I need some help choosing a laptop for video editing and compositing

Hi guys,

I'm looking into getting a new laptop for video editing and compositing. My budget is ~2k€ and I'm looking into gaming laptops as they seem to pack a punch.

I currently have a desktop with an i5-4460, 16Gb RAM, and a Radeon R9 290 4Gb, and it's starting to not work so great. For our latest "Just waiting for Friday" short-ish film I used my work laptop, because the movie was for a work event. That's a Dell XPS 15, i7700hq, GTX 1050 and 32 Gb of RAM and a 1Tb ssd.  However I won't use my work laptop for my other own videos. Also I had issues with that laptop: the charger port needed replacing, the USB-C dock sometimes does funny business, and lately everything is slowing down like crazy. But since it's my work laptop I can't do much to it. Also it's steering me away from Dell for my own stuff.

Anyway, I'm looking at Windows laptops (not desktop, that's for sure) and my requirements are:

  • Minimum: i8750, 16Gb Ram, 1060 Max-Q, 256Gb SSD, USB-C port; buyable in Finland to get the Nordic keyboard layout
  • Nice to have: more ram, 1060, 1070 Max-Q or 1070, 2nd disk with 1-2Tb, high-refresh display (120-144hz), SD card reader

What I'd be using it for: HitFilm Express, Davinci Resolve 15.2, Fusion 9; sources from GH5 (4k 8bit 100Mbps or 4k 10bit 150Mbps), A7 iii (4k 8 bit 100Mbps) delivering to 1080p. And I usually edit out of an external drive (Samsung T5 SSD), that's the reason for the USB-C port as requirement.

I think I want to go with 15,6", but I don't discard 17,3". On that budget I won't find 4K display, so FullHD will do.

I have narrowed it down to:

All of them have i8750 processor, 16Gb of RAM, 256GB SSD drive and 1060 graphics card (Max-Q for the Razer).

The razer has a 2TB HDD and both Asus have 1TB.

The Razer has 60Hz screen, the Hero 2 144Hz and the Scar 120Hz. All of them FullHD with the Scar being bigger, of course. Both the Razer and the Hero 2 claim 100% sRGB but no info on the Scar.

The Razer is super good looking and well build and a tad more compact than the Hero 2.

The Razer doesn't have SD reader, which is a bit of a bummer. The other ones do.

The Razer's USB-C is also Thunderbolt.

The Razer has a massive and lovely glass covered trackpad, much better than the Asus' ones.

The Hero 2 has thin bezels (like the Razer) but a stupid-nose-hair webcam placement.

The Scar is substantially bigger than the other 2 (41,5 x 28 x 2,4 and 2.95Kg) vs Razer (35,5 x 23,5 x 19,9 and 2,07Kg) and Hero 2 (36,1 x 26,2 x 2,61 and 2,4Kg). That also means that both Asus have full keyboard with keypad, but the Razer doesn't.

I'm a bit worried of the massive 17,3" size. Between the Razer and the Hero... the Razer is prettier, smaller, has more HD but, the Hero has SD card reader, better screen refresh and full keyboard (and marginally better graphics card).

I'll take any advice I can get!!

Comments

  • Have you looked at MSI? I have a 17.3" MSI laptop and love it. They are very competitively priced with very good specs. I personally love the 17.3" size, I want as much screen as I can get when working on videos and photos. 

    You need to ask yourself what are the most important features to have based on your most likely situations and decide from there. Is size and portability more important than other specs?

    SD card reader is nice to have if you are working "out" and need to access the card. But, there are some very low profile USB SD readers that can be put into your bag or even pocket, so I personally would push that a little down the requirement list when comparing features.

    To me, it would seem most important to have most/fastest cores, high RAM and the best GPU. If you are out a lot, having extra disc space is important, but large capacity USB thumbdrives are pretty cheap now. I always carry a 128GB thumbdrive in my bag as a spare drive, it's also very handy when needing to transfer large files between computers.

     

  • @WVgiant I think ilI' settle with 15,6" and use the 28" external when I'm home.

    On 15,6" there's the MSI GS65 with similar size to the Razer, specs like the Asus, but 100€ more up here.

    Just saw a video today saying that for rendering video the Strix Scar II is a bit faster even with same processor. I guess/hope that the Hero performs like the Scar.

