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Looking for Best Laptop for Video Editing/Effects around $1000?
  • I currently have a home desktop which I use for my editing purposes now, but I'm looking to get a little more mobile. Any ideas/ brand preferences/ experiences that could help me pick out the best model for my money or find the best deal? Is faster processor or more RAM most important? i5 vs i7 vs some AMD? or 8 vs 16 gig ram? Any thoughts appreciated! Probably not going to go Apple though if that's your solution :)

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  • I purchased a Sony Vaio S15 for this purpose. It has an IPS screen and a real i7 four core with HT, giving it 8 virtual cores. It also cam with a big fast hard drive, and you can remove the DVD or BluRay to add an SSD and go with two drives. Lastly, it has a dedicated graphics card, and you can hack the bios to overclock the card. Runs Premiere Pro rootin' tootin'. However, it's nine months old so there may be something better. It's lightweight.

    You can get a bigger screen, but it will probably be heavier.

    Compared to my i7 desktop, it's just as fast. Be careful when buying a laptop that the processor is not stripped down. You need all eight cores, and they often hide the fact that it is a stripped down i7 or i5 in the specs.

  • There is no such thing as a "stripped down i5 or i7." There are different SKU's with different performance characteristics. You probably want 4 cores and if your editing software supports it, a discrete GPU is probably worthwhile.

  • I recently (9 months ago) purchased the ASUS N56VB-S4057H. It is super for the work you wanna do. i7, 16g RAM, 1T space, Nvidia 740, etc... Asus in general is one of the best choices you can find around. And it is within the price range you mentioned.

  • I've bought an Asus N550JV-DB72T in december. i7-4700HQ (4 cores - 8 with HyperThreading , 2,4Ghz - 3.2Ghz in Turbo), Nvidia GT750M with 2Mb dedicated, 15,6'' screen 1920 x 1080 IPS LED, 8Gb Ram, 1TB HDD. This one have a touchscreen, there is a model (N550JV-DB71) with same specs but without touchscreen and a little cheaper.

    Good machine, sturdy, very fast, do not overheat, Nvidia board works with Premiere (tweaking a config file), the battery even lasts 5h+ with a light load. Only problem is the HDD that is VERY slow (5400 rpm), I'm bought a HDD caddy to replace the DVD burner (never use it) with an SSD for system and programs, leaving the 1TB hdd only for storage.

  • Thanks for all the replies guys! I've got to sell some gear before I make the purchase so everything will probably change again by then as fast as things are moving! Anyone in the US interested in a canon xa10? lol Do you think i7 with 8gb ram would be better or i5 with something like 16? Or is having a good graphics card more important than both? The ASUS looks very tempting...

  • That last Vizio also looks pretty sweet, and is quite a bit cheaper...

  • @matticusmaximus Increasing RAM should be cheap and easy - you just buy additional RAM cards that are easily inserted into computer. I went from 8 to 16 GB on my laptop. It requires opening up back - not as scary as it seems. I'm no tech genius and I did it. You can check for prices. They have thing that lets you enter your computer and then it tells you what RAM options you have. Plus they have videos on how to open up computers and install it. Prob $50-75 if I remember correctly for the additional 8 GB.

  • So for example the Vizio CT15 A2 in the eBay link has an i7-3517U. This chip has two cores and four threads, as opposed to the desktop version which has four cores and eight threads. However, the Vizio in the Amazon link has i7-3610QM, which has four cores and eight threads. Some serious CPU power. Note that this faster Vizio has one memory slot, and you want to be at 12gb or higher, so factor in upgrading a single chip (if possible), low power, high capacity stick plus a faster hard drive.

    For those interested in the Sony Nvidia overclock here is the 200 page thread Note that the Sony can be back-converted to Win7. Win8 is fast but not currently as stable as Win7 in my limited experience.

    @eatstomuchjam Actually, there is a long history going back many years--decades--of manufacturers offering stripped-down processors. Some of these are CPUs from lower grade batches that are then sold as lower clock items, some of these are CPUs with one or more bad cores that are sold as models with fewer cores, some of these are just the equivalent processor that are clock-locked at a lower speed and some are mechanically disabled so certain functions do not work. As for four cores, that's important, but there's really no point in buying a four core model that does not have HT enabled.

    For the ultimate laptop, you would ideally want one that has a socketed CPU that you could then swap in a hexacore CPU, with the option of one of the octacore CPUs that are in the pipeline. Hexacores are the best option for video, outperforming dual Xeons in most cases, and the new octacores will be even faster. Also look for a model that can be mildly overclocked--and has a good fan.

    However, for most people, a four core i7 with HT enabled, plus a fast hard drive (or big hd plus SSD), 12 GB ram or more, discrete Nvidia with 1GB ram will make for a great mobile workstation, especially in one of the 4 lb models with Magnesium chassis. Look for a model that can fit two hard drives, or one with a removable Blu-Ray. For example, on the Sony, you can pop out the Blu-Ray, and fit an SSD for two hard drives.

    One more thing to think about is the screen and whether it can be calibrated. So for example, the Sony S15 has a truly amazing IPS screen, however there is a slight orange shift that cannot be totally ironed out with a screen calibration device. Close, but no cigar. Or the cigar will look slightly orange. For me, the superb quality of the Sony screen outweighs the orange problem, but it is a serious, annoying problem for grading, nonetheless. I have heard that Sony fixed this problem but I'm not going to buy a new laptop to check it out. It would be interesting to see if the Vizio can be calibrated precisely.

