Is MacBook Air Good Enough for Video Editing?

In the past, the MacBook Air had always been seen as the lightweight, less powerful laptop Apple offered as a lower-cost machine that more people could afford. But after recent upgrades, the latest MacBook Air has more power and capabilities. 

Older versions of the MacBook Air did not work well for video editing, but now, with its blazing M1 and latest M2 chips, dedicated GPU, and power-saving design, the MacBook Air is a good enough laptop for video editing. 

My name is Eric, and I have been a computer enthusiast since the late 1970s and a software engineer for over 25 years. I have evaluated many systems for many different uses and applications. I can often tell when a system is just not up to par for certain tasks.

Keep reading below if you would like to find out why I think the MacBook Air is a good enough laptop for video editing.

Choosing a Laptop for Video Editing: What to Consider?

Sure, the MacBook Air is good enough for video editing, but what factors should we consider when looking for a system for video editing? There are quite a few that you should look at, including the below factors.

Processing Power

Rightfully so, processing power is one of the first things we normally look at when considering a computer for any application. Processing things is what you use the computer for, and everyone wants more power. 

For video editing, you will want to have quite a bit of it. You will be dealing with applications that process large amounts of data and perform different tasks simultaneously. Multitasking and processing speed keep you from being frustrated while waiting for things to load.

Graphics Processing

While it’s not quite as important as it is for playing graphics-intensive video games, graphics are key in video editing too.  It’s important to see your video’s quality so that you can enhance it and make it look as good as possible. This means you’ll need a machine that can handle and play back high-quality video.

Video Display

Along the same lines as graphics processing, you need to be able to see your results on a quality display to see where it needs to be enhanced. The display size can make a difference for many, but also consider whether you can connect and use external displays.

Memory

Memory capacity is important for intense data processing and works in conjunction with processing power described above. Video editing requires heavy data processing, and the more memory your system has available, the better it can handle it.

Storage Space

Local storage space on a hard drive is often overlooked with iCloud and readily available USB storage. But with video editing, a big hard drive is essential and should be on the list of things to look for. You need a large amount since most video files are massive

Access to data on a local SSD drive is often faster than accessing it from the cloud or a USB drive. This speed can determine if your video playback looks smooth or choppy and allows you to evaluate your video quality during editing properly.

Portability

Whether you’re editing video on location, trying to collaborate with colleagues, or you’re just on the go a lot, portability is important. Having a laptop that is easy to carry around with a long battery life is a great feature and will help you be productive and efficient in your work.

Comfort and Ease of Use

You want to spend your time editing videos, not trying to figure out how to use the computer or solve technical problems. You also want to feel comfortable using it whether you’re sitting at a desk or on the couch in your living room. That’s why comfort and usability are essential. 

Cost

While it may not affect some, the cost of a video-editing laptop is a factor for most. Finding an affordable system that performs to the standards you require is extremely important. Don’t just think about the upfront cost. You should also think about the long-term costs and longevity of the computer too.

How does the MacBook Air Measure up?

We have just taken a look at what you should look for in a good video editing system. Now let’s see how the MacBook Air measures up to these standards.

8 core CPU

MacBook Air’s M1 processor packed plenty of power with its 8-core CPU, and Apple is only improving this with the release of the new M2 chip. Both of these chips can process large amounts of data at high speeds while also using processing time efficiently.

The M1 chip is definitely good enough for video processing. Since the new M2 has improved performance and capability over the M1, it will surely be able to handle and even enhance the video processing experience.

Graphics Processing

This is an area where you may see an improvement from the M1 to the M2. These chips have their own GPU (graphics processing unit), and while the M1’s GPU was not the greatest, especially for graphics-intensive games, the new M2’s GPU performs much better.

The base MacBook Air model still has an 8-core GPU, but if you want to shell out a little more cash (about $300 more), you can get the M2 with the 10-core GPU. This is worth looking at and may be worth the money.

