Picking the Right MacBook for 4K Video Editing in 2023

Apple has been a roll with their latest MacBooks featuring their new M-series chips. All of these have been outstanding choices for creatives, though video editors can see some specific advantages from the updated hardware.

With multiple generations of M-series chips now in the wild and different MacBook lines now featuring the processors it is no longer a super simple decision if you are looking for a new computer.

Matt WhoisMatt Johnson is hoping to help you pick out the right MacBook for 4K video editing in 2023. Whether you are on a tight budget, looking for the best bang for your buck, or just want a monster machine you’ll learn which configuration is right for you.

Budget-Friendly Option

For the most affordable and yet still powerful pick you’ll want to look at the latest MacBook Airs with the M2 Chip. This will run you around $1,600 when configured to the recommended specs.

Those specs are:

  • M2 Chip with 8-core GPU
  • 16GB memory
  • 512GB SSD
Apple MacBook Air M2

Image Credit: Apple

You can also upgrade to a more powerful (aka faster) charger, but that isn’t absolutely necessary. This is the cheapest laptop Apple makes with the M2 chip and it doesn’t even have a fan, but it is still a phenomenal option for mobile video editing.

The M2 chip in this model is going to give you plenty of advantages for video editing. This includes hardware encoders and decoders for H.264, HEVC, and ProRes. It’ll be giving you much better playback and rendering than equivalent CPUs on other PCs.

There are a couple of upgrades to recommend and one you don’t need. First, you don’t need the 10-core upgrade as you won’t get a huge benefit from it. As for what you should do the first is to upgrade the SSD to 512GB.

This is because of how Apple configures the modules and the 512GB version is significantly faster than the base 256GB model. The second upgrade is to go up to 16GB of memory.

More memory is always good and the 16GB upgrade will certainly make sure your computer doesn’t slow down when you have a couple apps open.

Apple MacBook Air M1

Image Credit: Apple

Now, $1,600 isn’t exactly a super budget option. If you are looking for something good that’s a bit more affordable then you should look at the slightly older M1 MacBook Air. With discounts and refurbished models out there you might able to get it for $1,000 or less. Try to get one with 16GB memory.

Best Bang for Buck

If you want to make the most of your cash then you’ll need to start looking at the MacBook Pro. There are a lot more options here when it comes to configuration so let’s jump right to the recommended specs:

  • 14” size
  • M2 Pro Chip with 12-core CPU & 19-core GPU
  • 1TB SSD
Apple MacBook Pro 14 M2 Pro

Image Credit: Apple

The M2 Pro chip will give you notable gains over the base M2 in the MacBook Air. The SSD situation is similar to the MacBook Air as you’ll get much better speeds by bumping up from the base SSD size.

Memory is fine sticking with the base 16GB since the MacBooks are very efficient in their memory use. It is a place you can save some cash. This will bring you to around $2,500.

Monstrous Video Editing Machine

Are you looking for pure power? Something to churn through raw footage at 8K or even greater resolutions? This is the model to look at.

If you really wanted and have the cash you could just go to Apple’s website and pick all the best options. Well, that’ll cost you over $6,000 and you don’t actually need to do that to get amazing performance.

Here’s what you should do:

  • 16” size
  • M2 Max Chip with 12-core CPU & 30-core GPU
  • 32GB memory
  • 2TB SSD
Apple MacBook Pro 16 M2 Max

Image Credit: Apple

Why M2 Max? Well, the big reason is that it doubles up your hardware encoders/decoders. Things will be given a significant speed boost. With the 16” model you’ll get better cooling, so less chance of throttling.

The new 32GB base memory option will be just fine for you. You likely don’t need 64GB and it is even less likely you’ll need 96GB. As for storage, at least go for 1TB, but feel free to get a little more if you want it.

This will give you an incredible machine. I’m personally very, very happy with a 14” Pro with M1 Max and can only imagine the M2 Max will be a bit better.

Are any of these going on your wishlist?

[source: Matt WhoisMatt Johnson]

Order Links:

  • Apple MacBook Air with M2 Chip (B&H, Amazon)
  • Apple MacBook Air with M1 Chip (B&H, Amazon)
  • Apple 14” MacBook Pro with M2 Pro Chip (B&H, Amazon)
  • Apple 16” MacBook Pro with M2 Max Chip (B&H, Amazon)

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate partner and participant in B&H and Adorama Affiliate programmes, we earn a small comission from each purchase made through the affiliate links listed above at no additional cost to you.

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