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With video editing, both Mac and Windows machines can give you good performance. However, if you’re editing with Final Cut, you’ll need a Mac, and it’s no secret that Adobe’s Premiere Pro is a bit better optimized for Mac too. Therefore, for a smooth and fast experience, you’ll want to get the best Mac possible.
Choosing a great Mac for editing YouTube videos and other types of video content isn’t easy. There’s a variety of options to choose from, and each of Apple’s models comes in a lot of configurations. Which one you go for will have a great impact on your experience, so choosing carefully is important.
What should you look for in a video editing Mac?
The first thing to pay attention to when you’re getting a Mac for video editing is the CPU. With both Final Cut and Premiere, it’s the CPU that has the most impact on your experience. Our recommendation here would be to go for an at least quad-core Intel Core i5 CPU. If your budget allows you, something like a six-core or an octa-core processor will surely give you better performance, but in the Apple world, that’s going to cost you a pretty penny. On the other hand, if you’re extremely limited by your budget, you may do with a dual-core CPU, but we’d recommend going with a better one.
Next, we have the GPU. The GPU shouldn’t be neglected when you’re editing videos, because video editing software does put some strain on the graphics card as well. You will find older Macs usually come with an Nvidia graphics card, but lately, there’s been a shift towards using AMD’s graphics processors. All midrange and higher-end Macs do come with a built-in discrete GPU. With some Mac Pro models, you’ll even get a dual AMD Fire Pro option, which should result in an excellent performer.
Another thing that’s important is the amount of RAM. Even though 4GB is the bare minimum for day-to-day tasks like watching movies and browsing the internet, things are a bit different with video editing. You’ll want at least 8GB of RAM. If you can spring to get a model with 16GB, that’s even better, but we wouldn’t recommend going below that, especially if you’re going to be editing large 4K projects.
When you’re editing video, you’ll need to see how it looks on a display that’s as color accurate as possible, and few are better than Apple’s own Retina display. It’s included in all higher end iMacs and MacBook Pros, and it’s truly hard to beat. All Retina displays have a high resolution, true colors and excellent viewing angles. This means that you’ll be able to accurately see the video as you shot it, without the colors being distorted, and you can color grade as accurately as possible.
With those things out of the way, it’s time we take a look at a few options:.
Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch
For years, Apple fans have clamored for a MacBook Pro that improved on the 15-inch model released in mid-2015. It was built specifically for its users, instead of the later versions that asked users to adapt to the newer features because they supposedly made the laptop better (Hint: They didn’t). With the 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro released in late 2019, Apple finally gave in.
The keyboard has a full millimeter of travel. This is 0.5mm more than the butterfly keyboard of previous versions and yet 0.5mm less than the 2015 MacBook Pro, the so-called “last great MacBook Pro”. But even though they’re not more springy, typing on them is comfortable enough.
The 2019 16-Inch Apple MacBook Pro also improves on the thermals (no more throttling, yey!). Plus, it comes with three speakers on each side, two of which are designed to cancel out each other’s vibrations. This gives it arguably the best speakers on a laptop today.
Other noteworthy improvements include the bigger and better screen, as well as improved battery life.
But of course, you’re not buying a MacBook Pro for its speakers. You’re not buying it for its battery (at least, not only because of it) nor the improved thermals (Apple shouldn’t messed this up in the first place).. The amazing display is arguably just a bonus as well. What you buy the MacBook Pro is for your video editing needs.
We’re here to tell you that the MacBook Pro remains a video editing powerhouse.
The new MacBook Pro is so good that it’s not far-fetched to claim that will still outlast other similarly-priced laptops.
Housed inside the latest Apple MacBook Pro is a 6-core 2.6Ghz, 9th Generation Intel Core i7 processor with a maximum Turbo Boost up to 4.5Ghz. This is paired with AMD Radeon Pro 5300M graphics card with 4GB of GDDRS memory. The graphics card automatically switches between itself and the Intel UHD Graphics 630, to help save on battery.
