How to Configure M2 Macs for Video Production and Editing

[ Updated July 9, 2023, to reflect recent testing of an M2 Max Mac Studio and the release of the M2 Ultra SoC. ]

Using computers for video production and editing no longer requires state-of-the-art hardware. That is a hard sentence to write, but it is most certainly true.

For more than two decades recording, editing, and playing digital video on a computer took the fastest hardware available – and then some. But no longer. Today, virtually any computer or mobile device can play and record video. While not all of them edit video equally well, even editing has become commonplace on most devices.

We only need to scroll through endless Facebook pages to realize that videos are ubiquitous.

This is not to say that, when it comes to professional work, faster computers or larger storage are not necessary. But, unlike the early years of this century where meeting the demands of video editors required Apple to keep improving its technology, those days are gone.

The state-of-the-art has moved on to other areas of computing.

All images courtesy: Apple, Inc.

When Apple silicon chips are described as simultaneously playing almost 20 streams of 8K ProRes video, you know that this hardware is more than adequate for virtually every filmmaker. That, I suspect, is why Apple no longer uses Final Cut Pro when showcasing new chips. Once a chip is fast enough, there’s not a whole lot new to show. (I mean, really, how often are you streaming more than a dozen 8K ProRes video clips in an edit?)

Instead, Apple highlights software for 3D modeling, Photoshop rendering, or compiling code. Today’s computers are more than fast enough for video editing.


The new M2 family of chips are exciting. They edit smoother, render faster and output more quickly than any other system. Faster than an M1 system and DRAMATICALLY faster than Intel gear.

For example, I was editing a recent webinar, which used ProRes 4444 for source files. I recently souped-up my MacBook Pro system, running an M1 Pro SoC, with an SSD RAID. I was seeing render speeds up to 900 MB/second. Exports were running around 350 MB/second. Editing was smooth and I didn’t need to render to see most effects.

The system was a delight. Then I bought a new M2 Mac Studio and discovered it was even faster!

Given that, here are my thoughts on hardware as you look to upgrade your system. You can spend as much as you want – but you don’t need the top-of-the-line to get your work done.


Intel Systems

If you are still on an Intel system, at some point you’ll need to upgrade to Apple silicon. There are already features that only run on newer systems. This is not to say that your existing Intel gear is no good, simply that you’ll benefit from the newer hardware. The speed benefits are dramatic and instantaneous.

When you do, keep your existing Intel gear and don’t upgrade it. That way, you have an older system to refer to when you need to open an older project.

M2 – M2 Pro – M2 Max – M2 Ultra

When the Mac Studio was announced, I realized that, for video editing, the M1 Max was more than sufficient. Yes, the M1 Ultra was faster, but the M1 Max did everything we needed for virtually all editing – even that atypical 8K job.

The same reasoning applies to the M2 family. The M2 Ultra is amazing, but, as video editors we don’t need it.

Based on what I read, the specs of the M2 Max are only slightly less powerful than the M1 Ultra. And based on my tests, the M2 Max edits every form of video up to 12K at 60 fps and supports dozens of 4K multicam streams! You don’t need the M2 Ultra to get your work done.

The big differences between the M2, M2 Pro, M2 Max and M2 Ultra are memory bandwidth (100, 200, 400 or 800 GB/s), total RAM, media engines (1 vs. 2) and Thunderbolt ports (4, 6, or 8). The media engines support HEVC, H.264 and ProRes encoding and decoding.

NOTE: Cinema style editing benefits from the single media engine. Multicam editing will benefit from the second media engine in the M2 Max/Ultra. However, in either case, if your media is not HEVC, H.264 or ProRes, having a media engine won’t make any difference. Switching to optimizing media or creating ProRes proxies will benefit from the speed of this built-in media engine.

CPU core counts are the same for both M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. The CPU is used for managing the interface, importing clips, editing tools and timeline, positioning and scaling clips. The GPUs are used to change the look of pixels. For example, dissolves, color grading and effects renders.

Both the M2 Pro and M2 Max are more than sufficient for 4K (and smaller frame size) editing. Both are more than sufficient for multicam editing (provided your storage is fast enough). Larger multicam projects with larger frame sizes will benefit from using the M2 Max.

For multicam editing, the gating factor isn’t the CPU, it’s the size and speed of your storage. For any multicam editing of more than a few streams, an SSD RAID is essential.

CPU & GPU Cores

Based on watching Activity Monitor during an edit, I have not seen where any software – Final Cut, Premiere, or DaVinci – maxes out CPU or GPU core usage of an M-series system.

Remember, regardless of the number of GPU cores, the image quality is the same. More cores gets you more speed – assuming that all cores are fully involved. What I’ve seen, however, is that many cores are not busy during render or output.


