Now that it’s 2018, we’ve already reached a tipping point where the advancements in hardware technologies made possible the existence of extremely powerful laptops that can handle even the most demanding video editing tasks. Of course, there are specific requirements referring to clock speeds, core counts, performance numbers and whatnot that must be met to consider a given laptop as a powerful and efficient mobile production machine.
First and foremost, the processor, whether it be Intel or AMD based, must have an adequate amount of cores and clock speeds that can tackle multi-threaded workloads. In addition, having a dedicated graphics card is key for GPU-accelerated applications like Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve. Last but not least, a properly sized and adequately calibrated display is paramount to ensure color accuracy in the final video output.
That being said, if you’re someone who’s currently in the market for a laptop that meets these criteria, here is a list of five powerful editing laptops capable of editing 4K video and beyond specifically tailored towards the needs of creative professionals working on the go.
While the ASUS Zephyrus GX501GI may be targeted at gamers, this machine is more than capable of handling 4K video editing workflows. The laptop is powered by a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8750H with a maximum Turbo Boost Frequency of 4.1 GHz. The unit also sports an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 based off the company’s latest MaxQ architecture, equipped with 8GB of GDDR5X. With an extremely efficient processor coupled with an even more powerful graphics card, this machine will work seamlessly with NLEs that take advantage of GPU acceleration, such as Adobe Premiere Pro CC and DaVinci Resolve 15.
Adding to the laptop’s already powerful internals, the GX501GI also provides the user with 16GB DDR4 SDRAM at 2400 MHz (with support for up to 24GB) and a 512GB PCIe SSD. The I/O in this system has enough to allow creative professionals to use their favorite peripherals such as external eGPUs or hard drives. In terms of connectivity options, the Asus GX501GI sports a Type-C USB 3.1/Thunderbolt 3 port, 4 USB Type A USB 3.0 port, and a single HDMI 2.0 port as well as a microphone/headphone combo jack.
ASUS 15.6″ Republic of Gamers Zephyrus GX501GI Notebook Highlights
- 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8750H
- 16GB DDR4 RAM | 512GB ROG Hyperdrive SSD
- 15.6″ 1920 x 1080 144 Hz G-Sync Display
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X)
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Illuminated Anti-Ghosting Macro Keyboard
- Windows 10 Pro (64-Bit)
Known for their mobile workstations, HP touts the 17.3″ ZBook 17 G3 Mobile Workstation as “designed for the creative professional” and for a good reason. This claim can be backed up with the laptop’s reliable internals which include a 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700 HQ Quad-Core processor, and a professional-grade NVIDIA Quadro M3000M Graphics Card with 4GB of VRAM. In addition, the 16GB of 2133 MHz DDR4 RAM and 512GB Z Turbo Drive PCIe SSD round off the internals to create a true mobile powerhouse for video editors.
Users of this machine will be pleased with some of the design choices made for the Book 17 G3. For instance, the spacious 17.3” UWVA IPS Anti-Glare Display provides excellent viewing angles, in addition to high fidelity colors. Also, the inclusion of two Thunderbolt 3 ports, 4 USB 3.1 Type A ports, an HDMI port, VGA port, memory card slot, and headphone/microphone combo jack allows for expansive connectivity with many third-party peripherals something that any content creator may need while working on the go.
HP 17.3″ ZBook 17 G3 Mobile Workstation Highlights
- Designed for the Creative Professional
- 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core
- 16GB of 2133 MHz DDR4 RAM
- 17.3″ UWVA IPS Anti-Glare Display
- Full HD 1920 x 1080 Screen Resolution
- NVIDIA Quadro M3000M Graphics Card (4GB)
- 512GB Z Turbo Drive PCIe SSD
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.2
- Thunderbolt 3 + DP1.2 via USB 3.1 Type-C
- Windows 7 Pro & Windows 10 Pro License
Even though this line of computers is not typically known for video editing, the Dell 17.3″ Alienware 17 R5 Notebook is another gaming laptop on the list that can certainly pack a punch when editing 4K video. Similar to Asus’ offering, the Alienware 17 R5 comes with a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8750H Six-Core processor. Unlike its rival, however, the machine offers a lower-tier graphics card, which in this case is an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB of GDDR5 Memory, based on the new MaxQ architecture.
