Premiere Pro on laptops - Will CPU, GPU, or RAM make editing/scrubbing smoother?

Hey level1techs,

For school and some side-work, I’ve been doing video editing. I’m considering turning it into a more serious side-hustle (seeking commissions and one-offs, etc.) and it’s another thing leading me to feel like I should upgrade my laptop.

I’ve got a second-hand MSI GS63VR with an i7-6700HQ and a GTX 1060 (6GB), 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB Samsung 960 Evo. All things considered, it’s a pretty great machine. I recently serviced the display, heatsink fans, and replaced the battery in anticipation of selling the laptop after I upgrade/replace it.

I’d like to upgrade to a smaller laptop with a better CPU and use an external GPU as my “desk hub” for all my peripherals. But, complications stemming from using an eGPU and Ryzen 4000 not supporting Thunerbolt 3 makes me think I might should get a laptop with an integrated GPU. If going that route, I feel like I should be waiting for the next generation of laptops to come out hopefully in ~January next year…

That said, I’m trying to figure out what would improve my experience actually editing video in Premiere Pro, and most testing and numbers I find regarding performance only talk about render times. IMO, this is not a very useful metric as it’s the very last (and smallest part) of any project I’ve worked on. What’s more, it’s a “passive” task I can start and do something else while it’s happening.

For example, a 15-minute documentary probably took more than two weeks of time editing and that was more painful and frustrating due to jittery start/stop behavior when playing clips to see how the edit looks. Or the system hanging up while scrubbing. Or Premier Pro getting bogged down and crashing–which may or may not improve with better hardware, but I assume it would be better if everything else is more stable and responsive…

Anyways, I was wondering if anyone had input on what kind of improvements I might see upgrading my laptop, and even what kind of compromises I might see if I give up my dedicated 1060 and am waiting to purchase an eGPU, or am working away from home, etc.

From what I can tell, newer (~10th gen) Intel CPUs are a lot faster than my 6700, to the point where even U-series CPUs look better in benchmarks. Being able to bring a lighter laptop around is very appealing to me, and I’m heavily considering that if I really would be seeing (even a minor) improvement in CPU performance.

It’s hard for me to tell if moving up to 32GB of memory would make much of a difference. It seems like Windows does a pretty good job of managing its memory, but I’m pretty irresponsible with leaving tabs open and not closing programs when I go off and do something else or decide to play a game. I don’t mind paying premium for it, and/or don’t mind using an upgrade kit myself.

The GPU does seem to be the system’s bottleneck when I’m rendering. But, again, I’m not too worried about render times. There are effects in Premiere that use the GPU either during application or during playback, and those can be pretty rough. (They’re not very common in my projects, though, so far.) I’ve done some editing on a friend’s desktop with a 2070 and even that can get bogged down, so I’m not sure anything could remedy that on mobile hardware.

Your system is pretty good for occasional editing, HEVC rendering should be pretty quick, with that being said, I don’t recommend upgrading to a smaller laptop, anything bellow 15.6" is really thermally limited.
Speaking about your issue of jittery playback while editing, try enabling/disabling hardware acceleration for it, try moving your footage to a faster storage device such as SSD and an RAM upgrade might help with larger projects. Crashing is pretty common thing in Premiere and sadly a lot of the time it’s on Adobe to fix them.
Speaking about your CPU, upgrade to any U series CPU from intel is not an option the most powerful U series CPU from intel is around 20% better, even though it has 2 more cores and 4 more threads. If you want a low power CPU Ryzen 4800U is the best bet, but the GPU options that comes with them aren’t enough of an upgrade that I’d consider, and well eGPU would only be possible by using PCIe lanes of M.2 as current-gen Ryzen doesn’t have actual thunderbolt support.
Tbh a real system upgrade probably would cost way more than you’re willing to pay, so I’d just max out your current rig, with more RAM if you’re doing 4k footage, maybe add a second high-performance SSD in your system, but other than that you’re pretty much in a pretty sweet spot, well unless you want to do video editing as a professional, then just buy a Clevo with top of the line specs.

Yeah, Ryzen 4000 on mobile is exciting enough that it makes me want to upgrade to it, but everything else about this generation is so marginal that it’s not justifiable. Also, there are some quirks with most of the laptops available right now that I’m just not sold. (Lots have two M.2 slots, but most of them only allow PCIe x4 on one, or x2/x2 at best.)

There are 4C/8T processors in the U series from 10th gen.

Realistically, there’s no “pressure” to upgrade right now as much as I just want shiny new gear, so it’s definitely worth waiting to see what gets announced ~Q1 next year before making any moves.

1 Like