Best Computer for Video Editing (Updated)

CG Director Author Alex  by Alex   ⋮   ⋮   365 comments
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Best Computer for Video Editing (Updated)

Video Editing – One of the most popular things you can do on a Computer or Workstation.

No wonder so many people are looking for the perfect Machine for their Video Editing needs. A specialized and optimized Computer for Video Editing can save you time, a lot of frustration and in the long run, lots of money.

The great thing about Video Editing is, it has become so accessible, that you can now even edit Videos on a Laptop.

Back in the old days, the only way you could edit your analog video, was by using cutting machines that were huge and heavy, and unbelievably expensive. You needed a team to operate all the Video Editing machinery.

Old Fashion video editing

Image-Source: rowlandediting.wordpress.com

With modern day computers, digital video and the speed at which Computer Technology is evolving, anyone can be a Video Editor, at least from a technological standpoint.

It doesn’t matter if you are editing your birthday video, a documentation for a local wildlife broadcaster, a commercial for the big Brand’s washing machine or edit huge Hollywood productions.

There’s a Computer and very specific kind of hardware components for anyone and every kind of budget.

The same can be applied to Video Editing Software. It does not matter if you are using Windows Movie Maker, Sony Vegas, Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid, Davinci Resolve or any other of the gazillion Video Editing Applications out there.

All of these run on a Computer that you can get off the shelf.

And let me tell you this right now: The best Computers for Video Editing aren’t all that expensive anymore.

Not for Professionals – because they earn their money with it, and a great Computer is just worth every penny – and not for Video Editing Amateurs, because a Computer that you can edit a Home-Shoot Smartphone Video on, really doesn’t have to be expensive.

How does Video Editing utilize your Computer’s Hardware?

If we want to build the best Computer for Video Editing, the first step is to analyze what Hardware your Video Editing Software actually uses the most and in what way.

Now, there are so many different Video Editing Applications out there, but I will focus on one for now:

Adobe Premiere Pro. It is a very popular Video Editing Software, that many professionals and also amateurs edit in and is perfect for our analysis because lots of other Video Editing Apps use the Hardware in very similar ways.

Best Computer for Video Editing - Premiere Pro GUI

Let’s take a look at how I myself would Edit a Video in Premiere Pro, and we can go from there and take a closer look at what these steps imply, hardware-wise.

My typical Video-Editing workflow:

  • Load Footage into my Project
  • Create Sequences and rough cuts with this footage
  • Play-Back my timeline a lot of times, to be able to edit
  • Add Transitions, Effects, Titles
  • Add Sound Effects and Music
  • Render out my Timeline with the actual non-proxy footage

This is a very rough workflow of the basic steps a Video Editor would be doing throughout a typical day, nothing fancy.

If you think about it, Editing Video, from an underlying Hardware perspective is something that can be broken down into a few simple steps:

  1. The Software reads Data (the Footage) from your Storage Medium.
  2. Your Editing Software has to decode this footage.
  3. The Software then manipulates this Footage depending on the effects and color-grading you are using (if at all).
  4. This manipulated footage is then usually stored in the Memory (RAM), so you have a real-time experience when playing back the timeline.

When rendering out your final project, the only thing you add to this chain is:

  1. Encode the timeline into your desired codec and
  2. Save the finished encoded Data to the Storage Medium.

It is these 6 simple steps, that we will have to optimize as much as possible to build our Best Computer for Video Editing.

Let’s step through them one at a time as see what Hardware Part is responsible for speeding each of these up:

Reading / Loading of the Footage

This is an easy one: Your Storage Device and the transfer Bus are responsible for the speed at which your footage can be read from a Storage Medium.

There are three popular Storage types that you can choose from nowadays:

The Hard Drive (HDD)

The Hard Disc Drive is the slowest of these three options. Sequential Read speeds are usually around 150Mbyte/s. Random Read and Write is a multitude Slower.

Hard Drives have great Cost/GByte, but rank last place in speed.

Hard Drives are great for Archiving and Backing up large Data, that doesn’t have to be accessed all the time, but I would not recommend using an HDD as an active working Device for your Footage.

Good HDDs can usually be found from Seagate or Western Digital, such as the Seagate Barracuda Series or the Western Digital Blue or Red Series.

You can get HDDs in sizes up to 14TB, though the best price/GByte mark lies somewhere around 8TB.

seagate-barracuda HDD Overview

Image-Source: Seagate

Next up is the Solid State Drive (SSD)

A Solid State Drive (SATA) is usually about 4 Times faster than an HDD and will speed up the reading of your Footage a lot. SSDs aren’t all that expensive anymore and prices are coming down quite fast.

I recommend to minimally get an SSD as your active Footage Storage Medium.

The Samsung 860 EVO or PRO, that come at reasonable prices in sizes from 256GB up to 4TB is a great SSD with high-end performance.

Best Computer for Video Editing - SSD vs NVMe

Image-Source: atpinc.com

As Video Footage can become quite large, you will want a Storage Medium that has the maximum of Sequential Read and Write Speeds that you can get your hands on for a reasonable price, and that brings us to NVMe SSDs:

NVMe SSDs

NVMe SSD (Non-Volatile Memory Express) Solid State Drives, basically are SSDs on Steroids. They use a different Socket / Bus on the Mainboard and can reach much higher performance than a regular SATA SSD.

They can be over 5 Times faster than even SSDs at sequential read and write speeds and will make reading large Footage an easy task.

Although slightly more expensive than SSDs, they are definitely worth the money. Highly recommended!

Great NVMe SSDs that I can recommend are the Samsung 970 EVO PLUS and Samsung 970 PRO, that come in sizes from 250GB up to 2 TB.

samsung_970_evo

Image-Source: techlabor.com

NVMe SSDs will help you read even RAW Footage in 4K+ Resolutions in real time.

