Can a laptop replace a workstation for video editing

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Raindog

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Hi all. After 9 months of turmoil, HP have finally agreed to either refund my HP mini Z2 workstation or replace it plus 10% off a new HP purchase. I invested in this workstation primarily with video editing in mind. But I’m now rethinking my strategy and looking at buying a laptop because I travel for work about one week a month, and the place I travel to is where I do 99% of my video/photography. The option to review/edit on site would be really helpful. I can’t afford a workstation and a laptop, but I have a nice monitor at home I could hook the laptop up to. Interested in whether any of you experienced video shooters out there think this is a good idea?

Thank you for your advice…
 

AlphaWorld

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Well, I know a few photographers happily using a MacBook M1 Air for all their photography processing.

I don’t know anyone doing video on a laptop, but the M1 and M2 do have hardware assisted video codecs, so I suspect they can do video, too. Apple showed images of someone doing video on a laptop in their announcement of the M2 laptops earlier this year…

I know you are talking Windows, but I’m pointing out that it is theoretically within reach of a laptop.
 
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Raindog

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Well, I know a few photographers happily using a MacBook M1 Air for all their photography processing.

I don’t know anyone doing video on a laptop, but the M1 and M2 do have hardware assisted video codecs, so I suspect they can do video, too. Apple showed images of someone doing video on a laptop in their announcement of the M2 laptops earlier this year…

I know you are talking Windows, but I’m pointing out that it is theoretically within reach of a laptop.
I am actually looking closely at apple computers for the first time in my life. Haven’t been keen in the past, but my priorities are now changing, and everything else I have is apple (phone etc).
 

FowlersFreeTime

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I made a few youtube videos during pandemic lockdown, nothing professional, but I used my laptop and Adobe Premiere Pro. I would say yes a laptop can do the job, but two things were annoying to me:
  • Screen real-estate: you are going to use an external monitor most of the time right? if so, the cramped workspace won't bother you much.
  • Trackpads kinda suck: I opted for an external mouse to have better control over things on the small screen.
 

Brownie

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Laptops are fine. Provided you buy the correct one performance is no different than a good workstation. Some Macs were made specifically for this reason. If you go with a PC, make sure you have enough processor. It doesn't matter how much RAM is onboard if you have a slow processor. My little i3 won't cut the mustard, can't do anything more than a 720P video, it even bogs down under 1080. Not a problem for my use but would infuriate a video guy.
 

FowlersFreeTime

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Laptops are fine. Provided you buy the correct one performance is no different than a good workstation. Some Macs were made specifically for this reason. If you go with a PC, make sure you have enough processor. It doesn't matter how much RAM is onboard if you have a slow processor. My little i3 won't cut the mustard, can't do anything more than a 720P video, it even bogs down under 1080. Not a problem for my use but would infuriate a video guy.
I can second that. The laptop I am using is a lower spec i5 that I bought for my wife. I cheaped out thinking I would only ever use my desktop. Big mistake. I am always out of memory (HDD) on that machine, and the 8gb of RAM is just enough for my purposes of 1080p video processing. I would need more of everything if I was doing 4k video.
 
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iain clyne

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If you have the right spec on a laptop it can do most things a base station can do. I've used a MacBook Pro in various forms for the last 25 years with no issues.
 

pmenear

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I made the switch from workstation to laptop with a Dell XPS 15 9510 i7-11800H, 32gb ram, 4TB drive, nvidia rtx 3050 Ti grafix. I had to add 4 external SSD drives and 7200rpm backups so the switch was not cheap. I still use my workstation monitor but I can now take my work with me as I travel, the laptop screen is very good just a bit small and the external solid state drives go with me. Everything works as good as the workstation but the extra drives add cost.
 

Raindog

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Thanks for all the suggestions. I ended up going for a MacBook Pro 16inch. The best specs available without waiting 2 weeks were 32gb and 1tb hard drive. Moving from windows is always going to be weird but wow what a computer. Happy with 32gb but I already knew I would regret the 1tb hard drive, but I have a 5tb external to use with it. I’ve been away for a week and for the first time I can review and work on 4K video with no problem (except finding workarounds on importing Sony files on premiere pro 🙄)
 
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AlphaWorld

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A 5TB external is probably magnetic. You can add a 2TB external SSD for stuff you need more responsive - it's much faster. Anything larger that 2TB gets rather expensive at the moment.
 
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Brownie

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Thanks for all the suggestions. I ended up going for a MacBook Pro 16inch. The best specs available without waiting 2 weeks were 32gb and 1tb hard drive. Moving from windows is always going to be weird but wow what a computer. Happy with 32gb but I already knew I would regret the 1tb hard drive, but I have a 5tb external to use with it. I’ve been away for a week and for the first time I can review and work on 4K video with no problem (except finding workarounds on importing Sony files on premiere pro 🙄)
Winner winner!
 
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