Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 02:34 am
This post will help you decide whether to choose a Mac or PC for video editing, especially if you’re a beginner.
Here is a quick summary of the advantages and disadvantages of both Macs and PCs regarding video editing.
Mac for Video Editing
Accepted by many as the go-to solution for video editing.
- User-friendly: Simple interface and intuitive workflow.
- Optimized software: Runs Final Cut Pro and other Apple-specific software smoothly.
- Integrated ecosystem: Seamless integration with other Apple devices and apps.
- Reliability and stability: Known for fewer crashes and longer lifespan.
- High-quality displays: Vibrant and accurate colors for color grading.
- Limited software options: Fewer software choices compared to PC.
- Expensive: Mac hardware and software generally cost more than PC options.
- Limited upgradeability: Difficult and expensive to upgrade hardware components.
- Closed ecosystem: Less flexibility in hardware customization and software compatibility.
- Beginners: Easy-to-use interface makes it easier to learn video editing.
- Final Cut Pro users: Editors who rely heavily on Final Cut Pro.
- Apple users: Those already invested in the Apple ecosystem.
- Users who prioritize simplicity and reliability.
PC for Video Editing
Celebrated by those with limited budgets and who prefer variety.
- Wider software variety: Supports a broader range of video editing software.
- Open-source options: Free and open-source software available.
- Customization and upgradeability: More flexibility to build, customize, and upgrade hardware.
- Cost-effective: PC hardware and software are generally cheaper than Macs.
- Greater hardware compatibility: Works with a wider range of hardware and peripherals.
- Steeper learning curve: Some software might have a more complex interface.
- Potentially less stable: Can experience crashes and compatibility issues more often.
- Variable display quality: Display quality varies depending on the specific model.
- Experienced editors: Users who require specific software or advanced features.
- Budget-conscious users: Those looking for a more affordable video editing system.
- Users who value customization and flexibility.
Ultimately, the best video editing platform depends on your needs, budget, and software preferences.
If you are new to the video production game, you’ll wonder whether you should choose Mac or PC for video editing.
You may wonder if there’s really a difference between the two. If you talk to a video professional, he would swear by a Mac for video editing. He might not even have tried editing video on a PC.
This is understandably so.
Back in the early 2000s, Macs had a considerable advantage over PCs in video editing, particularly for amateur and professional creators. This period roughly spanned from 1999 to the mid-2010s.
The Mac Advantage That Didn’t Last
Here’s a breakdown of Macs’ supremacy in the realm of video editing during this period:
1. Introduction of Final Cut Pro: In 1999, Apple released Final Cut Pro (FCP), a user-friendly and powerful non-linear editing (NLE) software that revolutionized video editing.
Unlike other NLEs at the time, FCP offered a streamlined interface, real-time editing, and powerful features that made video editing accessible to a wider audience.
2. Hardware Optimization: Mac hardware, particularly the PowerPC G4 and G5 processors, was specifically optimized for video editing. This provided better performance and stability compared to most PCs at the time, which often struggled with demanding video editing tasks.
3. FireWire Advantage: Macs exclusively used the FireWire (IEEE 1394) interface for connecting external storage and video capture devices. FireWire offered faster transfer speeds and superior reliability compared to USB 2.0, which was the standard on most PCs. Macs had a significant advantage when dealing with large video files and real-time editing.
4. Software Ecosystem: Apple cultivated a strong software ecosystem around video editing on Mac. Applications like Motion (motion graphics), Soundtrack Pro (audio editing), and Compressor (encoding) provided a comprehensive suite of tools that integrated seamlessly with Final Cut Pro.
This offered a complete solution for video production that was not readily available on PCs.
5. Community and Support: As Final Cut Pro gained popularity, a vibrant community of editors, filmmakers, and educators emerged around it. This community provided valuable resources, tutorials, and support that further cemented the dominance of Macs in video editing.
However, the landscape began to shift in the mid-2010s. Adobe Premiere Pro saw significant improvements in performance and features, and the rising popularity of DaVinci Resolve offered a powerful and affordable alternative to Final Cut Pro. PCs became increasingly powerful and cost-effective, providing a compelling option for video editors.
