Best Laptop for Film Students (Premiere Pro & Final Cut Pro X)

If you are here, then you are probably on the quest for the best laptop for film school. Film making is a very resource intensive artistic process. If you are looking to pursue it professionally, you need to focus on aspects such as video editing, color grading, composting and 3D rendering. Being part of the entertainment Industry defines the need to be agile and you need a machine that can support your workflow.

For starters, it is a good idea to look into applications your film school uses. At the moment, Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X (Mac only) are the most popular editing programs on the market. If you work with VFX, then you may also need to run Adobe After Effects, and maybe even Illustrator. Keeping agility in mind, while bigger screens are better for functionality, a 15 to 16 inch laptop makes a lot more sense since it can fit into your backpack easily.

Before you make the call, we would highly advise doing your research upfront, regardless of how challenging it may seem. Ideally, you want a machine that lasts you a few years, has excellent battery life and other specifications that support your daily workflow. It is okay if you are not a tech nerd, but your laptop should come configured with an i7, minimum 16GB RAM, a dedicated video card and an SSD for the best experience.

Luckily, we have put in the time and picked out some of the best laptops for film students on the market today. You can go through the reviews and read about them in great detail. Once you are done reading, you will have a lot more clarity in your choice. You can decide which one suits your needs and make the call!

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Minimum System Requirements

Before jumping into the reviews, go ahead and check out the minimum specifications for Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X. The laptop selection is based off the following requirements which have been provided by the software companies themselves.

Windows Minimum and Recommended Specifications (Adobe Premiere Pro)

Minimum specificationsRecommended specifications
ProcessorIntel® 6thGen or newer CPU – or AMD equivalentIntel® 7thGen or newer CPU – or AMD equivalent
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows 10 (64-bit) version 1803 or laterMicrosoft Windows 10 (64-bit) version 1809 or later
RAM8 GB of RAM“16 GB of RAM for HD media, 32 GB for 4K media or higher”
GPU2 GB of GPU VRAM  (NVIDIA Quadro, TITAN, GeForce and AMD Radeon)4 GB of GPU VRAM (NVIDIA Quadro and AMD Radeon)
Hard disk space8 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (will not install on removable flash storage)Fast internal SSD for app installation and cache
Monitor resolution1280 x 8001920 x 1080 or greater
Sound cardASIO compatible or Microsoft Windows Driver ModelASIO compatible or Microsoft Windows Driver Model

macOS Minimum and Recommended Specifications (Adobe Premiere Pro)

Minimum specificationsRecommended specifications
ProcessorIntel® 6thGen or newer CPUIntel® 6thGen or newer CPU
Operating systemmacOS v10.14 or latermacOS v10.14 or later
macOS v10.13 or laterRAM8 GB of RAM16 GB of RAM for HD media 32 GB for 4K media or higher
GPU2 GB of GPU VRAM4 GB of GPU VRAM
Hard disk space8 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (will not install on a volume that uses a case sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices).Fast internal SSD for app installation and cache
Monitor resolution1280 x 8001920 x 1080 or greater
Network storage connection1 Gigabit Ethernet (HD only)10 Gigabit ethernet for 4K shared network workflow

Source: Adobe Premiere Pro system requirements page

macOS Minimum and Recommended Specifications (Final Cut Pro X)

Operating SystemMacOS 10.14.6 or macOS 10.15.6 or later
RAM4GB of RAM (8GB recommended for 4K editing, 3D titles, and 360° video editing)
GPU“Metal-capable graphics card 1GB of VRAM recommended for 4K editing, 3D titles, and 360° video editing1”
Hard Drive Space3.8GB of available disk space

Source: Final Cut Pro X technical requirements page

Apple MacBook Pro Review

Macs are common among the technically inclined, and often used by professionals in the entertainment industry. They are powerful, robust and last for a very long time! The MacBook Pro comes with a 16 inch Retina (diagonal) LED backlit display with IPS technology, 3072×1920 native resolution at 226 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors. It produces 500 nits of brightness for spectacular whites and the deepest blacks, thanks to the precise photo alignment of the liquid crystal molecules. The P3 wide color gamut takes into account brilliant true-to-life images and videos, which permits you to work in the most ideal light, regardless of where you are.