Let’s start with adding a Samsung 970 PRO 1TB to our Best Computer for Video Editing Build. That way we should already be able to rule out the Storage Medium as a bottleneck.

What’s next in our Video Editing Workflow?

Decoding the Footage

Now, reading alone usually won’t be enough to be able to see the footage, as almost every Footage is encoded in some way. If it’s encoded (usually mainly to save space) it has to be decoded before playback and viewing.

Decoding is something that is usually done by the Processor (CPU). Unfortunately, there is no one CPU that is best for all types of Footage “Codecs” or Video File types.

It seems to be as follows: RED Footage likes CPUs with lots of cores. The AMD Threadripper 2990WX is the best CPU for decoding and playing back RED Footage:

Video Editing CPU - RED Footage

Image-Source: pugetsystems.com

If you are using Cinema DNGs or other Image Sequences then it is usually the other way around: This type of Footage likes high Core-Clocks as in the Intel i7 8700K or the recently released i9 9900K.

Load Footage CinemaDNG - Video Editing Best CPU

Image-Source: pugetsystems.com

H.264, DNxHD /HR or ProRes Footage seems to be easy enough to decode, that almost all CPUs perform more or less the same here.

Or in other words: The Decoding part in these three Footage Types usually is not the bottleneck in a slow playback experience, as we can see in the following graphs by Pugetsystems.com:

Computer for Video Editing - H264 Performance

Image-Source: pugetsystems.com

To summarize: For a smooth playback experience only, we would have to know what type of Footage we usually use and depending on this, get the right CPU.

BUT. Of course, playing back the Footage gets us only half way there. We want to apply some Effects to our Footage!

Manipulating the Footage with Effects, Transitions, Trimming & Titles

If your Edits are Effects intensive, then you will want a maximum Core-Clock CPU.

Effects are calculated in hierarchical order and most can’t be outsourced to other cores, meaning one Core will be crunching all the numbers for all the Effects on that one Frame.

Let’s make an example:

Your Footage has the following Effects applied:

  • Time-Remap
  • Brightness / Contrast
  • Shoulder
  • Glow

Seems like a pretty basic setup. The thing is, you can’t have 4 Cores calculate these 4 Effects simultaneously on the same Frame because they are all dependent on each other.

You first have to Time-Remap your footage before you can edit the Brightness / Contrast and so on. This is one Core stepping hierarchically through the effects chain.

Sure, other cores can start working on the effects of other Frames, but some Effects aren’t just dependent on each other on a per frame basis, but in-between frames.

Such as the Time-Remap.

Having a high-clocked CPU will benefit you in Effects heavy Projects.

Good choices here are the i9 9900K with 5GHz Turbo Boost Clock, the AMD Ryzen 3900X (4,6GHz Turbo), or the i7 8700K with 4,7GHz Turbo Boost Clock.

But of course you have to take the type of footage you are using into account: If you are using hires RED Footage, you should use a high-Core-Count CPU for best decoding experience.

If you have both, RED Footage (or similar) AND heavy use of Effects, you will have to find a middle ground:

A fairly high clocking CPU with lots of Cores, such as the Intel i9 9980XE. For NON-RED users, it seems the i9 9900K is currently the goto CPU for Video Editing.

It really is quite unpractical. Because CPUs have to stay inside specific thermal- and power-limits, there is no one CPU that has lots of cores AND a very high core clock. This would, of course, be optimally for Video Editing, and for many other use cases too, but we have to find the best middle ground for us here.

Now that we have found the CPU for our Footage-decoding and Effects-Calculations, the next step in our Editing Experience usually is:

Storing Cached Footage in RAM

This is usually done automatically by the Editing Software you are using.

The moment you either play back your timeline, scrub your timeline or manually press some kind of “calculate or prerender effects in timeline” button, the Software will:

  1. Read the Footage
  2. Calculate the Effects on the Footage
  3. Store the Result in your System Memory (RAM)

This is usually known as Caching. All cached Frames are saved, in your RAM, so the next time you want to view a frame or a sequence, the Software doesn’t have to calculate everything again, but can read the already calculated result from RAM, which is much faster.

When you play back the Timeline, usually the Editing Software looks ahead and calculates the frames to come.

Sometimes frames are calculated right away and others have more effects on them, this is why the Editing Software in a way “buffers” ahead, as not to interrupt your real-time playback experience.

Now, RAM is easy.

RAM is so fast, you could get the worst kind of RAM and it would still be fast enough for almost any of your Editing needs.

RAM Speed

The only important thing, when buying RAM for Video Editing, is getting enough. As we discussed above, the RAM has to be big enough to store the cached result.

If it is not large enough, the Software will Cache to your Disc, and that will slow things down a lot!

Check this in-depth article on how much RAM you should be getting.

These 3 Steps – Reading, Calculating, Caching – will be done again and again, during Video Editing Sessions.

When you are finished with the Edit or want to show the current status to a client, you will continue to the next step:

Rendering out the Project to a Video File

Rendering out your Timeline uses the same steps that we have already discussed above. You read your footage, apply the Effects and store the resulting frames into a Video File.

If the Timeline has already been cached, all the Video Editing Software has to do, is read the cached Frames from RAM and save them to the Video File.

Now, there is one more thing that is important in Rendering out your Video, namely the Encoding Stage.

You usually don’t just dump your calculated Frames onto your disc uncompressed but want to package and encode/compress the Frames into a File Format that:

  • Can be played back with your targeted System / Video Player
  • Is as small as possible without losing too much Quality

There are lots of different Codecs available for encoding. Some popular ones include H.264, H.265, WMV9, ProRes, DnxHD, Sorenson, Cinepak and many more.

