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There is a lot that goes into making videos. There is of course the filming, but the editing and processing of that video is a large part of the work. Video editing is quite resource intensive, so much so that many chose to do it on a desktop instead of a laptop. Despite a desktop being better in terms of performance, that does not mean it is the best choice for a film student.
In this guide we have made the assumption that you are looking for something that is good for a college student who is looking to use the laptop for video editing, as well as regular college activities.
We have alternatives from all ranges of the price spectrum, We have a really good high end laptop for those who are looking for the best regardless of price, and also an option for those who are trying to stick to a budget.
Best Laptops for Film Students
Based on our research, our pick as the best laptop for film students is the MSI GS66 Stealth 10SGS-031.
1. Best Overall – MSI GS66 Stealth
We think the best laptop for film students is the MSI GS66. This is not a cheap laptop by any means, but it has some of the best parts that you will find in a laptop. MSI has a reputation for making really good high end gaming laptops. Gaming laptops actually have a lot of the same features that we would want in a video editing laptop, namely a lot of power.
There are a few configuration options, but the model that we have picked has an Intel Core i9-10980HK CPU. This CPU has 8 cores, something that will be important for film editing. It does depend on the software that you are using, but in general most video editing software is capable of utilizing the 8 cores and 16 threads that this CPU has.
Another great feature about this laptop that is good for film students is the 32 GB of RAM that it comes with. Rendering and editing video requires a lot of RAM, and you could even go higher than 32 if you wanted, but most laptops will not have that. Even getting 32 GB is not that normal, and for most mid-level laptops 32 GB is the max that they can handle. This laptop can handle a maximum of 64 GB, so you do have some room if you feel the need to add more down the line.
Although as a film student you should get some extra storage in the form of an external hard drive, this laptop has a 1 TB SSD. This makes it possible to store quite a bit at a time, although 1 TB can fill up quite quickly also if you are filming in a high resolution. The most important part is that the laptop has an SSD, which most laptops luckily do these days.
As far as the GPU goes, the MSI GS66 has the NVidia RTX 2080 Super Max-Q. This is probably one of the best GPUs that you can get in a laptop. It is suitable for film students, as well as playing video games if you are interested in that.
As far as laptops go, this computer is our overall choice. The reason is that it has the best parts, it is made from a great manufacturer, and the price is not too shabby considering what you are getting. You could of course get a better bang for your buck if you made your own desktop, but that is a completely different story.
See the MSI GS66 (#ad) on Amazon.
2. Best Budget – MSI GF65
It is difficult to find a budget laptop that is well suited for film students. The reason is that for video editing you need a good CPU and a good GPU. Those two things usually only come together in at least a mid-range laptop. Despite that, we think the MSI GF65 is a great option for something that is a little more budget friendly.
This laptop comes with the Intel Core i7-9750H. Despite it being a 9th gen, instead of the newer 10th gen, this CPU has been a staple in high end gaming laptops and is really quite good for a laptop CPU. It has 6 cores, something that you should be striving to get. We think this CPU is better than a lot of the newer 10th gen CPUs with fewer cores that you will find.
The laptop also has a GPU. There are a few configuration options, but the one we picked has the GTX 1050 Ti. You can check out the other options, but it will add a little to the total if you choose to upgrade. If you have the budget for a better GPU then you should check out the option with the RTX 2060.
The laptop only has 1 x 8GB RAM chip, but that is actually a good thing because you can easily upgrade to 16 GB by just buying another RAM chip. I recommend that you do this as 16 GB is a lot better, and using two chips is actually better than just one in terms of performance.
One bad thing about the laptop is that it only has a 256 GB SSD. You can negate this by getting an external HDD, which is not expensive these days. You can actually get several TBs that you can either bring around or just keep at your desk.
See the MSI GF65 (#ad) on Amazon.
