Guide to the Best laptops for film students (+ 5 Top Picks)

Film student Film students often need to have fairly powerful and capable laptops in order to really excel in their chosen major. As a current major in film who wants to eventually direct 3-D animated movies, I am in a unique position to understand exactly what kind of devices are the best laptops for film students.

As a student who intends to work for a company like Pixar or Dreamworks, I find that after I’m done working on my scripts, I do a lot of editing on my high definition files. This can happen inside my school’s film lab or even in my off-campus apartment, but in any situation, it’s really nice to have a good laptop for this part of the job.

Some university film programs like the American University School of Communication have computing requirements for their film schools, so make sure that you know what type of machine you need before you start your semester.

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5 Best laptops for 4K video editing: The few laptops that can do it

Neat setup for editing 4k video There are few computer operations that require more powerful components than 4K video editing, but fortunately, you can now find laptops that can accomplish this task. As an amateur videographer, I find it amazing that I can take some of my video editing work with me when I’m out on a shoot, but finding one of these machines isn’t easy, which is why I wanted to make this guide so that you can find out which are the best laptops for 4k video editing.

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Best laptops for Sony Vegas and Vegas Pro

Vegas Pro logo Whether you’ve been video-editing for awhile or you’re just starting out, you’re here because you want to find the best laptop for Sony Vegas. One thing you need to know if you want a laptop for video editing is that you aren’t going to find much at budget prices. If you are experienced at video editing, some of this information may be old news, but if you’re a beginner, you might also find some useful information on video editing and how it works. Either way, I hope you find some good information on choosing the best Sony Vegas laptop.

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Best laptop for photo and video editing

Finding the best laptop for photo and video editing requires balancing a lot of power-hungry components with a top-notch screen while keeping a personal budget in the equation.

Photo and video editingAnd it gets even more complicated.

When you need a lightweight machine that can run for hours on its battery alone while still being able to provide the smoothest workflow.

In this post, I will describe what you need to look for EXACTLY in a notebook for creative work and what you should expect at your price range to the dollar.

Finally, I’ll list out 7 best options when it comes to best laptops for video and photo editing. To pick them out, I went over a 100 hottest laptops and evaluated them using specs and benchmarks that took me days to find and collect.

What are we looking for in a photo and video editing laptop?

What is essential for the best laptop for photo and video editing?

Major requirement SSD

How much storage do I need?

You need to decide on the total amount of storage that you’ll need. A basic starting point should be 500 GB. But if I were you, I would advise going up to 1 TB or more.

Do I need an SSD?

Yes. I recommend getting at least a small 250 GB SSD for OS, Photoshop, Lightroom or your favorite photo editing app and several “hot” photo folders. It will make a world of difference. When I edit photos, I notice a measurable difference between my files on SSD and HDD. And I don’t have to work with super high-resolution uncompressed RAW images that would benefit the most from an SSD.

But the main issue with laptop SSDs is that there aren’t many laptops that come with 1 TB SSD built-in. That’s why sometimes you’ll need to limit yourself to 500 GB + 1 TB setup or you’ll need to spend ~$320 for 1 TB SSD.

What should be my target?

At the end of the day, everything revolves around two variables:

  • Size of a desired laptop
  • Your spending budget

That’s what I would recommend and what you should optimistically expect:

13-inch 15-inch 17-inch
Under $1000 250 GB SSD + external storage 250 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD 250 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD
Under $1500 500 GB SSD 500 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD 500 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD
Over $1500 500 GB SSD + external storage 500 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD 1 TB SSD + 1 TB HDD

The good part with 15.6″ and 17.3″ laptops is that they often have 2 or 3 slots for storage. That allows easy upgrades in the future.

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The best laptop for GoPro Video Editing

GoPro Video editing laptopSo you’re searching for the best laptop for GoPro video editing that can fit within some reasonable budget. You could ask opinions on forums and wait a day hoping you’ll get a decent response. Or you could do the research yourself, list the most recently released laptops and compare each and every one of them.

But that would be a waste of time, wouldn’t it? Well… not if somebody else does it. That’s right, I weighted most popular best-selling laptops and hottest new releases from the most respected brands to separate diamonds from the rest.

In the next 5 minutes, you’ll get to know how I’d choose the best laptop for GoPro editing if I’d need to buy one right now and what are 3 best laptops that will handle your GoPro footage as it was no big deal.

I’ll start off with my reasoning behind the requirements for a GoPro laptop.

So what are we looking for?

Major requirement High-end processor

Your processor will be doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to video editing. In some cases, graphics cards can assist your processor, but to a very limited extent. Above all, you’ll see the best results by investing in a better processor.

Processor suggestions:

Low-end i7-6500U, i7-4600U, i7-5500U, i5-6300HQ
Mid-range i7-6700HQ, i7-4710HQ, i7-4720HQ, i7-5700HQ
High-end i7-6820HK, i7-4870HQ, ported desktop CPUs as i7-6700K

You probably noticed that I heavily lean towards latest generation Intel Core Skylake processors. That is due to their improved graphics performance (APU). You see, if you’ll decide to connect an external monitor, very likely it will be handled not by your beefy dedicated graphics card but by Intel’s own graphics chip which sits within the processor. Therefore, if you want to have a smooth 4K video preview, 6-th generation Intel processors are measurably superior to their older counterparts.

Major requirement CUDA Graphics card

Specific graphics card requirements can change wildly depending on the software you’ll be using to edit you GoPro footage.

Professional software such as Adobe Premier (via CUDA), Sony Vegas (via OpenCL) can take full advantage of a new dedicated graphics card. That speeds up rendering and shortens video preview times which results in a much desired snappy workflow. Meanwhile, most hobbyist software including GoPro Studio editing software only occasionally can find any use for a fast graphics card (GoPro Studio uses it only for H.264 decoding). As you can guess, any laptop in this list is also the best laptop for GoPro Studio for its price. And anyways, GoPro Studio kind of sucks

Also, GPU-assisted rendering does not matter much when working with a Full-HD footage. Please do not be fooled by Premier benchmarks for non-real-life projects demonstrating the power of hardware acceleration. Many effects and especially 3rd-party plugins couldn’t care less about your graphics card. Taking all of that into consideration, all main benefits of a good graphics card start to take off when you get past 1080p, especially when you reach a 4K resolution.

In conclusion, if you own a 4K camera like GoPro HERO4 Black – high-end laptop with a dedicated graphics card will pay off tremendously in saved time. But most of us still using older GoPros or GoPro HERO4 Silver/Session it’s a no biggie and can be skipped in favor of saving 200-400$ for a larger hard drive. Hell, that’s almost enough money to buy a 4K GoPro.

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