How to Choose the Best Mac for Video Editing in 2020
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How to Choose the Best Mac for Video Editing in 2020

If you are a film-maker or regularly perform video editing, you need to look into specific specs of your computer to make sure it is powerful enough to sustain video editing software and high-resolution movies. In this article we will look into everything you need from a Mac as a media creator.

 

To sum it up, here’s the list of the best Macs for video editing in our review:

  • Ultimate best: Mac Pro with 96GB RAM and an 12-core processor
  • Best price/performance ratio: 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display
  • Best alternative: 16-inch MacBook Pro
  • Best for beginners: Mac Mini with a 6-core Core i7 CPU and 32GB RAM

Why Use a Mac for Video Editing

Today, the variety of tech available for film-making is astonishing and can be a source of confusion. Out of all the options, why Apple?

 

The changes that have been introduced to MacBooks and iMacs in the past couple of years made them truly great tools for creators. Here are some of the important features that make them a good fit for video editing:

  1. Screen. Video editing requires a large, high-definition screen, and the 27-inch iMac is the perfect example of that. The 5K Retina display offers 500 nits display and 99% of the DCI-P3 color space, running at 60MHz.
  2. RAM. Film-making requires a lot of free memory and storage space even with the lightest software. With the basic 8GB you won’t get further than HD (720p), while 16GB will allow you to edit a Full HD (1080p) video. 32GB is ideal for Ultra HD 4K. Finally, 64GB is required for the most advanced editing tasks such as 8K, 3D modeling and animation.
  3. CPU. Professional video editors will benefit from a powerful multi-core processor such as i7 or i9. Recently, the number of cores in Intel processors has increased to as much as 28 with Intel Xeon W in a Mac Pro, which guarantees smoother sessions.
  4. Graphics. Most recent models of Mac Pro have gained an extensive array of graphics cards with up to 64GB of HMB2 memory in each of the two modules. For video editing, you’ll need a discrete graphics card with a separate memory slot.
  5. Storage. Despite a popular misconception, storage is not the same thing as RAM. For a comfortable process, you’re looking at 512GB minimum, and it must be a solid state drive (SSD), so older Macs are out of the picture right away. Luckily, iMacs offer up to 8TB of storage space.
  6. Ports. When editing a video, you’ll inevitably need to plug in multiple peripherals, whether it’s your camera, microphone or other gadgets. Apple computers are quite convenient in this sense—even a simple MacBook has four USB 3 ports, compared to a more advanced Mac Pro which can have up to 12 Thunderbolt/USB-C ports.

 

This is quite impressive, although not all Macs have an ideal combination of a big screen, large RAM and a powerful graphics and CPU. To choose the one that will suit your needs, consider the system requirements for your software, which is what we are getting into in the next section.

Recommended System Requirements

When choosing the best Mac for video editing, you need to identify what projects you are planning to work on. You should consider the type of footage, complexity of the job, output formats, as well as whether you will be editing online or offline. That last aspect is especially important as offline editing requires more storage space and time to complete an edit, though it is easier to access the files.

 

To edit videos comfortably on a Mac, you will need at least 4GB of RAM. For heavier tasks, such as 4K editing, working with 3D, and 360° video editing, 8GB is the required minimum. Other demands include an up-to-date macOS, as well as an Intel HD Graphics 3000 or later. As the majority of editing programs support GPU rendering, CPU has become less important than it used to be.

 

Most of all, your storage needs will depend on the size of source footage you expect to work with. In general, your Mac will require three to four times the size of the source footage for your project.

The Best Macs for Video Editing

We have conducted thorough research and talked to professional video editors from our team to make a list of the best Macs to use for video production.

Mac Pro for Video Editing

As you have probably guessed already, Mac Pro is the ultimate Apple device for video editing and, probably, any other purpose. Starting at $5,999 for the most basic configuration, it’s a major investment. For an upgraded version that includes all of the most powerful, high-tech components you will pay as much as $51,399—this may seem shocking at first, but it’s not actually that different from what a PC manufacturer would charge for a computer of an equal level.

