Is the New MacBook Air Capable of Editing 4K Video?

It’s been four years since Apple updated the MacBook Air, and many are saying that the new updated ultrabook is worth the wait. But in a 4K world, can the new Air hold up to editing 4K video?  It’s a compelling question, one’s who’s answer probably requires a cup of coffee.

First, lets review the specs:

  • 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, with 4MB L3 cache
  • up to 16GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 on-board memory
  • up to 1.5TB PCIe based SSD
  • 13.3-Inch Liquid Retina Display with a resolution of 2660×1600 and 227 pixels per inch (14 million total).
  • Intel UHD Graphics 617
  • 2 Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports
  • Butterfly 2 keyboard, Forcetouch trackpad
  • 802.11ac WiFi

Note, the MacBook Air is dual core, but that really isn’t all that bad. Most apps aren’t written to leverage the multi-core capability of their hardware, and even when it does, the computer can actually slow down. But video editors are one of those apps that would seem to want to harness that additional processor power. On top of that, the Intel UHD Graphics 617 processor GPU is likely not going to handle a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to video rendering, especially when dealing with CGI and visual effects.

We are well aware that with FCPX being optimised only for macOS, it is the fastest NLE on the Mac by far. This opens up many possibilities such as less powerful machines being able to do heavy lifting, especially in 4K. – FCP.Co

However, Final Cut Pro X has been tuned in tightly to work on the macOS Mojave architecture, so it can squeeze out every bit of performance it can out of that dual core i5.  Rated the fastest NLE on the market, this will definitely give the lighter MacBook Air a leg up when it comes to video editing. But when you’re dealing with 4K video, the new MacBook Air is going to be, well, let’s just say “a tad leisurely” with dealing with the workflow. Check out this short video by Kraig Adams:

Adams got the base model wit 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD. Adams did hedge his bets, however, by getting an additional 1TB portable SSD, which he could connect via the Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port. In testing a 10 minute video blog and a client’s wedding video, Adams said he was able to accomplish his workflow with little problems, save for a slight delay in render speed and thumbnail generation. The video export was also twice as long with the MacBook Air as with the MacBook Pro.

Consequently, Adams said it was completely doable to shoot and edit 4K video with the base model MacBook Air, but he does recommend spending a little more on RAM and a larger SSD in order to keep the speed the fastest it can be with the internal bus.  So, ideal for shooting out in the field and crashing together a rough cut in 4K, or to output to YouTube. Sounds like a winner!

What do you guys think? Have you tried cutting 4K on the new MacBook Air yet? Let us know your results in the comments below.

About James DeRuvo 564 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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