Best Computer for Video Editing (Updated)

Best Computer for Video Editing (Updated)

CG Director Author Alex  by Lakshya   ⋮   ⋮   225 comments
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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
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

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?


Lakshya Srivastava [CGDirector] - post author

Hi, I'm Lakshya, a Freelance Tech Writer.

I've worked in PC tech support and routinely advise friends about new hardware purchases.

If you have any questions about PC hardware, feel free to ask them in the comments. I'll try to reply as quickly as I can.

225
Comments

Dayo Lawal

I’m sorry to say, but GPU for video Editing is scam. When you check the performance monitor in the Task Manager during render, playback or whatever, the GPU is usually always idle while the CPU is working its butts off. Is the GPU just for recognition within Premiere Pro and After Effects? I even took out my GPU and used Software Only and output time was the same. All drivers updated, backdated, tweaked, restored to factory setting, whatever, no difference. I even spoke to NVIDIA. They told me to go Quadro if I’m into Video.
I did Got Quadro P-2000 (5GB RAM), and there is no difference.
If anyone knows how to get the GPU to work,

Dayo Lawal

UPDATE:
Speed of CPU, RAM capacity and Speed of Storage Drives M.2 and SSD have been the real game changer for me.

GPU makes absolutely no difference besides the capability to connect more than one Monitor.

Hey Dayo,
You are right, in Video Editing the GPU plays a very minor role. There are some Effects in Premiere Pro for example that have CUDA acceleration, or some After Effects Render optimizations, but apart from that, max drive read speed and max CPU single core clock (with a few cores) are the best you can have for a fast Video Editing experience. And you should have enough RAM so nothing ever gets swapped to disc.

Cheers,
Alex

Dayo Lawal

Thank you Alex,

So, why is GPU part of the must have recommendations for a video editing system build?

These things are crazy expensive.

My GTX cards responded amazingly when I played games on my PC

Hey Dayo,
They are indeed 😀 The thing is, of course you need a decent GPU to run Video Editing smoothly, as any kind of dedicated GPU is much better than an intergated GPU or no GPU at all 🙂

But you will see almost no difference between a 2060 SUPER (350$) and a 2080 TI (1200$) in Video Editing, so definitely go for one of the lower-end ones.

In Gaming or GPU Rendering this is of course different. Here a 2080TI is a lot faster than a 2060 SUPER. But if you only do video editing, save some money! 🙂

Cheer,
Alex

Dayo Lawal

The lower end ones are not compatible with the demands of CC 2019. And I really will like to know how to tweak my Quadro GPU to attend to all my video production demands.
From Editing, to 3D Engines.
I need help.
I’ve given up on GTX’s

Hey Dayo,
A Quadro P2000 unfortunately isn’t all that fast. Might be difficult to get it to perform to your satisfaction. Only thing that comes to mind is overclocking or tweaking some newer drivers or settings in your Apps.

Other than that, .. you’ll need a faster GPU if the current performance is not what you can live with.

Cheers,
Alex

Krav Magoo

Why are you two diddling each other with nonsense? GPU speed and memory are extremely important if anyone chooses to use the best video editing platform available–DaVinci Resolve. If you are using Fusion for heavy After Effects-style rendering, having a second GPU can even be helpful.

Honda

Hi Alex

what is the best Storage system for Video Editing if it PCiex 4.0 like AMD
for example:

AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD 1TB 5000 MB/s for OS

AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB 5000 MB/s for 4k/8k footage

AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD 1TB 5000 MB/s for cash

AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD 1TB 5000 MB/s for exporting video file

what is plus and minus of this list? so what you change and why?

where i need more speed in the Storage system for Video Editing? os/4k or 8k footage/ cash?

and what do you think about AORUS Gen4 AIC SSD 8TB 15 000MB/S? where it better to use in storage system for Video Editing? for what function? 4k/8k footage or cash?

Hi Honda,

Thanks for dropping a comment!

If you already have fast Gen 3 NVMe SSD, it’s not advisable to upgrade to PCIe 4.0 SSDs. Benchmarks show that there isn’t much of an advantage to getting a Gen 4 SSD as they will only give you a performance boost in very select workloads. If you are building a new high-end workstation and have the means, you can certainly go for a PCIe 4.0 SSD like the Aorus NVMe Gen 4 SSD you mentioned.