3. Best Runner Up – Razer Blade 15
The runner up is the Razer Blade 15. This is a very popular laptop that really is quite good. Not only does it perform well, it also looks really good. It is still not a cheap laptop, but if it fits in your budget then this is definitely something to consider. If you are looking for something cheap, then I suggest you look into the Acer Aspire series. They are quite good for the price, but not really what you need as a film student who will be doing video editing and rendering.
Again there are a few configuration options, but the model we have picked comes with the Intel Core i7-10750H. This is a 6 core CPU, something that is quite respectable in a laptop. It is also a 10th gen, so the CPU should be competitive in terms of performance for a few years, and it should perform well for many years.
This model comes with the Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU. It is not quite as good as the one in the MSI GS66, but it is pretty close. You can also upgrade or downgrade it on the product page based on your individual needs and budget. The Razer Blade is a great laptop, so if you can configure it to fit your budget then this laptop will last you a long time.
The laptop has 16 GB of RAM which is about what you should be looking for.
The Razer blade is a well known and liked line of laptop. There are a lot of really nice things about it and you should definitely have a look at what this laptop can offer you.
See the Razer blade 15 (#ad) on Amazon.
4. 2-in-1 Alternative – Dell XPS 13 7390
This is an alternative that maybe some people will find interesting. Film students require a lot of creativity, and maybe you don’t want something that is not just good for making videos, but you also want something that would be good for digital art. You may want to have a look at a 2 in 1 laptop, and the Dell XPS 7390 is one of the best options for you on the market.
The CPU is an i7-1065G7. Despite being a new 10th gen version it only has 4 cores so it is not the best alternative around, but it is an i7 model still, so it does come with quite a bit of power.
What is most interesting about this 2 in 1 laptop is that it comes with a dedicated GPU. It has the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650, which is actually quite decent. Of course, for video editing you want really powerful parts, but if you are leaning towards something that can be used for both video tasks and more creational things then this is a good middle ground.
It also has 32 GB of RAM which is not all that common. RAM is something you can upgrade yourself but it is nice when it comes out of the box too.
Overall this is a really nice laptop that you should have a look at.
See the Dell XPS 13 7390 (#ad) on Amazon.
What should you be looking for
As a film student there are certain things that you should be looking for in a laptop. I believe that the best laptop for film students have the following qualities.
The CPU is one of the most important parts of any computer. It is essentially the brain and determines how fast you will be able to do things, how many things you can do at once, and a whole lot more. Getting a relatively new CPU should be important. Depending on what you plan on using the computer for it can range from a weaker i3 to a brand new i7 or i9 Intel CPU. If you plan on doing video rendering/editing, then go towards the higher end. If you just want a laptop for college then go for the lower end.
RAM is another important part. The CPU loads information from RAM, and if it is not there then it first has to be loaded from your SSD/HDD. Because if this it follows that the more ram you have the better. This is true up to a certain point. I recommend that you try to get at least 8 GB regardless of what your use case is. If you are planning on doing video editing, then going as high as 32 GB is not a bad idea.
A GPU can be useful if you plan on doing video editing. Also, most mid-level laptops and upwards come with a GPU these days, the main difference is what GPU. If you want to do video editing on a laptop then try to go for an RTX series GPU. The GTX are not as powerful, but it is an alternative if you want to save some money.
You need to get a laptop with an SSD. It is okay to have a secondary HDD in the laptop, but you need an SSD that is big enough to install all the programs that you want to use, as well as some spare for your video outputs. SSDs are much faster than regular HDDs and there is really no reason not to get one these days.
Alternative to a laptop for film students
Video editing is a very resource intensive task. Because of that, if you are looking to do a lot of video editing, then you should consider getting a desktop. They are a lot less practical, but you can get a little more for your money and you can get more power if you want.
We hope you find these alternatives to be a good starting point for your research. The best laptop for film students will be one that can function both for editing video, but it also has to last a long time. We think the MSI GS66 is that laptop. It might cost a lot, but you will be able to keep it for years and years to come. There are a few configuration options if you want to try to lower the price a little. The other laptops on the list are also excellent computers that you should consider.
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