Most of the more popular codecs use the possibility of saving only the difference between two frames instead of saving each frame in its entirety, as the difference between two frames is usually much smaller in file size. Others block Pixels together or reduce color and contrast information to save space.

But these are only some of many tricks how Codecs keep your Filesize low and provide a smooth playback experience.

To summarize the Video Rendering Process and the Hardware that is mainly responsible:

  • Read Footage (SSD)
  • Calculate / Apply Effects in your Timeline (CPU, GPU)
  • Store the Frames in RAM (RAM)
  • Read Frames from RAM (RAM)
  • Encode Frames (CPU)
  • Pack frames and Audio into a Video Container (CPU)
  • Save Video Result on Disc (SSD)

The SSD can usually be ruled out as a bottleneck in this Rendering /Encoding Process, as it is more than fast enough to save your resulting Video File UNLESS of course, you are rendering out uncompressed Videos, huge EXR Sequences or other very large Files (Think 100s of MBytes per Frame)

The RAM too should always be fast enough as to not slow down the rendering process. Of course, the RAM has to be large enough to fit the Frames that are being rendered.

Almost always, the CPU will be responsible for the performance in encoding your Frames. Let’s take a look at some Benchmarks:

Video Rendering - CPU Benchmarks

Image-Source: pugetsystems.com

For Rendering out your projects, having higher core-counts is the way to go. But there seems to be an optimum around 16 / 18 Cores and a slightly higher Core-Clock than having double the Cores with a lower Core-Clock.

Both the AMD Threadrippers 16-Core and 32-Cores, as well as the Intel Core i9 16 and 18-Core CPUs have a solid lead over the higher clocked but lower-core-number CPUs such as the i7 8700K.

This time the RED Media Results are comparable to the non-RED Media Performance.

Best Computer for Video Editing – The Hardware

What components do we need for a working Computer anyway? After this quite in-depth material, let’s break it down to some concrete Hardware Suggestions:

The Processor:
Best performing CPU for Video Editing: Intel i9 9980XE
Best CPU for Video Editing under 500$: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

Take a look at the following Video Editing (Premiere Pro) CPU Benchmark Scores by Pugetsystems. This table shows the overall score across all kinds of CPU benchmarks based on several real-world Premiere Pro Projects:

CPU NameCoresGhzPremiere Pro ScorePrice $Value
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X83.9726399
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X63.8620249
Intel i9 9800X83.8627589
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X123.8779499
Intel i5 9600K63.7585262
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X83.7603251
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X63.6527149
AMD Ryzen 5 360063.6572199
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X83.6673329
Intel i9 9700K83.6696362
Intel i9 9900K83.6767488
AMD Threadripper 2950X163.5845729
Intel i9 9920X123.58151189
Intel i9 9900X103.5732989
AMD Threadripper 2920X123.5762369
Intel i9 9940X143.38461387
Intel i9 9820X103.3708889
Intel i9 9960X163.18961684
AMD Threadripper 2970WX243.07071300
AMD Threadripper 2990WX323.07011699
Intel i9 9980XE183.09161979
CPU NameCoresGHzPremiere Pro ScorePrice $Value

The i9 9980XE is the currently best performing CPU for Video Editing. It does cost a lot though and its value is quite low compared to many of the other CPUs.

If you are looking for a great CPU for Video Editing that costs less than 500$, there are two excellent options: The AMD Ryzen 9 3900X and the Intel i9 9900K

The i9 9900K especially has high Clocks (Up to 5GHz Turbo Boost on limited Cores) which is great for calculating your Timeline-Effects and it has 8 Cores / 16 Threads which seems to be high enough, to also be great in exporting and encoding / decoding your Video Files.

Best CPU for Video Editing - Core i9 9900KAMD Ryzen 9 3900X

The AMD Threadripper CPUs, especially the 2990WX and 2950X are an excellent choice if you are handling RED Media more often.

Best Storage for Video Editing: Samsung 970 EVO / PRO

If you can spare the cash to get an NVMe SSD, this should be at the top of your buy list. These type of SSDs offer excellent speed, especially when you are working with large footage.

Get SATA SSDs for your OS and Software and HDDs for backing up your Data regularly and you should be all set, storage-wise.

Best SSD for Video Editing

Image-Source: Samsung

Best RAM for Video Editing

As discussed above, Video Editing is not very dependent on the performance of the RAM, but dependent on having enough of it.

Any DDR4 RAM will be more than enough for Video Editing, but be sure to get enough of it!

RAM for Computer for Video Editing

Image-Source: gskill

I would set 16GB of RAM as a baseline for small Projects with lower resolutions < 2K, but as soon as you get to larger Footage, that also has 2K or higher resolutions, you should be getting 32GB or more.

Especially with 10Bit Footage, RED Media, 4K, 8K Footage you’ll be happy to have 64+ GBytes of RAM.

As was benchmarked recently, Memory Clock Speeds and Memory Channels don’t impact performance all that much. You might gain 4% performance increase on optimal settings, but usually pay a large premium for doing so.

If you fear no extra costs and would still like to optimize your RAM as much as possible, the rule is as follows:

  • Look for High Clock Speeds, so say 3200Mhz is better than 2400Mhz
  • Look for Low CL Latency, so say CL14 is better than CL16
  • Go for higher number of Channels, so Quad Channel would be better than Single or Dual Channel. Usually, the amount of RAM Sticks define the Channel Width. 4 RAM Modules = Quad Channel RAM (2 = Dual, 1 = Single), but this can vary on different systems

Best GPU for Video Editing

We didn’t talk about Graphics Cards in Video Editing all that much yet.

