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Choosing the best MacBook for video editing isn’t an easy task. There are different display sizes, different target audiences, and a host of different specification options you can choose from. This does make things confusing, and if you aren’t sure which MacBook to buy for video editing, the number of options can make things even more confusing. To begin with, we’ll talk about using a MacBook for video editing.
Aside from that, we also have a guide to Mac video editing, as well as a few articles that help you choose a keyboard for your Mac – from mechanical keyboards, to wireless keyboards, as well as the other keyboards in general.
MacBooks are incredibly well optimized
When you’re looking at a laptop for video editing, the most important thing you’ll need is performance. However, peak performance isn’t just about cramming the most powerful hardware in a laptop, it’s also about having an operating system that runs well with it.
When it comes to a MacBook, its operating system, macOS, runs extremely smooth on everything from the weakest configurations to the most powerful machines Apple has to offer. This does make a significant impact on video editing, especially if you don’t have top-of-the-line hardware.
The software available for macOS is another big plus
There are two things that should be mentioned here. First, we have Apple’s own Final Cut Pro. It’s one of the most powerful video editing programs, and it’s only available on macOS. Considering it only runs on one operating system, it works incredibly well on it. There are many video editors who switch to macOS just to be able to use it. Everything from importing and rendering footage, to scrubbing along the timeline of a high-resolution video file is very smooth and very fast. Second, we have the fact that Adobe’s Premiere Pro, which is another very popular option for video editing, is also optimized much better for macOS. It works much better than on a comparable Windows machine.
At the end of the day, MacBooks are portable powerhouses
Even though they sometimes command a price premium over a Windows alternative, they’re oftentimes worth it. When you combine the software optimization and the benefits you get with Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, with the hardware quality of a MacBook, you’ll find that you have a portable machine you can edit pretty much anything on. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of the top MacBooks for video editing you can get nowadays.
MacBooks for Video Editing – Top Picks
Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch
It’s clear that Apple set out to build the best Macbook Pro ever with the latest 16-inch MacBook Pro. Whether Apple successfully did it or not is relative. However, what is universally accepted is that the 2019 MacBook Pro is the best MacBook Pro released in years.
The 16-inch screen (giving it a resolution of 3,072 x 1,920 over the 15-inch’s 2,880 x 1,800 resolution) is easily the most noticeable upgrade. It gives users more of what they love most about Apple products. But that’s not all. The keyboard is another subtle difference. Unlike the Butterfly switches in previous models, the 16-inch MacBook Pro 2019 ditches the Butterfly switches for the same Scissor switches found in the Magic Keyboard, the uber-popular keyboard Apple pairs with its iMacs.
With just the right amount of travel and tactile response, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is a joy to type on.
Under the proverbial hood, the new MacBook Pro has a lot going on. It welcomes the debut of the AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series graphics cards, specifically the 5300M. It comes with 4GB of GDDR6 memory and switches automatically with the built-in Intel UHD Graphics 630. It also has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage, giving it more than enough power for graphic-intensive tasks.
The 2.6GHz 6-core 9th-generation Intel Core i7 Processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.5Ghz is also a marked improvement over the previous model’s 8th generation processor.
Finally, what really separates the MacBook Pro 16-inch model is its battery. The 100-watt-hour battery is 16WH larger than previous models. It’s also the largest capacity battery in laptops allowed on most flights.
Apple MacBook Pro 15” 9th-Generation Intel Core i9
Even though the initial introduction of Intel’s i9 CPUs in the MacBook Pro lineup resulted in some serious thermal issues, Apple seems to have fixed that without repackaging things into a thicker chassis. With the 2019 MacBook Pro, you get a very powerful spec sheet.
Kicking things off with the inside, you have Intel’s 9th generation Core i9 processors. They’re the most powerful option for a laptop, with eight cores and a base frequency of 2.3GHz. It can also turbo up to 4.8GHz, if necessary. Along with it is a 4GB Radeon Pro 560X graphics card, which should help quite a bit with software that allows for GPU acceleration. This model also comes with a massive 512GB SSD. It’s not just large, it’s also one of the fastest SSDs we’ve seen in a laptop, which does help quite a bit when it comes to editing video.
Moving on to the outside, you have Apple’s signature single-piece aluminum build, which is CNC machined, and quite frankly, is beautiful. The weight is only 4lbs, very impressive for a powerful video editing laptop. The Force Touch trackpad is excellent, it’s big and it’s very accurate. On top of the keyboard is the Touch Bar, a functional LED display which shows you shortcuts depending on the software you’re using at the moment. And last but most certainly not least, you’ve got the excellent Retina display, with True Tone – a sharp, accurate and very bright panel that’s great for editing video.
