Is the $949 M1 MacBook Air Powerful Enough for Video Editing

Apple’s M1 chips are a subject of much debate in the video editing world. The chip appears to be incredibly powerful and able to handle heavy-duty workflows – as long as the software is optimized for Apple Silicon. As more and more developers get on board, we are seeing the true potential (and limitations) of these latest chips.

If you are still on the fence about getting a new MacBook and want to make sure something like the Air can hold up with Premiere Pro now that the Apple Silicon update is live this video from Potato Jet might just have the answer.

Early feelings from Gene are that the M1 MacBooks are very fast. Now, he still puts a lot of different types of footage to the test using the Premiere Pro beta. Adding to the challenge is that the MacBook Air used in this test is outputting to a large display.

Among the test footage is some 2K ARRI ALEXA footage that is a heavy ProRes 4444 codec. Not the most difficult, but a big file. Applying some LUTs, layering music, adding titles didn’t seem to impact performance at all. ProRes is not a problem.

Where there might have been some struggling was using some intra-frame 4K 30p footage from the C70 using the XF-AVC 10-bit 4:2:2 codec. It’s a bit compressed and a newer option for high-quality 4K so there may still be a potential for future optimization.

Image Credit: Adobe

The reason for thinking that is that the a7S III’s 4K 24p XAVC S-I footage didn’t seem to have the same performance limitation. Still not perfect, but very workable.

For a few projects working in HD there were absolutely no problems whatsoever. Considering your own workflow you might be super happy with M1 performance.

Image Credit: Apple

There are other benefits to the M1 chip for everyday use as well. The MacBook Air doesn’t even have a fan, so it’ll be quiet. The battery life is much better due to the chip’s optimizations. And, in Gene’s tests, it doesn’t even get too hot. It felt just as fast as the 16” MacBook Pro he had as well. There were still some moments the 16” takes a massive lead, but this is impressive.

My take is that if you need a computer now that you shouldn’t be afraid to pick up the M1 MacBooks. They continue to get better as software is optimized. If you can wait, I would say the second generation of Apple Silicon is poised to be dramatically better for pro workflows.

[source: Potato Jet]

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