Jan 9, 2022
If you’ve spent much time around computers, you probably have a favorite. Maybe you’re a Mac-only person. Maybe you’re a PC gamer who wants to create YouTube content, and you only want to use laptops with AMD processors.
Regardless of which group you fall into, you’ve got an opinion. So when it’s time to upgrade your hardware for video production basic to advanced video editing, you’ve got a starting point for your search. But you know what else is a popular starting point?
Like most lists about gear or software, a lot of the factors in a “best [insert product here]” decision will be subjective. The sort of video projects you work on may come with certain requirements or specs that another filmmaker wouldn’t even think about.
By setting ourselves a $1,000 price tag, we’re putting a hard cap on the possibilities. (Otherwise, this list might be 20+ items long.) Now you might think that finding a video editing laptop with a lot of processing power will be too expensive. That you're going to need an epic, Black Friday-tier discount to find a killer laptop for less than $1,000.
The good news is that it's not actually that hard to find a machine with decent performance specs. Lucky for you, we've done the hard work of tracking down the best deals and top picks so you can have easy access to the best laptops for video editing under $1k.
Some of the devices we're going to be looking at today are:
And yes, a few of these picks are technically over budget. But they're in the general price range, and all you need is one good sale (or an Amazon gift card) to make your dreams of finding a great video editing laptop for under $1,000 come true.
But first, let's give ourselves some guidelines before we dive into the search for a budget laptop for your video editing needs.
The only way to begin a search for any new piece of gear is to take a step back and assess your situation. What sort of video editing work are you looking to do? Do you collaborate with other filmmakers? What about creatives with other skillsets? Do you need a 2-in-1 laptop? How important is a long battery life versus extreme processing power?
Even operating within a set budget, you'll need to take a lot of different factors into account before you make a decision. Hopefully this guide presents enough information about each laptop (and enough laptops from different categories) that you're able to fine tune your search and pick out an option that will help you keep creating your best work.
As a quick note, there's an unspoken assumption that the only way to handle video editing is on a Mac. You can toss out that idea right now, because you can easily download Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut, and other popular editing programs on any laptop.
If you're looking to pick up a good laptop for photo and video editing, limiting yourself to Apple products (or any specific brand) could mean overlooking better deals one equally powerful hardware. And for filmmakers who need a budget laptop, getting the most bang for your buck is going to be a major force behind your decision.
An easy way to circumvent the issue is actually by looking at gaming laptops under $1,000.
Sure, a gaming laptop isn't a standard option for video editors. But it's possible to find a budget gaming laptop without spending more than $1,000. You can find a cheaper laptop with a dedicated graphics card that's more than capable of doing anything you need for your post-production process — even 4K editing/rendering.
Now, on to our top picks for gaming laptop and editing laptop options on the market right now.
No, that price is not a typo. You can actually find a laptop for photo and video editing for less than $500. To be clear, you are definitely making some concessions to get down in this price range.
For example, the AMD Ryzen 3 dual core isn't exactly setting any records, and 4GB of RAM is about as low as you'll find on any budget laptop. At 7-8 hours, you could certainly ask for better battery life...but again, at this price range, you probably wouldn't get it.
(There are 8 different variants of this laptop so you can mix and match the RAM and hard drive space per your needs. For the sake of keeping it simple, we'll focus on the cheapest model for this review.)
When it comes to finding cheap budget laptops under $1,000, the biggest sacrifice you'll make is usually processing power. The Inspiron 3511 only has an Intel i5 processor, which can handle video or photo editing thanks to how streamlined most of those programs are. But you won't want to do any serious animation or 4K rendering work on this particular device.
Still, as a budget editing laptop, the Inspiron 3511 is a great and affordable option for content creators.
The Acer Nitro 5 line of gaming laptops includes four different versions, which range from "comfortably under budget" to "$50 over budget but still reasonably close" in cost. The good news is that, as far as a budget gaming laptop goes, the low-end Nitro 5 is a solid choice with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 and 8GB of RAM.
A rare perk in this price range is that the Acer Nitro 5 has a 144Hz refresh rate screen, which is a serious perk for any creator who dabbles with higher frame rates in their work. The trade-off is that you're passing on the Intel core i7 processor for an i5. Still enough to do video or photo editing, but you aren't going to be setting the world on fire with it.
