Best Computer for Video Editing [2021 Guide]

CG Director Author Alex Glawionby Alex Glawion   /  Updated   /   519 comments
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Best Computer for Video Editing [2021 Guide]

Video Editing is 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.

No need to go to an expensive Film School, for most editing jobs you can just teach yourself, buy a Video Editing PC and you’re good to go.

Evolution of Computer hardware

It doesn’t matter if you are editing your birthday video, a documentary for a local wildlife broadcaster, a commercial for that company’s washing machine or are editing a Hollywood feature film.

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, Magix Vegas, Avid, Adobe Premiere Pro, Davinci Resolve, or any of the other Video Editing Applications out there.

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

If you had to choose one: What is your main Video Editing Software?

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 smartphone-videos 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. As we can see from the survey above, Premiere Pro is the most popular Video Editing Software, that many professionals and amateurs edit in and it’s perfect for our analysis.

After all, lots of other Video Editing Applications use the Hardware in very similar ways.

Premiere Pro Video Editing Timeline

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 (maybe proxies)
  • 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 basic steps:

  1. The Software reads Data (the Footage) from your storage device.
  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 (editing).

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 device of your choice.

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 to see what Hardware Part is responsible for speeding up each of these:

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 Disk Drive is the slowest of these three options. Sequential Read speeds are usually around 150Mbyte/s. Random Read and Write is a lot slower.

Hard Drives have great Cost/GByte but rank at 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-work storage-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 18TB, 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 fast.

At the very least, you should 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 are great SSDs 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 at a reasonable price, and that brings us to NVMe SSDs:

NVMe SSDs

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

They can be over 10 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.

SSD Performance benchmark

NVMe Drives are a critical performance factor in Video Editing and it makes sense to learn as much as you can about them. Our NVMe Guide should get you up to speed.

What’s next in our Video Editing Workflow?

Decoding the Footage

Now, reading data on its own 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 (mainly to save space) it has to be decoded before it can be played back and viewed.

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.

Let’s take a look at a performance overview:

Premiere Pro Live Playback Benchmark Score

Image-Credit: Pugetsystems

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

Manipulating the Footage with Effects, Transitions, Trimming & Titles

If your video editing projects are effects-heavy, 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 all depend 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 Intel i9 10900K with 5.3GHz Turbo Boost Clock, the AMD Ryzen 5950X (4,9GHz Boost), or the AMD Ryzen 5900X with 4,8GHz Boost Clock.

But of course, you have to take the type of footage you are using into account: If you are using high-res RED Footage, you should use a high-Core-Count CPU for the 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 Threadripper 3960X. For NON-RED users, the AMD Ryzen 5950X currently is the go-to CPU for Video Editing.

It really is quite impractical. 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 optimal for Video Editing, and for many other workloads too, but we have to find the best middle ground for us here.

Single-core vs multi-core performance

Now that we found the CPU for our decoding our footage 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 playback your timeline, scrub your timeline, or manually press some kind of “calculate or prerender effects in timeline” button, the Software will:

  1. Read & decode 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 Computer’s 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 playing back your timeline, the Video 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

Performance comparison between HDD, SSD, and a RAM disk

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 and then some.

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

Recommended RAM for Video Editing

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

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

When you are finished with the Edit or want to show the current status to a client or boss, 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 already discussed above. Your Software reads the footage, applies the Effects, and stores 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.

What is video encoding

You usually don’t just dump your calculated Frames onto your disk 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 logic 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.

Let’s 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 Disk (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 so it doesn’t 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:

Premiere Pro Export Score

Image-Credit: Pugetsystems

For Rendering out your projects, having higher core-counts is the way to go. But there seems to be a sweet spot at around 24 / 32 Cores and a slightly higher Core-Clock than having double the Cores with a lower Core-Clock.

AMD’s 3rd Gen Threadripper CPUs (3960X, 3970X, 3990XReview here) have a very solid lead over the higher clocked but lower-core-number CPUs such as the i9 10900K.

