5 Best Laptops for Film Students and Filmmakers & Price

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What are the best laptops for film students and filmmakers? Film making is a complex process and requires a lot of resources for research and its implementation in the final production.

If you want to pursue it as a profession or are a film student, there are lots of aspects you will need to focus on. These varied aspects of filmmaking include shooting videos and editing, audio input and editing, compositing, 3D rendering, color grading, and lots more.

Without the help of a powerful computer, all these will be more difficult to achieve, if not impossible. Since you will be working mostly outdoors, you will need to select and use one of the most appropriate laptops as a film student or as a filmmaker.

The laptop you choose should adhere to and meet all processing requirements for your study or for making a film, both of which will ensure a better work and a more holistic professional exposure.

Most importantly, the laptop should be powerful and be able to run all necessary software and not cater to a single one because film making is a cohesive process.

It should allow you to work with similar software combinations, depending on the options provided by and the preferences of the film institutes.

Since there are no generic laptops that will fit in with every requirement of a film student or a filmmaker, you will need to zero in on a few specific configurations based on your preferred specializations.

This includes a good quality display, a powerful CPU for faster processing, ingenious graphics card, an excellent battery backup, wired and wireless connectivity, good amount of RAM, and more.

If it is too much for you, then go through this list of recommendations and buying guides to choose the right type of laptop for film students and filmmakers.

Laptops for Film Students and Filmmakers – Price (Top Picks)

Laptop or a Tablet: Which is the Best Bet for Film Students and Filmmakers?

To most of the different groups and demographics, a laptop or a tablet seems to be the obvious choice.

However, for film students and filmmakers, choosing the best bet needs a lot of considerations and comparisons.

Though both of the devices are capable of delivering specialized experiences, a laptop happens to fare a bit more when it comes to performance.

It is compact, light in weight and portable which allows you to do all your necessary tasks on the go.

Over the years, the laptops have become smaller and lighter, which a tablet is as well, but it excels in power, performance, and functionality.

Therefore, a laptop is a more preferred computing device to film students and filmmakers.

Apart from its flexibility and convenience of mobility, a laptop comes with the specs that will allow you to run every relevant software that is available to produce stunning visuals and render images as well as create tailored audio.

On the other hand, a tablet will come with limited configurations that will not support running software programs like Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing, Adobe After Effects for compositing, Autodesk Maya for 3D modeling, DaVinci Resolve for color grading, and Audition, FL Studio, and Ableton for audio editing.

Tablets are ideal for ‘light’ computing tasks such as browsing and reading text on popular websites, playing light games, watching videos, drawing, and others.

However, it is hard, and may even be unwise, to declare any of these two devices as the clear winner, because it all depends on the specific needs and preferences.

Therefore, to sum up, it can be said that the most efficacious device will be the one that will be able to perform all the tasks that you wish to complete on it, an aspect in which a laptop scores significantly more when compared with a tablet.

Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for Film Students and Filmmakers

The minimum system requirement for basic film making and entry level film students is an Intel Dual Core i5 or AMD Ryzen equivalent processor with a minimum base clock speed of 2 GHz.

Depending on the software used, at least 4 GB of RAM and 4 GB of free hard drive space with an additional 5 GB for installing content are also required. A powerful integrated or dedicated graphics card with latest drivers and a 13-inch screen with 16-bit of color video card will also be required.

On the other hand, if you are into complex jobs in film making, you will preferably need a processor with four distinct cores and SSE2 support. Accordingly, the other hardware requirements of your system will also vary as per the complexity of the jobs and type of apps and software used.

In that case, it is prudent to look for a system with the recommended specs mentioned below than one with the minimum configuration for smoother performance.

Minimum system requirements: 8th generation Intel Core i5 or higher processor| 8 GB of RAM | 256 GB SSD or a higher combo storage | Dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX 150 or better| 14 inches screen or larger | 1024 × 768 pixels screen resolution

Recommended system requirements: 8th generation Intel Quad Core i7 or higher processor| 16 GB of RAM or higher | 512 GB SSD or larger storage | Dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti or higher RTX graphics card | 15.6 inches screen or bigger | 1920 x 1080 pixels or higher screen resolution

5 Best Laptops for Film Students and Filmmakers:

1. HP Omen 17 CB0050NR – Best Overall

HP Omen 17 CB0050NR
 

Bottom Line: The combination of the 9th generation Intel Core i7 processor and RTX graphics and a larger screen and combo storage helps this laptop to offer the best overall performance when used by the film students and filmmakers. The bios recovery and protection feature also adds to its functionality as well.