This is all paired with a 512GB Ultrafast SSD and a stunning 16-inch Retina Display with True Tone technology.
Apple iMac Pro 27” 5K
If you’re looking for a Mac for 4K video editing, look no further. The iMac Pro is Apple’s flagship feating a 27” display with a 5120 x 2880 resolution. This isn’t just large, it’s also sharp, and the colors are excellent thanks to the Retina panel.
Powering this iMac Pro is Intel’s 8-core Intel Xeon W processor. With a maximum turbo boost of up to 4.2GHz, it can handle anything you throw at it. The graphics card is AMD’s Radeon Vega 56 with 8GB of HBM2 memory. Any software that can handle GPU acceleration will perform really well. To help with all your multitasking needs, you get 32GB of RAM, and there’s a massive 1TB SSD. You can easily have your OS, software, and all of your videos on a single drive.
With it, you get a variety of ports, including Thunderbolt 3 ports, as well as Apple’s Space Gray Magic Keyboard with Numpad, and a Space Gray Magic Mouse. This system pretty much plug and play or video edit in this case. Just set it up and you’ll be working on it in no time.
Apple MacBook Pro 15”
Apple’s MacBook Pro has been the favorite system for video editors looking for a portable machine for a while now. With its latest iteration and the specifications available, you can comfortably use a MacBook for video editing, even if you need a MacBook for 4K video editing. It’s a powerhouse, it’s built like a tank, and even though pricey, it will outlast most of its competitors with ease. It also has Apple’s excellent Retina display with a 2880 x 1800 resolution which is very sharp and has excellent colors.
Inside it is a 6-core, 2.2 GHz, 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor with a maximum turbo boost of 4.1 GHz. Given the chassis of the MacBook Pro, this is the best CPU you can get if you don’t want it to overheat and throttle. Alongside it is AMD’s Radeon Pro 555X graphics card with 4GB of GDDR5 memory, which switches automatically between itself, and Intel’s integrated UHD 630 GPU when you should save some juice.
Rounding out the build you have 16GB of RAM, as well as a 256GB SSD. That may not sound like much, but if you’re using it as a portable editing machine, chances are you have your files on a separate drive and you can live with 256GB.
Apple iMac 27” 5K
Apple is very quick to update their higher-end models when new processors are available, and it’s exactly that update that makes the 27” 5K iMac an excellent option for a Mac for video editing. Inside the sleek body, you get Apple’s 5K Retina display with a resolution of 5120 x 2880, which isn’t just sharp, but it also has excellent color reproduction. This makes it a great option for video editing.
Powering the 27” iMac is Intel’s 9th generation, six-core Intel Core i5 processor. With a base frequency of 3.7 GHz and a maximum turbo boost frequency of 4.6 GHz, this is a great CPU for video editing, and the iMac can handle just about anything you can throw at it. There is also AMD’s Radeon Pro 570X graphics processing unit which should help with software that relies on the GPU to help with rendering. Rounding out the build are 8GB of RAM and a huge, 2TB SSD. While we couldn’t complain about the size of the SSD, a bit more RAM would have been welcome, especially since this is a video editing machine. However, you can add more RAM if you so wish.
On the outside, you get Apple’s trademark industrial design and you end up with a system that looks stunning even when it’s powered off. There’s also the Apple Magic Keyboard and Apple Magic Mouse 2 inside the box, so you’re pretty much up and running as soon as you unbox the iMac.
Apple MacBook Pro 13”
Video editors who are constantly on the move have always loved the MacBook Pro for its portability as a powerful video editing machine. However, until the 2018 model line refresh, it was usually the larger, 15” model that was used as a video editing Mac. But with the introduction of Intel’s 8th generation processors came the first 13” model with a quad-core CPU, making the 13” MacBook Pro a very competent video editing machine.