The reason being, that GPUs still don’t have a huge impact on any kind of Performance improvement when Editing Videos.

Yes, there are the occasional Effects that might be GPU-Accelerated but as you can see in this Benchmark overview, the only real difference I can tell, is that AMD GPUs seem to be performing worse than Nvidia, at least in Premiere Pro:

Best GPU for Video Editing

Image-Source: pugetsystems.com

You might want to check with your particular Video Editing Software of choice, but what is usually the case, is that:

  • Nvidia GPUs are superior to AMDs GPUs
  • Nvidia GTX or RTX GPUs have a better price/performance ratio to Nvidia Quadro GPUs
  • and having a multi-GPU Setup does not benefit you in Video Editing.

If you are GPU Rendering in 3D then again, of course Multi-GPU setups will scale almost linearly!

I recommend an Nvidia RTX 2070, as this is a fairly strong GPU, that ranks top in price/performance in a multitude of Benchmarks across many different use cases.

Nvidia RTX 2070

Image-Source: Nvidia

Anything above an RTX 2070 will be much more expensive for just a very few extra performance points.

A note on Quadro though:

If you are dependent on driving 10bit displays, then, of course, having a Quadro might be mandatory for you, as GTX / RTX Cards will only output 8Bit to a monitor. But there is another way to drive 10Bit Monitors:

Blackmagic Decklink Cards

If you would like to go the GTX/RTX way for your standard workflow and Monitors, but would still like to output to a 10Bit Reference Monitor, you can get a Blackmagic Decklink Card.

Black Magic Decklink Card

Image-Source: Blackmagicdesign

These Cards are made for to HDMI / SDI in 10Bit, but beware, that your Monitor should support your Project Framerates.

Decklink Cards are also great for recording hires (4K or even 8K) 10Bit Video in Real-Time if that is something that you are planning on.

So a combination of GTX/RTX type of GPUs with such an additional PCI-E-Decklink Card might just do the trick for you and save you some money.

Best Mainboard for Video Editing

The Mainboard in itself should adapt to the other Hardware Components that we discussed above, as it is basically “just” the Hub that connects all of the components together.

After you have selected your desired CPU, you can already narrow down the number of compatible mainboards by choosing the right Socket that fits your CPU.

You will need a TR4 Socket for example, if you are planning on running a Threadripper CPU, a Mainboard with an LGA 1151 for an i7 8700K or i9 9900K CPU and a 2066 Socket for any type of i9-X type of Intel CPUs such as the i9 9980XE or i9 7890XE.

There really isn’t all that much that you can do wrong here:

Almost every ATX standard sized mainboard has enough PCIe Slots for your GPU and potential additional Cards, enough SATA Connectors for your drives and usually come with 4-6 + USB Ports for anything external you might need to plug in.

Best Mainboard for Video Editing

Image-Source: Asus

Most Motherboards nowadays have at least one M.2 slot for your NVMe SSDs, most have 2 or more.

One thing you should look out for if you are planning on using lots of GPUs, of course, is getting a CPU that has enough PCIe-Lanes to support these GPUs.

Also beware of M.2 cards sometimes sharing lanes with SATA Ports if you have too many of them running at a time: Say, you have 8 SATA SSDs hooked up, then your M.2 Slot will run in lower speeds or might not work at all, on some Mainboards.

But that is something you only have to worry about when you really want to have 8 Drives hooked up.

ATX is the most popular Mainboard Size and will fit into an ATX Sized Computer Case. It’s as easy as that!

Best Computer Case for Video Editing

Apart from the Monitor and Input devices, the Computer Case is the main Piece of “Furniture” that will be visible to you and clients or other visitors.

It is lots of fun to browse for just the right case with just the right combination of looks, functionality and noise features. As there are so many different Brands and case types out there, I’ll let you pick one for yourself. Be sure your case is big enough to fit your components, but if you don’t go overboard, any ATX Midi Tower or Big Tower will do the trick for you.

I often recommend the Corsair Carbide 400C because it is professional and minimalistic looking and has some noise dampening features, but you might prefer a different brand.

Corsair Case

Image-Source: Corsair

Build your own Computer!

I recommend this in all of my articles and will say it again here – Building your own Computer has lots and lots of benefits:

  • You save a lot of money from getting individual parts.
  • You can get exactly the kind of parts and part combinations you want
  • You learn a lot about how a Computer works
  • You can upgrade your Computer yourself now
  • With all the extra Computer knowledge, you can fix problems that might arise later-on yourself
  • Assembling a Computer is easy, it’s basically just plugging different parts into each other
  • It’s fun!

Here’s a nice Step by Step Video showing you how easy it is to assemble a Computer. Follow this along and you will be done in less than 2 hours.

There is so much more I could discuss in this Article for finding the Best Computer for Video Editing but I think I have covered the basics and will now show you some finished Builds that you can use as inspiration. You can use the following Builds as-is or configure your own Video Editing PC, depending on your Budget:

Pre-selected PC-Builds at different budgets

Best Computer for Video Editing, AMD at ~1400$


This lower-end Build features the AMD 3600X, which is good for Effects Calculation but is surpassed by higher-core-count CPUs in Encoding / Decoding and overall Video Editing Speed.

16GB of RAM is quite good already, but feel free to add some more if you have the money.

The Storage System is split up between SSD for OS and Applications, NVMe for Footage and an HDD for Backup and Storage.

To save some more money, I added the Nvidia 1660Ti, but you can feel free to swap it with an RTX 2070 or higher, if you have the extra cash.

Best Computer for Video Editing, Intel at ~2200$

The i9 9900K is an excellent CPU for Video Editing. Although it doesn’t have as many Cores as an i9 9980XE or an AMD Threadripper, it has an extremely high Core-Clock, that makes up for the lack in Cores and speeds up Effects Calculation extremely well.

