The 5 Best Laptops for Adobe Premiere in 2020

The problem with Adobe premiere is not on whether or not it  can run on any cheap laptop. 

The truth is…It can.

If you are willing to wait a long time for things to render, you can edit videos with pretty much any cheap old laptop

But…

Who wants to wait 1 hour to render a simple video?

Nobody. Everyone wants to slice through video rendering like a warm knife on soft butter/

A laptop specifically tailored for Adobe Premiere can cut down your editing times from hours to minutes.

What kind of laptop is that?

Laptops with desktop-like performance. You have to avoid those 10 lb heavy bricks though, what’s the point of getting a laptop if that things weights just as much as desktop?

Not everyone has the the luxury to edit videos at home. I bet a lot of you need to be on the move because you have to show your progress to your video editing buddies or your clients.

So in this post…

We’ll cut down your research time from days to minutes. 

We’ll go over the exact features/specs you need to render things fast andwe will also list 5 best laptops for Adobe Premiere with these specs in mind.

If you have extra time, check last section where we go into details about the hardware requirements for Adobe Premiere. The guide is based on  third party benchmark studies done by Pudget Systems and my own experience with the software.

Top 5 Best Laptops for Adobe Premiere Pro

Hardware Requirements for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

According to Adobe, the minimum requirements are:

  • Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
  • 8 GB of RAM (16 GB or more recommended)
  • 1280×800 display (1920×1080 or larger recommended)
  • Optional: Adobe-recommended GPU card for GPU-accelerated performance*

There’s really nothing special about these requirements.

It kind bothers me the fact that they just say “multi core processor” and even dare to say that the GPU is optional. Sure you can run the software with any machine below 200$ bucks that doesn’t mean it’s going to be useful. You won’t be able to do anything with those recs. 

Anyways here’s my take on this:

CPU
Get a modern CPU and whatever you get , make sure it has the highest clock speed you can get for your budget. Heck make a table compare prices and clock speeds if it comes to that.
Multicore? All CPUs now are multicore. Six core is nice, 8 cores is better but is not necessarily a great improvement over 6 and totally expensive.


RAM
8GB RAM for >>60 min footage.
16GB for +60min footage.
32-64GB is unnecessary unless you are a heavy After effects user.

GPU
Simple cuts/transitions don’t need a dedicated GPU. True. But most people who are realy into Adobe Premiere are doing things beyond that so it’s not optional, get a dedicated GPU. A mid-range, GPU, like a AMD Radeon RX580 or the NVIDIA GTX 1060.

More vRAM means being able to easily work with bigger and bigger timelines.

Storage
SSDs are a must to get slightly faster previews/exporting times/rendering but all laptops made since last year have them. Just try to get high capacity on it. Having two separate SSDs is a huge advantage but it’s not something you can find on laptops that easily so you must do the upgrade if you want that boost.

Display
1080p IPS (this is enough even for 4k video editing, more details on the last section). 15-17”, there’s not enough space on 13” laptops.


1. ASUS ROG Strix Scar III

Best Laptop For Adobe Premiere Pro 

  Core  i7-9750H

  16GB RAM DDR4

  NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070

  1TB PCIe NVMe

  15” Full HD IPS

  5.67

   4 hours

The best laptops for Adobe Premiere are going to be gaming laptops with the latest CPU and GPU jammed into it.
There’s one catch though there is almost no performance gain if you go for a 2080RTX or anything higher than a 2070RTX as of 2020. Video editing software does not need more power than a 2070 or even a 2060RTX in some cases.

While there are thousands of 2070RTX laptops with a 9th and 10th generation Core i7 CPU is smart to grab one from a good brand because they are both expensive and hard to manufacture. ASUS and it’s ROG series are pretty popular among gamers for manufacturing high quality durable and temperature controlled laptops that can output the full power of their CPUs and GPUs.

This is pretty expensive but affordable in the grand scheme of high end gaming laptops, one thing I would do if I can’t afford this one is take a look at cheaper laptops with a mid-range GPU, which we’ll go over next.

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2. Acer Nitro 5

Budget Laptop for Adobe Premiere 

  Intel Core i5 9300H

  8GB RAM

   GeForce GTX 1650 

  256 PCIe SSD

  15” FHD 1080p IPS

  5.07lb

  5 hours

The cheapest laptop with a late generation Core i5 9300H CPU and a mid-range GTX 1650. It’s only 700$ yet you are still getting the PCIe NVMe SSD and the IPS panel. 

You may need to update the RAM to 16GB though, there are no models with 16GB and if you find one later you can be it’s going to make it 100$ more expensive when it’s just cheaper to do the upgrade yourself (this is super easy, you may not even need to open up your laptop).


3. MSI GF63 Thin 

Budget Laptop For Adobe Premiere

  Core i5-9300H

  8GB DDR4

   NVIDIA 1650GTX

  256GB PCIe NVMe

  15” full HD IPS

  7lb

  7 hours

An exact replica of the Acer Nitro from MSI. Why am I posting? It costs about the same and some people will need it when the Acer Nitro 5 runs out of stock. There’s also the advantage that MSI is kind of better brand for gaming laptops so their build quality is better in the eyes of many readers here.