The Samsung Notebook combines a 2-in-1 screen (which is a big draw for many creatives) with a powerful Intel Core i7-8565U processor and 8 GB of RAM. It also has a 12-hour battery life, which is longer than usual for a lot of comparable devices.
In other words, you get the flexibility of a tablet but also the power of an 11th gen Intel core i7. This powerful laptop is perfect for video editing. In fact, you could argue that the 2-in-1 laptops are almost ideal for photo editing as well as video editing.
It is definitely possible to get an Apple MacBook Air for less than $1,000. The M1 chip in this particular device is fully capable of rendering 4K footage, which used to be the measuring stick that made MacBooks less-than-ideal for video editors.
But no longer.
The 8-core CPU and 8GBs of RAM are decent for this price too, and the battery life is a whopping 18 hours. And for long-time Apple product users (or someone who is most comfortable on a Mac), the Apple MacBook Air will get the job done without breaking the budget limit we set for ourselves.
This is the big brother (or maybe more like the "cool cousin"?) of the Dell Inspiron laptop line. The Inspiron 14 is a 2-in-1 laptop with a 14" touchscreen, an 11th get Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, and 12GB of RAM.
The battery life isn't great at this price range — only about 8 hours — but the fast-charging feature means you can fully recover the battery in an hour. So while the 2-in-1 style gives you some flexibility, and the hardware can easily handle your needs for an editing laptop, the Inspiron 14 probably isn't the sort of machine you want to take on a shoot in the middle of the wilderness.
The HP Pavilion 15 is a professional laptop that kind of dips its toes in the gaming laptop pool. With audio from B&O, an integrated Iris Xe video card, and an Intel core i7-1165G7 processor, you've got all the tools you need to edit video footage.
If there was one negative to point out, the 8-hour battery life is nothing to write home about. But the 16GB RAM is more than the other offerings in budget laptops and helps offset that.
(Also, if you like the look of the HP laptops, you can also check out the HP Pavilion 2-in-1 model. It runs for around $200 less than the laptop, but you'll be swapping the Intel i7 processor for an i5. If that's a fair tradeoff, this might be a better option for you.)
While there are a few variants of the Acer Swift X, the one we're plugging here is actually presented as a video editing laptop...and it's almost in our budget too.
The Acer Swift X is a light laptop too — it comes in at 3.06 lbs., just a few ounces heavier than a MacBook Air. You'll get 16GB RAM, an AMD Ryzen 7 processor with Zen 3 Core architecture, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti video card. A lot of these specs are tailored for use as a powerful gaming laptop, but you can leverage all of that for your video editing needs too.
Okay okay, so this one sort of cheats the rules we set. (Although it's pretty common to see an Asus Zenbook drop below $1k during sales, or even from specific marketplaces.)
The biggest takeaways for the ZenBook 13 are the Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and — here's the kicker — an OLED screen. So while it's just over the budget cap we set for ourselves, you'll get the benefit of a powerful Intel core processing power with a 13-hour battery life and one of the best screens you can find for a budget laptop.
Yes, we are breaking the $1,000 rule again. Sorry about that. But the truth is that if you're looking at the Lenovo Legion line of gaming laptops, it doesn't really make sense to pay $925 for the cheapest variant of the Legion 5 model. It's worth going just above our budget to jump from 8GB to 16GB of RAM.
As far as powerful gaming laptops, you'll have a hard time beating the Legion 5 for price. You get a 512GB SSD, as well as a 1TB HDD. And a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti video card. And an AMD Hexa-Core Ryzen 5 4600H, which actually outperforms some Intel i7 models. (It also averages a 7.8-hour battery life, which isn't great but has obviously proven to be the trend for our budget laptop picks.)
The Legion 5 will absolutely blow away most budget laptops because it really is trying to provide the powerful gaming laptop experience and still sneak in at around $1,000. And if you're okay with getting a Windows laptop (instead of a MacBook), this pick will give you the most bang for your buck at current market prices.
Even though the best laptops for video editing can run you $2,000 or more, most of the Windows laptops on this list blend the hardware specs every filmmaker needs with the affordability you're looking for.
Hopefully, you found something you like in our list of the best laptops for video editing under $1k. And for creators looking to upgrade their gear, a great video editing laptop might only be the start of your search for gear. (Yup, filmmaking is an expensive field, but the process of researching and buying new gear is a weirdly satisfying and enjoyable thing.)
We've got a few other lists of gear recommendations for creators that might help you streamline or improve your editing workflow: