Best low CPU required video editing software?

My trusty old (and heavy and hot and 1 hour battery life) Alienware M17x is dying on me. I spent one weekend trying to recover from a total BSOD nightmare, and I have frequent signs of impending failure.

So I’m looking to purchase a new notebook. Lots of VERY cool options out there. I really like the very lightweight and very long battery life two in ones like the HP Spectre 360 15 and the Lenovo Yoga 910 (I think?) with the 14" screens. I don’t game on my notebook (other than an occasional CK2 type game) - most of my gaming is on my PS4 and iPad, I want a 1080p screen because I don’t like how Windows scales some things.

I travel a lot, so the 2in1s like the ones I mentioned are very attractive with their flexibility, low weight, and long battery life. BUT - the ONLY thing I do that restricts my choices is some occasional video editing. It’s basically taking 1080 or 720p hi res videos and editing them down (usually taking several of these, cutting them down, putting the clips from various videos together, perhaps adding a soundtrack, occasionally adding a watermark for which I need to adjust the size and location) - nothing super fancy. Adding a title screen.

My current video editor and most of the top 5 or so I’ve used really needs a quad core CPU to edit well. Oddly enough, the GPU isn’t so important (my current editor doesn’t recognize my nVidia card - weird thing specific to this old video card - so it uses the Intel HD4000 instead, and it works just fine.) What I’ve seen is even the latest Intel i7 “U” style dual core processors have lower CPU benchmarks than my old, but quad core, CPU in this old machine.

I hate to restrict my choices based on my need for occasional video editing but I do need to do this about once a week. I’d love to get my hands on a Spectre 360 or a Yoga just long enough to see just how much worse it would be editing, but don’t know how to do that.

SO - I was wondering if there are any video editing programs out there that don’t need the quad core CPUs to do what I do? I don’t use 80% of the features in my program (but the features I do use I want to work well!)


Does Premiere need quad core? My impression was it wasn’t too much of a system hog, but I haven’t used it in a while.

I really don’t know. I need to have a i7-7550U (or whatever the latest Kabylake ultrabook CPUs are) system for a day that i can install it on and some HD clips and just try it. But don’t currently have access to anything like that. :(

The new Dell XPS 15 inch Kaby Lake systems are quite nice, portable, and the midrange model Core i5 has a true quad core as well.

Very upgradeable, I checked the manual and you simply remove the bottom to switch out hdds including sata and m.2, plus two ddr4 memory slots.

Yep, I think that’s the direction I’m going to go. Except I’ll probably get the Dell Precision 5520 - it’s basically the same XPS 15 platform and hardware (other than GPU options, but since I’m not gaming I’m cool with the combination Intel GPU plus nVidia Quadro GPU.) However, it appears the QC and build quality (heatsinks, lot of other “little” things) and reliability are significant better. If you read the XPS 15 owners thread on and the comparative Precision 5510 (the Skylake version) you can really see the plethora of issues with the XPS 15.

But yeah, the need for a quad core CPU really locks me out of most light, long battery life notebooks. Even looking at the Thinkpad line on, which have a good rep, I find I can’t configure a quad core system.

Can you link to the topic with the feedback please.

Be happy to.

Here’s the XPS 15 9550 (Skylake) thread. About 336 pages of people talking about workarounds and problems. The most respected guy in the thread, Gonzo, who helps everyone else out (though he can be blunt, LOL!) is on his 3rd or 4th return.

Here is the thread that is specific to owners of the XPS 15 sharing problems:

That one is only about 166 pages.