If you have to have the Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD and you don’t mind the high price, I suggest that you dedicate 1TB for your OS and applications, 1TB for your cache drive, and 2TB each for your 4K/8K footage and exporting video files.

As for the AORUS Gen4 AIC SSD 8TB, this is something that you may want to use for storing your 4K/8K footage as these files tend to eat up a lot of storage space. If you will be working on a lot of 4K/8K footages, you want to make sure you have more than enough storage space lest you run out of space before you know it.

We will have to do some tests on these rives, specifically for Video Editing purposes, which we haven’t done yet. Usually sequential read speeds are the thing we look for in a nvme drive and 5gb/s sounds great on paper. Will let you know once we have had the chance to test 🙂

Cheers,
Alex

Prokopios

Hi,
In what way doe the computer config. you suggest differ from gaming PC’s.
This Omen PC is a custom order from HP, looks very much like your configs but is for gaming. (Below)
OMEN Obelisk Desktop PC – 875-1040st

$3932.99
Windows 10 Pro / 9th generation Intel® Core™ i9-9900K Processor with liquid cooling / HyperX 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 2666 UDIMM / No Optane / RAID-0 configuration, 2 drives will be striped and appear as one combined drive to the operating system / 1 TB PCIe® NVMe™ M.2 SSD / 1 TB PCIe® NVMe™ M.2 SSD / 3 TB 7200 rpm SATA / NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 2080Ti (11 GB GDDR6 dedicated) / Shadow Black tower with 750W Platinum efficiency power supply and side window / 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2×2) Wi-Fi® and Bluetooth® 4.2 M.2 combo / Office Trial / McAfee Livesafe (30 day) / HP black wired keyboard with volume control and wired optical mouse kit / Omen by HP Obelisk Desktop 875-1040st / OMEN by HP Obelisk Desktop PC – 875-1040st CTO / HP OMEN 1C19 Country Kit US / 19C1 Cycle AV / DIB WARRANTY 1Y US ENG HP INC / MISC PKG Sgl PK TWR Dotcom 19C1 / Power Cord / Energy Star / FLAG EPEAT / MISC HEVC MEDIA EXTENSION HP / WARR 1/1/0 US

Best regards,
Prokopios

Hey Prokopios,
All PCs are based on the same kind of parts, so a pre-built pc from HP or Alienware will have the same parts as when you build it yourself. The main difference is the price. Build yourself and save 30%.

Also, the term gaming PCs might be a bit misleading. You can work on a gaming pc and game on a work-pc or workstation, no problem at all. In the end it’s just marketing terms. All based on the same kind of components. Gaming PCs might have some RGB Lighting and interesting PC Cases going for them, but they perform exactly the same as a “specialised” Workstation that might look a bit boring to fit into an office environment.

Cheers,
Alex

Matthias

Hi Alex. Thanks a lot for this detailed guide. You seem to not mentioned the importance of threads at all: Are they as efficient as true cores? Do they help at all? Do they count as full cores?

Thanks a lot

Hey Matthias,

Thanks for asking!

CPU cores are hardware. They do all the heavy lifting. Threads are used to help the CPU schedule their tasks more efficiently. Basically, all central processing units have threads and these threads are what allow your CPU to perform multiple things at once. So if you want to run multiple processes that are very intensive, you will need a CPU with a lot of threads.

The number of threads you have depends on the number of cores in your CPU. Each CPU core can have two threads. So a processor with two cores will have four threads. A processor with eight cores will have 16 threads.

Threads are important to the function of your computer because they determine how many tasks your computer can perform at any given time.

Every process has at least one thread, but there is no maximum number of threads a process can use. For specialized tasks, the more threads you have, the better your computer’s performance will be. With multiple threads, a single process can handle a variety of tasks simultaneously.

But now, with more cores and processing units available, you can enjoy more threads than ever. More threads mean more performance and the ability to run many processes at once.

Some CPUs have Threads disable, like the i7 9700K. Of course this impacts performance somewhat, so having access to 2 threads per core is preferable.

Cheers,
Alex

Matthias

Thanks a lot

My main question is still a little bit unanswered:
How much is the impact of threads?

My 3570K as an example is a 4 Core / Threads CPU.
Is the impact of threads smaller as that one of a few hundred megahertz?

