I’ve been editing video on the base model M1 MacBook Air for the last two years. While I’ve experienced a few crashes due to memory bottlenecks, I haven’t found a reason yet to upgrade to the faster performance of the M1 Pro. The M2 MacBook Air has changed that.
If you’re a video editor on a budget, the M2 MacBook Air 13” and 15″ is the Mac that will solve most of your problems. For the price, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it gives you the performance boost you need over the M1 chip.
So why should you use the M2 MacBook Air for video editing?
The M2 MacBook Air is the perfect Mac for video editors because it has a media engine with hardware acceleration that isn’t available in the M1 base model Macbook.
In this article, I’ll discuss why most video editors should be using the M2 MacBook Air over the M1, M1 Pro, and M2 chips.
The M2 MacBook Air now has the media engine that was missing from the M1 chip with 16 cores. This is the same media engine present in the M1 Pro and M1 Pro max. If you’re a professional video editor, you’ll notice the huge performance improvement with the M1 Pro over the M1, but you won’t notice a huge improvement from the M1 Pro over the M1 Pro Max or M1 ultra. That’s because the Media engine is the same in all these chips.
The M1 MacBook, Mac mini, and iMac are fast computers, but the media engine makes decoding video so much faster when editing with h.264. It can also work with up to 8k footage and Pro Res.
Today, most video editors are making YouTube videos and Instagram reels. They’re making home movies, or doing small client work.
Most people don’t need the high performance of the M1 Pro or Ultra. If you’re a video editor on a budget, the M2 macbook air is more than enough for your needs, and if you’re still stuck with the M1 MacBook air, you’ll still see great performance for video editing.
If you don’t believe me, check out Casey Neistat’s video on youtube. You’ll notice that he’s not editing with the M1 pro, he’s using an M1 iMac, and he’s shooting most of his videos with the Sony A7siii, which is one of the top consumer cameras on the market.
This just shows that the M1 chip will work fine for most people. So for an extra $200, I think the M2 macbook air is probably worth it for most video editors.
Which M2 MacBook air should I buy?
I recommend buying the M2 Macbook air upgraded to 16gb of memory, but the best bang for the buck M2 Macbook air is the base model. I know this sounds lame, because 8gb of memory is barely enough for video editors, but 8gb is actually the bare minimum to do video editing.
Ideally, I would recommend at least 16gb of memory, but that adds an extra $200 with a total price of $1300. That’s $700 less than the M2 Pro and M2 Mac Studio which you can do so much more.
The M2 Macbook Pro ($700 more) will give you 16gb of memory, the M2 Pro chip, an inch larger mini LED screen, an HDMI port, SD card reader, more ports, 2x the bandwidth, more graphic cores and a 2x faster neural engine.
I’m not saying don’t buy the model with 16gb of memory. I’m just saying that any upgrade to the M2 macbook air is not really worth the cost. So if you can, stick with the base model, and don’t open more than 2 other apps while editing videos.
I usually edit on a M1 iMac and I can barely edit videos while running safari and photoshop simultaneously. 8gb is not ideal, but editing videos can still be done, and it’s the best budget option for video editors.
Who is the M2 Macbook Air for?
The M2 Macbook air is targeted at mostly college students and content creators. It’s for anyone getting started in video editing or doing semi-professional video work. Right now, you can do incredible video work with the M1 Macbook Air, so the M2 is a huge bonus for only $200 more.
Problems with the M2 Macbook air
The biggest problem with the M2 Macbook Air is the hard drive if you purchase the base model. The current base model has a much slower 256gb SSD than if you purchase the 512 gb SSD. If possible, get the 512 gb SSD.
It will not only speed up your video editing, but it will improve the time it takes to open applications, transfer files, boot your computer, and man other processes. It will also improve export time.
M2 Macbook Air vs M2 Mac Mini
For video editing, I still prefer the M2 Macbook air because most people need a device for their desk and on the go. The M2 mac mini is great, but it’s not easy to take it with you unless you have access to an external display wherever you go.
Also, if you have a Mac mini you have to buy a 5k display for about $1000, or use a monitor with 2k resolution that just looks worse. If you want a 4k monitor forget about it because there aren’t any 4k monitors that display resolution natively for the Mac (except for the 24″ iMac).
If you have the discipline to only sit at your desk and you don’t travel, the M2 Mac mini is a great buy and will provide a much better ergonomic setup than the M2 Macbook air alone, but just plan on getting a good 5k monitor.
Why you need an external monitor?
If you have the means, use an external monitor with your M2 Macbook air. Not only is it better for ergonomics, but it will also make editing video easier. I recommend the 5k Studio display, but you can save a lot of money buying a used or refurbished 5k LG ultrafine 27″ display.
The LG display has about the same quality as the 5k Studio display, and it’s great. I’m still using my 5k LG ultrafine and it’s 5 years old. I haven’t had any issues with it, and it has a stand that will raise and lower. Those same features with the Studio display will cost you $1999, and I found my monitor for only $500.
If you’re a video editor, a single monitor setup isn’t usually enough, and a dual display setup can make a huge difference. But you need to consider ergonomics. To learn more, read my other article on the best ergonomics setup for dual monitors. In this article, I talk about how to improve your ergonomics by having the proper monitor height, and display angles, and how to reduce problems related to glare and neck pain.
The M2 Macbook isn’t for everyone, but it’s perfect machine for the video editor on a budget. If you’re not running huge applications, the M1 Macbook air will be more than fine. But for anyone getting started in video, the M2 Macbook air is the one to get.
If you have a little more money. Definetely go for the 15″. You’ll appreciate the extra screen real estate, and going from 13″ to 15″ makes a huge difference.
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