Once you get there you’ll find in the Dell owners forum the 5510 and 5520 Precision owners threads pretty easily. Here is a thread with some people talking about the difference between the XPS 15 and the Precision brother:

Some comments from various threads (just examples here) on the difference between the Precision and the XPS models:

“I’ve got both (a 9550 and a 5510). The Precision is better - opened them up, more attention to detail (copper heat shields, wiring org. etc.) in the Precision. Also the screens are different, the precision screen has better colors. Its actually awesome”

"Back on topic? 5510 vs 9550.
I have both. I’ve had them apart (both Dell seconds, no warranty). My 2c on the differences:
Motherboards: identical. Same type number: LA-C361P. I think you could swap them over (use 5510 Xeon M/B in 9550). Same heatsinks.
Of course the 5510 M/Bs have NVidia Quadro graphics, so better for OpenGL, 20% worse for games, less heat/noise.
Case/speakers/batteries/fans etc.: identical.
Keyboard/trackpad: look identical. I swear the keyboard on the 5510 feels softer (same travel though) but might be imagination.
Touch/UHD Screen: Hard to know. Quoted differently (5510: IZGO), I think there have been/are several different versions of the 9550 touch/UHD. Reviews say they are different (5510 not as bright). Just looking at the two, the colours on the 5510 look deeper/better. They have the same connectors though so you could swap them over.
Overall: The insides of the 5510 had more copper insulators (stuck on to things), more detail in cable routing, more pads to prevent things coming together. They took more care assembling the Precision (you’d hope so).

So for the same price: 5510 wins (unless you are a gamer)."

“Precision 5510 have CM236 chipset, while xps 9550 have HM170.
CM236 is business class, more endurance tested and have more pcie lanes.”

And this from an XPS 15 owner:

" really like my XPS. The combination of performance, screen, upgradability, size, weight, design, keyboard, etc. is quite good. Just not as good as Dell marketing says it is.

Unfortunately, the 9550 shipped in beta form. Most of the major issues were resolved via BIOS and driver updates, but it took Dell a long time (e.g. the 4k flicker was largely resolved last month!). Cooling shortcuts requre performance users to replace the thermal paste and thermal pads. It probably took me a few hundred hours of research and execution to optimize this laptop and I think that is a big ask from Dell. If Dell had shipped the 9550 with fully vetted BIOS-drivers and proper thermal paste-thermal pads then optimization would have taken a few hours at most.

Also, Dell’s marketing needs to be called out. The TB3 lane reduction will “suprise” some users for speed and compability. Dell’s own Thunderbolt problems and the Dell TB15 dock “recall.” The HDMI 2.0 “oversight” is irritating. The 9560’s missing fingerprint scanner, however, is better than a defective one (it must have been really bad for dell not to deliver in beta form).

In the final analysis, after a year of painful real-world beta testing, Dell got the 9550 largely sorted and mine runs largely trouble free. The “new” 9560 looks to be virtually the same as the 9550 so owners should benefit from massive real-world platform testing. Dell said they improved the Alienware thermal paste-thermal pads around December 2016 so maybe that flows through to the 9560. Today I think the 9550 is an excellent laptop for technically savy users who understand its limitations and are able (or willing to learn) to optimize it. The 9560 may be even better but I’ll let new market beta testers report here…"

The Precision is in the Dell business line, so it appears from my online research they spend more time on QC and quality control on those units.

At this point, I’m waiting and reading the reports on notebookreview from people getting the new Kaby Lake versions of both the XPS and Precision systems. My guess is around March for my purchase.

Wait, so that refers to the old version? I was referring to the Kaby Lake version, which is quite a bit newer. Do you really think they haven’t worked the bugs out since 12+ months ago when that was introduced? Wikipedia says

On October 8, 2015, Dell refreshed the XPS 15 (9550) with the Skylake microarchitecture.

Kaby Lake is itself kind of a “bugfixed” Skylake, offering little more than HEVC (H.265) decoding and higher clock speeds.

Weird to bring up year old concerns about this machine IMO. Especially since the post calls out the fixes they already shipped!

If you read you still see people talking about problems. Believe me, the XPS 15 was my choice until I started reading the notebook forums every day. While the Kaby Lake is an update of Skylake (though minor) the issues with build quality and consistency are still apparently there. There have been a LOT of problems eventually resolved but even people with the machine today tell people asking about it, hey, if you’re willing to spend a lot of time to get it working right, go in and redo the thermal paste and pads, etc. you may be happy with it.