32GByte of RAM should set for quite some time. If you are only working on smaller-res Projects, you could save some money here and downgrade to 16GBytes, of course.

Same with extremely high-res Projects and large Footage Data 4K – 8K, you might want to upgrade your RAM to 64GByte.

BUT you will need a different CPU and Mainboard for that. Intel i9 9xxx-X Series (like the i9 9980XE) would be the way to go then on the 2066 Socket (Expect a heavy price increase though).

There are many RTX 2070 Versions and one of the main differences between some, is the cooling solution. If you plan on getting more than one GPU, you will have to stack them on top of each other. Here you should go for a blower style variant as this is fitted with a Cooler that performs well in these situations and blows the hot air out the back of the case, instead of inside it.

Go Open Air Cooling solution when you only use one GPU in your PC-Case.

Best Computer for Video Editing, AMD at ~3000$

This is a high Core-count AMD build.

You could even bump up the CPU to a Threadripper 2990WX if you think you need double the cores for Video Editing or plan on using this Build for 3D CPU Rendering and other high-core-count optimized Workloads.

The beQuiet CPU Cooler keeps the CPU nice and cool while producing almost no noise unless you kick the build into high-end rendering.

The Storage is split up into 3 Drives for OS (SSD), your Footage on an NVMe Drive and the HDD for Backing up your Data.

Best Computer for Video Editing, Intel at ~6000$

Featuring the Intel i9 9980XE that already costs around 2000$ in itself, this Build comes at a price but delivers great performance across all workloads in Video Editing.

You will get fast Encoding / Decoding, Live-Playback, Handling of all kinds of Footage Types and quick Effects Calculation. The AMD Threadripper Build above might handle RED Media a bit better and have a better Performance / Price Ratio, but apart from that, this build will give you pretty much the absolute best, money can buy for Video Editing on a Consumer Level.

Custom PC-Builder

If you want to get the best parts within your budget you should definitely have a look at the Web-Based PC-Builder Tool that I’ve created.

Select the main purpose that you’ll use the computer for and adjust your budget to create the perfect PC with part recommendations that will fit within your budget.

CGDirector PC-Builder Tool

PC-Builder Facebook Title Image

 

That’s about it! What Computer are you building?


Alex from CGDirector - post author

Hi, I'm Alex, a Freelance 3D Generalist, Motion Designer and Compositor.

I've built a multitude of Computers, Workstations and Renderfarms and love to optimize them as much as possible.

Feel free to comment and ask for suggestions on your PC-Build or 3D-related Problem, I'll do my best to help out!

365
Comments

Robert Gillison

Glad I happened to find this site, considering a new system for video editing and needed best guidelines for spending my money What video capture card would you recommend with the $2200.00 system configuration. ,

William O Berg

Hello Alex, I am an engineering consultant who uses Solid Works for design and rendering. I also edit 4K Videos an additional revenue stream using DaVinci Resolve. I know these applications typically require different system designs. Can you recommend a system that could do a good job at both tasks? My Budget is about $6500.00
Thank You for your advise!

Samuel Jorgensen

I need to build a machine that will enable me to run UHD in Davinci Resolve. Since the blackmagic codec (which is what I am shooting in) is similar to cinemaDNG I am thinking I should get an I9 cpu with higher clock cycles and maybe a dual GPU for rendering within resolve? I plan on having at least one 2TB NVMe drive to edit from and another NVMe to run the OS. I’d prefer a system that has 3 NVMe ports if possible.
Thanks in advance for your advice mate. This site is a great resource!
cheers,

Hi Samuel,

Thanks for asking!

First off, if I may ask, how much are you willing to spend?

Just so you’d have an idea of how much it could cost, I came up with a build with the requirements you mentioned. Please see below:

Parts List:

CPU: Intel i9 9900k 3.6GHz 8-Core Processor ($543.99)
CPU Cooler: be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 1151 ($86.46)
Motherboard: ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate LGA 1151 ATX ($327.56)
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2070 8GB – Asus Turbo ($550.00)
GPU #2: NVIDIA RTX 2070 8GB – Asus Turbo ($550.00)
Memory: 64GB (4 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 CL16 ($302.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 PRO 1TB M.2 Solid State Drive ($349.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO PLUS 2TB M.2 Solid State Drive ($469.99)
Power Supply: Corsair RMx Series Platinum RM850x 850W Power Supply ($160.64)
Case: Fractal Design Define XL R2 Titanium Big Tower Case ($144.10)

The total of the build comes up to around $3,485.72. At the heart of your system, you get an i9-9900K CPU with a whopping 64GB of RAM. With this combination, you can expect your workflow to always be fast and smooth. In terms of GPU, you get two (2) RTX 2070 graphics card which will come in handy for your GPU rendering tasks.

In terms of motherboard, I chose the ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate as this particular motherboard has 3 NVMe ports as you requested. Storage-wise, you get a 1TB Samsung 970 PRO NVMe SSD for your OS and commonly-used programs and a 2TB Samsung 970 EVO PLUS NVMe SSD to edit files from. True, this build costs a lot of money but you can expect this build to be more than powerful enough for what you need it for.

Cheers,
Alex

Samuel Jorgensen

Alex, mate, I’m really grateful for your response.
My budget will be around $4K or cheaper if I can.
I was looking at the fastest intel i9 chip so it would work around that I guess. Plus I would need 128GB of RAM since I use Nuke as well. My goal is to be able to edit and manipulate ultra HD stuff in real time.. The HDD will be great for storing stock elements and effects 🙂
On a side note. Everyone is really lucky that you put the time and effort into this site. I found it through a friend and it has been incredibly valuable.
cheers,

Dat Nguyen

Hi. I am a newbie. Can you explain more the role of GPU in video editing?