Is it equivalent to a couple of CPU generations?
Or is it equivalent of literally a full core?

A half core?
Any numbers?

I suggest that adding to the article, especially since some people might have threads used by other programs. To calculate that and think about it seems important.

Especially since AMD is probably soon launching 4 virtual threads on one core.
In regards: Matthias

Ben

Alex!
Thanks for your hard work in creating this. Very Helpful indeed.

I would like to do a custom build for mainly editing video. At times we will also use it with Aftereffects and also with some CAD programs that will create files for a CNC machine. My budget is $3,000 max. I really liked this build https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/?=ca1Bbdfcaff . However I am not generally a fan of AMD. Id rather have an Intel build. What do you think? Got any ideas on that?

I would be happy to buy from your affiliate links.

Hey Ben,
Here is an Intel build that will perform similarly to the one you listed above. The CPU does have less cores, but in After Effects, Video Editing and CAD Software you mainly benefit from high clocks, so this isn’t a problem. It will be even faster in actively working.

———————
Your Custom PC Build: (https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/?=re1Affikehd)

Parts List:
CPU: Intel i9 9900k 3.6GHz 8-Core Processor ($494.99)
CPU Cooler: be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 1151 ($86.54)
Motherboard: ASUS Prime Z390-A ATX 1151 ($179.99)
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2080 8GB – EVGA XC Gaming ($739.99)
Memory: 64GB (4 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 CL16 ($319.99)
Storage SSD: Samsung 860 EVO 2TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($279.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO PLUS 1TB M.2 Solid State Drive ($218.95)
Storage HDD: Seagate BarraCuda Compute 8TB, 3.5″ ($149.99)
Power Supply: Seasonic Focus Plus Gold 650W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($99.99)
Case: Corsair Obsidian 450D ATX Mid Tower Case ($167.14)

Total: $2737.56

Generated by CG Director PC Builder on 24/9/2019 @ 8:57:31
———————

Hope this helps!

Cheers,
Alex

David

Hi Alex, I’ve found this to be the most useful article of building a pc for editing and I’ve been using it as a guideline to pick my parts. I’m looking to build a PC for 1080p 30fps h.264 video editing in mostly Vegas Pro 16. I’m looking at something like this, spec wise:

CPU: Ryzen 7 2700X/3700X
MOBO: MSI B450 Pro Carbon AC (with flashback)
Storage: a small 250gb ssd for OS/Apps and a 1TB NVME
RAM: 16GB of the cheapest ddr4 memory I can find
Video Card: RX580 8GB

I’m wondering if a build like this will be able to deliver a smooth editing experience – smooth video playback with some effects/colour grading + transitions, nothing crazy.

Have a few questions:

Would a 2700x be enough for what I’m looking to do or would I benefit from the ryzen 3000 series?

Would a better GPU (such as the vega 56) affect live/active video playback due to its higher core count? In my research I’ve found the evidence to be inconclusive as to whether a better CPU (say, the 3700x and the Rx580) or a better GPU (2700x and Vega 56) will deliver smooth video playback. This is my main priority as I spent 10+ hours minimum per project, so my priority is on being able to clip, trim, colour correct, add effects and get smooth playback on the highest resolution. I am not concerned about rendering times and would be willing to forego it in order to have a pleasant editing experience.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Hi David,

Thank you for the kind words!

If you plan on doing a lot of active work inside the software, a CPU with a higher clock speed should be at the heart of your system. While the Ryzen 7 2700X with its 3.6GHz base clock and Max Boost of 4.4GHz will be enough for what you want to do, I suggest that you go for the slightly faster Ryzen 7 3700X if you have the budget for it.

GPUs at the moment don’t have a huge impact on performance when doing video editing so an RX 580 will be enough for your needs. But again, if you have the budget for it, my suggestion is for you to go with an RTX 2070 GPU as it has the best price to performance ratio at the moment. In addition to that, the RTX 2070 has CUDA core acceleration that brings about faster video effects and encoding when using Vegas Pro.

In terms of RAM, 16GB of RAM is the baseline for small projects with less than 2K resolutions but as your projects become more complex and the resolutions go higher, you should get 32GB or more. Ryzen processors by the way benefit from RAM with higher clock speeds so get something with a clock speed of at least 3200 MHz.