I have no confidence their QC will be any better today than it was a month ago. And this is from someone with 3 Dell notebooks currently in my family, and I’ve had Dell notebooks for probably the last 12 years. Like I said, I’m waiting to see the reports from people buying the new 9560 and 5520 and I’ll make my decision based on those reports.

Alienware Reddit is also going crazy with heat issues ect on their new chipsets. It’s hard to know how much of this is aspie whining but in general they’re all talking about repasting CPUs and that, despite having a much larger cooling system than Asus or Acer laptops, tend to run noisier and hotter.

Yeah “reapplying thermal compound” sounds like min-max nonsense to me. I would expect bios issues and tweaks to have worked their way through the Skylake verson a year ago by now, since Kaby is such a minor update.

Well, I have read every post in that forum on the XPS 15 and the Precision 5510/5520, and at this point I’m just going to sit back and read the reviews on the newly released systems. My guess is that what we’ll get with the Kaby Lake versions is basically the same build quality and practices and essentially the same overall machines as the Skylake ones with the minor improvements. My biggest concern is all of the people opening up their XPS 15s and seeing very poorly applied thermal paste, thermal pads not seated properly, etc. I.e. the overall QC. That’s not going to change.

The general theme I read is if you get a good one, it’s a good machine, but if you get a bad one, be prepared for a journey. ;) Like I said, I’m just going to watch the reviews on the new systems and if they seem to be stable then make my decision.

Dell definitely needs better QC, especially on their XPS line. Those are their premiere machines, designed to go up against Apple hardware.

The thing is, Apple has always been obsessive about quality. I remember a story from way back in the iPod days. The iPods used laptop hard drives. Reporter visits a drive maker and watches the process. There’s one assembly line that has a lot more people and focus on it than the others, but they’re all churning out the same model of hard drive. Reporter asks about that, and they inform him those are the hard drives destined for Apple.

I’m not expecting Apple obsessiveness, but Dell is clearly cutting corners when they should be doing the opposite. The only black mark about the XPS lineups are the huge number of horror stories. People are looking for Mac alternatives for the first time in years. Dell needs to step up their game.

It seems like something changed in their QC or supply chain as Dell used to have a pretty good reputation a couple years ago. That both XPS and Alienware are having QC issues seems to point to something in manufacturing across models.

The Inspiron 15 I picked up a year ago turned out to be very decent after a couple of months if latches but it was basically released without a working Intel HD graphics driver for Skylake and Windows 10.

That’s pretty much why I’m still using Apple for “important” personal things. Most PCs are much more reliable than they used to be but still quality control / driver issues seem to still be a problem. I know that some Dell workstations I picked up recently still have some driver issues with the their workstation graphics. It’s not Dells fault per se (crappy AMD FirePros) but still annoying to deal with.

That’s how I got turned on to the Dell Precision 5510 (now 5520) line. It’s the same hardware (except for Quadro rather than GTX video, but I’m not getting it for games) and design, but made for their business line. People with who have opened up a Precision and XPS comment on how much more obvious care has gone into the Precisions: no sloppy thermal paste jobs, things tucked in, pads properly placed, etc. And even though the hardware design is pretty much identical, there have not been the huge numbers of quality complaints the XPS 15 has.

Looks like you are right, even one of our employees got bit…

here’s hoping the Kaby Lake XPS 15 model fixed it. I already upgraded and shipped out the one I got, so he’ll tell me in a month or so how it’s going.

This is sad to hear. My XPS laptop was killer for 5 straight years, when the GPU went kaput from overheating.

My XPS desktop from 2008 still runs today, and can play PC games, that thing is solid as a mother-effin rock.

Anybody get the XPS 15 9560 yet and have anything to report? Was thinking of ordering one. Either that or splurge on the Surface Book 2 but that’s another $1k. I don’t really care to pay that much for the weight/size difference and faster GPU. Plus the Dell has perfect upgradeability vs the zero upgradeability on the Book.

I will game on it, but I am fine with saving the intensive games for the desktop, and by all accounts the 1050 is pretty good if I don’t mind dropping the rez down 1080p from 4k.