influenced by the video editing software you want to use. Final Cut Pro is exclusively accessible on Macs, whereas most other editing suites, such as Premiere Pro and Avid Media Composer, are available on various platforms.
If you’re set on a specific software like Final Cut Pro, you either have to get a MacBook Pro or learn new software.
And if we compare the price of Windows PC and Mac, as getting a computer for video editing is most affected by the budget. Apple products are relatively expensive than other brands, but the screen resolution and crisp display are hard to compete with. No matter you buy an Apple Mac monitor plus a computer or any model of the Mac Pro series, you’ll be surely stunned by display quality.
Can I do 8K raw editing on a laptop?
8K RAW is the most high-end form of video editing. It offers the best image quality and flexibility with video resolutions with four times the resolution of 4K and the ability to modify factors like white balance after the movie has been taken using Canon Cinema RAW Development software.
This sort of video editing can not be done on laptops. It requires at least 64 GB or more RAM and an Intel Core i9 processor, which most laptops lack. This heavy rendering can blow off laptop CPUs because of a lack of heat circulation.
For this advisable to build your PC for video editing with high-end internal components to create professional videos.
Why are Desktop workstations cost-effective for large production and video editors teams?
Desktop workstations give you the liberty to form a centralized workstation. Most people are familiar with only two types of workstations:
- Desktop Workstation
- Mobile Workstation
Mobile workstations, primarily laptops, are designed for users who need the freedom to work from anywhere. Desktop workstations are computer towers that sit on or under a desk and require a separate monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Despite their high performance, they aren’t as portable as a mobile workstation.
These are Virtual workstations that allow other desktops or Laptops to connect with it using specific software and perform high computing operations.
This can be a very cost-effective choice if you have a team of individuals who don’t all need access to high-performance computing resources all of the time. Let’s assume you have a team of 10, and you can only afford to have three high-performance computers with SSD storage and the latest Intel core processors.
You can set up a centralized workstation in your office; now, all the team members can access resources from this high-performance computing from anywhere in the world whenever they need by working at their personal computer. That’s why these sorts of best computers are planted in IT rooms instead of users’ desks.
The whole process of centralization is entirely secure; only encrypted pixels are often transported over the network, ensuring that firm data is kept safe at the source with racked centralized workstations.
Frequently asked Questions
Is it better to have a desktop or laptop for video editing?
A desktop easily outperforms a laptop for video editing and graphics creation because it can provide more performance for less money. However, if portability is on your wish list, you must choose a laptop.
But if you make videos daily from anywhere around the globe, then a laptop should be your priority. No matter how powerful a machine is, it isn’t worthy if it can not do the required work.
Is an i5 processor good for video editing?
Core i5 is good enough for video editing if you use extra RAM and a powerful graphics card with it. It can edit 1080p videos, but if you wish to go beyond, you have to upgrade the setup.
How much RAM do I need for Premiere Pro?
Adobe Premiere Pro is a professional video editing program that may be used to edit videos, commercials, and other types of film, television, and web video.
It requires at least 16GB of RAM for editing 1080P media but if you wish to make a video from multiple clips of 4K resolution, then go with 32GB RAM.
Going with 32GB to 64GB RAM has highly suggested if your daily work includes mostly 4K resolution video.
Is Ryzen better than Intel for video editing?
Ryzen processors are suitable for multicore performance, whereas Intel processors are unbeatable in single-core versions. Cores and threads define how many multiple applications a system can run simultaneously.
The AMD Ryzen processor will outperform the competition in video editing as we need to run multiple applications in making a video. An Intel chip is preferable for pure gaming PC, but Ryzen CPUs offer faster performance for the same price or even less than Intel chips for video editing.
What do YouTubers use to edit videos?
YouTubers edit videos on different software, most prefer to use iMovie, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premiere Pro CC. If you are a complete newbie, start with iMovie on Mac OS and learn Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro by watching videos on YouTube.
Which computer should I buy for video editing?
It’s one of the most asked questions. I’ll suggest you first evaluate your requirements, then make specifications list you need to have in your PC, and then look for your system. Here are a list of computers that professionals recommend. I hope you’ll find the one for you:
- Microsoft Surface Studio 2
- Apple Mac Pro
- Apple Mac mini
- Dell G5
- Lenovo Legion Tower 5i
- Lenovo Yoga AIO 7
- Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10
In this article, I have tried to compare a laptop and desktop for video editing. Both systems are for different types of people: for portability, laptops are the best computer choice, and for 8K raw editing, no one can beat a desktop performance.
Get the one that aligns perfectly with your needs but first, go through all the system that requires a video editing computer.
I hope you find this article insightful. Please comment below and tell us what fits your needs.