Can you use a laptop to edit videos?

Anonymous (not verified)

Can you use a laptop to edit and render videos with heavy duty editing software like Sony Vegas? I was told that laptops don't have the desired muscle to render videos. And I'm not talking about an occasional edit with a laptop. I'm talking about using a laptop 24/7/365 or is that a dumb, insane idea? I'm a beginner who's just starting out so please keep in mind I've never rendered a video. I'm so green I'll admit that I barely know what "rendering a video" means, though I kinda think I do. By the way, I'm a PC guy and a PC guy only and I'd like to request that you, the reader, do not turn this into a PC vs. Apple debate, thank you.

Charles Schultz's picture
Last seen: 4 years 12 months ago
Joined: 10/25/2010 - 10:38pm

You can edit video on a laptop but I would suggest the fastest I7 processor you can afford. Depending on what type of format your footage is shot on it may take a while. For example AVCHD is very processor intensive and depending on how you have your settings will take, maybe, 10 times longer to render than that actual footage. I had a footage shot in AVCHD that was three hours long using quad core 2.64 and it literally took 4 days to render and that was without me touching the computer.

Chuck's picture
Last seen: 4 years 4 months ago
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I use a Dell laptop running Sony Vegas 10 to edit our church sermons to DVDs and to edit our monthly TV program. The render times can be long... I render HD video footage of a hour long sermon to DVD... usually takes about 4 hours to complete.

Mike Wilhelm's picture
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You can absolutely edit on a laptop. I edited video on my phone this weekend, so I'm sure your laptop will have no problems. If you're new to video, i recommend just diving right in. After you get a feel for editing you may want to upgrade to a more powerful system. At that point you should have a much better idea of what's best for your projects.

Mike Wilhelm

Videomaker's Editor-in-Chief

Luis Maymi's picture
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The main problem with laptops are thelimitationsin I/O. For example, my Macbook Pro does not have eSATA and express card, which limit me on purchasing new equipment, such as an external RAID hardrive. Also you can't upgrade the processor and video card (RAM can be upgraded). Overall, laptops can get the job done, but like others said, redering can take forever.


"The meaning of a movie are the characters, the life of the movie is the music, but the magic is in the editing" –

EarlC's picture
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My comments, PACIFIC, are strictly opinion based on what I've read, researched and heard from others in the industry. The jury is still out on the longevity and overall dependability, lifetime, of SSD. While it truly is significantly faster in the percentile that would make many laptop editors swoon, maybe ;-), it still remains cost prohibitive, speaking for myself, to go that route, particularly based on the uncertainty of the SSD's life expectancy, rather than its obviously faster performance.

pseudosafari's picture
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Pacific, I agree with EarlC on this one, especially if you're living paycheck to paycheck. I thought about going SSD and upgrading my quad core PC, but when I upgraded my software to Adobe CS5.5, which uses my graphics card for some of the processing, I noticed enough of a difference that I never bothered to upgrade the hardware. Yeah, I wait a bit while rendering the final product, but I edit mostly AVCHD footage and output to HD and it's fine for me! I'd try it on a "normal" computer for a while, before plunging into SSD. Just my two cents.

John Henry's picture
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Let's try this again, I'm new at this. I use a Lenovo W520. I-7 quad. Take a look. I was A dell man for years. But Dell throws a lot of junk in their machines. I HAD to go with Lenovo because they were the only new machines that had FIrewire. Not important inless you need it.  I also had a tower build to my specs. at Frye's  3 hard drive the whole bag.  Way to much to speak about here.  I run Adobe CS5.5 take a look it has it all.  I just didn't want to have to learn several programs. So I just got the best ( at least that's what I think)  Also it your a newbee that a look at LYNDA. COM if your wanting to learn that's the place to go. GOOD luck  John Henry

EarlC's picture
Last seen: 4 years 2 days ago
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CERF ... Your Thunderbolt connection comes into its own via ingesting whatever peripherals you have connected to your laptop, but NO effect on how well or how fast your computer's CPU renders. Speed of transfer from external devices is certainly helpful but the processor itself is where you'll have, or not, gains in rendering time.