My current 16″ MacBook Pro has 32 GB of RAM and I’ve had zero problems editing. What extra RAM gets you is more file cacheing. That is, portions of clips are loaded into RAM, which makes access during editing faster. However, if you store files on the internal drive of your Mac, or an external SSD, that storage is SO fast that cacheing has only limited benefits. If you are using spinning media, you’ll benefit from more RAM. But, if you are using internal or external SSD storage, the benefits of cacheing are reduced.

My recommendation is to get a system with 32 or 64 GB of RAM. You can get more, but you won’t see a boost in performance.


Apple charges a ridiculous amount for internal SSD storage. More storage is good, however, you need to balance the cost of internal vs. external storage.

Most video projects today require multiple terabytes of storage. This means that, in most cases, you’ll need to add storage to your system.

I recently upgrading my main editing system to an M2 Mac Studio, which currently has:

Adding the SSD RAID made a big improvement in the responsiveness of my system.

My recommendation is an editing system with 1 – 2 TB of internal storage.

Other Options

I am very grateful that Apple added more ports to their hardware. That simplifies my life a lot – especially on the road. However, I’ve also found the CalDigit TS-4 dock to be extremely useful with its 13 ports of connectivity.

A 10G Ethernet connector provides faster access to servers, provided your network is configured to support the faster speed.

And while smaller screens travel more easily, I find larger screens more helpful in video editing simply because the interface is easier to see and work with.


Digital video no longer requires state-of-the-art hardware. We no longer need the biggest, fastest, most powerful system to get our work done. Rather, these latest systems continue to get faster which means that we continue to save time in getting our work done.

But we don’t need to spend extra money to get the top-of-the-line. The very best no longer makes a significant difference in how long it takes to get our work done. A mid-range choice is fine.

Just my thoughts.

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94 Responses to How to Configure M2 Macs for Video Production and Editing

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  1. Elena says:

    Hi Larry your article is very interesting. I am a web designer that occasionally does some video editing. I use an late 2013 iMAc 27″ and would like to turn on a MacBookPro now. I wonder if the configuration M2Pro CPU-10 core GPU 16-core 32 RAM and 1TB is good enough. Or do you suggest a CPU 12-core?

    I also look for a budget monitor (max 300€): can you suggest me a good product? Thanks

    • Larry says:


      For your needs the M2 Pro 10 core is more than sufficient. Smile… It will make your 2013 iMac feel like you were pushing a large rock uphill.

      For monitors, look into those created by LG.


  2. Mohan Lakshmipathy says:

    Very useful article Larry. Thanks for writing.

  3. Denis Kunz says:

    Larry, that was excellent insight – thank you! I am tired of all that useless benchmarking elsewhere. A 10 core M2 with 32GB and 1TB seems to be the most cost effective option.

    • Larry says:


      For most editing, I agree. Visual effects and massive multicam edits could use a bit more power than a base system though.


  4. Wayne Kurtz says:

    Thank you for this informative article. I need to upgrade my 2019 3.6 GHz 8-Core Intel Core i9 with Radeon Pro 580X 8gb as it lags too much when editing 4k.

    2 questions:
    – 2-3 segments of my wedding edits require multicam. The segments are 30-45 min duration and there are 4 to 6 cameras angles. Is 64gb unified memory recommended for me?
    – I currently must proxy the 8 bit 4K files used for Multicam. Will that still need to be done with the M2 chip?
    Thank you

    • Larry says:


      Thanks for your questions.

      1. 4-6 streams of multicam are, as these things go, relatively small. Yes, 64 GB is fine, you won’t need more.

      2. While I am a big fan of using proxies just in general, no, you won’t need to create proxy files for 4K video UNLESS the storage you are using is too slow. A single hard disk is not fast enough to support 4K multicam editing. You’ll need a PCIe SSD or faster.


  5. Anthony says:

    I need to do 8k editing for my videos from special events, I am looking at the MacBook Pro with M2 and either 32 or 64 unified memory, just not sure which is better, necessary to accommodate the process. It costs more to jump to 64. Which will not complicate my editing needs?

    • Larry says:


      Single camera? 32 GB is fine.

      Multicam camera streaming? 64 GB is better.

      If it were me, simply for the peace of mind, I’d get 64 GB. But 32 will work if money is tight.


  6. Larry…fantatic note…can you say what flavor of NAS are you using for your 24 tB of intermediate media? I have a QNAP TVS882T which is having big issues with SMB and final cut losing connection…like you I use an 8TB SSD RAID for current projects but need the intermediate to work better…thank you…Steve

    • Larry says:


      I have an older Synology server that’s used for archiving. I also have an older four-drive OWC RAID.

      The Synology is too slow for any serious editing. I use it to store files that I use across multiple projects. Along with standard office stuff.


  7. Mike says:

    Hi Larry,

    I appreciate this and other articles you have created.

    I’m planning on getting a Mac Studio in line with what you’re recommending. I have a general question about future-proofing.