Key Features 

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Pros 

  • The storage of the system is huge and fast.
  • The screen is very large and of good quality.
  • There is a separate number pad in the system.

Cons

  • The battery life is low.
  • The trackpad is shifted to the left which may cause issues while typing.
  • There is no optical drive in the system. 

Film students and filmmakers who want power of a desktop computer in a portable laptop, this is the one they should go for.

The graphics card in this machine is dedicated and hyper-realistic with its 8 GB capacity and GDDR6 feature.

With more speed, power efficiency, and real-time ray-tracing ability, it will provide new levels of gaming pragmatism and filmmaking tasks.

This VR/MR ready laptop comes with a large screen, full HD resolution, IPS technology, anti-glare property, micro edge, and is WLED backlit to provide better images at 144 Hz refresh rate, wider viewing angle, and larger real estate. It saves energy as well.

With minimum latency ensured by the Omen command, the superfast 9th generation Intel Core i7 processor never slows down over time.

The six cores operate at a clock speed range within 2.6 GHz and 4.5 GHz for a superior and stable performance.

The memory of the system can be upgraded using the two accessible slots and the combined storage capacity of PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD and 7200 rpm SATA HDD keeps up the performance level.

The Bios recovery and protection feature secures local storage, protects the system against unauthorized access, and recovers automatically from boot-up issues.

The device comes with headphone/microphone combo slot, microphone jack, three USB 3.1 Type A ports, one RJ 45 and one HDMI port, one Mini DisplayPort, one USB 3.1 Type C port, as well as one media card reader slot to provide you with adequate connectivity and data transfer options.

2. Razer Blade RZ09 – Runner Up

Razer Blade RZ09
 

Bottom Line: With the inclusion of useful features including and not limited to a good screen, biometric security, keyboard with customizable RGB backlights, vapor chamber cooling system, its impressive design, and a powerful GPU, this is surely the runner up in this list of laptops for film students and filmmakers.  

Key Features 

  • Screen: 15.6 inches
  • Storage: 512 GB
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Processor: 8th generation Intel Core i7 8750H
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max Q

Pros 

  • The keyboard looks awesome with individual and customizable RGB key lighting.
  • The biometric security of the system makes it very safe to use.
  • The screen has thin bezels all around and comes with a very high refresh rate.

Cons 

  • The keyboard does not have a separate number keypad.
  • It gets hot on long hours of gaming in spite of its innovative cooling system.
  • The battery life of the laptop could have been better.

The Razer Blade 15 comes with a sleek body made from durable aluminum metal and is high in performance.

It is its high-performance capability, impressive design, durability, and innovative configurations that have made it one of the most favored laptops among film and media students, and even professional filmmakers.

The 15.6-inch screen comes with an edge to edge design providing a greater body to screen ratio to this full HD display that also features 100% RGB.

Apart from the good resolution of this factory-calibrated matte screen, it also comes with a 240 Hz response time that ensures a premium user experience to the creative users as well as to those intense gamers.

This laptop is equipped with an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor that has six cores and a maximum clocking speed of 4.1 GHz with Turbo Boost technology. The RAM and the SSD storage reduces the app booting time significantly.

The dedicated Nvidia GeForce 2080 RTX graphics card with Max Q design is powerful and can meet with all your needs for video editing, graphics designing, and rendering tasks.

The vapor chamber cooling system is good enough to keep the system cool for long hours of use, though not if you play intense games on it.

The Windows 10 Home operating system, the additional Windows Hello support for facial recognition, the strong keyboard with individual RGB customizable key lighting, the integrated IR sensor, and Thunderbolt ports for strong connectivity makes this system the most popular choice for film students and filmmakers. Check out Razer Blade RZ09 Laptop Review.

3. Huawei MateBook X Pro – Slimmest Laptop with Long Battery Life

Huawei MateBook X Pro
 

Bottom Line: The film students and filmmakers who want to use one of the slimmest laptops with good features and a long battery life will get it all in this device. Weighing less than 3 pounds, this laptop is easy to carry anywhere and continue working on it for the whole day with its long battery life of 14 hours. 

Key Features 

  • Screen: 13.9 inches
  • Storage: 512 GB SSD
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Processor:  8th generation Intel Core i7 8550U
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce MX150

Pros 

  • The display is awesome with a very narrow bezel.
  • The battery life of the laptop is very good.
  • The speakers are of good quality and high in performance.

Cons 

  • The webcam is placed awkwardly and is poor in performance.
  • The thermal management of the laptop is not up to the mark.
  • The fans make a lot of noise.

This is the slimmest laptop that is powerful enough to support all the needs of professional filmmakers and film students.