sierravideo's picture
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I use an HP DV6 Quad with an i7-2670QM processor, 8GB RAM, 750GB/7200rpm HDD, Radeon HD6770M video card running Windows 7 64-bit with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 for wedding videos and I'm happy with it even though the video card is not approved for Premiere Pro and presumably doesn't help with rendering. This combination (well, not including Premiere Pro!) costs a little under $1,000, but if you want to burn Blu-Ray dvds it'll cost about $150 extra. I burn Blu-Ray disks on my desktop.

david.kuespert's picture
Last seen: 7 years 7 months ago
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agree with the above, I have an iMac i7 16gb ram 256 sad 2tb storage and I use it on avchd. it takes MANY hours to render my wedding files especially when I have many filters and overlays.



birdcat's picture
Last seen: 5 years 7 months ago
Joined: 10/21/2005 - 10:09am

I had a Core 2 Duo laptop w/3gb RAM and was able to run Vegas Pro 8 on it - It was slow at times but I could do it.

Bruce Paul 7Squared Productions

MediaFish's picture
Last seen: 4 years 9 months ago
Joined: 05/25/2011 - 2:06pm

We use HP Envy's with high speed internal drive (7200 rpm), lots of ram and a high end switching graphics card with Adobe PPro CS5.5. We have done many short films, tens of thousands of photographs and other content editing in the field, on flights home and in the office. The only drawback is they don't have the 42 inch dual monitors we have on our desktop editing workstations.

Jeff Media Fish Productions

D0n's picture
Last seen: 3 years 10 months ago
Joined: 11/09/2007 - 5:28pm

anybody got any current info on whether the new final cut x works well with xgrid? I know compressor works..
so it would seem with an airport extreme, ethernet connected multi mac set up you could cluster your computers using xgrid... question is how mauch faster does it work?

zukatoku's picture
Last seen: 4 years 6 months ago
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depending on the specs and the software you're using, even desktop PC's can't render videos if its graphics and performance is to low

bubski's picture
Last seen: 5 years 7 months ago
Joined: 01/28/2007 - 6:32pm

I'm pretty sure you have made youe choice in getting a laptop or desk top. well i use them both and waiting 3-4 hours much less a day or 4 days like one person said, I used to drive tractor trailer so i would take my work with me on the road to have it ready when i got back home i let it render and hit the road and after 6-10 hours of driving it would be ready, ok i was multi-tasking but there was a mistake or something i didn't like with the finished dvd that was 10 hours down the drain. just couldn't do that anymore! that was a hp i got back in 2005 (on sale for $1,000) it was top of the line then and wore out quick. it's sitting in my hardware grave yard lol ! I myself now work with a desk top and this is why. 1 a laptop is gonna get to its limit real quick and if your budget is like mine slim & next to none a good i-7 quad is gonna set you back over a grand. one that you'll really be happy with is gonna be in the 2k area, and you won't be able to upgrade anything on it except the ram/HD! you still have to be near a power source cause as far as i know there is no laptop that has a battery that last more than 6 hr. and thats just to surf, rendering will knock that time down to probably 3-4 hours tops. and the heat generated from it will degrade the cpu. small fans can't keep up beleve me it will. now a desktop you can get started with something in the 700-800 hundred range and as you make some loot put it toward upgrading the desktop i have now a hp with a 3core cpu, running vista (which i hate) and i just added a nivda 1gig gpu.  i just finished a standard dvd that is 85min running time rendered and burned in less than a half hour. working on having one custom built, also my advice to you is start with doing sd video (standard def) till you get a little more experience and see if this is what you really want to do. then you can go hi def-Blue ray. now as far as ssd goes I have a few mentors that suggest that ssd's are good for running the system and editing software and thats all they trust it for. plus you should allways put your rendered material on a separate drive,  things go a lot smoother. the price of a second rather large ssd drive (you will it large if your gonna do HD footage) would have you taking out a equity loan on the house yea they are that pricey! so with a laptop you would still need to carry a external HD. i have a I-5 hp laptop (that set me back 700+) that i use for my lightroom/CS5 work and showing customers my work thats about it nowdays and my desktop is for editing and rendering video. but thats me maybe you have other reasons that you want a laptop but what ever you deside good luck!

mr_roberts108's picture
Last seen: 4 years 9 months ago
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one word edius - real time edit , no render ...end of story .