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

Arguably the most important component in almost any PC, Video-Editing relies heavily on CPU performance. But it’s not lots of Cores, necessarily, that you should be targeting:

Best performing CPU for Video Editing: AMD Threadripper 3960X & 3970X
Best CPU for Video Editing under 550$: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

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 3800X83.9657399
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X63.8620249
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X83.8874449
AMD Threadripper 3960X243.810421350
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X123.8711499
AMD Threadripper 3970X323.710671950
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X123.7953549
Intel i5 9600K63.7585262
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X83.7603251
Intel i9 10700K83.7796375
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X63.7765299
Intel i9 10900X103.7689650
Intel i9 9900K83.6737550
Intel i9 10900K103.6867520
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X63.6527149
AMD Ryzen 5 360063.6572199
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X83.6673329
Intel i9 9700K83.6670362
AMD Threadripper 2920X123.5691369
Intel i9 9900X103.5664989
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X163.5833750
Intel i9 9920X123.57311189
Intel i9 10920X123.5748750
AMD Threadripper 2950X163.5763729
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X163.4997799
Intel i9 10940X143.3775950
Intel i9 9940X143.37551387
Intel i9 9960X163.18101684
Intel i9 10980XE183.08511150
AMD Threadripper 2990WX323.06621699
AMD Threadripper 2970WX243.06791300
Intel i9 9980XE183.08251979
AMD Threadripper 3990X642.910353990
CPU NameCoresGHzPremiere Pro ScorePrice $Value

The AMD Threadripper 3970X is the currently best performing CPU for Video Editing. It does cost a lot though and its overall value is lower than some of the competing CPUs.

If you are looking for a great CPU for Video Editing that costs less than 550$ the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X is the best choice.

For 250$ more, the Ryzen 9 5950X delivers even higher performance in video editing.

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

The AMD Threadripper CPUs, especially the Threadripper 3960X is an excellent choice if you are handling RED Media more often and don’t quite want to spend what a 3970X or even 3990X costs.

Best Storage for Video Editing: Samsung 970 EVO Plus / PRO

An NVMe SSD should be at the top of your buy list. These types of SSDs offer excellent performance, especially when you are working with large footage.

Get SATA SSDs to store your OS and Software, and HDDs for backing up and archiving 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 doesn’t depend much on the Clock-Speed of your RAM, but you should have a sufficient amount of RAM.

RAM for Computer for Video Editing

Image-Source: gskill

16GB of RAM is the baseline for small Projects with lower resolutions < 2K, though as soon as you start working with larger Footage, that also has 2K or higher resolutions, you should consider 32GB RAM or more.

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

As we 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: 3600Mhz is faster than 2400Mhz
  • Look for Low CL Latency: CL14 is better than CL16
  • Aim for a higher number of Channels: 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 is based on Motherboard and Chipset support

Best GPU for Video Editing

We didn’t talk about the impact of Graphics Cards on Video Editing performance yet.

GPUs still don’t have as large an impact on Video Editing as the CPU does.

Yes, there are the occasional Effects and decodes/encodes that might be GPU-accelerated but even GPUs that are in entirely different price-tiers, will perform very similarly.

Here’s an overall Video Editing Score based on GPU Performance:

Best GPU for Video Editing - Overall Performance Score

Image-Source: Pugetsystems

Overall, an Nvidia RTX 3090 ($1599) is just 10% faster than a 3060Ti ($399), even though it costs 4 times as much.

This changes a bit when we look at the overall export performance to H.264 in Premiere Pro:

Best GPU for Video Editing - Export H.264 Score

Image-Source: Pugetsystems

Although the overal score distribution spread is bigger, the only real gap we see is between Nvidia GPUs and AMD GPUs. The reason is simple: Premiere Pro has CUDA accelerated export optimization with H264. AMD does not have any CUDA cores and therefore scores worse.

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

  • Nvidia GPUs perform better in Premiere Pro vs AMD 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 in Premiere Pro.

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

Depending on your budget, I recommend an Nvidia RTX 3060Ti or RTX 3070, as both of these have high performance per dollar and score well in many video editing related benchmarks.

Nvidia RTX 2070

Image-Source: Nvidia

Anything above an RTX 3070 will be much more expensive for just a small increase in performance.

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 Motherboard for Video Editing

The Motherboard in itself should be fitted to the other Hardware Components that we discussed above, as it is basically “just” the central hub that connects all of the components together.

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

You will need a sTRX4 Socket for example, if you are planning on running a 3rd Gen Threadripper CPU, a Motherboard with an AM4 Socket for any Ryzen CPUs (e.g. 3900X, 3950X), a Motherboard with an LGA 1200 for an i7 10700K or i9 10900K CPU and a 2066 Socket for any type of Intel i9-X Series CPUs, such as the i9 10980XE.

