Best MacBook Pro for Video Editing: Buyer’s Guide in 2018

Apple didn't get its reputation for performance and accuracy from nowhere.

Everything from phones to paper-thin notebooks are engineering to work efficiently, and this makes their MacBooks ideal for all levels of video editing.

Besides integrating extremely well with the Adobe Creative Cloud suite and many other third-party photo/video editing software, they offer a streamlined experience that will work well in any freelance or industry position.

In this guide, we'll point out some key points for choosing the best MacBook Pro that will most effectively work for video editing at various levels, and showcase some of our own recommendations as well.

Quick Summary

For the casual creative, we recommend the 13" MacBook Pro 8GB RAM 256 SSD, which offers quality performance without unnecessarily bulking up the specs. It doesn't offer touch bar, but it is portable and sturdy.

If you certainly aren't a hobbyist but not a pro either, 13" MacBook Pro 8GB RAM 512 SSD, w/ Touch Bar is a better choice. The storage has been beefed up a bit, and the touch bar offers a new dimension of functionality.

Lastly, the professional creative looking to max out their performance power would be best served with a 15" MacBook Pro 16GB RAM with Raedon Pro (4GB). This model offers insane amounts of processing power, though you'll likely still want an external monitor for the sake of screen space.

Who Should (& Should Not) Get This?

In this case, it isn't about whether or not a Mac will be effective for video editing, but a matter of how much power you really need.

If you just plan on doing minor work for youtube, you won't be troubled by extensive renders or clamoring for screen restate, so it doesn't make sense to pay for specs built for something ten times as processor-intensive.

However, if you plan on doing digital animation or working in 4K, it's definitely time to look at higher end machines that will be able to handle what you're throwing at them.

If you're not planning on editing videos in some way, you should not treat this article as a collection of the most powerful MacBooks overall.

Intensive computer work demands different specs depending on what you plan on doing, so you can't assume the best for editing will be the best for say, gaming.

Buying a MacBook for Video Editing: What to Look For?

Graphics

The key to a fast render is a high quality dedicated graphics card, and while lower level work will likely be fine using an integrated card, you'll want a dedicated one for anything beyond the casual home video or Youtube vlog. Dedicated graphics allow your computer to utilize RAM (Random Access Memory) specifically for the high-quality visuals you'll be rendering as effectively as possible.

Processor

The processor is going to be handling every detail of your video as you build it, so you're going to want to look towards the latest generations of the Intel i5 and i7 lines. Since video software can make use of multiple threads as well, these will benefit you while creating your project.

RAM

The final element that will make or break the performance of your MacBook while working on video editing is RAM. It's used in every aspect of your computer's execution of processes, and you'll want a minimum of 8GB for amateur work, with a goal of 16GB if you're editing professionally.

The Best MacBook Pro for Video Editing: Our Picks


If you're going to be editing home videos and content for Youtube, you probably won't be doing intensive 3D renders or completely utilizing heavy programs even if they are installed. This version of the 13" MacBook Pro comes with the processing power to reach your goal without unnecessarily overcompensating.

  • Pros: The 13" model is extremely portable, so you'll have editing power at your fingertips wherever you go. Additionally, 8GB of RAM is the perfect amount for this type of user and should last several years. SSD drive means that renders and saves will be completed faster than with a physical HDD disk.
  • Cons: SSD is pricey, which is why this model only comes with 256 GB of space. You'll definitely want to purchase an external hard drive to compensate for this when storing your videos. Additionally, this model uses an integrated graphics card which will be fine for this level of editing but doesn't offer room for growth.

Whether college student or budding short-film director, you need power and a modern flair without the expense of a professional setup. This model of MacBook is a great compromise, offering Apple's latest touch bar and touch ID technology packed into a 13" body powered by 8GB of RAM and an integrated Iris 640 graphics card.

  • Pros: Offering both portability and power, this modern masterpiece has all the specs to get you where you want to go without any unnecessary bulk. The brand-new touch bar is also included and known to have great integrations when working in Final Cut Pro or the Adobe Suite.
  • Cons: While offering more space than the aforementioned 256GB model, it's still a bit on the small side for storing large video files. It also has an integrated graphics card, which is slightly less than ideal.

Truly a top of the line machine, this MacBook Pro model was built for precision and nothing less. The quad-core i7 processor can stand up to just about anything you throw at it, and in addition to 16GB of RAM, it has a 4GB Radeon Pro graphics card. The 15" screen offers some more real estate than the smaller 13" models.

  • Pros: It has nearly unbeatable power between the mix of RAM, dGPU, and processor. The beautiful screen will produce accurate colors and the touch bar will allow you to work even more effectively in your favorite editing programs. You have the option to choose more storage space if needed.
  • Cons: When editing professionally, you need all the screen space you can get, and no size laptop is going to be able to offer that. If you don't already have an external monitor, check out our recommendations.

Useful Mac Video Editing Resources

Just getting started with editing your own videos? LifeWire offers a great tutorial on getting started, from which software will be the most useful to whether you'll fare better with some peripherals.

A fan of iMovie? MacWorld has made a fantastic list of best tips on how to get the most out of Apple's video editing software for macOS.

You could also check out this list of free video editing software for Mac, which will let you experiment before deciding exactly what you need in a paid program.

Conclusion

Video editing is a prime example of technical work that eats RAM and CPU power like no other. Luckily, a Mac was made to stand up to these things and is sure to perform if you've picked an adequate model.

What set up do you currently use to edit videos? Let us know (see Contact section) and share which specs you think are most important for productive work.

Published Jan 19, 2018​.