Leif Christiansen's picture
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mr_roberts108 wrote:

one word edius - real time edit , no render ...end of story .


EDIUS is great-


I agree:


GrassVley/Canopus have some very efficient codecs running very smooth on the pc - changing to Edius feels like having a major hardware upgrade. And you can play your video direct from the timeline without stuttering.


Price is very reasonable and you can start with the Edius Neo (light version)  at less than 200 usd which is almost identical to the full version of Edius. If you  later realise that you need the full functionality of the full version you just pay the price difference plus a very small extra fee (about 10 usd).

Pibu Jiji's picture
Last seen: 5 years 4 months ago
Joined: 11/21/2012 - 11:30pm

Well, If you want to do professional video editing I would recommend you to use Adobe Premier Pro. Regarding laptop, so you have to use the lates and strongest laptop. The stronger  Ram and Graphic card the best is your video editing.


Barry's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 04/11/2012 - 10:21pm

While I think it has all been said.  I will add my experience.


Yes you can edit on a laptop.   But editing on a desktop that is configured with the fastest processor and the right graphics card and at least 8gb of ram, will be smoother and faster than a laptop.


My computer has an i7 and I added another 8GB of Ram to total 16GB.  I have learned that an i7 on a laptop is not as powerful as one for a desktop.   My computer is almost 1 year old so it is outdated by now.


I use Premier Pro 5.5 and it works well.   I have a lot of effect plug ins.  Depending on which effect I use the preview window slows down and I can't see the video at normal speed.

And the more effects one adds the slower it takes to export to whatever format I choose.


For example,  I have a 2000mm Zoom digital camera and I was taking photos of the moon.  One night clouds were passing over and I thought that would make a good shot to insert into something else.


For fun ( at least fun for me)  I took 9 seconds and repeated it a number of times, each time I changed the colour of the moon. ( I was curious to see what colours evoked what reactions.)

I added music and had a little video.


I did it quickly so the coloured images are not perfect but it was an experiment.


When I used the Fast Colour Corrector that comes with Premier Pro,  it did not stress the system.  But I tried something called Magic Bullet Colorista and that slowed things down.


That video if anyone cares is at


Now after writing this tome.  My point would be after rereading your inquiry is,

If you are serious about editing and want to do it 24/7 then get the right desktop and monitor

If you know how to put together a desktop you can save money and get exactly what you need.



I was given good advice about the parts I needed at the computer store I sometimes go to.


Editing with a laptop is more convenient but you will not get as frustrated if you use the proper desktop.   Especially if you plan on being serious about this.


If you are just editing things together without doing any special post production a laptop will work.


There that is my 14 cents


Hope you end up with something that makes you happy





sunshine74's picture
Last seen: 4 years 9 months ago
Joined: 07/07/2012 - 3:10pm

I am looking at Vaio E1411SVE14112FXW 14; Monitor. Notebook Computer  2.4 Ghz Intel Core 13-2370M Dual-Core 6GB of DDS3 RAM (4GB=2GB) 640 GB 5400 Hard Drive Integrated HD Graphics 300...DVD burner integrated webcan Windows 7...I was told that this computer cannot edit...I do a cable TV Show...And want to do my own editing.

can you reply...anyone


Barry's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 04/11/2012 - 10:21pm



I am not an expert.  The only way I can help is based on my experiences and what experts have told me.


You say you are looking at the Vaio.  If that means you have not bought it, then I don't think you should.


If you already have it, then you can download an editing software for the trial period and find out what you can do with it.


But broadcast quality video takes up a lot of MB and GB's.  You could edit video with that computer but I can't imagine you could edit broadcast quality video.


Also you would have to use a simpler video editor.  As I think I mentioned.  I tried Premiere Pro CS6 and it was very slow on my laptop.  I went back to the CS 5.5 version and if I keeep it simple it works very well.


As you know, Laptops with the same specs as desktops are more expensive. The same amount of money spent on a desktop will get you more.  The person above seems to have an excellent system.  I don't know how much it is.


But I just checked on my processor and it is i7 Quad core and when I keep it simple it works great.  When I add too many effects in post, it slows down.  I love my computer but would love to afford a desktop to make post production easier. 