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

Almost every ATX standard-sized Motherboard has enough PCIe Slots for your GPU and (if you need them) additional Cards, plenty of SATA Connectors for your storage devices and usually comes with 4-6 or more USB Ports for anything external you might need to plug in.

MSI MEG X570 Unify Hero

Image-Credit: MSI

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

ATX is the most popular Motherboard 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 or visitors.

It is a lot of fun to browse for just the right case with just the right combination of looks and functionality.

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

Power Supply for Video Editing

You’ll want to make sure your PC’s components, which can be quite expensive, are being taken care of. This includes buying a good power supply that will make sure they don’t die prematurely.

Both, the PC’s case and PSU won’t impact your video editing performance at all, but it’s a necessity that you shouldn’t skimp on.

Because the inside of your case should be free of clutter as much as possible, I recommend getting a Modular Power Supply, which comes with the ability to detach any cables you don’t need.

Be sure to read our Modular PSU Guide, to get an idea of the type of Power Supply you need for your specific components.

Build your own Computer!

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.

We’ve covered the basics of what a great PC for Video Editing consists of. Let’s take a look at some finished Builds.

You can use the following fully compatible Builds as-is or use them as inspiration and configure your own Video Editing PC, depending on your Budget:

Pre-selected PC-Builds at different budgets

Because you might be working with a set budget, I combined some of the best parts for Video Editing to fit inside different price tiers:

Best Computer for Video Editing, AMD at ~850$


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

8GB of RAM is quite on the low end, so feel free to add some more if you have the money.

The NVMe SSD, although just 256GB, is extremely fast and will help in loading footage.

To save some money, this build only has an Nvidia GTX 1660, but you can feel free to swap it with an RTX 3060 Ti or higher, if you have the extra cash.

Best Computer for Video Editing, Intel at ~1800$

The i9 10900K is an excellent CPU for Video Editing. Although it doesn’t have as many Cores as a top-tier Ryzen CPU or an AMD Threadripper, it has an extremely high Core-Clock, which makes up for the lack of Cores and speeds up Effects Calculation extremely well.

16GByte of RAM is sufficient for 2K editing projects that aren’t too complex. If you’re regularly working on more complex projects or use large footage, consider upgrading to 32GB of RAM.

The same is true for extremely high-res Projects and large Footage Data in the 4K – 8K range, you might want to upgrade your RAM to 64GByte.

The Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti GPU offers excellent performance for its price.

The storage system consists of 3 device types. We have an HDD for archiving and backups, an SSD for installing your OS and Applications on, and an NVMe SSD for your projects. Your Projects and footage have to be on the fastest drive for optimal performance.

Best Computer for Video Editing, AMD at ~2500$

This is a high-end all-rounder AMD build.

With its 16-Core 5950X CPU you’ll have great performance in both your active work / playback speed and exporting your projects with quite some effects applied. The Nvidia RTX 3070 GPU performs extremely well, given its price.

The beQuiet Dark Rock Pro 4 CPU Cooler keeps the CPU nice and cool while producing almost no noise unless you kick the build into sustained 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.

If this price tier is a bit too much for you but would like to go with AMD Ryzen, you can always get a Ryzen 5900X or 5800X and save some money, and also skip on some of the storage devices.

Best Computer for Video Editing, AMD Threadripper at ~6200$

Featuring the AMD Threadripper 3970x that already costs around ~1900$ 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. 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 we’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?


Find a new friend on the CGDirector Forum! Expert Advice & PC-Build Planning with a warm and friendly Community! :)

Alex Glawion - 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!

519
Comments
Also check out our Forum for feedback from our Expert Community.

David Gainforth

Hey Alex!
Thanks for this! The information above is super helpful and its incredible you’re taking peoples questions!

I’ve been a mac user for a while but I recognize your dollar goes a lot further when you go PC or build out your own computer. I’m doing some pretty heavy video editing working with projects that are 500Gb-1Tb of footage 4k raw. My Canon R5 apparently has a weird codec that most computers struggle to decode but for some reason I’m hearing that the new mac M1 chip is able to decode this easily. I’m currently using a 2018 macbook pro i7, 32gb Memory, 1Tb storage but it struggles hard to keep up with what I’m doing. My questions is do I wait for the new M1 Mac Pro’s 16inch and try to max it out with specs. Or do I build out something of my own like you listed above. I’d love to not have to proxy everything haha! Looking to spend anywhere from 4-6k

Thanks!