This is light in weight and is built from extremely durable material. It is easy to carry all day and the excellent battery life will provide all the required power, ideally, for 14 hours for basic jobs and 12 hours for video playback.

This device runs on Windows 10 Home operating system and is powered by the latest 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor operating at 1.8 GHz base clock frequency.

The dedicated Nvidia GeForce graphics unit is also powerful to boost the performance by 40%. There is no bloatware that will slow down the performance of the system.

You can perform all rendering and other complex proficient tasks on this laptop. The SSD storage boots up the apps fast and the RAM allows comfortable and smooth multitasking.

The display of this laptop is excellent and comes with a 3K touchscreen feature. It offers a larger viewing and working area due to the 4.4 mm ultra-thin bezel all around it.

Apart from the 3000 × 2000-pixel resolution, the images on this screen are displayed at 1500:1 contrast ratio, 260 pixels per inch, and 60 Hz refresh rate, whether it is HD or ultra HD content.

The audio system of this machine enhances the listening experience due to the 2nd generation Dolby Atmos technology of the Quad speakers.

It also has a power button with an integrated fingerprint reader, Windows hello support, HD pop-up camera, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The ports include USB, VGA, HDMI, USB-C, and Mate Dock 2.0. Check out Huawei MateBook X Pro Review.

4. Acer Aspire E15 – Value for Money

Acer Aspire E15
 

Bottom Line: This is a relatively cheaper option in this list of laptops for the film students and filmmakers to use. However, the low price does not affect its performance due to the decent combination of the Intel Core i5 processor and the dedicated Nvidia GeForce graphics card that adds more value for money.

Key Features 

  • Screen: 15.6 inches
  • Storage: 256 GB SSD
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Processor: 8th generation Intel Core i5 8250U
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce MX150
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Pros 

  • The full HD display is of good quality.
  • The keyboard comes with backlights and a separate number pad.
  • The battery life is very good.

Cons 

  • The touchpad is shifted to the left and may cause inconvenience while typing.
  • The screen has thick bezels all around.
  • The laptop is a bit heavy weighing more than 5 pounds.

This laptop can be considered to be an affordable device for film students and also for the filmmakers on a budget.

The display quality is good and the images are exhibited in full HD resolution. The IPS LED-backlit panel is energy efficient to support the long battery life of the system.

The 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor is good enough to provide due support to the upgradable memory and storage.

It can operate at a base clock speed ranging between 1.6 GHz and 3.4 GHz with Turbo Boost technology.

The dedicated Nvidia GeForce graphics card comes with 2 GB and GDDR5 VRAM feature which allows seamless reproduction of images with vivid color and more details.

Add to that, the Acer True Harmony technology promotes your viewing and listening pleasure.

This technology ensures that there is no distortion in the audio and the sound is delivered with deeper bass and loud volume.

The Windows 10 Home operating system, the M-DISC enabled 8X DVD double-layer RW drive, the SD card reader, the HD webcam with High Dynamic Range support, and the combination of 802.11ac wi-fi network standard featuring MU-MIMO technology and Bluetooth 4.1, all makes this system better.

The ports and slots for connectivity in the system include one USB 3.1 Type C Gen 1 port, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, and one HDMI port with HDCP support. Check out Acer Aspire E15 Review.

5. MSI GV62 8RD – Convenience and Upgradability Options

MSI GV62 8RD
 

Bottom Line: In addition to its fairly decent performing hardware specs that helps the film students and filmmakers a great deal in their job, it is the convenience in its use and easy upgradability options of both the RAM as well as the SSD storage that makes it one of the best laptops to feature in this list.

Key Features 

  • Screen: 15.6 inches
  • Storage: 16 GB Intel Optane memory plus 1 TB HDD
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR SDRAM
  • Processor: 8th generation Intel Core i5 8300H
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti

Pros 

  • The system comes with cooler boosters for better thermal management.
  • There is a separate number keypad in the red backlit keyboard design.
  • The audio system is good with all new Nahimic 3 technology.

Cons 

  • The screen comes with a thick bezel all around it.
  • There is no in-built SSD.
  • The battery life could have been better. 

This is a good laptop for those film students and professional filmmakers who are not involved in any advanced film editing works.

This decent machine costs less than the others but comes with an equally good CPU and GPU performance.

Though the battery life of this system is affected due to the powerful hardware components of the machine, it is well compensated by the reduced wait time when you apply effects or do some other operations.

The Intel Core i5 processor is powerful enough and is paired with the system memory and the dedicated Nvidia GTX graphics chip.