    My specific needs are a rig for projects like:
    4K editing; no multi-cam; never more than 2 projects in the same month; minimal VFX and color grading (i.e. if I have a big project that needs pro VFX or color, I farm out these two needs).

    And the specs I’ve chosen are right on your higher recommendations:
    Mac Studio with M2 Max 12-core CPU
    30-core GPU, 64GB RAM, 2 TB SSD

    1) Anything worth changing in order to future proof this more?

    2) Any concerns about also using Bootcamp or Parallels on a computer that I need for editing (setting aside any questions about HD space)?


    • Larry says:


      This is an excellent system and should work well for years to come. I wouldn’t change anything given your description.

      However, I don’t use Boot Camp or Parallels so I can’t give advice. Please confirm these will work with your new system before you buy it. Give the 2 TB size of your internal drive, disk space won’t be a problem.


      • Mike says:

        Thank you for your thoughts and your papers. (feel free to contact me if you ever need anything on the creative side)

  8. Sandeep says:

    Hey Larry, I am someone new to editing and am thinking of buying the macbook m2 pro 14″ base variant. Just to future proof myself, I have the following questions.

    1) Do you think it will be sufficient for editing 4k footages with Max 3-4 cams?

    2) I plan on using Blender and heavy VFX in my edits later on so will this system support all that?

    3) If I were to get a 12 core m2pro with 32 gb and 1 tb, would that make it significantly better or it’s just a minor change?

    4) If you were in my shoes and you could add 300-400 dollars more, which upgrades would you do? Please tell them in the order of decreasing priority.

    Your article was really helpful, thank you


    • Larry says:


      Any modern computer can easily edit HD and 4K video. So, yes, your M2 14″ MacBook Pro is a good choice. The base model uses an M2 Pro SoC, which is fine for the editing you describe. For visual effects, the image quality is the same, what you get by spending more money is faster performance, not higher quality.

      That being said, I would recommend one and suggest two more upgrades from the base unit (M2 Pro, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB storage):

      * Add more storage – to 1 TB. This is important, because unless you spend money for very fast external storage, you will use the internal drive for your multicam editing and you need to be sure you have enough room for media, work files and applications.

      * I suggest adding more RAM, raising it to 32 GB. This isn’t necessary for editing, but it will help with your visual effects work. A lot.

      * Finally, you should expect to need more external storage. For editing, any hard disk drive will work. For multicam editing, an SSD will very quickly become necessary. You don’t need to buy this now, just expect to need it in the future.


      P.S. Adding more cores will make the VFX software run faster, but I wouldn’t spend the money for more cores unless you first added more storage and RAM – that will help more.

      • Sandeep says:

        Thanks for your suggestions. I have gone ahead and bought the laptop and your suggestions and article helped me a lot!! Please keep posting more articles for newcomers like me.

  9. Jim Page says:

    Hi Larry, quick question regarding the M2 Ultra. You’re saying the MAX is enough for most uses, but what are your thoughts on its suitability for multitasking? i often have after effects, premiere and Photoshop open at the same time along with browsers, utilities etc, swapping between them, rendering multiple things at the same time. Do you think it would be prudent to get the M2 Ultra with 128GB RAM instead?

    • Larry says:


      Good question (sorry you needed to enter it twice – all comments are moderated). Multitasking is more dependent upon RAM than the CPU. So, while you would benefit from more RAM, you may or may not benefit from the Ultra. If you think about it, software developers need to write for laptops which currently max out around 32 GB RAM. Adobe is not going to sacrifice performance on a MacBook Pro simply because it doesn’t have 128 GB of RAM – especially when laptops outsell desktops.

      That being said, if you can afford the Ultra and more RAM – by all means get it. But, if budget limits your choice, get the most RAM you can afford and stay with the Max chip. Where the Ultra shines is calculation speed, not running multiple apps at the same time. Premiere won’t really benefit from the Ultra, Photoshop may – but not a lot. Where the Ultra makes a big difference is in After Effects, 3D modeling, and other render-intensive tasks.


  10. Jon Feathers says:

    Hey Larry,

    I’m currently stuck between a 14′ MacBook Pro M1 Max w 64gb RAM & 2tb internal


    14′ MacBook Pro M2 Pro w 32gb Ram & 1tb Internal

    Typically would be 1 – 2 camera 4k editing, log files all that sorts. They’re the same price so didn’t know if opting for the M2 chip with the lower RAM & Internal Storage would be the move or taking the M1 Max w higher tan and more storage.

    Thanks for the insight!

    • Larry says:


      Either of these systems will be fine. I own an M1 Pro 16″ MacBook Pro with 32 GB of RAM. I’m able to stream far more than 20 (yup, TWENTY) 4K video streams.

      I also bought an M2 Mac Studio (M2 Max) which, depending upon the speed of your storage, can stream 40+ 4K streams.

      32 GB of RAM is fine for HD and 4K editing.


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