What’s the best Mac for video editing?

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Best Mac for Video Editing
Really, it’s… all of them.
Image: Apple/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Whether you run a video production studio or you’re starting a hobby YouTube channel, you’ll want to make sure you have the best Mac for video editing. 

Video editing is a good stress test for any computer. Cutting together an epic two-hour video essay requires high-speed storage, a lot of memory, processing power and GPU power. Apple silicon delivers all this in spades. Apple’s chips also come with special built-in hardware for processing video — the Media Engine. 

These days, every Mac is capable of 4K video editing. The best Mac for you comes down to whether you want a desktop or a laptop — and the size of your budget. Keep reading or watch our latest video.

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Best Mac for video editing (cheap options)

When you’re looking for the best Mac for video editing, if you’re talking any Mac made within the last few years, there isn’t a single wrong answer. Ever since the Mac transitioned to Apple silicon, every Mac is capable of at least casual video editing.

Of course, if you edit video every day for your work, you’ll want a Mac with more oomph. But seriously, don’t be afraid to get a base model Mac for your hobby YouTube channel. 

Even the base model MacBook Air, iMac and Mac mini, which get the no-adjective M-series chips, can breeze through an editing session in Final Cut Pro. (If you see any stuttering, you can always go to the video preview and click View > Quality: Better Performance.)

MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is the ever-popular laptop that packs all-day battery life in a super-thin design coming in at around 3 pounds. But as the saying goes, don’t judge a MacBook by its cover.

Even though it doesn’t have a fan, it’s a surprisingly capable video editing machine. You’ll barely notice it inside the bag with your camera gear, and you can get a rough cut of a video before you even get back home. 

If you can’t afford the latest model, you should at least get the M1 model available from Walmart for $699. Any Intel MacBook Air is going to struggle with video editing.

Keep in mind, though, that the M2 and M3 MacBook Airs come with an extra port on the side, because charging can now be handled by the MagSafe connector. With an extra port, you have room to plug in an extra audio interface, an external drive and many more useful accessories directly into the computer. It’s faster, more reliable and less complicated than plugging in a Thunderbolt dock.

Even the base model with 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage will likely be sufficient for cutting together a basic video. It won’t be the best at exporting an hour-long feature with a bunch of motion graphics, but it’ll still do in a pinch. 

13-inch MacBook Air with M3 chip, 8GB RAM, 256GB Storage
$899.00

✅ Incredibly portable and lightweight

✅ Lowest price

✅ Beautiful Midnight finish

⚠️ Might slow down or get warm exporting a big video

Buy now
06/09/2024 03:42 am GMT

On the larger 15-inch model, you have plenty of space to comfortably edit video in Final Cut Pro with a pixel-perfect 1080p view of the content. 

15-inch MacBook Air with M3 chip, 16GB Unified Memory, 512GB Storage
$1,489.00

✅ Bigger screen

✅ 512 GB of storage

✅ Beautiful Midnight finish

⚠️ Might slow down or get warm exporting a big video

Buy now
06/13/2024 02:14 am GMT

Mac mini

Out of the entry-level models in the Mac lineup, the Mac mini offers the best value. It’s a modular machine, in that you can pair it with your own display, keyboard, mouse and/or trackpad.

Unlike the all-in-one iMac and MacBook, you can choose to make different trade-offs with your own display. You can get a cheaper display that isn’t in Retina resolution, you can get an ultrawide or curved display, or one with a high refresh rate. Or you can save some money with a cheaper display, like this option from LG that’s my personal pick

If you save money on the peripherals, you can spend more on the Mac mini. I recommend upgrading to the Pro chip, which will give you greater performance. It’ll come in handy when it comes time to export your video. It also packs a plethora of ports on the back for loads of connections.

$100 Off -- less than $500
Mac mini with M2
$499.00

✅ Compact desktop computer

✅ Under $500

✅ Bring your own display, keyboard and mouse

⚠️ Previous-generation M2 chip

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/08/2024 12:44 am GMT

The Mac mini has a leg up on the MacBook Air and iMac in that can be upgraded to the Pro chip, boosting performance. The extra CPU and GPU cores will crunch through video faster when it comes time to export.

As a nice bonus, you get two more Thunderbolt ports. This configuration also adds additional storage space and memory for keeping more footage on the Mac itself. 

