Editing 8K RAW Video in Real Time on a Laptop?

It has been roughly a year since the announcement of NVIDIA Turing, the architecture at the heart of the Nvidia RTX 2000 series. Following the steps of Pascal, the previous architecture also known as the GTX 1000 series, the RTX has crushed competition delivering some amazing performance and efficiency.

While the battle between Radeon and GeForce won’t see the end soon, we can acknowledge the raw power packed inside the Studio lineup of laptops. For a few weeks,  Potato Jet has been testing the editing capabilities of the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition, so here are his conclusions after the test.

Let’s start off by defining a Studio laptop. The page on Nvidia’s website is quite clear. To be able to sport the Studio badge a laptop must have:

  • i7 or higher CPU
  • at least 16GB of RAM
  • 512 GB SSD or more
  • 1080p display or more
  • GeForce RTX 2060, TITAN RTX, Quadro RTX 3000, or higher

Potato Jet has been using a Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition, a very sleek laptop with an RTX2080 and an i7-9750H hexacore CPU. Surprisingly the design is quite discreet, unlike the usual Razer style. You could easily blend in a cafè or a business meeting, sitting right to a MacBook Pro user.

As it’s pointed out in the video, video editors usually need to drop down the resolution of the playback while editing to avoid the hiccups and stuttering that come with high-resolution files. The picture looks blurry and it has no detail, but that’s with no doubt better than having those choppy playbacks that look like a stop motion gone wrong.

In this case, however, it was possible to have the full resolution playback on a 4K file, with no drop frames whatsoever in Premiere Pro CC. Do you think that’s impressive? Well, guess what, the rendering of that 12 minutes clip from a 4K project with color grading, effects and a picture in picture, took barely 9 minutes. That’s better than real-time encoding…on a laptop!

This kind of power and performance is attainable only on a perfectly balanced configuration. Yes, almost everything is top of the line here, but the whole build has been well thought. Having an RTX 2080 on a lower class CPU, or vice-versa having an i9 beast on a GTX1050 will not get good results since video editing is not a task-focused only on one of the components.

Indeed, the CPU does most of the heavy-lifting, but the more software gets optimized, the more GPUs are involved in much more than providing hardware acceleration for selected effects.

And the concept gets crystal clear if, as Potato Jet does in the video, you shut down hardware acceleration and work using only the Mercury Transmit Engine in Premiere, driving all the load on the CPU. The playback will get all choppy and unbearable to work with.

But the title is all about 8K footage, so let’s get to it. Loading up 8K video conveniently downloaded from RED’s website, we can put the laptop at a test. This footage even scaled to 1/8 of a resolution is still so good to watch. The image is crisp and has plenty of detail.

It needs a couple of effects to get the laptop to even have a few frames dropped. Nvidia claims that most of those are due to software optimization, as the majority of the software out there does not take full advantage of the computational power of GPUs. That is the case with the recently updated REDCINE-X.

In REDCINE, in fact, we can easily see the difference turning on and off the support for the GPU acceleration. We get from stressfully rendering one frame a second to a smooth 30fps in full 8K resolution with just a tick on the right box.

So what does that mean for us? Well, it means possibilities. These Studio laptops are still very expensive, but they are the proof of a concept that was beyond unbelievable just a few years ago: editing full-resolution raw files on the go.

It means having a full-fledged mobile workstation right in your backpack. Maybe not today, maybe not even tomorrow, but we know that in a few years all that will be within the reach of all of us.

[source: Potato Jet]

B&H Order Link:

Razer 15.6″ Blade 15 Multi-Touch Laptop 2019, Studio Edition

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