This enhances the speed of the laptop and ensures a smoother performance. You can upgrade the memory, if you want to work on longer footage, up to 32 GB, though 16 GB is pretty good.

The cooler boosters and the dual fan technology ensure a better heat management. There are separate heat pipes for the processor and the graphics card.

Most importantly, the fans are of good quality and do their job without emitting much noise.

Finally, it comes with a hybrid storage capacity of 16 GB Intel Optane and 1 TB HDD, which is slower than SSD, but you can upgrade the storage with SSD easily if you want in the future.

How to Choose Best Laptops for Film Students and Filmmakers?

Choosing a laptop for film students and filmmakers is really a complex subject for which you will need to find out the right specs for it.

But, before you dive into it and go out shopping, you should know the answers to a few specific questions.

These questions include whether or not you need full access to power all the time, what kind of software you will be using, and how much outdoor work you need to do on it.

In addition to that, as a film student, you should also check it out with your college to find out what specific requirements they have, what specific type of software they want you to use, and what they recommend.

They may suggest specific brands, models, specs, and configurations and you should buy a device according to it.

Once you are done with these initial jobs, you should look for these specific aspects in a laptop for film students and filmmakers.

Portability

It is important to choose a laptop for film students and filmmakers that is light in weight and portable.

As a filmmaking student, you will not only need to travel a lot regionally, but also around the globe to learn more about filmmaking and the different processes involved.

Therefore, choose a laptop that will not cause pain on your back while carrying it over long distances.

Also make sure that it comes with a solid battery life allowing you to use it on the go on a single charge for all day.

However, for the sake of portability, do not make any compromises with the performance of the laptop simply to balance between battery backup, which should be at least 6 to 8 hours, and its weight.

CPU

The processor of a laptop is that specific element that will determine whether a project will take an entire day or just a few hours to complete.

Therefore, you will need to choose a laptop with a powerful processor, for which you will need to know a few basic things as follows.

The frequency, measured in Hertz and expressed as Hz, signifies the number of operations a single core of the processor can complete in a second. Higher is the base clock frequency, the better.

The number of physical cores, which can be two, four, six and so on, act as distinct CPUs within the processor.

Higher the number of physical cores, faster will be the task performed as the workload will be shared between them.

Most of the laptops today come with dual cores and with no limits in the clock frequencies with some coming with a frequency past 4 GHz!

Ideally, film students and filmmakers will be better off if they aim for a processor belonging to the 8th generation and i5 or i7 family having 4 cores or more.

RAM

The amount of RAM required in a laptop for film students and filmmakers will primarily depend on the size of the footage as well as the duration of the average cuts of it.

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The RAM helps a lot in filmmaking and editing because higher it is, faster will be the CPU and it will support multitasking.

You will be able to fit in more data into it which will enhance the performance of the CPU while rendering, editing, encoding, and other tasks.

If the source footage is less than 60 minutes, an 8 GB of RAM is ideal, and, on the other hand, if it is more than that, you will be better off with a laptop that comes with 16 GB of RAM.

Going beyond that may be unnecessary unless you intend to run software such as Adobe After Effects and use external plug-ins such as Magic Bullet.

Storage

More often than not, the footage will be too big to fit into the RAM. In such situations, the system will automatically use the internal storage of it for a backup for processing.

As a result, things may slow down significantly if you do not have adequate and proper storage in the laptop for film students and filmmakers.

As for the type of storage, you may choose to have either an HDD or Hard Disk Drive, or an SSD or Solid-State Drive in your laptop.

Typically, the most common type of storage used in the laptops in earlier days were the Hard Disk Drives.

These are way too slow in performance. These types of storages will not only add to the time of operations, but will also result in dropped frames and jumpy playback.

It will also generate more heat and fail too frequently due to the moving mechanical parts inside it.

The good thing about this HDD storage is that these are cheap as compared to an SSD storage and comers with huge storage capacity of 1 TB and more.

Solid State Drives are therefore more preferred in a laptop that you want to use for filmmaking or studying.

Out of these SSD storages, PCIe NVMe SSDs are the fastest out there, often 17 times faster in reading and writing ability in comparison to an HDD storage.

Therefore, if you go for an SSD storage, you will be benefited in rendering, previewing, loading your raw data, exporting, transferring files from your camera to the computer, and outputting.

Most importantly, your system will boot up much faster, almost in a couple of seconds, even if you load all the complex film editing software programs including Adobe Premiere.

The recommended storage amount is 512 GB SSD or a standalone low capacity SSD of 256 GB and an external HDD for backup, or a combination of regular-sized SSD and 1TB HDD as a repository.

Graphics card

The graphics card of the laptop for film study and filmmakers will play a significant role in its operation.