Save $200
Mac mini with M2 Pro chip
$1,199.00

✅ Compact desktop computer

✅ Upgraded storage and memory

✅ Bring your own display, keyboard and mouse

⚠️ Previous-generation M2 Pro chip

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/08/2024 03:56 am GMT

Best Mac for video editing (laptop)

MacBook Pro

If you want a laptop for editing video, the top pick is easily the MacBook Pro with a Max chip — which doubles the performance of the Pro chip. In the Apple silicon age, laptops and desktops offer the same performance when you get the same specs. The question of which you should get mostly boils down to whether you can afford to spend a little more to buy a MacBook Pro over the equivalent Mac Studio. 

Why not get you a Mac that can do both. A video editing powerhouse docked to a desktop display during the day; a laptop you can stow in your bag, casually carry to the living room or watch shows in bed in the evening. 

The MacBook Pro has another leg up compared to the desktop offerings: a better display. It can crank up to 1,600 nits of HDR brightness like the Pro Display XDR — and for a fraction of the price, it comes with an entire computer, too. 

It also features ProMotion, which isn’t available on any external display. This means the frame rate can run up to 120Hz for buttery-smooth scrolling. When you put on a movie, it can match the frame rate of the content, so it’ll play back as intended.

The icing on the cake when it comes to editing video on a MacBook Pro is the laptop’s built-in SD card slot. You can swap the memory card out of your camera and copy the photos and videos off while someone else keeps shooting. 

This computer can do it all.

MacBook Pro: Which size is best?

16-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Max, 36GB Unified Memory, 1TB storage
$3,349.00

✅ Powerful M3 Max chip

✅ Plenty of memory and storage

✅ Big, beautiful display

⚠️ More expensive than desktop options

Buy now
06/03/2024 03:19 am GMT

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is an incredibly powerful video editing machine. In the Apple silicon lineup, the Max chip offers double the computing power of the Pro chip. 

With upgraded storage space, you can store many more hours of 4K video content directly on the Mac itself. This simplifies your setup, as you don’t need to tote around a portable SSD. Plus, you’ll get the fastest speeds. 

With more memory, editing a giant project in Final Cut Pro will be zippy fast. 

14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Pro chip, 18GB Unified Memory, 512GB storage
$1,699.00

✅ Latest M3 Pro chip

✅ Plenty of memory and storage

✅ Beautiful display

⚠️ More expensive than desktop options

Buy now
06/12/2024 02:31 am GMT

A more affordable option, this 14-inch MacBook Pro is easier to tote around with its smaller frame and it’s easier on the wallet with its lower price. This Mac is the Goldilocks middle option. 

Best Mac for video editing (desktop)

While the MacBook Pro offers the best balance of usability and power for a personal computer, the top configuration of the Mac Studio with an Ultra chip offers even greater performance — so long as you don’t need portability. This is because the Ultra chip isn’t available on any MacBook (…yet). 

That makes the Mac Studio the best pick for dedicated video production studios big and small. If you do all your serious computing at the desk, you might as well spend your money on getting extra power that you can appreciate every time you export your video. 

Mac Studio with M2 Ultra, 60 GPU cores, 64GB Unified Memory, 1TB storage

✅ Top-of-the-line M2 Ultra chip

✅ Loads of memory and storage

✅ Bring your own display, keyboard and mouse

Buy now
Mac Studio with M2 Ultra, 72 GPU cores, 128GB Unified Memory, 1TB Storage

✅ Top-of-the-line M2 Ultra chip

✅ Loads of memory and storage

✅ Bring your own display, keyboard and mouse

✅ Top-spec GPU for faster graphics

Buy now

In any post about the best Macs for video editing, we should at least acknowledge the existence of the Mac Pro. While it doesn’t offer any additional speed or performance compared to the Mac Studio, one benefit — and really, the entire reason it exists as a product — is that you can plug in expansion cards if you want to add additional storage or I/O. This comes with a hefty price tag, though: a $5,000 premium over the Mac Studio. So it’s hard to recommend unless you have very niche use cases.

Best Mac for video editing (closing thoughts)

Twenty years ago, there was only one best Mac for video editing: the Power Mac G4. Luckily, these days, you have options.

Every Mac is a capable video editing machine. The answer to “which Mac is best for video editing” is basically the same as for “which Mac is best?” And the best one for you depends on your particular needs.

More Mac buying guides:

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