David

Alex Glawion
Alex GlawionCGDIRECTOR

Hey David,
Apple’s M1 chips are surprisingly well suited for professional work like decoding and rendering. They also come with good single core performance for efficient active work.

That said, I’d always wait for benchmarks before making a final decision. Apple likes to beat the promotional drum, but we’ll have to wait for independent tests to be absolutely sure.

Some Codecs are GPU accelerated as well, so looking into Premiere Pro with Nvidia GPUs might be something to read up on. Adobe released a pretty big update recently that accelerates H.264 and I think H.265 as well (is this what canon uses?) to run on CUDA capable nvidia GPUs.

Cheers,
Alex

Ravi

Hi Alex , thanks for the superb write up , I am planning to purchase a laptop especially for Video Editing with Filmora software.
I have opted for AMD Ryzen with 8GB RAM, budget around INR 40000 ( India )
I got the below 2 options – both come with almost same price- INR 41000
Option 1:
HP 15s ,15s-GR0012AU Laptop
Ryzen 3 Dual Core 3250U, 8 GB, 1 TB HDD, 256 GB SSD, Windows 10 Home
Option 2:
DELL Inspiron 3505 Laptop
Ryzen 5 Quad Core 3450U , 8 GB, 256 GB SSD, Windows 10 Home
Please suggest which one I need to choose , thanks for your help
Cheers,
Ravi

Alex Glawion
Alex GlawionCGDIRECTOR

Hey Ravi,
Sorry for the wait, I think this comment must have slipped by me.

I’d probably opt for the Ryzen 5 Laptop. You can always get cheap additional storage space, but a faster CPU will do much more for you. I’d pick the second option.

Cheers,
Alex

Bobby

Great write up, I have a quick suggestion for those who plan on using this outline for building your “ultimate editing rig!”
*Motherboards do matter, ALOT! With the new PCIE Gen 4 support for both gpus and Nvme drives, not all motherboards have chipsets that can utilize these new speeds, so you leave a lot on the table. I personally use the X570 chipset (Aorus Master) with 3 Gen 4 Nvme drives (thanks to the x570 chipset!) and these new gen 4 ssds will blow those Samsung 970s out of the water with 7,000mbps read and 5,000 write! I always tell people the biggest thing they forget is the blazing fast gen 4 plus Nvme ssds out today. It’s a no brainer. Examples of good Nvme drives;
-Sabrent Rocket Gen 4 PLUS(newer faster model. I use three of them and not a single sata ssd or hdd-also because an external drive will give you the same read/write speeds as an internal HDD so it’s a waste of space in my eyes. )
-Western digital SN850 nvme ssd.(I personally own two and I’m not the biggest fan)
-Samsung 980 PRO (that is the newest, fastest drive from Samsung with the 7gbps read speed as the others listed above… again I own these as well and for some reason the Sabrent rocket Gen 4 and Gen 4 plus drives have always performed better in read/write and random iops.)

* Remember if you plan to go this route, and I highly encourage it, you’ll need an x570 motherboard to support MULTIPLE Gen 4 nvmes. The B550 board is only equipped with a single Gen 4 slot for the gpu and for the m.2 slot- but a big catch is the lane is NOT directly connected to the cpu but goes through the chipset. Also any other slot in the B550 platform will run at Gen 3 speeds. (Which is acceptable if you aren’t looking for the absolute fastest drive setup)

Another big tip is to utilize the first slot of your m.2 drive (closest to the cpu) for the most demanding workloads as it connects directly to the cpu.
The AMD 5900x is hands down the best cpu in my book for price/performance. The 5950x is a beast and so are the threadrippers, but a 5900x with a blazing fast ssds on the right chipset. Will yield beyond professional results.