Although I think I will try exporting to my exterior 3.0 USB hard drive to see if that speeds up that process.   


After all that.  I will emphasize what I said at the top.  If you have not purchased the Vaio then either check out what kind of desktop you can get for the same money.  If you know how to put together the parts of a computer. I taught myself.  It's pretty easy. Buy the shell and the motherboard and CPU and whatever there are instructions. Plud the internet has plenty of places that show you how to do things.


Plus do some more research,  what format is the footage you will be editing?  How many MB's does it take for 1 minute.  The higher the number the less chance you can edit with that Vaio.


You can most likely edit SD video with older editing software.


Professional editing seems out of reach of the Vaio.


Those are my thoughts, if you have any other questions, send them off.

Good Luck



Barry's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 04/11/2012 - 10:21pm

IGNORE THIS    I accidently posted the same comment twice and can't delete it. so this replaces it.

Barry's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 04/11/2012 - 10:21pm

I just did some research and entered in the Sys Requirments of  Pinnacle software which are aimed at consumers.  And Sony software which have a range from consumer to pro.


I hit the wrong buttone and it dissapeared so I will just give the websites I found it at and you can check out what they have and the sys requirements.


When you get to the software description page.  click on specifications.


these and I believe all editing software companies offer free trials


Good Luck


Bruce McIntosh's picture
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 02/16/2011 - 3:42pm

I read most but not all of the replies and didn't see one critical piece of information.  If you are using Adobe Premiere Pro your rendering speed will be dramatically impacted by the use of the Mercury playback engine with a compatible graphics processor.  My desktop has a NVIDA processor that was not on the list but a short Google search let me know how to tell APP that they can use it as long as it is NVIDA and has 1GB of video ram.  When I did that the redering time went to 1/4 of the original and I can now edit HiDef in real time with effects.


Now how this applies to the OP question is whether any of the high performance laptops have a compatible graphics processor.  If you find one that does you will be much happier.  Core i7 and at least 8GB ram will be a requirement and an SSD will probably help but I am using external USB3 and eSATA connected drives with no problem.

Barry's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
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I will try rendering to my USB 3 exterior HD.


What is a Mercury Playback Engine?   I don't think I have one and have not heard of it.  Along with many things I have not heard of.

Thank you


Bruce McIntosh's picture
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
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The Mercury Playback Engine is a component of Adobe Premiere Pro from version 5 on.  It has both a software only mode and a hardware accellerated mode using certain graphic processors.  My Dell has an OEM NVIDA model which is not on the standard APP list but I found a site that gives instructions on adding it to the list.  That worked fine and I am editing much faster now.  I know that there is at least one Mac laptop model that has a compatible graphics processor and there are very likely ones for PC laptops as well.

Barry's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 04/11/2012 - 10:21pm

Thank you very much for the explanation.  I have Premiere Pro 5 so I guess I have the Mercury.


I will just have to figure out if I am using it and if not use your advice to get it working.


Thank you again


Toms's picture
Last seen: 5 years 4 months ago
Joined: 12/03/2012 - 6:38pm

until now I have more confidence in Apple to resolve this case

Barry's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 04/11/2012 - 10:21pm

Of course Apple is a great choice, but I think for Mr. Pacific Beach it is also about budget.


Unless there is an older Apple laptop that would do the job.


Is there?



Cinimage's picture
Last seen: 5 years 4 months ago
Joined: 12/10/2012 - 10:10pm

Yes, You can absolutely edit on a laptop. It depends the RAM and Processor of Laptop  , so I'm sure your laptop will have no problems if You use I7 Processor.

Creekhouse Productions's picture
Last seen: 4 years 2 months ago
Joined: 07/25/2012 - 3:27pm

Yes, I do it every day.  I own a production business and only use a laptop to edit.  Just make sure you get as much memory as it can afford.  The better the processor, memory, etc. the happier your life will be.  Computer speed is key. 



Barry's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 04/11/2012 - 10:21pm

Hi Creekhouse Productions,


If you can  let us all know,  what are the specs on your computer?


And if you don't mind sharing what it cost that would be nice.