One of the drawbacks to the MacBook Air (and the Pro) is that you will not be able to upgrade to a high-end dedicated graphics card. You are stuck with the GPU contained on the M1 or M2 chip, so you may want to consider spending the extra cash upfront for the 10-core.

13.6 Inch Display

The small 13.6-inch display may be “good enough” for simple everyday video editing. Still, at some point, you may want a larger screen with plenty of area to view video and have other applications open and visible simultaneously. You may find the small display a bit crowded.

The good news is that there is the ability to add external displays, and while it takes just a small amount of know-how, it is a viable solution when you are working from your desk and have a docking station with extra displays.

Memory Options

The MacBook Air comes standard with 8GB of memory which will work, but if you’re doing a lot of heavy processing with multiple apps, you will see some slowdowns. The newer models have 16 and 24 GB options available.

Again, you will have to pay a little more money for the extra memory, but depending on your selection, it could take your MacBook Air from “Good Enough” to “Great,” depending on your usage.

SSD Storage

MacBook Airs come standard with a 256GB SSD (Solid State Drive). SSDs provide the access speed to your data to ensure you can read and write files quickly, which can be necessary with the large video files you may be working with.

256GB is not a massive amount of space, but you can upgrade to 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB SSDs for an extra cost. With video editing, the more space you have, the better, so choose wisely. Once you purchase your system, upgrading to a larger SSD is very hard and costly (if even possible).

Made to Be “On the Go”

The MacBook Air is designed to be very portable. It has a sleek, low-profile design that is easy to carry around. Its long battery life means you don’t have to stay tethered to a wall, which allows you to work from your couch, outdoors, or in a coffee shop.

The Reliability, Stability, and Comfort you Expect

If you’ve used Apple devices, you know the quality of their products. The MacBook Air is no different; it is reliable with a stable macOS operating system that is easy to use. You won’t be spending time trying to fix problems instead of video editing.

The MacBook Air is also comfortable to use. Its thin, lightweight design and long battery life allow you to carry it around easily. The no fan design means it is silent, which is an excellent feature if you are working on the audio portion of your video editing. 

The keyboard and trackpad are easy to use, but if you don’t like the built-ins, you can always add an external keyboard and mouse.

Cost 

The MacBook Air is touted as one of the most affordable Apple products, allowing everyone to be a Mac user. The base model is quite affordable, but when you add some upgrades such as a larger SSD and more memory, the price quickly increases.

While it is still around the price of many PC laptops, it is very affordable for a Mac. The base model is probably good enough, but you should consider how far it will take you into the future and the fact that once you purchase, it is impossible or at least challenging to upgrade.

FAQ

Searching for a new laptop for a specific application like video editing can often raise many questions. Below are a few common questions asked when looking at the MacBook Air.

Should I consider the MacBook Pro?

Yes, you should always look at and consider other systems when looking to make a purchase such as this one. The Pro will give you a more powerful system that will handle most video processing, but it is less portable since it is slightly larger and will cost quite a bit more.

Can the MacBook Air run Final Cut Pro?

This is an all-important question for video editors using a Mac. The answer is a definite yes. It will run fine with the M1 chip and even better with the new M2. The nice thing is that you can have it preloaded to your system if you order it new from Apple, but it will cost you to do so.

Is the MacBook Air Good for Premier?

Yes, Adobe upgraded Premier Pro in 2021 to support Macs using the M1 chip. This means it will also work well, if not better with the M2 chip. Adobe Premiere Pro should work very well on the MacBook Air.

Conclusion 

Suppose you are considering the MacBook Air for video editing. In that case, you are probably wondering if it will have the power and video capability required by the intensive tasks and data processing that goes along with video editing. 

The M1 MacBook Air is certainly good enough to handle video editing. And the newer M2 MacBook Air will provide more than enough processing power and other features to provide you with a great video editing machine.

You may want to consider some of the available upgrades within your budget. Also, don’t forget to look at the MacBook Pro if you need more power. Think about the future and find a system that will last you many years to come.

I hope the information I have provided can help you in your search for a video editing laptop. As usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear feedback from anyone using a MacBook Air for video editing.

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