However, if you have an 1080p assembly then you need not worry too much about the graphics.

A good enough graphics card will help in applying effects taking full advantage of the GPU acceleration.

On the other hand, if you are into something more than basic assembly such as color correction, grading or transitions like Cross Dissolve, you will need a more powerful graphics card in your system.

It should be dedicated, not an Intel HD, and belong to either Nvidia or AMD.

For rendering, the software of the laptop will use the graphics card as an additional ‘Core’ to reduce the time of operation even more.

That is why you will need a dedicated graphics card. However, if it involves simple effects and cuts, an integrated graphics card is enough.

You will also need a powerful and dedicated graphics card if you play back videos at much higher resolutions such as in a 4k display or any external monitor.

Ideally, for serious film editing you will need the latest generation of GFX graphics card. You may also be better off with those belonging to the M, GTX, and RTX series.

It is also good to choose a graphics card with more VRAM but do not go for those XX80 cards because that will be more expensive with little benefits gained from its extra power.

One specific thing that you should also keep in your mind while choosing your graphics card is the technology.  In Nvidia it is better than that of AMD’s and will outperform it on several occasions.

The Nvidia graphics cards that come with CUDA cores in it act as mini processors with additional cores and improves its rendering and exporting capability.

Finally, remember that if you are not dealing with 10-bit displays, it is useless to go for those workstation cards that offer little to no more benefit than the gaming cards.

Display

Your final consideration should be the display of the laptop. For filmmaking, the displays that the laptops usually come with are pretty bad.

The main reason behind this is that the manufacturers tend to cut down on the prices of the laptop by reducing the display quality.

In most of the times you will need to resort to an external monitor for editing and the final touch ups.

However, this does not mean you will not pay any attention to the display of the device you choose. Here are a few features that you should watch out for.

IPS or In Plane Switching panels are the ones to go for even if these are a bit expensive.

Though it is not mandatory to have one, it will come with a huge bonus, such as offering a better viewing angle and providing a greater color accuracy.

A matte finish display is better to have. However, if you are okay with glares while working outdoors, you can go for a display with a glossy finish.

A full HD resolution is a must-have. If your system comes with a beefy GPU and CPU, it will, by default, come with a full HD or 1080p resolution.

If you are into 4k filming and editing, which is the current trend, choose a laptop with software that will scale down the resolution of the display, or allow you to use an external monitor with high resolution.

The display size and the bezel will also play a significant role in the selection process.

If you want a portable laptop for film study and filmmaking, which is recommended, choose one that comes with a 13 to 15-inch screen.

Larger ones are also good but will be heavier unless you go for those premium ultra-slim ones that come with a heavy price tag.

A screen with Nano Edge design will provide larger real estate and provide a higher working area, which is especially helpful if it is a touch screen.

FAQs:

Will a touchscreen laptop help filmmakers and film students?

Yes, it will help a lot. Actually, filmmaking involves much more than simple audio or video editing, it includes a large number of simultaneous processes and apps that need different user interfaces and constant interactions with the system. A touch panel will significantly cut down the labor and time than using a keyboard and touchpad.

What are the reasons to avoid a workstation by filmmaking students and filmmakers?

The workstations are not usually good for filmmaking students and filmmaking because these are not very portable. Moreover, these may be good for 3D modeling, color grading, compositing, CGI, VFX, and other complex jobs but lack gaming prowess. Most importantly, these are too expensive as compared to other notebooks.

Are there any powerful CGI tools for the film students and filmmakers to use in a laptop?

Students and aspiring filmmakers typically look for excellent CGI tools for their jobs. Some of the most important ones to use include those that help in 3D animation and modeling, 3D rendering, shading, and motion graphics. You can also use Maya if you have a powerful processor and graphics card.

Can I skip a few features in a laptop for film students and filmmakers to save money?

Yes, you can save money on battery life if most of your work is done at a fixed location. You can also save money on the laptop’s speakers because you will seldom use those for editing videos. And, if you are comfortable using a keyboard and trackpad, you may skip a touchscreen laptop as well to save money.

Are top-end gaming laptops any good to film students and filmmakers?

Yes, provided it has all the features and specs that you need to run those complex film editing software programs and apps. Most of the gaming laptops today come with features that can support filmmaking endeavors as well. However, consider the price and your affordability factor before finalizing.

About Dominic Cooper

Dominic CooperDominic Cooper, a TTU graduate is a computer hardware expert. His only passion is to find out the nitty gritty of all computers. He loves to cook when he is not busy with writing, computer testing and research. He is not very fond of social media. Follow Him at Linkedin