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4. Surface Book 3

Best UltraBook For Adobe Premiere

  Quad Core i7 10th gen

  16GB-32GB RAM

  NVIDIA GTX 1650/1660Ti

  256GB-2TB NVMe PCIe SSD

  12.5-13.5” Pixel Sense (3000×2000) 

  3.62lb

  7 hours

A big problem with the laptops we just went over is that they’re heavy. Getting that much power into a thin, light weight devices is super difficult and that’s what makes this Surface Book 3 expensive.

It has the exact GPU of the Acer Nitro 5/MSI Thin Gaming laptop but with a more powerful processor and only weights ~4lb.

Note that if you are after something super portable because you are on the go all the time showing progress to clients, do not try to cut down prices by reducing RAM/Storage capacity because this thing is not upgradable, well it is but it will void the warranty and it’s super difficult to do too.

Grab the configuration you know you are going to need right off the bat (I recommend anything with 16GB of RAM and a dedicated GPU).

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5. Dell XPS 15

Best Premium Laptop For Adobe Premiere

  Core  i7-9750H  Up To 4.5GHz

  16GB RAM DDR4

  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB vRAM

  1TB SSD PCIe NVMe

  15.6” 4k UHD Infinity Edge TouchScreen IPS 

  5.5lb

  8 hours

This laptop is probably out of reach for many people reading this.

But if you are making the big bucks and don’t mind overspending money this is the kind of laptop you want: A 4k resolution, lightweight, big screen laptop with a late generation CPU and GPU.

Only Razer Blade, MacBooks and Dell offer the best models withi this combo. Obviously, you can’t grab a MacBook but that just to give you an idea of the kind of brands to go for if you are looking for something ultra premium.

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Choosing The Best Laptop For Adobe Premiere CC

For the sake of understanding this section, we have to clear up a few definitions.

What do encoding, rendering, transcoding and exporting mean in this section?

In a nutshell:

render = apply changes/efffects to your video after editing for previews

encode= apply a format/codec AVI MP4

exporting = encoding + rendering, your final product

transcode= change formats

*encoding/exporting are used interchangeably in other sites to mean outputting a file. Not here.

CPU

The processor will make all the difference between taking a day to edit a video compared to a few hours.

Before even attempting to answer this question, it is important to understand the two most basic CPU specifications:

The frequency is essentially how many operations a single CPU core can complete in a second (how fast it is).

The number of cores is how many physical cores there are within your CPU (how many operations it can run simultaneously).

Clock Speed (Frequency)

How fast you can apply effects, render and encode all depens  on your clock frequency. There’s really no limits to it, the higher your CPU speed the better.

Editing/applying effects are the two most frequency dependent operations.

MultiCore Support

According to benchmark studies by Pudget systems on Adobe Premiere. Exporting benefits from multi core CPUs more than clock frequency (up to ~8 cores for 1080p and ~10 cores for 4k resolution ).

On the other hand if you actually contact Adobe customer support, they’ll tell you there’s no limit to how many cores can Adobe Premiere take advantage of. In other words,  the more cores, the less time it’ll take to render/export but studies/user experience actually show otherwise(there’s a limit).

Interestingly enough, rendering previews benefit from multiple cores in some instances and from a single core with the highest frequency at others. Why? It depends on the source footage.

Laptops vs Desktops

For laptops however you are limited to only 4-6 cores.

Long story: aim for a recent generation processor with the highest number of cores (4 or maybe 6) over anything else. A good choice is a i7-7700HQ processor .

RAM

The amount of RAM depends on how long your footage is and how long your average cuts are.

You will benefit from more RAM at least until you can fit in all of your source footage in memory.

The more data you can leave cached in memory, the faster your CPU will be able to acess your footage for any operation(editing/rendering/encoding).

If you average cuts are much less than 60 min then you’ll do fine with 8GB.

On the other hand, Adobe Premiere will take around 5-7GB when cutting 60+min movies. Add to that windows 10 and any other background process you’ll be hitting 8GB pretty fast.

The sweet spot for longer videos (+60 min) RAM is 16GB.

Anything more than 16GB will start giving you diminishing returns and not worth the investment.

But…

If you use After Effects and a lot of external plug-ins like Magic Bullet then an upgrade to 32GB  can’t hurt. 

After Effects works considerably smoother on complex projects if it has a ton of RAM to work with.

Storage

In an ideal world, we’d all have enough RAM to store our entire footage allowing us to render/edit videos at lightining fast speeds. 

But the truth of the matter is : footage will never be placed entirely (cached) into RAM.

From my knowledge that’s how Adobe Premiere handles RAM so your computer will always resort to using your storage device*.

*Actually going for a fast storage device and a good GPU might be more beneficial than having a more powerful CPU and RAM. Since these two (CPU & RAM) are getting less and less important in the world of computer graphics.

HDD

The most common form of storage out there are Hard Disk Drives but they’re way too slow for video editing. On the plus side, they are cheap and have tremendous capacity (usually 1TB).