This top of the line MacBook Pro comes with a 2.6GHZ 6 Core Intel Core i7 Processor featuring Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz and a 12MB shared L3 Cache. This configuration makes it an extremely powerful machine and it allows you multi-task without any issues. The redesigned thermal architecture allows for faster processing and features larger impellers as compared to its predecessors, with improved fan blades for optimal airflow and more heat-dispersing fins for efficient cooling.  The gain in its cooling capacity enables the MacBook to deliver up to 12 more Watts of sustained power.

The graphics include AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory, automatic graphics switching and Intel UHD Graphics 630. It offers a whopping 16GB of RAM. This allows for endless multi-tasking while you are working on your film projects, much quicker than every one of its archetypes since it takes into account consistent playback and quicker rendering of ultra HD recording. The device additionally accompanies 40 compute units and 8GB of High Bandwidth memory which acquires the highest degree of processing power.

The newest feature of the MacBook is their Magic Keyboard with an ultra-refined mechanism for a responsive, quiet, and comfortable typing experience. With a dedicated Touch Bar and Escape Key, navigating through lines of code and different programs has never been easier. The MacBook Pro features a six-speaker sound system which produces supreme audio quality. It also features two force-cancelling woofers which reduce vibration for a more natural sound. The studio quality three mic array rivals the best microphones for creating music or podcasts on the go!

Coming to its Wireless capabilities, the Wi-Fi brings along 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology, which make for a fantastic networking experience. Adding more to this, it comes with  two options for storage, 512GB and 1TB, however, Apple has given the option to get a device with a hard drive of up to 8TB,  the most available in any notebook. This is great for film aficionados like you, as you can now take your entire libraries with you on the go.

Furthermore, the Thunderbolt 3 is the most powerful and versatile port ever as it combines ultra-high bandwidth with the ultra-versatility of the USB-C industry to create a revved up universal port. It is equipped with four ports which deliver an output of 40GB/s and can support up to two 6K displays. The battery attached is 100-Wh lithium polymer and while the manufacturer states that it can go up to 11 hours, you should get somewhere around 7 – 9 hours of battery life with a heavy workload, which is incredible when you are working on or off the grid.

Apple takes security very seriously, hence the MacBook Pro comes attached with the Apple T2 Security Chip, which includes a Secure Enclave coprocessor that powers the Touch ID and provides Secure Boot and Encrypted Storage facilities.

To sum it up, while the laptop is great and has an edge over its previous versions, the only downside is that the MacBook Pro weighs 4.3 lbs, so it seems like Apple has done away with its trademark thin and light hardware. The machine being all powerful does give way to the laptop overheating at times, but that will happen with any machine with heavy usage. No laptop is without its issues, the shortcomings of the MacBook pro are actually quite negligible compared to the powerhouse that it is! Highly recommended!

PROSCONS
Great Battery lifeA bit bulky compared to previous versions, weighs over 4 pounds
Ultra-Responsive Magic Keyboard 
Awesome port selection 

ASUS ROG Zephyrus Review

Asus upped their game with the revolutionary ASUS ROG Zephyrus Laptop born from their persistent dedication to innovation. The dimensions of this machine are 15.6 x 10.3 x 0.7 inches. It has a 15.6 inches wide view Full-HD display with NVIDIA G-Sync Technology and a High Refresh Rate of 120Hz. The max screen resolution which comes with the laptop is 1920×1080 pixels. With 100% sRGB gamut coverage, it produces outstanding colors regardless of your working environment.

The constant need to multitask without glitches while working on your film projects is possible with the NVIDIA G-Sync graphics; it synchronizes the display refresh rate with the GPU’s frame rate. This minimizes stuttering, maximizes lag reduction and eliminates visual tearing without affecting system performance. The powerful ROG Zephyrus comes preinstalled with Windows 10 pro 64-bit and a 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8GHz 4 core Processor (Turbo up to 3.8GHz). Packed with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 (with Max Q Technology) graphics, it rivals even the most hardcore laptops in its category, which means running the heaviest film making programs will be effortless. The immersive graphics also make the Zephyrus compatible with leading VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive allowing you to dive deeper into your filmmaking experience.