 

The Mac Pro offers the most in terms of every single specification—CPU, RAM, graphics, storage, you name it. The base model provides an 8-core Intel Xeon 3.5GHz processor with 32GB RAM, 256BG SSD and Radeon Pro 580X graphics card. This configuration has almost a limitless upgrade potential. However, a 12-core processor and 96GB of RAM seem optimal for video editing needs.

 

Mac Pro comes without a screen, which needs to be purchased separately. There is no point in buying Apple’s own display that is available at a price similar to that of an iMac Pro—you can get a cheaper model with almost identical benefits, such as Dell Ultrasharp U3219Q.

Mac Pro Specs

Processor

Basic: 3.5Hz 8-core Intel Xeon W, 16 threads

Configurable to: 2.5GHz 28-core Intel Xeon W, 56 threads

Graphics

Basic: AMD Radeon Pro 580X with 8GB of GDDR5 memory

Configurable to: AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo 

with 64GB of HMB2 memory

RAM

Basic: 32GB

Configurable to: 1.5TB

Display

To be purchased separately

Recommended: at least 5120x2880 px resolution, i.e. 27-inch diagonal

Storage

Basic: 256GB SSD

Configurable to: 8TB SSD

iMac Pro for Video Editing

With iMac Pro, you can enjoy the massive 27-inch screen and the exceptionally fast 8-core Intel Xeon W processor to edit 8K videos and create audio effects. The processor can be upgraded up to 18 cores for a smoother editing experience. Other base components include 256GB RAM, storage capabilities of up to 4TB, and the superb Radeon Pro Vega graphics card.

 

Overall, the most recent model of iMac Pro is the second best option for video editing after Mac Pro with all the specs being entirely on the level. It offers an additional advantage of a 5K retina display, eliminating the need to purchase it separately. However, bear in mind that the model hasn’t been updated in two years—look out for news from Apple to get a newer version.

iMac Pro Specs

Processor

Basic: 3.0GHz 10-core Intel Xeon W

Configurable to: 2.3GHz 18-core Intel Xeon W

Graphics

Basic: Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB of HBM2 memory

Configurable to: Radeon Pro Vega 64X with 16GB of HBM2 memory    

RAM

Basic: 32GB

Configurable to: 256GB

Display

27-inch 5K Retina display 5120x2880

Storage

Basic: 1TB SSD

Configurable to: 4TB SSD

iMac for Video Editing

The new 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display is the third best computer for video editing. It has the most attractive price/performance ratio and enables editing 4K videos in full size with visible controls. We recommend this model to less dedicated video editors who are still aiming to produce top quality content but don’t use highly demanding software.

 

The base model is on the lower side of the price range, being only $1,799, but that is for less advanced specs. Serious editors will need to make a few custom changes:

  • The RAM in a 27-inch iMac is only 8GB, which will need to be upgraded ideally to 32GB—an extra $600 right off the back. The top iMac has 128GB on-board memory.
  • 3.1GHz 6-core i5 processor and an AMD Radeon Pro 5300 (4GB memory) are also not the perfect option and require improvement. We recommend getting a discrete graphics card with as much memory as you can afford.
  • The default 256GB SSD can be replaced with a 512GB one for $300.

 

The final price comes out as approximately $5,000, nearing that of a Mac Pro. Professionals have to think of whether it’s really worth the hassle—you might as well just buy a device that has all the required tech built in. But is the base model enough for an amateur film-maker? That’s up to you to figure out.

 iMac Specs

Processor

Basic: 3.1GHz 6-core 10th Gen Core i5

Configurable to: 3.6GHz 10-core 10th Gen Core i9

Graphics

Basic: Radeon Pro 5300 with 4GB of GDDR6 memory

Configurable to: Radeon Pro 5700XT with 16GB of GDDR6 memory     

RAM

Basic: 8GB

Configurable to: 128GB

Display

27-inch 5K Retina display 5120x2880

Storage

Basic: 256GB SSD

Configurable to: 8TB SSD

MacBook Pro for Video Editing

If you’re looking for a portable computer that maintains those powerful video editing capabilities, MacBook Pro is a solid and reliable option.

 

If you've ever tried running Final Cut or Adobe Premiere on a generic Mac, you are most certainly familiar with the frequent crashes and kernel panics. This is not an issue with a MacBook Pro.