Apple MacBook Pro 15”
Apple’s latest MacBook Pro strikes an excellent balance between being a high-end powerhouse, and a portable laptop you can take along with you. It’s made of a single piece of CNC machined aluminum, which results in a 15” laptop with a weight of 4 pounds, which is impressive. That 15” display is Apple’s Retina display, and it includes their True Tone technology. It’s sharp, it’s color accurate, and it gets pretty bright. Right below it is the Touch Bar, the Function key replacement row that’s a second display. It’s very useful when video editing because it shows you shortcuts that are useful and pertain to the specific software you’re using at the moment.
Inside, it’s powered by a 2.2GHz Intel Core i7 processor, with six cores and turbo boost. This is really powerful, which makes this a great option if you need a MacBook for 4K video editing. You can easily scrub through the timeline, even with high-resolution footage. To help with this is either a Radeon Pro 555X, or a 560X, depending on how you spec it, and they come with 4GB of video memory.
Rounding out the build we have 16GB of RAM, which should help run multiple apps smoothly, as well as a decently sized 256GB SSD that’s extremely fast. On the outside, you’ve got Apple’s Force Touch trackpad – it’s enormous and it’s very accurate, as well as four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports for expansion.
Apple MacBook Pro 13”
Kicking things off with the design, the 13” model has a Retina display, which is very sharp, gets very bright, and includes Apple’s True Tone technology. True Tone is a technology that uses sensors to render an accurate white balance on your display, which in turn makes things easier on the eyes and results in a much better viewing experience. Add to this the color accuracy, and you’ve got yourself an excellent machine for video editing. Below the display, you have the Touch Bar and the Touch ID sensor. The Touch Bar gives you shortcuts when you’re in certain applications, and once you get used to it, it does make things faster. Touch ID is basically a fingerprint sensor, so you get biometric login.
As far as specs go, you’re getting a quad-core Intel Core i7, one that runs at 1.4GHz. It’s actually pretty powerful, and near the thermal limits – anything more than that in a chassis this small and you may have thermal issues. There is no discrete GPU here, instead, you’ve got Intel’s integrated Iris Plus 645, which should get the job done. Add to that 8GB of RAM and a 256GB super-fast SSD, and you’ve got a great Macbook for video editing if “small and lightweight” matters.
Apple MacBook Air 13”
Not everyone who edits video needs their machine to be the “fastest” or the “most powerful”. Also, not everyone who edits video can afford the tax that the “Pro” moniker adds to Apple’s MacBook lineup. If you’re in any of those categories, you’ll want to take a look at Apple’s redesigned MacBook Air. The older model was “that MacBook that Apple never updates”, but this one is a lot better.
To begin with, the design is much different from the old one. There are no longer those thick white bezels, and it’s much more up to date and in line with the Pro models. You won’t get the Touch Bar, but you do get Touch ID, as well as Apple’s latest Butterfly keyboard. You’ll also get the massive Force Touch trackpad that’s very accurate. And all of this is packed inside a chassis that weighs a mere 2.75 pounds for a 13” model. Rounding out the build is a Retina display with True Tone. Oh, and you’ve got two Thunderbolt 3 ports at the side.
On the inside, you get a dual-core 8th generation Intel Core i5. It runs at 1.6GHz, and instead of a discrete graphics card, it comes with its own UHD Graphics 617. Add to that 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, and you’ll round out the build. Now, this is not a powerhouse, but when you consider all the optimizations we spoke about in terms of software, it’s still a great option if you’re on a budget, or want something even lighter.
Apple MacBook 12”
Apple’s MacBook was introduced as the entry-level option for an Apple laptop. However, even with that in mind, it’s still a great performer, and you could absolutely edit video on it – even in 4K. It may not be as fast or as smooth as more expensive options, but it doesn’t try to be either. Instead, it’s a budget-oriented MacBook for video editing, and if you get something above the basic model, you’ll get decent performance, too.
With an Intel Core i5 processor, you’re only getting two cores. This isn’t too much, but it’s still respectable, as it runs at 1.3GHz. Alongside it, you’ll get Intel’s HD Graphics 615, which is an integrated GPU that gets the job done but not much more. Rounding out the 12” MacBook is 8GB of RAM and a fast 512GB SSD. You may be thinking that the specs aren’t that impressive, but if you consider Apple’s optimization between their hardware and their software, you’ll actually get an experience that’s miles ahead of what you’d expect if you were to look at the MacBook on paper only.
On the outside, you get a razor-thin laptop that only weighs 2lbs, so it’s as portable as they come. The 12” Retina display has excellent viewing angles, is very sharp, and is very bright. It’s also pretty color accurate, so you can edit videos on it as well. There’s also the massive Force Touch trackpad, which looks enormous on a laptop this small. Wrapping up the build is a single USB-C port, which lets you charge and connect peripherals.