    When I'm working in Germany ( I live in California), almost all of the hotels that I stay in have Samsung flat panels. So I hook up my HDMI cable, hook up my super lightweight Huey (good for travel, not the best calibration device), calibrate the hotel monitor and I know that the colors will be exactly the same as back home and continuously corrected for ambient lighting. Ambient lighting in travel (usually a mixture of fluorescent and mini-halogen) is the elephant in the room for mobile video editing. So the tiny Huey--and the HDMI cable--always go in the travel kit. You can often see online what kind of TV will be in your room and put in a request. No point in editing if you have to do it over again.

  • I know I am gonna get a whole flame-a-thon below me for saying this... but you can get a good slightly used Macbook Pro on Craigslist etc... I got a late 08 like 2 years ago for 750 and with a firmware upgrade and 50 bucks got the ram to 8gig.

    You can run windows on a Mac in case that's the scary bit...

  • You can absolutely buy a Macbook Pro--the equivalent to the Vizio would run about $2500--to get one with a quad core, HT enabled i7. So figure three times the price. But you would get a very cool machine! A typical used one would run less (and a used S15 would also be less), but I doubt if you get one with a real processor for under $1400. The newer ones have excellent Retina displays, I don't know about calibration, that's an endless debate for Macbooks--I'm sure someone would know. Screens from 2012 on have the 2,880-by-1,800-pixel panel with 220 pixels per inch, and that is an IPS panel, I believe. So good for resolution.

    The usual caveats apply to buying a used one, the failure rate for Macbook Pros is on the high side--in the 18 percent range--so factor in the price of a decent square trade or equivalent warranty. Basically, the rules of the universe still apply, you can get the equivalent hardware in a Mac exoskeleton, it will just cost more.

    You could also take the a fully kitted Sony or Gigabyte laptop and install Mavericks on it. You would want one preferable with a custom bios. The question would be, if you were running Mercury engine under Premiere, why it would matter if the box was Mac or not, since the software is going to be the same, but, absolutely you could get a Macbook Pro, and it might even have a slightly higher resale value if you ditched it later. If you wanted to run Final Cut for any reason, you would need something very recent, or you would be better off waiting another cycle. The new hardware calls from Mavericks look promising but they may not work on older hardware. Someone might know that, as well.

    When you get a Vaio, Gigabyte, Vizio or whatever, you are guaranteed that if you are careful in your purchase you will get a machine that is a speed demon for Premiere, with real-time effects, native AVCHD (no transcoding) and Mercury hardware acceleration. That's what makes these $750 laptops so super sweet. Price+performance.

    You would not want one that was too old, because the bios would not handle big drives and you would not have built-in USB3 for moving big files around. The bios might not be optimized for SSD, as well. You definitely want that SATA to be recent for top speeds on for example a Samsung SSD--otherwise you will have half of the throughput. Macbook Pros started using USB3 in 2012, I believe. A used one would also have to have 1gb of dedicated Nvidia graphics to run Mercury. So, yes, a used one from 2012 would get you an amazing screen, USB3 (maybe only one, but still USB 3) and the option of a decent processor and SSD support at full bandwidth.

  • @DrDave Where do you get that high MBP failure rate? We have 4 in our house, most of my fiends have them and one of my friends worked at Apple for 2 years. Never heard of such a thing.

  • Well, if Macs never fail, I for one would pay more for one! When something like a computer fails, it is often a part that fails, and the parts in the Macs are of course the same as the parts in a PC. So there can be no real difference in failure rates, only the choice of components. So for example, if you put a better SSD in the machine, you will have a lower failure rate. So you can ask what parts go into a Mac, and of course that varies. If you buy a Macbook now, you basically enter an SSD lottery. You probably will get a Samsung (good) but you may get something else (as of last year, probably decent).

    Second is a design flaw--so for example the notorious hinge on some of the airbook models.

    The actual numbers are readily available on the internet. So for example, Asus laptops use Asus parts and therefore they have a low failure rate. Does that mean there aren't Asus computers that fail? No, it is just a statistic. And the three year failure rate is high for any laptop.

    What makes a significant sample? Well anything with a big sample pool, but you don't actually need a big pool to run a standard statistical sample. For a large pool (really large) look here At the time of the study, HP was the worst. HP used to be great.

    Bear in mind that these ultra-light 4 lb machines are going to fail at a higher rate owing to basic heat and layout considerations, counterbalanced to a degree by exotic materials for chassis strength. So add on a few points for a high powered video machine in an ultra-light chassis.

  • Well the thing about the Macbook I would add is that its all the same parts in every one. So Apple can fine tune the part decisions and optimize the machine they are making.--> I get what your saying Dr.Dave...and believe me I dont really disagree with your point, just want to ADD that since there are only a few models (MBP,AIR etc...) and they all use the same approved tested hardware in each model... Macs from a hardware perspective(again my opinion/experience) are fairly stable (not as customizable granted) but certainly stable. PLUS you get extra hipster points if you take it to Starbucks with you and order a coffee drink 14+ words long.

    Also I think in that study OF COURSE Asus....they make the best motherboards ...period- not an opinion a fact lol...

  • Personally, I was a mac-head ( got about 5), but after my $1700 titanium failed after less than 2 years, I realized that notebooks are throwaways. For a decade , mac was ahead of the game. FCP was way ahead of adobe or vegas. But things have changed. You can get a cheap 4core amd hp and vegas for what a mac mini costs.

  • Yeah I'm sticking with PC for that reason, I work for a PC production house anyway so going MAC seems a little counterproductive. And putting windows on a MAC machine just seems like spending extra money for no reason...