Many may see the Alienware 17 R5 as a large and bulky laptop to lug around, however, this machine carries internals that makes its bigger build worth the weight. Besides its more-than-capable processor and graphics card, the laptop sports 15GB DDR4 RAM and a 1TB HDD + 8GB Cache drive. Not only that, its array of I/O connections provide users with unparalleled connectivity options, which includes a Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A ports, a proprietary docking connector, both an HDMI 2.0 and Mini DisplayPort, a headphone/microphone combo jack, and a separate headphone output jack.
Dell 17.3″ Alienware 17 R5 Notebook Highlights
- 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8750H Six-Core
- 16GB DDR4 RAM | 1TB HDD + 8GB Cache
- 17.3″ 1920 x 1080 Anti-Glare IPS Display
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5)
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Bluetooth 5.0
- Gigabit Ethernet Port
- USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C & 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
- Thunderbolt 3 | HDMI 2.0 | Mini DP 1.3
- Alienware Full HD Camera
- Windows 10 Home (64-Bit)
Acer with their 17.3” Predator 17 Notebook aims to not only dominate the computer gaming world but also the video editing industry with processing power that can handle both work and play. The laptop is primarily driven by a 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7-7820HK Quad-Core processor, paired with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 that has 8GB of GDDR5X memory.
Furthermore, the laptop’s high performance can also be attributed to the included 32GB of GDDR4 memory, dual 256GB SSDs that work in conjunction with a 1TB HDD. Connectivity with peripherals will not be an issue with this laptop as the I/O includes four USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A ports, a single USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C port, a Thunderbolt 3 port, both an HDMI and DisplayPort, an SD card slot, and a combination headphone/microphone jack.
Acer 17.3″ Predator 17 Notebook Highlights
- 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7-7820HK Quad-Core
- 32GB DDR4 | 2 x 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
- 17.3″ 3840 x 2160 G-Sync IPS Display
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X)
- SD Media Card Reader
- 802.11ac Dual-Band Wi-Fi | Bluetooth 4.1
- USB 3.0 | HDMI | DP | Thunderbolt 3
- Windows 10 Home (64-Bit)
Of course, if you’re a Final Cut Pro X editor or someone who just happens to have already been living in the Apple’s device ecosystem, the 15.4” MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is your best option for a mobile editing rig. Powered by a high-end 3.1 GHz Intel Core i7 Quad Core processor and an AMD Radeon Pro 560 Graphics Card with 4GB of GGDR5 VRAM, you can rely on a machine that runs optimally with Apple’s macOS operating system for smooth playback, even while editing projects in higher resolutions than 4K.
Although the I/O is limited to four Thunderbolt 3 ports and a headphone jack only, Apple has included many features in the laptop geared towards professionals. These include a 2880 x 1800 15.4” Retina Display with support for DCI-P3 Color Gamut, 16GB of 2133 MHz RAM, and a more-than-generous 2TB SSD.
Apple 15.4″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar Highlights
- 3.1 GHz Intel Core i7 Quad-Core
- 16GB of 2133 MHz RAM | 2TB SSD
- 15.4″ 2880 x 1800 Retina Display
- AMD Radeon Pro 560 Graphics (4GB GGDR5)
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Bluetooth 4.2
- Touch Bar | Touch ID Sensor
- 4 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) Ports
- 3.5mm Headphone Jack | Stereo Speakers
- Force Touch Trackpad
- macOS High Sierra
So, there you have it! These are five of the most powerful laptops currently available on the market that will give you enough power to handle your 4K production needs with ease. Of course, there are many mobile workstations out there from other manufacturers that may have parameters better adapted to your specific needs, so it is worth spending a proper amount of time to do proper due diligence and find the best match. In the meantime, think of these offerings as a guide to help you determine what you may need from your own perspective.
- ASUS 15.6″ Republic of Gamers Zephyrus GX501GI Notebook (B&H, Amazon)
- HP 17.3″ ZBook 17 G3 Mobile Workstation (B&H)
- Dell 17.3″ Alienware 17 R5 Notebook (B&H, Amazon)
- Acer 17.3″ Predator 17 Notebook (Amazon)
- Apple 15.4″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (B&H, Amazon)