While Macs still hold a special place in the hearts of many video editors, the gap between Macs and PCs has significantly narrowed. Today, both platforms offer a wide range of hardware and software options, making the choice less clear-cut than it once was.
At the end of the day, don’t you agree that you can’t tell much of a difference with the final video product, whether it was edited on PC or Mac?
Who Should Choose What?
So, now that it’s almost a level playing field, who should choose a Mac and who should choose a PC, from a beginner’s perspective?
Who Needs a Mac?
If you prioritize a user-friendly experience, a streamlined workflow, and access to exclusive software like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, a Mac might be the better choice.
Additionally, if you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem with an iPhone, iPad, or other Apple devices, the integration and ease of use between these devices can be a significant advantage.
Who Can Settle for a PC?
If you’re on a budget, value customization and flexibility, and don’t require specific Mac-exclusive software, a PC can be a powerful and cost-effective option. You can choose from a wider range of hardware components and build a machine that suits your needs and budget perfectly. Additionally, many popular NLEs like Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve run equally well on PCs, providing you with access to a vast software library.
The Final Verdict: It’s a Grey Area
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the Mac vs PC debate. The best platform for you depends on your individual needs, budget, and preferences. Consider the factors outlined above to make an informed decision.
Here’s a quick recap to help you decide:
Choose a Mac if:
- You prioritize user experience and a streamlined workflow.
- You need Mac-exclusive software like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro.
- You’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem.
Choose a PC if:
- You’re on a budget and value customization.
- You prefer a wider range of hardware options.
- You don’t require Mac-exclusive software.
Remember, both Macs and PCs are capable tools for video editing. The key is to choose the platform that best enables you to unleash your creativity and bring your vision to life.
Do Online Video Editors Render the Mac vs PC Battle Irrelevant?
The Mac vs PC battle for video editing is still continuing, with users of each platform swearing by their choices. However, the recent rise of online video editors has some questioning whether this age-old battle is now irrelevant.
While online video editors haven’t entirely erased the Mac vs PC debate, they have undoubtedly changed the landscape in several ways:
1. Accessibility: Online video editors remove the need for powerful hardware and expensive software, making video editing accessible to anyone with an internet connection. This democratizes the video editing process and allows anyone to create professional-looking videos without a significant investment.
2. Platform Independence: Unlike traditional video editing software that is tied to specific operating systems, online video editors are available on any device with a web browser. This eliminates the need to choose between Mac and PC and allows users to edit on the go, regardless of their platform.
3. Collaboration: Many online video editors offer real-time collaboration features, allowing multiple users to work on the same project simultaneously from different locations. This is a significant advantage for teams working on video projects together.
4. Lower Barrier to Entry: Online video editors often come with user-friendly interfaces and pre-made templates, making them easier to learn and use than traditional video editing software. This allows beginners to create quality videos quickly and easily, even without prior experience.
5. Cloud Storage: Many online video editors offer cloud storage for projects, eliminating the need for local storage space and making it easier to access and share projects from any device.
However, online video editors also have limitations that may make them unsuitable for certain users. This, in turn, highlights the relevance of the Mac vs PC for video editing.
1. Processing Power and Internet Speed: Online video editors rely on cloud processing, which can lead to slower performance and rendering times compared to traditional software. This can be a significant issue for users with projects that require high processing power or limited internet speed.
2. Feature Constraints: While online video editors offer a range of basic features, they may not have the advanced tools and functionalities found in professional video editing software. This can be limiting for users who need to perform complex edits or create high-quality productions.
3. Subscription Costs: Many online video editors require a monthly or annual subscription fee to access all features and export videos in high quality. This can be a recurring cost that may not be suitable for everyone.
4. Security and Privacy Concerns: When using online video editors, users upload their video files to the cloud. This raises concerns about data security and privacy, especially when dealing with sensitive content.
5. Customization limitations: While many online video editors offer numerous templates and effects, they often lack the level of customization available in traditional software. This can be limiting for users who want more creative control over their projects.
So, has the rise of online video editors rendered the Mac vs PC debate obsolete?
Not entirely. While online video editors offer a powerful and accessible alternative for many users, they are not a complete replacement for traditional video editing software.
Professionals and users with demanding workflows may still require the performance, features, and customization options offered by Mac or PC-based software.
Ultimately, the best platform for video editing depends on your individual needs and budget. If you’re a beginner, online video editors offer a great way to get started without a significant investment. However, if you’re a professional or a user with more advanced needs, a dedicated Mac or PC setup with powerful software might be the better option.
The key takeaway is that the choice between online video editors, Macs, and PCs is no longer an either/or option. The best approach is to consider your individual needs and choose the platform that best suits your workflow and budget.
What’s more, the availability of free online video editors has expanded the options for users seeking convenient and accessible editing tools without the need for specific hardware or software.
Video Editing Software Advantage
One important factor to consider in the Mac vs PC battle is video editing software. As you may know, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of video editing programs out there. May one of them would suit your needs and your ability.
If you wish to experiment with different video editing programs, then PCs offer several advantages over Macs in terms of wider software variety:
Among the advantages are:
- More options: PCs offer a wider range of video editing software options compared to Macs. This includes popular choices like Adobe Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve, Sony Vegas Pro, Avid Media Composer, and FilmoraPro, along with numerous niche and budget-friendly options.
- Open-source software: PCs have a thriving community of open-source video editors like OpenShot, Kdenlive, and Shotcut. These offer powerful features and are completely free to use.
- Platform-specific software: Some powerful video editors like HitFilm Express and PowerDirector are exclusively available on PC.
- Customization: PCs allow for greater hardware customization and upgrades, allowing you to build a system tailored to your specific needs and budget. This can be advantageous for users who require specific hardware configurations for demanding editing tasks.
- Software compatibility: PCs are generally more compatible with various hardware and peripherals, including external storage devices, audio interfaces, and video capture cards. This allows for greater flexibility in your workflow and setup.
- Operating system flexibility: PCs offer the option of using different operating systems like Windows, Linux, and even macOS through virtualization software. This allows you to choose an operating system that best suits your needs and preferences.
- Hardware affordability: PC hardware is generally more affordable than Apple hardware. This allows you to build a powerful video editing system at a lower cost than buying a comparable Mac.
- Software availability: Many popular video editing software options like DaVinci Resolve and HitFilm Express offer free or discounted versions for PCs. This makes them more accessible to users on a budget.
That’s not to say PCs have an unfair advantage over Macs when it comes to video editing software variety. Macs have the edge as listed below:
- Final Cut Pro: Macs offer exclusive access to Final Cut Pro, a powerful and user-friendly editing software popular among professionals.
- Software integration: Apple’s software ecosystem is tightly integrated, offering seamless integration between Final Cut Pro and other Apple applications like Motion and Logic Pro.
- Simplified setup: Macs generally come with pre-installed and optimized video editing software like iMovie, making it easier for beginners to get started.
Should You Get a ‘Powerful’ Video Editing Computer?
As we consider the PC vs Mac debate, let’s get one thing straight first. Unless you’re leaking cash left and right, look at your existing computer first.
Some professionals may tell you to have a dedicated computer for video editing and not use it for other tasks like Internet surfing or office-related work.
Whether you should replace your existing general-purpose computer and get a Mac or a powerful PC specifically for video editing depends on several factors. This would include your budget, editing needs, and existing hardware.
Here are some points to give you food for thought:
Reasons to upgrade:
- Your current computer is facing an uphill task to handle video editing tasks. The symptoms are slow performance, choppy playback, and frequent crashes. Do you play the waiting game while editing? If so, the time is nigh for an upgrade.
- You need more processing power and RAM. Video editing software is demanding and requires a powerful CPU and plenty of RAM to run smoothly. If your current computer doesn’t meet the recommended specs for your editing software, you’ll likely experience performance issues.