SSD

This is where Solid State Drives come in, they can read/write data up to x17 the speed of an HDD.

You’ll have an increase performance when:  rendering, previewing, loading source files, outputting and exporting videos.

You’ll also notice a huge difference when transfering files from your camera to computer.

Needless to say: booting up, loading Adobe Premiere Pro and other applications will be lightining fast as well.

Recommended Storage Device Set Up

Whatever you settle with, you must include an SSD.

Among the many types of SSD laptops available, NVMe PCIe based SSDS have a 20% increase in performance compared to SATA III SSDs if you hold your project files(media cache) within it.

On the other hand, having a slow HDD doesn’t just mean more waiting times for the tasks mentioned above but also jumpy playback and dropped frames.

Pudget systems has put up a cool chart with the recommended set up you should aim for.

However for laptops you are only limited to having two storage devices. So either get a single 512GB SSD or even better a:

256GB SSD/512GB SSD + 1TB HDD

This two drive configuration will let you take advantage of the huge data capacities of HDDs + the speeds of SSDs.  

The SSD should contain your OS, Adobe Premiere & Media Cache while the HDD can take your source files/final exported renders plus any other data that doesn’t come into play when video editing.

GPU

Having a dedicated GPU for adobe premiere is a no brainer, you’ll need it as a “extra CPU” or to act as an “additional core” to improve rendering/exporting times.

That’s only if your workflow depends on many of these accelerated effects which are listed by Adobe on their website.

If you don’t use any of these accelerated effects(which is extremely unlikely) and rely on simple cuts, transitions and other simple effects then you do not need a GPU to improve rendering/exporting times.

They also play a major role in video playback at higher resolutions, so if you are thinking of an external monitor with high resolution, you’ll also need to invest on pretty powerful GPU. (more on this soon)

The benefits of a specific type of GPU over others (brand, model,etc) have also been benchmarked by Pudget Systems:

  • How powerful these cards are will not improve the time it takes to export at the same resolution. We can conclude then that as long as you have one of the high end dedicated cards you’ll be ok when working at the same resolution. 
  • Higher end GPUs are better when exporting from a high to low resolution and will also generate faster Previous at 1080p. 
  • Generating Previews at 1080p are faster with higher end GPUs. But higher resolutions(4k) show no increase in the time it takes to generate previews .

So which cards should we go for?

For serious video editing and 4k video editing, aim for the high end 9th and 10th generation GFX cards: 960M and above(970M and 980M, 1060Ti, 1070Ti) . A 1070TI will offer you the best bang for your buck.

The bigger your timeline and the higher the resolution you work with the higher you’ll need to step up your graphics card. 

If you are stuck with the same model and different vRAM, choose the one with the highest vRAM.

Why NVIDIA not AMD?

This subject is a bit complex. Don’t forget the competition is one sided among laptops, so you’ll be stuck with NVIDIA cards anyways.

So just believe me and for now stick with NVIDIA to be on the safe side. If you are curious then just keep reading. If not skip the following section*.

CUDA vs Open CL *

The real reason is that you’ll get better performance from the CUDA core technology that NVIDIA cards have. These can act as additional cores when rendering/exporting videos with accelerated effects.

On the other hand, AMD cards have OpenCL which Adobe Premiere also supports and are said to have similar performance but I haven’t seen good evidence that Open CL performs on par with NVIDIA Cards.

The only one worth considering is Linus tech tips but pudgetsystems, the current leaders in benchmark testings, have concluded that CUDA outperforms open CL.*

*If someone has any experience on the subject, or, even better, has compared the performance of CUDA / Nvidia vs OpenCL / AMD graphic cards, please share)

Workstation Cards

Surprisingly for video editing, gaming cards are more powerful and a lot cheaper. The main advantages of workstation cards such as NVIDIA Quadro/AMD FirePro are that you’ll get better support, drivers and they are a must have for 10bit displays.

Display

There’s not much you can do when choosing a display for a laptop, it’s not like you can configure yours to have the size&resolution you want. 

If having a great colorspace in a laptop is important to you there are just a handful out there that have a greater gamut.

For example, the Dell XPS 15 & MacBook Pro. As shown in the list above, the Dell XPS 15 also has a model with a 4k resolution display.

IPS vs TN display

IPS panels are obviously the best (and probably your only choice with any high end laptop), they have greater colorspace and better viewing angles.

Matte vs Glossy

I prefer Matte Displays. I believe they have an impact on my eyesight but to each his own. Glossy will display more vibrant colors. It’s up to you.

Resolution

1080p min obviously and you know what? You don’t have to have a 4k resolution display for 4k video editing, your software will scale it down since your editing window is much smaller. 

4k displays in laptops will only be useful to playback your 4k videos, that’s it.

More importantly you need to worry about calibrating your monitor for you to show accurate colors on all your target devices.

Ideally, you’d want to invest on an external display for the final touch ups and to make sure your work is as accurate as possible. But I’m sure many of you already have that in mind.

Comments

I am aware not everyone is quite adept with hardware so If you have any trouble understanding computer terms or have any questions about a laptop you have an eye on or any other type of question, you can drop a comment below.