Airflow was not talked about and is so important as when editing and rendering for hours your computer turns into a toaster and the higher the temps on all the components, the less performance they can output. When they thermally throttle you’ll loose clock speeds. So personally I use the most powerful fans I can, without any concern for noise. I want my fans to cool my computers hardware and make it perform at 100% all day, if you want a silent PC and plan to run it hard for hours, you’ll need a water cooling loop for your pc and gpu, and not a small all in one (aio) with a 240mm radiator. Not going to cut it. You’ll preferably want two radiators, atleast a 340 mm for your cpu and you could go smaller on the gpu, with a custom loop.
Now all of that sounds like a pain in the butt right? That’s because it is, it also allows for risk of leakage and destruction. YouTube videos with fancy RGB computers in mini itx cases are not long for this life. I’ve owned many and still have a personal itx case that I travel with for editing. That’s it.
Back to cooling.
Noctua makes a great line of industrial fans that have some of the best airflow I’ve ever seen, use 2-3 fans on the front as an intake(140mm ippc fans), a single at the rear of the case for exhaust, and two on the top of the case for exhaust*** super important to place the top two exhaust fans as far back in the case as possible, leaving a gap in the front where you would normally see someone adding a third exhaust fan on the top (because it looks symmetrical and “cool”). But don’t dk that! The fan will suck up the incoming air from the front of the case before it even hits the cpu cooler-which I personally think the nh-D15 is the best in the business, or a used 14 model to save a couple bucks. I like to add a slim 120mm fan or two under the graphics card at the bottom of the case facing up-this is only if your case allows it and has perforated panels inside. This not only helps the GPU temps but greatly helps in cooling the m.2 ssds and any additional add in cards you may have.
64gb of ram is the perfect number as well, for Ryzen buy nothing else besides 3200mhz-3600mhz, anything higher and you’ll see diminishing returns. (New motherboards and cpus will be able to soon increase the infinity fabric to support faster speeds but as of now it’s not worth it)
And the RAM does matter, just because it’s CL16 doesn’t mean the same CL16 kit will be equivalent. I have multiple sets of identical CL16 Corsair vengeance LPX 3200mhz CL16 and they all have different “timings- 16-18-18 or 16-20-20 etc”. They also use different memory manufacturers and lately I’ve seen some serious cheaping out from manufacturers such as Corsair on there memory modules. Crucial ballistic 3600mhz CL16 is cheap and fast, and also they use only one memory manufacturer which they’re directly in business with.
Other brands will have a variety of modules from Samsung, sk Hynix, and micron.
My point is, if you buy 32gb kit today, 2x16gb sticks- then down the road you want to add 32gb more for 64gb total- depending what brand you’re using, you could be receiving a completely different module. So you’d have to search to the end of the earth to match that exact kit you initially purchased and find the same “version number”. Or you can buy 64gb kit right away and assure the sticks are all the same. There is much more information regarding dual rank and single rank ram, running two dual rank ram sticks jb “dual channel” mode, and then running 4 sticks of “dual rank” in “Dual channel” mode…… it never ends

Ok rant over!
Again great write up and detailed!
Summary of my additional suggestions;
-X570 motherboard for AMD users and a 5900x cpu
-Nvme SSDs at “Gen 4 and Gen 4 Plus” speeds for huge gains
-Airflow!!!!!!! And powerful fans that aren’t necessarily “sexy” with a beefy cpu heat sink or a full blown custom loop(most difficult solution)
– Best ram for AMD and price performance is crucial ballistic CL16 3600mhz. Or a 64gb kit if Corsair vengeance lpx at 3200mhz and CL16 *only if you buy the package as a whole, otherwise you’ll never get the same ram sticks twice.

Love the information to users on how GPUs are so over hyped and the gains in your SSD, CPU and RAM make such a massive impact in Adobe. I can attest a 3070 is absolutely perfect for any video need.

If you read this whole thing, congratulations. I hope it didn’t drive you more nuts on what to buy….

-Bobby

Chester Mirador

Appreciate the info, looking to buy my first big budget content rig (audio voice over, nle, izotope rx7, sound devices, nuemann tlm 103, sony Vegas pro, newbluefx, Soundstripe) and want a reasonably futureproof 8-10 with my toolkit ~3K budget

Kim Williamson

I have small projects that I am still using mini dv recording. I dont use special effects, just basic titling and music
I have CPU but not sure whats in it.
I can buy more RAM, etc
how would I know what to buy?
I have Laptop and CPU – DELL
Could use some advice – am onl limited budget
Kim Williamson
Blue Goose Productions
Comfort Texas

Kirby Bradley

Hi, I am editing drove video, right now max 2700k but looking at new drone with 5K video. I have a 15-9600K on a MSI B365 Pro MB with 16 G of Ram, CTX1660 super, and WD sn750 ssd. I am running into shuddering when editing video. I have been looking to upgrade my PC. I can buy an I9-9900 (non K) to fit my existing MB, or a new I5-11600K and Asus B550 MB. Which do you suggest or should I be looking at something totally different. Keeping my budget in mind. Thanks