- You need more storage space. Video files can be large, and you’ll need enough storage space to save your projects and export finished videos. If you’re constantly running out of space, an upgrade is necessary.
- You want to take advantage of new features and technologies. Newer computers are equipped with the latest processors, graphics cards, and other hardware that can significantly improve your editing workflow. For example, some newer computers support hardware encoding and decoding, which can speed up rendering times considerably.
- You want a more reliable and stable system. Video editing can be a demanding task, and you need a computer that can handle it without crashing or freezing. Macs are generally known for their reliability and stability, which can be important for professional editors.
Reasons to stick with your current computer:
- Your current computer can handle your editing needs. If your computer is performing well enough for your current workload, there’s no need to upgrade unless you’re looking to improve your workflow or take advantage of new features.
- You’re on a budget. Macs and powerful PCs can be expensive, so upgrading may not be feasible for everyone. If you’re on a tight budget, you may be able to get by with your current computer by optimizing your workflow, using proxies, and freeing up storage space.
- You’re happy with your current software and workflow. If you’re comfortable with your current software and workflow, there’s no need to change it just because you’re upgrading your computer. You can still use your existing software on a new computer.
Here are some additional factors to consider:
- The type of video editing you do. If you’re editing high-resolution footage or working with complex effects, you’ll need a more powerful computer than someone who edits simple videos.
- The software you use. Different video editing software has different system requirements. Make sure to check the recommended specs for your software before making a decision.
- Your personal preferences. Macs and PCs have different operating systems and user interfaces. Choose the platform that you feel most comfortable with.
Here’s a general guideline:
- If your computer is over three years old and struggles to handle video editing tasks, an upgrade is likely worthwhile.
- If you’re a professional editor who needs the best performance and reliability, a Mac or powerful PC is a good investment.
- If you’re a casual editor or on a budget, you may be able to stick with your current computer by optimizing your workflow.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to upgrade your computer is a personal one. Weigh the pros and cons carefully and consider your individual needs before making a decision.
Minor Upgrade May Do the Trick
So, if you’re faced with a sluggish computer, you may want to consider a ‘parts’ upgrade instead of buying a new computer.
Recently, my general-purpose computer slowed down during video editing tasks. The solution I came up with is a RAM and hard disk upgrade.
I added the maximum RAM the laptop could support -from 4GB to 12 GB. Next, I replaced the existing hard disk with an SSD (Solid State Drive).
That sped up the computer and saved the cost of buying a new unit. So, consider this option first. Of course, it helps if you’re on a PC.
Please note that the decision of whether to upgrade to a Mac or a PC is primarily based on your individual needs and preferences. There is no one-size-fits-all answer.
If you’ve not made any money out of your video production efforts, stick to the computer you have.
Unless your model is from some fifteen or twenty years back, the computer will most likely satisfy you in terms of hardware requirements for editing.
At the end of the day, it’s not which computer platform you use to edit your video; it’s how technically well you shoot your video and how creatively you edit it.
Not even the most expensive computer can set things right for you if your video quality and editing technique are not up to mark.
Check out this video which looks at the Mac or PC for video editing debate from a personal perspective.
- How to find the best laptops for video editing: https://www.adobe.com/my_en/creativecloud/video/discover/best-laptop-video-editing.htm
- DaVinci Resolve system requirements: https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/davinci-resolve-system-requirements/
- Best laptops for video editing: https://www.newegg.com/insider/how-to-choose-a-laptop-for-video-editing/
- Best desktops for video editing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HziOqeZEbhQ
As I was writing this article, I met a wedding videographer. I asked what computer he was using for video editing. PC or Mac? He has been an avid Mac user, but nowadays, he uses a PC with Adobe Premiere CS. He said it’s easier to accept the files he shoots on his DSLR, whereas if he uses a Mac, he would have to spend time on file conversion.
Still doubtful about whether to go the Mac route? If you know someone who owns a Mac, ask to use it for a few days and test out the iMovie program that comes with it.
If you like it and have the budget, go for a Mac. Otherwise, a Windows computer would do just fine.