Cheers,
Alex

ALİ

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX işlemci, 32-Core Soket sTR4
COOLER MASTER Wraith Ripper AMD TR4 Adreslenebilir RGB İşlemci Soğutucusu
ASUS GeForce ROG MATRIX RTX2080TI GAMING 11GB GDDR6 352Bit Nvidia
SAMSUNG 860 Evo, MZ-76E1T0BW, 2.5”, 1 TB, SATA, SSD
SAMSUNG 970 Pro, MZ-V7P1T0BW, 1 TB, M.2 PCIe NVMe, SSD
HITACHI Ultrastar 3.5”, 4 TB, 7200 RPM Sata Disk
CORSAIR Enthusiast TXM KC-CP-9020130-EU 850W Modüler 80+ Gold 12cm
AEROCOOL P7-C1 Pro 3 Adet RGB Led
ASUS ROG STRIX X399-E GAMING – AMD SocketTR4 DDR4 Anakart
CORSAIR Vengeance LPX (CMK16GX4M1D3000C16) 16GB DDR4-3000

HOW DO YOU THINK

THANK YOU SOO

Hi Ali,

Thanks for dropping a comment!

If I may ask, what exactly will you be using this build for? Also, what software will you be mostly using?

A high core count CPU like the Threadripper is advisable if you will do a lot of rendering. However, if you will do a lot of active work inside the software, it will be better if you invest in a CPU with a high clock speed like the Ryzen 9 3900X or Intel i9-9900K.

In terms of RAM, 16GB may be the baseline at the moment but if you plan on building a workstation with a CPU as powerful as the Threadripper, you might as well go for at least 32GB of RAM (maybe more, depending on the type of work you will be doing) with high clock speeds of 3200 MHz or higher.

Also, you may want to check the site’s PC Builder Tool at https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/ for build recommendations depending on your budget and use case scenario.

Cheers,
Alex

ALİ

I’m sorry I didn’t write, after effect rendering will be done most, water cooling air cooling? amd mi intelmi money is not a problem, thanks

Hey Ali,
For After Effects we’ve got this guide here which should answer all your questions:

https://www.cgdirector.com/best-computer-for-after-effects/

Let me know if anything is unclear! 🙂

Cheers,
Alex

Jon

Hi Alex

Thanks for this great article!

I am a novice video editor and using an gaming pc for video rendering. Main specs are Ryzen 7 2700X, 32 Gb ram, RTX 2070.

Currently I’m rendering some 3D scenes in Cinema 4D Lite and After Effects, but I would like to speed up the rendering time, since rendering a 90 second clip in full HD takes about 8 hours.

During rendering, the CPU is running at up to 88%, while the GPU usage is most of the time about 1%, memory usage around 50%, so I would guess upgrading the CPU would be a good option.

Do you think switching to Intel and going for an i9 would provide a significant boost in my situation? Or are there other actions you would recommend?

Thanks and best regards
Jon

Hey Jon,

Thanks for dropping a line!

Going for an Intel processor like the i9-9900K will provide a boost in your situation but I don’t think the boost is significant enough to be game-changing, so to speak. And besides, the i9-9900K may boast of a high clock speed but it only comes with 8 cores. If you do a lot of rendering, it would be better if you invest in a CPU with a high core count such as the Ryzen 9 3900X with 12 cores. Or, if budget will not be a concern, you can go for one of the Threadripper CPUs like the 16-core Threadripper 2950X.

To get a better picture of how the different CPUs stand up to each other in terms of rendering, you can check this article: https://www.cgdirector.com/best-cpu-for-rendering/

Cheers,
Alex

Jon

Thanks for taking your time to answer! The Ryzen 9 does indeed seem attractive, even more so if I don’t need to change the motherboard!

Best regards
Jon

Troubetskaia Eros

Hi I just started doing Music Videos and I am trying my best to start editing with some good vhs effects on after effects and premiere, I’m looking to build the best pc possible for editing yet my budget is only around 1300$. Its all the money i have at the moment, i’m trying do deliever the best music videos that i can to my clients and a pc upgrade is what i need. Was looking to either buy Ryzen 7 2700x or the Ryzen 5 3600! Please help me out i’v been seraching on the internet for so long now and I’m really confused!

Hi Eros,

Thanks for asking!

