Epic Video Editing Battle: $200 Laptop vs $5000 Workstation

Premiere Pro 09/02/2021 2 min read

We put a $200 Craigslist Laptop up against a $5000 Workstation for an epic video editing battle in Premiere Pro. While you might root for one and not the other, our goal is to break down some of every editor’s bias for the best computer to use in their daily workflow.

Computer Features:

FeaturesLenovo ThinkpadCustom Built Workstation
ProcessorIntel Core i5 -3320 M @ 2.6GHzIntel i9 9900 K
Memory8GB DDR364GB DDR4
Storage240GB SSD3 x 1TB SSD’s
GPUNo Dedicated GPUGTX 2070 Super

The Editing Process:

ParametersLenovo ThinkpadCustom Built Workstation
Time to Open
26.65 seconds11.42 seconds
Time to Import15 min. 28 seconds1.21 seconds
Editing Order27 min. 55 seconds21 min. 42 seconds
Color Grading19 min. 50 seconds14 min. 37 seconds
Audio10 min. 17 seconds7 min. 1 second
Exporting34 min. 54 seconds3 min. 59 seconds
Total Time107 min. 30 seconds46 min. 71 seconds

Custom Workstation

Let’s be realistic – the workstation beat the laptop in every comparison parameter by a landslide! But consider some of these notes:

  • Premiere Pro actually crashed on us while working with the workstation, adding on your editing time.
  • There were some playback issues with the h.264 codec, while other the raw files had smooth playback.

Lenovo Thinkpad Laptop

Although the performance of the laptop is slow, there are smart ways to improve and optimize your workflow.

  • Make sure to use proxies (low-quality versions of your original footage). Go to File > Project Settings, and then under the Ingest dropdown, select Create Proxies and set the Preset to ProRes Low Resolution Proxy. Also add in the Toggle Proxies button to the bottom of the program monitor.
  • Deselect the High Quality Playback, under the program monitor settings.
  • Adjust the RAM reserved for other applications to the lowest possible setting. You can do this by going to Edit > Preferences > Memory.
  • Make sure you are auto-saving your work in quicker increments while doing your work. Go to Edit > Preferences > Auto Save, and change the value to 5 minutes.

Final Results

When comparing both computers, you truly do get value for your money with the desktop Workstation – great speed in editing, smooth playback, and less need for optimizations. But in the end, it did not affect the final video quality that you can happily present to clients.

It really gets down to your editing skills and Premiere Pro knowledge that make the difference when using your computer of choice. Learning Premiere Pro shortcuts, tips and tricks to optimize your workflow, watching tutorials, and even using templates will also make a huge impact.