If you want to make sure your next film or video project gets finished, you’ll need a solid editing station. Now, assuming most people are editing and shooting smaller projects, this means that a good computer is almost as important as your camera is. We are super lucky nowadays in that you can actually edit 4K video on a laptop without breaking the bank.
Matt Johnson is a pro when it comes to this stuff, and he has a list of four budget laptops that will work wonderfully for 4K video editing, even though they don’t cost more than $1,000. Specifically, he is talking about Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve – not Final Cut though, since that is Mac only.
Johnson starts with an example of how fast computing technology moves forward and comes down in price. A $3000 6-core 12-thread processor laptop just two years ago can now be found for just $800. And bumping up to eight cores is just $100 more.
Sure, there are going to be some compromises with any budget device, so it’s all about finding out what those limitations are and how you might be able to account for them. All the laptops mentioned here are recommended by Johnson though.
1. Dell G5 15 Special Edition Gaming Laptop
There are a list of reasons why this laptop—the cheapest on the list when the video was made—is a great pick. It has a decent keyboard and trackpad, 256GB SSD, AMD Radeon RX 5600M graphics, USB 3.1 and Type-C connections, HDMI, and an SD card slot. Gotta have that SD card slot if you are a filmmaker. It’s not the prettiest and might not be as durable as more expensive models, but it is the best bang for your buck. The processor is great too, a 6-core Ryzen 5 2600H.
What you want to watch out for is the base model only has 8GB RAM. Upgrade it yourself with a separate RAM upgrade to save some cash. The 15.6” Full HD screen is fine, but certainly not the most color accurate. Or, you can just bump up to the next version of this laptop which comes with 16GB RAM and a better 144Hz screen. Also the $100 upgrade for an 8-core processor is not a bad idea for faster editing.
2. MSI Bravo 15 Gaming Laptop
Coming in just under 1K, the MSI Bravo 15 offers an 8-core AMD Ryzen 7 4800H processor, Radeon RX 5500M graphics, a 512GB SSD, and 120Hz 15.6” Full HD display.
It’ll chew through your footage without worry, it also looks a lot nicer. However, the screen is limited when it comes to the screen with only 60% sRGB coverage. Which is not great. Edit all day long on it but connect an external monitor for color grading.
3. Lenovo Legion 5 Gaming Laptop
Coming in just over the $1K mark is the Lenovo Legion 5, though Johnson believes that with sales you can likely find it under a thousand dollars easily. It has a 6-core processor and is a clean, black design that doesn’t bring much attention to itself. Surprisingly, there is a cheaper version with more storage.
Be careful here, as the screen is not as good and the more expensive version is actually a better screen and much more useful. Also, it’s worth it to upgrade to the 512GB SSD and 16GB RAM. Plus, if it’s in your budget you can get the 8-core processor. It’s a bit over $1000, so watch for sales!
4. ASUS TUF A15 Gaming Laptop
Definitely a gamer-focused laptop, the ASUS TUF A15 seems to be a very capable machine. It’s right at $999 and manages to fit in an 8-core processor, upgradeable 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, NVIDIA GTX 1660 TI graphics, and more. Sounds like a great deal. Like many of the others the screen is where the cost is cut down and isn’t great for color-critical work.
This one isn’t controversy-free, meaning you need to be careful. Some reviews have come in stating there are cooling issues that are meant to push people to buy ASUS’s more expensive computers. Some reviews didn’t have any cooling issues… It’s a cautious recommendation for the TUF A15. Buy it from somewhere you can return it if you find problems.
It truly is incredible the power you can get for cheap these days. With a little bit of know-how you can easily find something in budget that can get your video over the finish line.
[source: Matt WhoisMatt Johnson]
- Crucial 16GB DDR4 RAM Upgrade for Dell G5 (B&H, Amazon)
- MSI Bravo 15 Gaming Laptop (B&H, Amazon)
- Lenovo Legion 5 Gaming Laptop (B&H)
- ASUS TUF A15 Gaming Laptop (B&H)
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