Aside from the already mentioned 8th generation Core i5, which has a base frequency of 2.8 GHz and turbos up to 4.7 GHz, you’re also getting 8GB of RAM. This combination is enough to easily run software such as Final Cut or Adobe Premiere, but editing 4K may not be as smooth as you’d like it to be. There’s also Intel’s integrated Iris Plus 655 GPU, but it’s no match for a dedicated one. On the other hand, you’re getting a small, lightweight machine that you can take pretty much anywhere with you, especially with the 10-hour battery life. The Retina display with True Tone technology allows you to see colors accurately, and it’s extremely sharp.
To round out the package, you get an ultrafast 512GB SSD which can easily store all your data and videos, and everything is packed in a CNC-machined body. All things considered, if you want your video editing Mac to be as portable as possible, yet still powerful, this is the one to get.
Apple iMac 21.5”
We shouldn’t forget the 21.5” 4K iMac, as that’s another powerhouse in Apple’s lineup that can easily be used as a video editing machine. Even though the display isn’t too big, it’s still a 4K Retina display with a 4096 x 2304 resolution, which is extremely sharp and the colors are great, too. There’s coverage for the P3 color gamut, and the display can reach a peak brightness of 500 nits.
On the inside, you’ve got an 8th generation Intel Core i5 CPU, with six cores, a base frequency of 3.0 GHz, and a maximum turbo boost of up to 4.1 GHz. It can certainly work with higher resolution videos, and you may be able to edit 4K video, too. To help, you’re also getting a Radeon Pro 560X graphics card, which does aid with GPU acceleration in Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere.
A downside to the 21.5” iMac is the mere 8GB of RAM. Unlike the 27”, you can’t upgrade the memory of the 21.5” iMac, since there isn’t easy access to the memory. If you can look past this, though, you’re also getting 1TB of storage with it, which is plenty, as well as Apple’s Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Keyboard for a complete package.
Apple Mac Mini
The Mac Mini is Apple’s version of an everyday machine. It has never been too powerful, nor too flashy, but it’s always been great for things such as browsing the internet, watching movies, and even some lighter workloads. But ever since Intel introduced quad-core and six-core CPUs in their 8th generation, ones that don’t require bulky cooling solutions, the Mac Mini has become a powerhouse of its own.
This model comes with a six-core Intel Core i5 CPU, which has a base frequency of 3.0 GHz but can turbo up to 4.1 GHz. It does provide some very good performance, and editing video on it is much smoother than you’d expect. There’s also Intel’s UHD 630 integrated graphics card, which helps a bit with GPU acceleration. You only get 8GB of DDR4 RAM, but the Mac Mini is somewhat user upgradeable, so you could potentially add more down the line if you think that 8GB just doesn’t cut it anymore. This is Apple’s budget machine, so this is understandable.
Last but not least, inside that small machined body you get a 256GB SSD. It’s as fast as people praise Apple’s SSDs to be, and performance is excellent. At the end of the day, if you’re somewhat on a budget, the Mac Mini may just be a great option.
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Apple MacBook Air
The MacBook Air is the “budget” Apple laptop, especially if you pit it against the MacBook Pro. But since Apple refreshed the chassis and the internals, and added a few features that were long overdue, suddenly the idea of using a MacBook Air for video editing doesn’t sound too bad.
To begin with, inside the slim and light chassis is a 13.3” Retina display. It’s not as sharp as the MacBook Pro’s, but at 2560 x 1600 it’s still very sharp and has excellent color reproduction, which is important for video editing. The CPU behind it is a dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU with a base frequency of 1.6 GHz, which can turbo up to 3.6 GHz under load and has 4MB of L3 cache. It may not be too good for high-resolution videos, but it’ll do the job. Helping it is Intel’s UHD 617 graphics card, which is an integrated GPU. The MacBook Air also comes with 8GB of ram, as well as a 128GB SSD. Neither of these are too impressive, but considering the price and the laptop’s size and weight, we can’t complain.
To wrap things up, for people on a budget that want the portable variant, the MacBook Air is a great option. It may not be extremely powerful, but it does do the job fairly well.