Given your budget and your use case scenario, I suggest going for a Ryzen 5 3600X build. Take a look at the build I put together for you:

Parts List:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X 3.8GHz 6-Core Processor ($239.00)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition AM4 ($39.99)
Motherboard: ASUS TUF Gaming x570-Plus (Wifi) ATX AM4 ($209.96)
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2060 6GB – MSI Gaming ($349.99)
Memory: 32GB (2 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 CL16 ($134.99)
Storage SSD: Crucial MX500 500GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($59.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO PLUS 500GB M.2 Solid State Drive ($109.99)
Power Supply: Corsair CX Series CX550 550W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($64.99)
Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro ATX Mid Tower Case ($91.00)

The price of the build comes up to around $1299.90 but you also have the option of using the stock cooler included in the package of the Ryzen 5 3600X if you want to save some more.

Also, please check the site’s PC Builder Tool at https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/ to see other possible builds in case you want to increase/decrease your budget.

Cheers,
Alex

Michael

Thank you so much for writing this article, Alex. It was informative and helpful.

Leona

Amazing article Alex, very comprehensive and helps make the buying process a bit easier to digest.

I work in Adobe 2015 CC (mostly Premiere Pro but will occassionally have AE open the same time). I’m trying to purchase/build a new PC build which is roughly around <£1500 ($1800). I don't have a video editing job currently but definitely want to pursue it, and in the meantime i am looking to work on gaming videos for youtube, and build a portfoilio for to apply to video production houses etc (smaller scale stuff of course).

I imagine it'll be mostly HD/4K short form videos that i work with? DSLR footage etc. I'm not that knowledgable on codecs/video files. Do you think:
AMD ryzen 5 3700x and nvidia rtx 2060 Super would suffice as a beginner, mid-range setup to last a few years? I'm hoping to do some live twitch gaming streaming too, hence a mid-range graphics card.

Thanks very much 🙂
Leona

Hi Leona,

Thanks for dropping a line!

The type of CPU you should be getting for your build will depend mostly on the type of work you’d be doing. If you will be doing a lot of editing and actively working inside of your editing software, it makes sense to invest in a snappy CPU with the highest possible clock speed. The Ryzen 7 3700X with its 3.6GHz base clock and Max Boost of 4.4GHz should be able to handle any task you throw at it.

But since you mentioned that your budget is around $1800, take a look at the build I came up with for you:

CPU AMD Ryzen 7 3800X 3.9GHz 8-Core Processor ($399.00)
CPU Cooler be quiet! Dark Rock 4 AM4 ($74.90)
Motherboard ASUS TUF Gaming x570-Plus (Wifi) ATX AM4 ($199.99)
GPU NVIDIA RTX 2060 6GB – MSI Gaming ($359.99)
Memory 32GB (2 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 CL16 ($154.99)
Storage SSD Samsung 860 EVO 1TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($129.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD Samsung 970 EVO 1TB M.2 Solid State Drive ($169.99)
Storage HDD Seagate BarraCuda Compute 4TB, 3.5″ ($79.99)
Power Supply Corsair CX Series CX550 550W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($64.99)
Case Corsair Carbide 400C ATX Mid Tower Case ($132.47)

This build comes up to around $1766.30 and gets you the Ryzen 7 3800X processor which is slightly faster than the Ryzen 7 3700X as it sports 3.9GHz base clock and Max Boost of 4.5 GHz. Since the graphics card doesn’t have that huge of an impact on any performance in terms of editing videos, the RTX 2060 should be capable enough to handle gaming streaming on Twitch for that matter. More importantly, this build should last you a couple of years for your use case scenario.

You might also want to take a look at the site’s PC builder tool at https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/ in case you want to look at different components at different price points.

You could same some money and use the boxed cooler that comes with the CPU, too.

Cheers,
Alex

Leona

Perfect, thanks a lot Alex for the recommendations 🙂
I think i’ll be going with the AMD 3700x just because alot of people are saying there’s not much of a difference for the price.
For the SSDs, is it best to have an SSD for OS & programs, and then a seperate SSD for storing video files/documents etc?

Thanks!
Leona

Hey Leona,
Yes it’s best to separate those drives to increase performance. OS / Apps on a normal SSD and your active project files on an nvme ssd (which is the fastest). Then if need an HDD for Archiving and Backup.

Cheers,
Alex