DENNIS

Hi Alex,
I’m mostly an independent commercial editor for the past two decades running almost exclusively on macs. It has mostly been fine for offline editing. My last project was shot in 4K and because of budget limitations I actually tried to edit(not in full res)and do color correction in Premiere and DaVinci. It revealed the limitations of an otherwise great 7 year old MacBook Pro workhorse and simply couldn’t render or process the information. So I was trying to decide which new mac to get; MacBook Pro, iMac Pro, iMac, etc. and I brought home the basic level iMac because of its screen and figured it’d be a lot faster than what I had while rendering effects, color correction, outputting and processing. I was wrong. While it’s faster it’s just not what I expected from a 7 year leap. Instead of just spending more money on a faster better mac I decided to look around and here I am. Can you recommend something that will primarily be used for editing first, effects(after effects and video effects)second, and possibly color correction (premiere pro and DaVinci)if possible – with limited means. I’m obviously not very tech savvy and have never built a machine but think that I can. I’m wondering if this is a good option and can be upgradeable. I’d like to be able to edit much longer format projects too-feature length, so all my jobs will have the media on separate drives. Is this possible for what I spent on the iMac that I can still return? Thank you for your time!
IMAC 27/3.7 6C/8GB/2TB FD/RP580X-USA $ 2,299.00

Hey Dennis,

Thanks for asking!

For the amount you spend on your iMac, you can get a more powerful Windows-based build designed specifically for what you need with specs like the below:

Parts List: https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/?=Db1Dgpojhkf

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 3.5GHz 16-Core Processor ($749.99)
CPU Cooler: be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 AM4 ($86.46)
Motherboard: ASUS Prime X570-P ATX AM4 ($144.99)
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2060 SUPER 8GB – MSI Gaming X ($429.99)
Memory: 32GB (2 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 CL16 ($139.99)
Storage SSD: Crucial MX500 2TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($229.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: WD Black 1TB M.2 Solid State Drive ($164.95)
Storage HDD: Seagate BarraCuda Compute 6TB, 3.5″ ($139.25)
Power Supply: Corsair CX Series CX550 550W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($68.99)
Case: Fractal Design Define XL R2 Titanium Big Tower Case ($144.10)

The total of the build comes up to $2298.70 but you get a very powerful Ryzen 9 3950X CPU working with 32GB of RAM to ensure task responsiveness when you’re working actively inside the software. In addition to that, the 16 cores of the 3950X will bring about a better CPU render performance for your CPU rendering tasks. In the same vein, the RTX 2060 SUPER graphics card of your build packs support for CUDA core acceleration and this comes handy if you plan on using the GPU render engines. Also, you have three different storage devices included and this will allow you to have your media on separate drives. With this kind of build, you can be sure it will be more than powerful enough to handle whatever task you throw at it.

Most importantly though this build gives you the high cpu clocks that you will need to be able to edit smoothly and do work in your compositing apps.

Hope this helps!

Cheers,
Alex

simon

Hi everybody!
I’m here because I’m looking for a 4k video editing build for a friend of mine.
He works only with Magix Vegas Pro 17. We planned to go with a i9-9900k and Z390 MB including a TB3 Port (no Add in card)
Budget is around 3000$ and I never have any experience with AMD so that’s why we go to Intel.
One of my Question is, is there a big difference between the i9-9900k and the i7-9700(k)? Is the Benefit of the 8/16 noticeably since the i7 just have 8/8?
Also for the GPU is it necessary to have something like a RTX2070 or did it work with a GTX 1660 Super 6GB
Since I tested the Program on my Gaming RIG which has a RTX2070S inside and the graphics card was never used more then 30% while working /rendering.

Do you have any hardware recommendation?

Thanks and Regards
Simon

Glenn

Hey Alex. Wanted to get your thoughts on a build. Hard to make that plunge and also coming from an old Mac Pro but excited and time to build my own system. Seems like a good sweet spot. I need 4xHDDs to backup current projects (and mirror) but only need 2 at a time but trying to offload from older TB2 drives and sell those to keep all archiving internal. The 2TB is for working media and I actually own 4x1TB NVMEs from OWC so thinking I can use 3 of those for OS, cache, some media/gfx files. I am mostly in Premiere, AE, but also Davinchi. I’m thinking some extra case fans could help too. I’m also thinking maybe later I’ll add a 2nd vcard so little extra wattage if is helpful for Davinchi.
I can have placement of computer a little removed if needed for noise levels. My biggest concern is case/Noctua clearance but seems like it could work for Vcard and Ram? Thanks for all the great info and help!

CPU: AMD Threadripper 3960X 3.8 GHz 24-Core Processor ($1399.00 @ Best Buy)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 82.52 CFM CPU Cooler ($79.90 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS PRO WIFI ATX sTRX4 Motherboard ($400.00)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 64 GB (2 x 32 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($314.99 @ Corsair)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 64 GB (2 x 32 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($314.99 @ Corsair)
Storage: Samsung 860 Evo 2 TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($279.99 @ Adorama)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda Compute 8 TB 3.5″ 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($147.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda Compute 8 TB 3.5″ 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($147.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda Compute 8 TB 3.5″ 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($147.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda Compute 8 TB 3.5″ 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($147.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11 GB Founders Edition Video Card ($1199.99 @ Best Buy)
Case: Fractal Design Meshify S2 ATX Mid Tower Case ($148.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 P2 1000 W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply ($259.99 @ ModMyMods)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro OEM 64-bit ($139.99 @ Other World Computing)
Case Fan: be quiet! SilentWings 3 PWM 50.5 CFM 120 mm Fan ($25.44 @ Amazon)
Case Fan: be quiet! SilentWings 3 PWM 50.5 CFM 120 mm Fan ($25.44 @ Amazon)
Case Fan: be quiet! SilentWings 3 PWM 50.5 CFM 120 mm Fan ($25.44 @ Amazon)
Case Fan: be quiet! SilentWings 3 PWM 50.5 CFM 120 mm Fan ($25.44 @ Amazon)
Total: $5231.55

Tal

Hi Alex thanks for all this input – super helpful.