    Thankfully I need to sell a couple of things first to finance this :)

  • And the sales season is here! The Nvidia 20-series for laptops is probably around the corner, but I don't think the 1060s and 1070s laptops will drop massively just yet.

    I found an offer for an HP Omen 15 (2018, 2-hinged model) with same specs than the machines above but 500€ less!! I could upgrade the HDD for an SSD and up the Ram to 32GB and still be in the same ballpark price.

    I think I'll pull the trigger and decide on the upgrades later, if/when they feel necessary.

  • Nice... the HP machines are quite impressive; among the best in the biz as far as features and performance for the price.

     

  • Yep. Finally ordered that HP: i8750H, 16GB, 1060, 256GB m.2 SSD, 1GB hdd, FullHD 144Hz display and plenty of I/o, including a Thunderbolt USB-C.

    For the time being I'll probably edit out of a Samsung T5, but since I saved some money from my budget I'm wondering about an upgrade.

    Would you go for:

    - Changing the hdd for an SSD? So I can edit from that drive

    - Get 32GB of RAM

    Once again thinking about: HitFilm Express, Davinci Resolve, Fusion 9

  • I'd go for 32 GB ram and edit from external drives. 

    I'm getting an AlieanWare m15 shortly; it has a hexacore i7, 32GB, and a 1070 Max-Q GPU. Should be a huge improvement over my current quad-core ULV machine with an m150 GPU and only 16GB ram.

    Though that new AlienWare Area51 laptop that Dell was showing off at CES sounds very sweet... and expensive.

     

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited January 14

    @WhiteCranePhoto have you ever considered going for a custom build from some site like xoticPC? I only ask cuz Alienwares are amazing  but expensive. My current laptop is a custom Clevo/Sager build. An Alienware with the same specs (i7 6700hq, nVidia 980m-8GB, 64 GB RAM 2x256 GB SSD, 1 TB SSD, 1 TB HDD in Oct, 2015) would have cost me $1500 more from Alienware - with only 32 GB RAM.

    I've been doing custom laptops from Xotic my last three machines and every time I've ended up with a Sager model substantially cheaper than an Alienware and the Sagers have been rock-solid.

    For sake of discussion I priced the Alienware m5 with the 144hz FHD screen with 32GB RAM, the i7 8750H, Nvidia 1070 Mac-Q and a 512GB SSD and 1TB HDD. Win 10 Pro. I didn't add any extended service plans. $2460

    A Sager NP-8955S from XoticPC: i7 8750H, Nvidia 1079 Max-Q, 144hz FHD screen, 32 GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 2TB HDD. Win 10 PRO. $2390. No service plan. $50 less for twice the drive space. 

  • I did consider it, but the AlienWare has a bettter monitor.... and the 8 GB 1070 swayed me from the HP ZBook studio that has an even better (DreamColor) monitor.

    And for the configuration I put together, the price difference was smaller than I expected, most likely because there are new models launching soon.

     

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @WhiteCranePhoto ok. If you have a configuration you're happy with. Just pointing out the option. :)

    Although the best laptop monitor I ever had was a Sager. 100% sRGB and NTSC, bright as all get-out. Calibrated to perfection  (Spider Pro!). Sadly, Sager doesn't seem to get those panels anymore. Only time I've had a 100% accurate monitor. Stuck it next to a calibrated $4000 Sony reference monitor running identical video, had identical picture. Amazing!

    But they don't have those panels anymore.

    At the level of camera you use I can't argue with panel quality as a deciding factor. The panel in my current lappy is good, but certainly not 100% accurate. 

  • I have an OEM probe from Light Illusion, as well as a Lightspace CMS license (and a CalMan Studio license). I can calibrate them and my TV and use my TV as a Rec709 reference until I save up for a better reference.

    Hopefully I'll be able to get a monitor with a full P3 color space this year! Those are mostly still pretty pricey though. 

     

  •  They changed the offer and I managed to get for the same price the 1070 Max-Q 8Gb version. And another offer for a 2Tb SSD came along... So I'll upgrade that first.

    So far huge improvement compared to the current machines (5 times faster export times!!!)

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @ruxter nice! 

  • Oh, and for the sake of details, the offer was 1500€ for: i8750h, 16Gb, 1070 Max-Q 8Gb, 256GB m.2 ssd, 1Tb hdd 7200 rpm,144hz screen, and minor but nice features (SD reader, USB-c with thunderbolt and some more).