The ROG Zephyrus is armed with Active Aerodynamic System(AAS), which is exclusive to this system. It combines an innovative and intelligent design to keep the laptop cool and quiet without sacrificing performance. AAS also incorporates the AeroAccelerator technology which improves airflow by 40% and reduces temperatures by 20% as compared to conventional cooling. The fan blades are made of a special liquid crystal polymer which allows for thinner designs and as a result more blades were added for extra efficient cooling. This gives the laptop impeccable stability and permits for endless working hours.

The unique keyboard with Aura RGB lighting is entirely customizable which lets you adjust the colors as you require. What makes it unique, is that the keyboard is positioned at the front of the chassis, while the heating components are placed conveniently out of reach. The traditionally placed keypad has moved to the right of the keyboard.

Along with these excellent features, ROG Zephyrus comes packed with 256GB HyperDrive SSD based on the latest NVM Express (NVMe) and PCI Express technologies allowing for file renders and multi-tasking at warp speed. Its copious capacity has ample storage for everything you need. It comes attached with 8GB DDR4 SDRAM with Wi-Fi capabilities of 802.11ac.

This machine provides an immersive sound experience with the Smart Amp Technology to optimize audio output; maximum volume at the best quality. Smart Amp Technology also protects the speakers by setting thermal and excursion thresholds, so that they do not break down due to excess heat while monitoring the variations in the loading and temperature influence. The laptop weighs 4.9lbs, which is a bit on the higher side if you compare it to general laptops but since this is a gaming machine with an insane amount of power, it isn’t heavy at all. Most gaming laptops weigh a lot more than this!

ROG Zephyrus has extensive connectivity solutions! It provides a blazing fast transfer rate with its USB-C ports which deliver up to 40GB to Thunderbolt devices; four times the bandwidth of USB 3.1 gen 2 while four USB 3.1 gen 1 ports pre-exist. The HDMI 2.0 slot allows you to connect two 4K TVs at 60Hz. The battery provided is a 50Wh Lithium Polymer, with a power of 19.5 volts.

In conclusion, the laptop is extremely powerful and manages to maximize efficient cooling making way for a hassle-free work atmosphere. Due to the immense power and graphics, the battery life on gaming laptops is quite low, you will get around 2 – 3 hours with heavy use so it may need to be plugged in while you run Adobe After Effects and similar programs, but the hardware definitely makes up for it. The keyboard design may be unconventional unless you are right handed, although the trackpad on the right is taller which makes for more room to navigate the screen.

PROSCONS
Excellent ProcessorLow battery life
Minimal HeatingUnconventional Keyboard
Extremely powerful graphicsA bit heavy, weighs 4.9 lbs

HP Zbook 14U G6 Review

The final machine on this list is the HP Zbook 14U G6, the sleekest laptop yet, designed by HP. Apart from being the thinnest laptop in their line-up, it also features a minimalistic design with beefed up specs and a stunning display. In short, a total powerhouse. Weighing 3.27lbs(1.48kg) it is also their lightest machine. With a matte display of 14 inches and dimensions of 12.84 x 9.22 x 0.71 inches, it proves to be an excellent masterpiece for film students as it is portable and can be used on the move in any work environment.  The LCD screen has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels which features in-plane Switching (IPS) technology and has a maximum output of 400 nits brightness.

Film students need powerful laptops and the Zbook assists with 8th generation intel processors and 50% faster graphics than any other laptop in its category. The build features an Intel Core i7 8th Generation i7-8665u quad core processor with a speed of 1.80 GHz. Having the AMD Radeon Pro WX3200 (4GB VRAM) onboard means you can multitask and run various heavy programs effortlessly without hiccups. Combining that with 32GB DDR4 RAM, it is safe to say HP put a lot of hardware into the Zbook.

Preinstalled with Windows 10 Home 64-Bit, it comes packed with the latest connectivity and security features so you do not have to worry about losing your connection or compromising your valuable data. In terms of connectivity, it comes with Wi-Fi connectivity of 802.11a. In other collaterals, the right side of this machine features a sim card slot for cellular network, an audio jack, a USB 3.1 port, an HDMI port with 1.4 video output, an ultra slim dock connector, a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C, and a power connector. The left side comes equipped with another USB 3.1 port, a smart card reader, a lock slot and ventilation slots. Moving on to security, Zbooks are designed to be secure from the time they leave the factory with comprehensive built in security features like HP Sure Sense and HP Endpoint Security Controller. With 1TB of SSD Storage, you can be assured to never run out of space while saving your movie projects. The laptop comes attached with a Lithium Ion battery with a power of 50Wh which lasts for 8 hours or more with heavy use!

