Choosing the right laptop for the budding filmmaker in you

By Swapnil Mathur | Published on 26 Jun 2018
Choosing the right laptop for the budding filmmaker in you
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Aspiring shutterbug? Mad about videography? Here's how to go about getting the right laptop before you go back to college.

Everyone loves a good hobby and the best hobbies are the ones that turn into passions, and eventually, a means of earning. When your passions turn into your daily jobs, it’s no longer a “job.” So, some of you may be interested in making short films.

While you’re in college, it’s a great time to experiment with film-making and if you’re picking up a new laptop before heading off to school or college, make sure you take the below factors into consideration. Video editing is a pretty hardware intensive process, so a lot of things have to come together to give you a good, functional and efficient editing experience.

Dedicated Graphics an Absolute Must

Regardless of the choice of editing software you use, a graphics card is a must for any kind of smooth editing workflow. One of the most demanding task while editing is for the program to render the your footage into one compliant stream. For example, if you have videos shot from different cameras at different frame rates or resolutions, the editing program will normalize all of its into a stream based on the settings you choose. The graphics card does all the heavy lifting here. The GPU also gets called to work whenever you apply any effect or transition. Trust us, editing videos on a laptop without a GPU will be a whole new level of pain.

Max out that RAM

IF you’re going to be editing videos, there’s just no amount of RAM that you could say is “enough.” Professional video editors will often put RAM in triple digits into their systems, but those are desktop machines and the professionals need it for their kind of work. For you, do pick a system that ships with 16GB of RAM and allows you to upgrade to 32GB if you ever need to. IF you choose to go with a machine that ships with 8GB RAM (must be expandable to 32GB trust us), then you may face issues with the system slowing down when you start to edit. With 16GB, you will not only be able to edit smoothly, but your system won't hang or stutter between operations or program switching.

Go Big on SSD or Go Home

Firstly, a laptop without an SSD for video editing will also be problematic. Typical laptop hard disks spin at 5400 rpm, not enough speed for editing high resolution footage. After every few minutes, you will encounter system freezes. This is why an SSD is a must for the system. We recommend an SSD of a minimum 256GB so that you can effectively work with your footage. You’re still not going to be able to store your video files on your laptop with a 256GB SSD, so they’ll have to stay in a USB 3.0 external hard drive. The SSD will function as a scratch disc where the editing program will store its working files. The faster access to this data allows for smoother functioning.

A Powerful CPU is Your Friend

Typically if you choose a laptop with the above recommended specs, you are most likely to end up with a top of the line CPU anyway. If not, then one-step-below-the-best is also alright. When it comes to having top-tier CPUs in laptops for video editing, you won't really have to worry about choosing between Nvidia or Radeon, unless you use Adobe’s Premiere Pro, in which case, an Nvidia chip will give you the advantage.

Shooting and editing videos can be a great way to not just express your creativity, but also serve as a break from the academic rigors of school and college life. Some would say that shooting is the easy part, the hard job is the edit. “Hard part” here definitely refers to the technological hurdles faced by editors, which is why it is essential to choose the right machine for the job.

For more laptop buying guides, check out our Back to College microsite here.

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Swapnil Mathur

Digit's resident camera nerd, (un)official product photographer and the Reviews Editor

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