    And I found a Samsung EVO 860 2Tb for 300€ that will replace the hdd.

    Not a bad package for 1800€ :D

  • I made this comparing the internal HDD with the new SSD and also an external T5 SSD.

    And then the nVme which is silly fast...

    https://youtu.be/l5MAS_NiRtQ

  • edited April 15

    I dont know you have bought or not, yet I wanna give you recommendation it will support you and other people in future, for video editing on the base of my experience best laptop are Dell XPS 15, HP Spectre x360, HP ZBook x2, and Alienware m15, I currently using HP ZBook x2, its amazing no doubt, I purchased it from discounted online coupons from Reecoupons, you can also visit there for more varieties. 

  • edited November 11

     Hey rutxer,

    All the laptops you have picked are the best gaming laptops you can use for your video editing work. You have mentioned the 8th gen. processor, but now as the 9th and 10th gen. are available, you can go with it.

    Thanks.

  • The ZBook x2 is pretty pitiful... frankly HP should be embarrassed by it, given what the likes of Asus and MSI are doing with their current laptops -- especially ones like Asus new ProArt lineup. I'm awaiting a ZenBook Pro Duo, though I'm also hoping to be able to upgrade to a ProArt StudioBook One for the monster GPU (24GB) in that one. :)

    Spectre x360 is a good option if you don't plan on working with any sort of raw footage (which HitFilm sadly doesn't support anyway, and is the reason that I don't get to use it much). Razer seems to be paying attention to the flak it's been getting for it's poor build and customer service, so hopefully it's improving on those areas. 

    Asus however has what I think are the best designs at the moment. HP has the most upgradable models in the ZBook 15 and 17, though they're also bigger than ultrabooks normally are. There's a Ryzen based Asus ROG Zephyrus that's around $1100 that would do nicely for video editing, and would probably handle 4K if it's a reasonably lightweight codec pretty well. 

     

  • If I'm not too late to the party - i use an Acer Predator Helios 500 laptop for my film, vfx and audio production. It retailed at 3500 Oz dollars, so depending on where u are in the world - your budget of 2500 will cover the cost of the Acer I believe. 

    The machine is a desktop in a laptop form. It has 32gig of ram, an I9 hexacore CPU which I run in overclock mode - so i get about 4ghz as a clock speed. I also over clock the GTX 1070 GPU, which when I do - it runs at a clock speed of 2000 ghz. It has a 500 gig raid SSD drive and a 5400 2TB spindle drive for storage. 

    Whilst it isn't that fast when rendering - this is because I've moved to 4k everything, and I use two or three types of particle effects and motion blur (3d animation' Open EXR 32 bit file format) - but if you're only doing 1080p or basic cut and paste 4k editing - render times are much better and this laptop will cream the rest around and below the price of this laptop.

    In Oz this laptop is now 3000. There is a newer model out in the rest of the world i believe, which replaces the GTX 1070 with a RTX 2070. Price is about the same. I don't know if anyone else mentioned it - but as far as I know the Acer Predator Helios 500 is the only laptop with a full desktop GPU rather than a max q type laptop GPU. The GTX GPU I think has been throttled slightly - heat off the top of my head - but it is still a full desktop GPU in a laptop. The intel on board graphics is switched off - that's how serious the GPU is within this laptop.

    Finally it's pretty future proof - The Acer Predator Helios 500. This is because it has two thunderbolt 3 ports. I use one for my Samsung SSD production drive - I render 10 bit AVI 4k files for final compositing - it purrs like a kitten even though it's squeezing through its pipes 200gigs of AVIs. You get pretty much 50fps (which is the frame rate I mostly use these days) when previewing and at the best quality. This is in Vegas Pro 16 by the way, which I use to render the Hitfilm files. The AVIs are then finally rendered in Vegas to create the distubution files. I use Hitfilm to create the small animation strips and for vfxs. 

    Finally the plan is next year is to get an EGPU for extra grunt and rendering power. Which you can hook up to one of the thunderbolt ports. 

    Hope this helps -Ben 

  • dell xps 15

    Key Specs — CPU: Core i7 ----GPU: Nvidia GTX 1650---- RAM: 32GB--- Storage: 1TB SSD ----- Display: 15.6-inch (1080p/4K/4K OLED)-----

    Size: 14.1 x 9.3 x 0.7~0.5 inches ------Weight: 4.5 pounds

     

    My brother is using this, it is really superb...

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