Before we get into reviewing any products, lets start with the basics; what separates a workstation laptop from a normal budget, or even high end laptop? The answer is what’s inside, and specifically, what graphics solution it uses. Every workstation laptop or desktop comes with Nvidia Quadro or Amd FirePro graphics cards. You can learn more about that here.
Some models also use Xeon Processors, as opposed to Core i3 / i5 / i7 processors. Xeon processors usually have a lower clock speed, consume less power and have more cores which leads to better performance in multi-core tasks such as rendering or animating.
They also come equipped with 32 to 64 GBs of ram, far more than the average 4-16 that you see in laptops today, even premium ones. The extra graphical and processing power, combined with the extensive amounts of RAM makes them the best laptops for video editing and other kinds of 3D, graphic design and animation work.
The best video editing laptop of 2017 is the Dell Precision M7510
The Dell Precision M7510 comes equipped with state of the art technology, with plenty of features and powerful bits and pieces to make this easily the best video editing laptop. Let’s take a look at some of those features.
- 32GB ECC DDR4 Memory (the fastest type of memory currently on the market)
- Quad Core Intel Xeon E3-1505M Processor, up to 2.9 Ghz Turbo-boost
- 15.6 Inch 1920 x 1080P IPS screen with great viewing angles
- AMD FirePro W5170M discrete graphics, a graphics solution designed with professionals in mind
- 256 GB SSD + 1 TB of HDD for a very slick experience, and loads of storage space to boot
- And more.
Some features of this laptop are simply meant for professionals, such as the Xeon processor with built in H.264 encoding for a speedy render of any video file, making it one of the best laptops for video editing, and the discrete professional graphics card meant to have some serious power.
But wait, what about the whole Xeon versus i7 debate?
There are a lot of differences between consumer and professional grade processors. Certain types of consumer grade i7 chips lack the majority of features that Xeon processors posses, and vice versa. Let’s go over some of those.
Benefits of the i7 and i5 processors
- Overclocking: Unlocked variants of i3 / i5 / i7 chips are meant to be overclocked, which means they can run at higher frequencies that they come tuned in for. Assuming that you have adequate thermal solutions, this basically just means free power. The higher frequency a processor can run at, without thermal throttling, means that it can complete more calculations per cycle than it can at a lower clock speed.
- Pricing: The average i7 costs $100 or so less than the average Xeon processor.
- Single-threaded performance: Both i7 and i5 processors consistently come out on top in processes that only require single core, or low power, workloads. The majority of which are workloads that you would be completing on a daily basis anyway, such as opening up your browser to check your email, or to see what’s new on Facebook.
- On Board Graphics: i7 and i5 processors come with their own graphics solutions on board, meant for very basic tasks (like the ones we mentioned earlier) and nothing more. Xeon processors, however, require their own discrete video cards to function.
Benefits of Xeon Processors (and there are many)
- Support for ECC RAM: There are two types of RAM; normal, consumer grade DRAM and what is known as ECC RAM, or Error Checking and Correcting RAM. If This kind of memory searches for and corrects common data corruption issues before they arise, which leads to better overall stability, almost no random crashes, and very little errors in every day use. If you’d like to learn more about ECC Memory, you can click here.
- More Cores: If your workload requires multiple cores, or really anything above 2 – 6, you should be in the market for Xeon processors. They come with anywhere between 4 and 16 cores (such as the new Xeon v4) which means 36 after applying hyper-threading technology.
- Multi-CPU solutions: The majority of expensive, professional-only oriented workhorse machines can have two processors at one time, both using the amount of cores given to each (which can effectively mean 36 cores, which, after hyper-threading, can mean 64 cores) and utilizing all of that extra power. What this can do is help alleviate stress between each core (or CPU) which can lower power consumption, heat, and the chance of thermal throttling.
- Extensive Hyper Threading: Doubling the amount of cores each CPU has virtually is precisely the form and function with hyper-threading. The newest iteration of the Xeon lineup has 18 cores, or 36 threads, which can give it an enormous boost in performance when compared to its consumer-based little brother, the i7.
- Longer Lifespan: Servers and workstations are designed by nature to be in constant use, always crunching numbers and encoding tidbits of data. For the serious business or workstation use, this can lead to a longer lifespan and less risk of failure when compared to its i7 counterparts.
- L3 Cache: A CPU cache is a small batch of memory that the CPU can utilize at any time to speed up drastically a certain process or program. Most Xeon processors have 15-55 MB of this Cache in its L3 storage, not taking in account for its L1 and L2 cache as well. This can mean the seconds-difference between opening up a program that you would not have necessarily had with a consumer based CPU, as opposed to a professional solution, which is one of many factors that makes Xeon processors stand apart so much.
- Built in H.264 encoders: This feature is what sets apart Xeon-based computers from anything else; it’s ability to render and export 4k video files (or any video file) at a greatly enhanced speed, when compared to i3 / i5 / i7 based computers. Portable computers with Xeon processors are among the most popular choices for the best video editing laptop.
So, do I really need a professional workhorse laptop or desktop?
Well, it really depends on what your goal is. Are you looking to get into the professional 3D animation world, designing video games or helping to create the CGI for the latest movie? If so, then yes. But if your answer to that is no, it is a much better and more price efficient decision to go with a consumer based desktop or laptop.
However, if you are in the market for a professional workhorse solution, we recommend the Dell Precision M7150 laptop, based on its productivity-based features and premium price tag.