 

However, you need to be conscious of the fact that the power potential of a laptop is undeniably inferior to that of a desktop computer. The small scale of the device makes heat management a harder task, not to mention the size of the display which is significantly smaller in MacBooks than in iMacs.

 

If you do wish to buy a MacBook Pro, go for the 16-inch version due to a better graphics card, a more powerful 2.6GHz 6-core i5 processor and RAM of up to 64GB. In addition, the starting capacity of the SSD is 512GB, which is exactly what you’re looking for. These components can be further improved at an additional cost, but the base model will come to $2,399.  

 

Beginners can opt for a cheaper and lighter 13-inch option with a 2.0GHz processor. It’s a slower model that lacks integrated graphics, but this can be fixed with an upgrade to an eGPU. A new 13-inch MacBook Pro will cost $1,799.

 MacBook Pro Specs

Processor

Basic: 2.6GHz 6-core Core i7

Configurable to: 2.4GHz 8-core Core i9

Graphics

Basic: Radeon Pro 5300 with 4GB of GDDR6 memory

Configurable to: Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 memory       

or AMD Radeon Pro 5600M with 8GB of HBM2 memory                     

RAM

Basic: 16GB

Configurable to: 64GB

Display

16-inch IPS Retina display 3072x1920 px

Storage

Basic: 512GB SSD

Configurable to: 8TB SSD

Mac mini for Video Editing

This is the cheapest device produced by Apple that can be used for video editing, being only $799 for the basic model. With this option you get a selection of surprisingly good characteristics: 3.6GHz Quad-Core processor that can be upgraded to a 6-core one, a default SSD with 256GB memory that can go up to 2TB, and 8GB RAM that you can boost up to 64GB. The final product in this case will come at $3,099—still cheaper than an upgraded MacBook Pro.

 

Despite the fact that the slow graphics card is a typical disadvantage of a Mac Mini, it can easily be upgraded to a better eGPU. The small screen size can be compensated by an external display of high resolution.

 

Overall, beginners and film enthusiasts will find this laptop their best option due to affordability combined with reasonable specs and agility of the device.

Mac mini Specs

Processor

Basic: 3.6GHz quad-core Core i3

Configurable to: 3.2GHz 6-core Core i7

Graphics

Intel UHD Graphics 630

RAM

Basic: 8GB

Configurable to: 64GB

Display

To be purchased separately

Recommended: at least 5120x2880 px resolution, i.e. 27-inch diagonal     

Storage

Basic: 256GB SSD

Configurable to: 2TB SSD

How to Optimize your Mac for Video Editing?

If you've been video editing for a while you must have encountered problems with your Mac being slow and overloaded with tons of unneeded files or duplicated videos and images. As a highly resource-consuming process, video editing does require some extra steps towards minimizing memory overload and maximizing disk space. So, what can be done for more efficient work?

 

Whenever your Mac's performance lags— MacKeeper’s Memory Cleaner can help you get rid of that annoying spinning wheel. This way your Mac's RAM memory will be cleaned automatically with just a click. Another cool perk of the Memory Cleaner feature is that you can monitor which apps are the ones eating up the most RAM memory.  

 

Besides, it's a good practice to track down old junk files, duplicates, and other files taking up your Mac's valuable space for no reason whatsoever. Here, MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup and Duplicates Finder come to rescue. These comprehensive scanning tools delete duplicates, leftovers, caches, logs, and more. Safe Cleanup even empties the Trash! And that's all before you know it.

 

Simply put MacKeeper in charge of your Mac's cleanup and optimization and get extra time for video editing!

Wrapping Up

When making a decision, think about the level of video editing you want to undertake. The choice will differ for amateurs and professionals that use specialized software on an everyday basis.

 

A Mac Pro will return the investment fast if you make a living out of film-making. An iMac Pro or iMac with Retina 5K display are also great for professional video editors who are in need of a large screen. If you have a more dynamic lifestyle, MacBook Pro will be perfect for your needs. Finally, a Mac Mini is ideal for those who don’t run demanding software and simply edit videos as a hobby.

 

Depending on the types of tasks you usually do, you might need a particular set of computer specs. Therefore, before you buy a Mac, check the system requirements of the programs you’re planning to use. The most popular video editing software for Mac, Adobe Premiere and Final Cut, mention all the details on their websites.

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