Written by Dewy

MacBook for photo and video editing

You can use any Apple notebook to edit photos and videos. Some MacBook models are better suited for designing than others, though. It depends on what kind of user you are. Are you a hobbyist who edits photos every now and then, are you a student starting a graphic design study, or are you a professional graphic designer? Here you can read which MacBook you'll need.

What type of user are you?


As a professional photo and video editor, you use demanding graphic programs every day, such as Adobe Creative programs, Autocad, Sketch Up, Keyshot, and Cinema 4D. You often run these programs at the same time. In that case, a powerful laptop to edit files is a must-have. You do it at home, where you might also have an iMac, and on the road or with clients. In that case, a MacBook is ideal. This means that portability is a requirement. You don't want to sacrifice power, though. After all, loading large files shouldn't detract from your efficiency.


You're going to be studying graphic design, or maybe you already are. Maybe you're studying engineering and you have to make technical 2D drawings. In these cases, you'll quickly notice that a proper MacBook is the best study partner. After all, you'll be spending hours every day using Adobe Creative suite programs, such as Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, or, for technical drawings, Autocad. You'll need enough force to work with these programs. It would also be nice if you could fit your laptop in your school bag, without having to drag around any excess weight.


As a hobbyist, you love editing photos or videos in your spare time. You edit holiday photos, earn a little extra cash as a photographer on your friends' wedding, or edit a video of the festival you and your friends went to the other day. To do that, you'll need the necessary editing programs, which require a powerful laptop. You don't want the most expensive laptop, as it's only a hobby after all. Your laptop will need to be powerful enough, though, because you don't want to wait hours for Premiere Pro to start.

In short

Professional Student Hobbyist
Processor i7 i5 i5
Storage 512GB 256GB 256GB
Storage type SSD SSD SSD
Dedicated video card Radeon Pro 560 (4GB storage) Radeon Pro 555 (2GB storage) -
Display Full HD 15-inch Retina Full HD 13-inch Retina Full HD 15-inch Retina
Touch Bar Yes Yes No

Specifications at a glance

Maybe the table has you thinking: "It's all well and good that I need an i5 processor, but why? What does that mean exactly?" Here, you can read what exactly makes a MacBook suitable for graphic design. It's a combination of 3 things: processor, RAM, and storage. Of course, for designers, there's a 4th specification that's just as important: the display.


Whether I am a student, hobbyist or professional user, in photo and video editing I need heavy graphics programs. Those programs require the necessary power from my MacBook. I do not want to wait for hours until a program has finally been started. I5 is powerful enough for graphic programs. This processor is so powerful that I easily have multiple programs open at the same time. I7 is slightly faster, but that difference is minimal. Especially for professionals who really use the heaviest graphics programs, i7 will be slightly better in the long run.


RAM memory MacBook

RAM is your MacBook's temporary memory. You need RAM for everything you do on your MacBook, like running multiple programs at the same time. If you don't have enough RAM memory for the jobs you're doing, your laptop will become slow. That's not something you want. RAM works closely with the processor. If your processor's processing speed can't keep up with your RAM, you still won't notice much of a difference. You'll need 16GB for professional photo editing, graphic design, HD videos, and lots of multitasking. Are you a student or a hobbyist? In that case, 8GB of RAM will also work.


MacBook storage

RAM is your MacBook's internal and temporary memory. When you turn off your laptop, any RAM data will be lost. Storage is the long-term memory. Graphic designers will need at least 256GB. If you're a professional user, though, you'll need more storage for all your large files. 512GB is the minimum. Of course, you can also decide to get an external hard drive to expand the storage capacity.

Display size

Display size MacBook

For designers, it's not just the processor and the storage that are important. The display is just as important. In the graphic design world, a 15-inch screen is the gold standard. Larger screens make working on a design a lot simpler. Are you a student who spends a lot of time in lectures or in the train? In that case, you could also get a 13-inch screen. At home, you might want to connect your MacBook to an external screen.

Display resolution

Display resolution MacBook

Apple MacBook Pro has a Retina display. It's a technology that displays 4 times the normal amount of pixels on the screen. This razor-sharp display makes every detail come to life. The screen has a high resolution with which you can edit photos and videos down to the smallest detail. The more detailed the display, the better and more accurate your work will be. That's why you should choose a Full HD Retina screen with a minimum resolution of 1920x1080 and an IPS panel. That way, you'll see true-to-life colors from every angle.

Video card

Video card MacBook

A video card (GPU) ensures that images, videos and animations in 2D or 3D are displayed faster. This way the processor has the possibility to deal with other tasks. There are loose and integrated GPUs. I use heavy graphics programs for photo and video editing. That's why I need a good graphics card. A dedicated video card is suitable for this, shared (integrated) is not. Shared cleverly distributes the working memory over all programs, but uses the memory of my MacBook. A dedicated video card, on the other hand, has its own working memory. This card does not use the working memory. This leaves enough working memory for other tasks.


MacBook accessories

The right MacBook will get you a long way. The right accessories will make you even more productive, though. Your laptop's compact size is ideal on the go, but you'll want to have a larger screen at home. With an external screen for your laptop, you can combine the best of both worlds. Also consider a pen or drawing tablet for programs like InDesign or Illustrator. Choose a hard drive to store all your large files and purchase an Adobe suite to have all your editing programs installed on your MacBook.


With the above specifications (processor, storage, RAM, display, and video card), you'll know exactly what to consider when buying a MacBook for graphic design. Of course, there's a big difference between editing a video every now and then in your spare time and spending hours every day making technical drawings. The more demanding the work, the more powerful your laptop should be.

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