When it comes to shooting and editing, it’s commonplace to see people working with, at minimum, a Full HD setup. However, as technologies such as 4K, HDR (high dynamic range), HFR (high frame rate), and log gammas become more available and consumer-friendly, users will need a system that can effectively handle these increased bitrates, broader color spaces, and greater number of frames per second. With many workflows also becoming more mobile, editors are now working on-location as footage rolls in, and Apple’s MacBook Pro steps up to the plate and delivers portable power and speed, while enhancing audio and video post-production workflows and more with its top-tier processors and large RAM loadouts. While still helpful, it’s no longer necessary to maintain an editing workstation in a windowless room.
Ever since Apple brought the Retina display to the MacBook Pro in 2012, the company continues to tailor it more toward creative content work, and video editing is no exception. The Touch Bar and Thunderbolt™ 3 / USB Type-C connectivity were added in 2016 and, eight months later, in June 2017, it was refreshed again with Intel® Kaby Lake™ processors. The current flagship model features a 3.1 GHz Intel Core™ i7 Quad-Core processor, 16GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and an AMD Radeon Pro 560 graphics card with 4GB of discrete GDDR5 video memory. When combined, these components will allow for powerful performance and provide significant performance gains, especially when running multi-threaded tasks. If you don’t need quite that much power, don’t worry, because the system can be scaled back, which will help to conserve battery life, yet still retain a powerful backbone. For those who wish to stick with 2017 iterations of the 15.4" MacBook Pro, the system can also be configured with a 2.8 GHz or 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7 Quad-Core, a 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD, or an AMD Radeon Pro 555 GPU with 2GB of discrete GDDR5 video memory. Apple’s base model remains very respectable and contains a 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7 Quad-Core, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an AMD Radeon Pro 555 graphics card.
So, why would you want more, as compared to less? Simply put, more power lets you do more. Faster processors, more memory, a better GPU, and more storage will allow you to push your workflows further and work with advanced types of media and complex motion-graphics work.
Delving into the non-configurable options with which this system is built, the 15.4" MacBook Pro offers a 15.4" 2880 x 1800 Retina display, four Thunderbolt 3 / USB Type-C ports, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.2. The display truly shines and features brighter LED backlighting of 500 nits, increased contrast ratio for deeper blacks and brighter whites, larger pixel apertures, and a variable refresh rate. It also supports the P3 color gamut, which allows for more vibrant colors, true-to-life pictures, and vivid details. The four Thunderbolt 3 ports, which also support DisplayPort 1.2, can be used for hooking up external displays, RAID storage, external GPUs, and more, while dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi allows for network connectivity and Bluetooth 4.2 allows compatible wireless peripherals, such as keyboards and mice, to be paired with the system.
Rounding out this system are a 720p webcam, integrated speakers, integrated mics, and a 3.5mm headphone output. Last, but not least, let’s not forget the Touch Bar, which is compatible with Final Cut Pro X. For more on that, feel free to peruse Navigating Final Cut Pro X with the New Touch Bar-Enabled MacBook Pro.
Should your needs be slightly less, B&H still sells the previous generation 15.4" Mac Book Pro (Late 2016). While still powerful in their own right, these previous generation models have older Skylake processors. 2016 models of the 15.4" MacBook Pro max out with a 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7 Quad-Core and utilize dedicated AMD Radeon Pro 455 or 460 graphics, with 2GB and 4GB of GDDR5 video memory, respectively. If storage is a concern, SSDs are available up to 2TB, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports allow for a plethora of external storage options.
If you’re more of a casual video editor, perhaps working more with iMovie, then consider Apple’s 13.3" MacBook Pro. Available with and without the Touch Bar, this model is a bit more modest. Its Retina display retains the P3 color gamut and 500 nits brightness, although the resolution drops slightly, to 2560 x 1600. Driving all of this is integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics, which isn’t as powerful as a dedicated GPU. It can also be configured with 8GB or 16GB of RAM, SSDs ranging in capacity from 128GB to 1TB, Core i5 processors of 2.5, 3.1, or 3.3 GHz, and Core i7 processors of 2.5 or 3.5 GHz. The 13.3" model only offers dual-core CPU options, making them more suitable for Full HD work, with perhaps some limited 4K work.
If you’re looking for a top-tier system that retains power and portability, look no further than the Apple MacBook Pro.
Which of these models is most appealing to you? Do you use a MacBook Pro for your video work? Feel free to comment below.