On to the keyboard, as always, HP has included its own Dual Point mouse pointer in the center. While the keyboard is pretty big it is still comfortable, and leaves quite a lot of space for the trackpad below it.

To conclude, the HP Zbook might be restrictive in terms of design, it is perfect for film school as it is a very efficient laptop with the capability to handle the heavy work load applications. With exceptional battery life, the high graphics and ultra-fast mechanism assists in rendering your files while you run other programs simultaneously. The cooling system of the laptop is fantastic and subtle thus keeping the heat at the minimum. Again a solid master piece for anyone looking to go to film school!

PROSCONS
Extremely light weightMeagre Design
Great battery life 
Great security options 
Backlit Keyboard 

Final Words

Beginning with the conclusion, all three laptops included in this list are perfect for film students and are spectacular in their own right, not only in terms of design, but also in terms of performance. Running heavy applications is a necessity for film students. And although many companies claim that their machines can run film making programs such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Adobe After Effects etc, there are only a few which actually live up to the challenge. Hence, after thorough research, we picked out three of the best laptops that will give you uninterrupted performance, without any hiccups along the way.

With the new Apple MacBook Pro, Apple did away with their traditional lightweight design and created the most powerful and robust laptop in the entire range, making it possible to use this machine in pretty much any work environment. With a 16 inch display producing brilliant colors, the laptop allows for a great working experience, all while running heavy film making programs effortlessly. The highlight of this laptop is the ultra-responsive Magic Keyboard as it not only allows for easy navigation through different programs, but also possesses a finer mechanism for a quiet, comfortable typing experience.

The best thing is that it comes with powerful AMD Radeon Pro 5300M graphics with 4GB of GDDR6 memory combined with Intel UHD Graphics 630 and a whopping 16GB of RAM which permits multi-tasking and rendering various film projects at ultra-fast speeds. This configuration makes it the fastest among all of its predecessors. A 1TB SSD storage drive coupled with the Thunderbolt 3 and enhanced security features such as the Apple T2 Security chip really steal the show. Last but not the least, the battery life does need a mention as it can last up to 11 hours!

The next laptop we discussed was the Asus ROG Zephyrus. Armed with a 15 inch display and Full-HD graphics, this machine proves to be a masterpiece. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 (with Max Q Technology) graphicssteals the show with its impressive performance, true to life colors and a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels giving all of its rivals a massive beatdown, allowing you to run all your film making programs with the best detailing and lighting on its big, yet accurate display.

It also features the Active Aerodynamic System(AAS) which is an extra efficient cooling system incorporated with Aero Accelerator Technology, exclusive to this system only. With features such as the Aura RGB keyboard in front of the chassis, not only does it add a unique style statement, but it also helps make film assignments even more delightful. Film students can also dive into the VR world as the ASUS ROG is compatible with the Oculus Rift and HTV Vive to make their assignments even more immersive.

The final laptop on this list is the HP Zbook 14U G6. This machine is the most impressive in terms of weight since it is the lightest laptop on the list with a minimalistic, no nonsense design. It has a Matte display of 14 inches, perfect for film students as it is very portable, excellent while you’re on the move. The AMD Radeon Pro WX3200 packs a strong punch, seamlessly allowing you to work without facing any hiccups or lag. HP takes security seriously as they make every effort to secure every laptop with features such as HP Sure Sense and HP Endpoint Security Controller even before it leaves the factory. The trackpad is bigger than usual which makes it easier to use and so you do not have to worry about getting a mouse at all.

To sum everything up, while the HP Zbook weighs the least among all of the laptops, it also has a smaller screen than the Asus ROG Zephyrus, which may get in the way of editing. The HP Zbook is perfect otherwise, but in terms of screen size Asus ROG is better. If screen size is not something you want to base your decision on, then we would recommend the HP Zbook over the Asus ROG. It offers a lot more for your money and delivers a fantastic performance while running heavy duty applications.  However, if Windows is not your thing, Apple’s MacBook Pro is the obvious choice. Macs are built with technical people in mind. The newer version is much stronger and will last you for years to come! The decision is ultimately yours, we wish you luck in film school and hope that we have helped you narrow down your selection!