Quick intro: Building a rig for 360 VR premiere video editing
– Stitcing 4k footage (downgrading from 8k as camera can film 8k) – h.264
– Editing 4k footage (multiple layers of video, not neccesarilly all 4k
– An ability to go 8k is nice to have in the future (As VR hardware dont really support it right now)
– Rendering mainly h.264 outputs – again 4k mainly.

I have a bunch of questions which are not neccesarilly related:

1. NVMe’s: Crucial M600 vs Samsung 970 evo plus? Both are candidates for scratch disk and project files disk

2. Why dont you usually use a third m.2 nvme for OS ? Is that for being cost effective or have you not found significant impact ?

3. If I didnt go for a third m.2 – am i better with a dedicated OS sata ssd or should/can I haul the scratch disk together with the OS?

3. When does premiere actually uses multiple threads besides rendering? e.g. When is Ryzen 3950 is better than 3900?

4. How do I know what size dedicated nvme scratch disk i need? And why is it important to have a dedicated disk?

5. What codec would you reccomend for proxy? Assuming the project disk is large enough for best performance… Also should I place the proxies on the project disk or the scratch disk?

6. Where would you reccomend saving the renders? Is scratch disk ok? Mainly thinking of a pipeline which doesnt save trash into main folders.

7. How important would the GPU be assuming most effects are pre rendered in After Effects on a separate machine? Would GTX 1070 cause a bottleneck somewhere?

8. How can I feel the difference between 64GB to 128GB RAM? How do I know if it is a justified investment?

9. I know there is a possibillity to utilize a disk (NVME) as an additional RAM. Did you try this? Is it effective?

10. Reccomended water cooling? Something reliable that I dont need to worry about?

11. What way would you go to be cost effective?
– 3900 vs 3950
– 2 vs 3 nvme’s (also affects the chipset somewhat)
– 64 vs 128 RAM

12. What emphasis will you put for a separate After Effects Machine? (ofc GPU needs emphasis)

This became somewhat long, sorry about that

Thanks in advance !!!
Tal

Hi Tal,

Thanks for asking!

Here are the answers to your questions:

1. NVMe’s: Crucial M600 vs Samsung 970 evo plus? Both are candidates for scratch disk and project files disk
– I can’t find a Crucial M600 NVMe but what I’m getting is a Micron M600 M.2 Type 2260/2280 NAND Flash SSD. Be that as it may, my go to NVMe SSD is the Samsung 970 EVO Plus for its reliability.

2. Why dont you usually use a third m.2 nvme for OS ? Is that for being cost effective or have you not found significant impact ?
– If you have the means, having a third M.2 NVMe for just the OS and perhaps some of your commonly-used applications is advisable. However, if you have some constraints on your budget, not having a dedicated NVMe SSD for your OS is more cost effective. And besides, SSDs are already fast to begin with, NVMes even faster, so as long as your OS is installed on an SSD, there will be no game-changing impact for that matter.

3. If I didnt go for a third m.2 – am i better with a dedicated OS sata ssd or should/can I haul the scratch disk together with the OS?
– Again, this goes back to the question of budget. If you have the cash to spare, it will always be better to have a dedicated SSD for your OS. If not, having your OS on the scratch disk will just be fine.

3. When does premiere actually uses multiple threads besides rendering? e.g. When is Ryzen 3950 is better than 3900?
– At the moment, there is no specific information as to when Premiere actually takes advantage of multithreading. According to Adobe Support, Premiere limits the use of multithreading on some applied effects and functions. So, while some parts of Premiere do not “thread,” others do – it’s just hard to ascertain which is which.

4. How do I know what size dedicated nvme scratch disk i need? And why is it important to have a dedicated disk?
– It’s important to have a dedicated disk for your scratch disk for better performance. Not only that, having a dedicated disk will ensure that your RAM can access your data as quickly as possible. As for the size, this is entirely up to you but the general rule is that the size of your scratch disk will always depend on what you will be using it for. A pretty safe starting size would be a 1TB SSD but at the end of the day, it all depends on your budget/requirements and there is no one size fits all solution.

5. What codec would you reccomend for proxy? Assuming the project disk is large enough for best performance… Also should I place the proxies on the project disk or the scratch disk?
– When choosing a proxy codec, you want to go for one that does not use temporal compression (also known as inter-frame compression or long-GOP compression), and you want to pick one that has a lower bitrate. The low bitrate means that the files are much smaller, so you can use fewer/smaller/cheaper hard drives, simplifying your workflow. By far the most common proxy codecs are DNxHD/DNxHR and ProRes. They have both been around for years, so they’re very widely supported. Also, it would be best if you place the proxies on the project disk.

6. Where would you reccomend saving the renders? Is scratch disk ok? Mainly thinking of a pipeline which doesnt save trash into main folders.
– Yes, it’s perfectly fine to save the renders on your scratch disk.

7. How important would the GPU be assuming most effects are pre rendered in After Effects on a separate machine? Would GTX 1070 cause a bottleneck somewhere?
– Premiere has been making increasing use of the GPU over the last several years and it benefits from using a modern GPU. However, the number of GPU-accelerated effects you use could cause a bottleneck on an older GPU like the GTX 1070. In short, However, the more GPU-accelerated effects you use, the greater the benefit to using a higher-end card.