I just built a desktop for editing because that was much cheaper than replacing my current laptop which is fast enough for editing but bogs down when too many effects are added.


Thanks very much



P.S.   I had a couple of questions about stock footage and was wondering if I could go to your site and ask them or should I ask them here?

paulears's picture
Last seen: 10 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 11/05/2006 - 8:36am

The only downside is storage. To edit multi streams of HD needs quick disk access, and plenty of empty space. My Macbookpro is now down to just 30Gb of spare space, and I don't have anything I can remove without inconvenience. This means constant archiving to external drives and this takes time. It also means that for some projects with long, big files, it slows down. when it had plenty of space on the drive, it edited video brilliantly - now, bulging with data, it's not so good. I'm considering opening it up and putting in a new drive just to get it going again.

Barry's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 04/11/2012 - 10:21pm

That is an excellent point.   It causes me to remember the advice of a Computer Tech about the overall 

speed of a computer.  He said it is best to have about 25 percent of the HD free so all the programs would run more smoothly.  Of course I find that hard to do.


I just built a PC Desktop for editing..  I put in 750GB C drive and a 2 Tereabyte secondary drive to keep my video files on.



I also have to keep putting video files on a rapidly filling external HD


Thanks for reminding me



lekeishawhite's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 02/18/2016 - 1:45am

From the date that it was posted, I assumed this has been resolved already. But for the benefit of all, the simple answer is YES. There are laptops that can handle video editing software such as Adobe Premiere, Wax, Avidemux and the like. I've seen many good and highly recommended video editing laptops at Just choose the right specifications such as high RAM, high Graphics/Video card.

Barry's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 04/11/2012 - 10:21pm

This thread does need an update.

Using a laptop for video editing and professional video editing is possible and not overly expensive.

The right specs are found in gaming computers. I finally purchased a new laptop after Christmas as I finally came across one that had a 1920X1080 resolution

It has better specs than the top video computer on The site is worth the visit as it explains the details well.

I purchased a Dell Inspiron 7559 at Best Buy Canada.

It may go by another name or be no longer available but since dell builds to specifications you can get something like it or better.

i7-6700HQ 2.6 ghz which is a 6th gen intel processor.
came with 8GB Ram but I added another 8GB

1 Terabyte HD
No optical drive.

It was 1,199.00 Canadian
2nd 8GB about 70 Canadian.

I have Adobe CC and use Premiere Pro without any problems.

The laptop website says that the newer i7s 4th generation up are what one needs to do professional grade editing. I am not a professional but prefer to use the best I can afford.


David Doty's picture
Last seen: 1 month 5 days ago
Joined: 02/11/2013 - 10:56am

Howdy Pacific -
Laptops can work well - but make sure you get one that has the internal space for 2 hard drives because all kinds of problems can happen if you try to edit on one drive. Also - nowadays it seems that most laptop manufacturers are only using 5400 rpm drives - editing video works best with 7200 rpm or better hard drives. Solid state drives do make a significant difference but depending on budget you can get by on 7200 rpm regular drive. What will make render times go down significantly is having a 4 gig Nvidia card in the system. I would also spec i7 processors, a minimum of 8 ( and preferably 16 ) gigs of memory, USB 3 connectors, and an SD card slot, Questions - holler back.


YoKappaKappaYT's picture
Last seen: 9 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 07/08/2017 - 3:04pm

Yes you absolutely can with the right settings on what you're planning to record I do gaming videos and usually around 15 - 30 min videos sometimes 45 and it only takes about maybe 30 mins to render and maybe 1 h at highest so just dive right in to sony vegas editing it isn't going to hurt I personally game on my PC and edit on my laptop so it wont affect my gaming performance when rendering :)

Breenda's picture
Last seen: 8 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 07/16/2017 - 11:47pm

I have the same question. After reading these reviews, i know the answers. But i have one more question, can i play Blu ray disc on Laptop?

Breenda's picture
Last seen: 8 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 07/16/2017 - 11:47pm

I have the same question. After reading these reviews, i know the answers. But i have one more question, can i play Blu ray disc on Laptop?

linda means's picture
Last seen: 9 months 5 days ago
Joined: 07/20/2017 - 1:07am

sure you can