8. How can I feel the difference between 64GB to 128GB RAM? How do I know if it is a justified investment?
– Unless you use a Threadripper CPU with a motherboard that has 8 DIMM slots and support for up to 128 GB of RAM, you will be limited to 64GB. 128GB of RAM will be a justified investment if you always work with large projects and complex scenes.

9. I know there is a possibillity to utilize a disk (NVME) as an additional RAM. Did you try this? Is it effective?
– I haven’t tried using an NVMe SSD as additional RAM because and NVMe SSD is a poor substitute for RAM. Under the best-case lab conditions, the fastest SSD is 46 times slower than DDR3 RAM so it’s just not worth the trouble.

10. Reccomended water cooling? Something reliable that I dont need to worry about?
– Depending on your case, any 280mm or 360mm AIO from EVGA, NZXT, and Thermaltake are good options.

11. What way would you go to be cost effective?
– I’ll go with 3900X, 3 NVMes and 64GB of RAM. Unless you need more cores, the price difference between the 3900X and the 3950X could not justify the slight increase in performance. 64GB of RAM should be enough for large projects and complex scenes. If you really need 128GB of RAM, wither you switch to a Threadripper CPU or stick to the Ryzen AM4 platform but use 32GB DIMMs (which are hard to come by and doesn’t support all motherboards).

12. What emphasis will you put for a separate After Effects Machine? (ofc GPU needs emphasis)
– Aside from the GPU, emphasis will be on the CPU and RAM to ensure that you get task responsiveness when you’re working actively inside the software.

Cheers,
Alex

Tal

Alex thank you I really appreciate your time invested in this website and asnwers,

1. Re NVME – you are correct I was mistaken – it is Corsair MP600 (I was writing too fast…)

8. Based on your input, looking at a combination of an AM4 ASUS Tuf Gaming X570-Plus, with VENGEANCE® LPX 64GB (2 x 32GB) DDR4 DRAM 3200MHz C16 Memory Kit

From my understanding 128 can be supported with this configuration in the future, with the X3900, correct?

Thank you so much Alex

Hey Tal,

Actually, the ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Plus already supports up to 128GB of RAM. However, this motherboard only has 4 RAM slots and the commonly available single RAM kit at the moment is 16GB. You can populate all 4 RAM slots with 16GB RAM kits but that would only come up to 64GB. If you really want to have 128GB RAM in an X570 motherboard with just 4 RAM slots, you need to look for a single 32GB RAM stick and plug 4 of these sticks onto the motherboard for a total of 128GB of RAM. But like I said in my previous comment, these single 32GB RAM sticks are hard to come by but if you are intent on going for 128GB of RAM, some good options are the Corsair’s 32 GB Vengeance LPX unbuffered DIMMs and the 32GB UDIMMs from G. Skill.

Cheers,
Alex

Daniel

Hi Alex, I’m Daniel,
I tried to build a computer in between the AMD Threadripper based
and the best Intel based machine.
I bought an i9 9960XE and a cheaper GPU NVIDIA RTX 2070
The problem is that I can’t get the MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon ATX 2066 Motherboard (not available)
What can I use that has no compatibility Issue?
Can I use ASUS ROG Maximus XI Code2390

Hey Daniel,

Thanks for dropping a line!

The Asus ROG Maximus XI Code is a Socket 1151 motherboard designed for 9th gen Intel CPUs so yes, you can go ahead and use this motherboard for your i9-9960XE CPU and NVIDIA RTX 2070 graphics card. I see no compatibility issues here so you’re good to go with this motherboard. In the event that the Asus ROG Maximus XI Code is not available, you can choose any Z390 motherboard that supports the 9th gen of Intel processors and you should be fine.

Cheers,
Alex

Daniel

Hi again, after surfing the net extensively I am still hesitating between the
MSI MEG X299 creator and the
ASUS ROG Maximus XI Code 2390
by the way I upgraded the video card to a RTX2080
Thank you in advance
Daniel

Stefan

Hey Alex,

Please help me out in deciding what would be the best choice of pc build that’s somehow in the middle when it comes to video editing and streaming/gaming. I will be using raw footage from different cameras as well as recorded streaming sessions. I’m having a hard time finding something that satisfises both gaming and video editing somewhat equally (withing a 2k budget) – with an incline towards vid. editing. Any help or information would be well appreciated.

Many thanks !

-Stefan

Hi Stefan,

Thanks for asking!

A budget of $2,000 can get you a video editing/gaming build with specs like the below:

Parts List: https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/?=yb1Dcdcilkf

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 3.8GHz 12-Core Processor ($469.99)
CPU Cooler: be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 AM4 ($89.90)
Motherboard: ASUS TUF Gaming x570-Plus (Wifi) ATX AM4 ($183.99)
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2060 SUPER 8GB – MSI Gaming X ($429.97)
Memory: 32GB (2 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 CL16 ($129.99)
Storage SSD: Samsung 860 EVO 1TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($148.91)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO 1TB M.2 Solid State Drive ($168.99)
Storage HDD: Seagate BarraCuda Compute 4TB, 3.5″ ($89.99)
Power Supply: Corsair CX Series CX550 550W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($67.99)
Case: Fractal Design Define XL R2 Titanium Big Tower Case ($143.94)

The total of the build comes up to around $1923.66 but you can be sure this build is more than capable of handling your video editing tasks. In addition to that, it’s also powerful enough to run most of the current AAA games if you want to take a break from productive work and engage in a little gaming session.

Cheers,
Alex