Best Computer for Video Editing (Updated)

Best Computer for Video Editing (Updated)

CG Director Author Alex  by Alex   ⋮   ⋮   292 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?


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!

292
Comments

Mikkel Andersen

Hi Alex

Thanks for your real educational articles, they are very helpful. I hope you can help with a good advice.
I usually edit on Mac in Resolve but have upgraded to 4K and therefore need a new computer. I was considering building something myself because of a limited budget. But now I have found two used computers that I can buy for just under $ 1000.
They are both equipped with an Asus PRIME H310M-K motherboard, one with:

Intel Core i5-9600k 3.70GHz, 512GB M.2 SSD, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and Geforce GTX 1660 TI 6GB.

The other:

Intel Core i7 8700 4.6GHz, 120GB SSD & 1 TB HDD, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and Geforce GTX 1060 6GB.

Do you think it is possible to edit ProRes 4K projects (up to 30-45 minutes) on one of the mentioned computers if I supply them with 32 Gb RAM? (which I think is the maximum on the motherboard). You mentioned the i7 8700 chip in the article so I thought it might not be completely outdated? I have 9Tb HDD and 1Tb SSD external storage, but I don’t know if I can run the files via USB 3.1? Are any of the computers suitable for the job or is it a waste of money?
PS. Do you have a suggestion for a reasonable 4K monitor?

Thanks in advance
Mikkel Andersen

Hey Mikkel,

Thanks for dropping a line and thank you for the kind words!

The two used computers you mentioned should be able to edit ProRes 4K projects but I don’t tend to recommend buying a used computer especially if you will be using it for work. You don’t know how “used or abused” the computer might have been and you don’t want to run the risk of any of its parts getting messed up while in the middle of an important project. If you have the budget for it, it’s always best to build a new one for better performance and your peace of mind as well.

If you have a budget of around $1,000, you can build a workstation with specs like the below:

CGDirector.com Parts List: https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/?=hq1wjjbgdkb

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 3.7GHz 8-Core Processor ($189.99)
CPU Cooler: AMD Wraith Prism Cooler (Included with CPU) (-)
Motherboard: ASUS Prime X470-Pro ATX AM4 ($132.99)
GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1660 6GB – EVGA XC Gaming ($229.99)
Memory: 16GB (2 x 8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 CL15 ($64.99)
Storage SSD: Samsung 860 QVO 1TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($87.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO 500GB M.2 Solid State Drive ($79.99)
Storage HDD: Seagate BarraCuda Compute 2TB, 3.5″ ($49.99)
Power Supply: Corsair CX Series CX550 550W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($69.99)
Case: Corsair Carbide Series 275Q ATX Mid Tower Case ($86.26)

The total comes up to around $992.18 but you get a Ryzen 7 2700X CPU complemented by 16GB of RAM to ensure that your workflow is fast and smooth. You also get three storage options with this build but since you already have a 9TB HDD, you can opt to drop the Seagate BarraCuda Compute 2TB from the list and use the money instead for additional RAM. All in all, you can expect this build to perform nicely.

For recommendations, you can go ahead and check this article out: https://www.cgdirector.com/best-monitor-graphic-design-video-editing-3d/ or this one here: https://www.cgdirector.com/best-4k-monitors/. Also, you might want to check the site’s PC Builder Tool for other recommendations based on your budget and use case. You can find the tool here: https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/

In general, depending on the compression of the prores files you’ll use, it might be a good move to create some lower-res proxies to work on for smooth editing before you swap them for the final render.

Cheers,
Alex

David Ainsley

Hi Alex, I’m going to build a system as soon as possible to edit 5K RED RAW footage taken at 3:1 compression.I have lots of 4Tb external WD harddrives USB3 or Thunderbolt 2 with a transfer rate around 120 Mbits/sec, the RED footage is 300 Mbits/sec. I need at least 4Tb of fast internal storage to transfer footage, field edit and then return to the harddrives – does it need to be NVMe or will ordinary SSD be sufficient? I am using Resolve 16.1, Cost wise, what spec do I need to play RED footage at full res RAW? Am I better with AMD TR 3960X 24 core for RED and resolve or IntelCore i9 10980XE? Would a NVIDIA RTX 2080 be a good match? and if so which model? Please could you recommend a build which to suit my situation?

Shaun

G’day Alex, how you mate?

I’ve been stranded on a deserted island for the past month or so unable to edit my video projects on Premiere Pro cc2019 or 2020 because I have

Dell Optiplex 9010; Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3470 CPU @ 3.20GHz, 3201 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 4 Logical Processor(s)
8 GB RAM
AMD Radeon HD 7000 series
Windows 10

Is this upgrable or my laptop below? Or do I need to replace the system to make it future proof?

I purchased a refubished laptop a year or two ago, and now it’s graphics card isn’t supported by NVIDIA

“Dell Precision 4600, Processor
Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2720QM CPU @ 2.20GHz, 2201 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 8 Logical Processor(s)
“16 Ram,
Nvidia 1000m driver,

Thanks a mil

Shaun

Hey Shaun,

Thanks for dropping a line!

Generally speaking, upgrading a laptop, while doable, is just too much work. The same goes for Dell’s Optiplex desktops because of their proprietary design. Aside from the challenges involved in sourcing components that will be compatible with the your laptop/Optiplex 9010, the increase in performance may not be worth the effort you may have to exert. That said, it’s always better to build a new computer for better performance and at the same time make it more future-proof.

If I may ask, how much are you willing to spend in case you decide to build a workstation from the ground up?

Alternatively, you can have a look at the site’s PC Builder Tool. Just input your budget and select the most appropriate use case and get the best recommendations based on your budget. Check the tool here: https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/

Cheers,
Alex

Shaun

Many thank Alex, for your quick response and insight. I suspected that might have been the case.

1500 to 2K (aus) is the budget. Very helpful advice.!

Shaun

I should mention, I would be looking at editing with the most 4K video in the future (but not yet) and Adobe after effects with the ability to use multiple adobe tools simultaneously..

Shaun

Much appreciated Alex – any recommendation for Desktop editing?

On another note, I was listening to a podcast about the what smartphone’s can’t do when it comes to videoing and editing https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/smart-phone-video-podcast/id1483863287

Despite all the craze, I would assume they won’t replace more complex video and animation projects in a hurry or until more of a quantum leap is made (with the likes of google, Microsoft and apple pushing the cause along filmic platform. For example, how the background can now be blurred if only filming from a smartphone or other device compared to the need to have a higher end optimal lens with a shallow depth of field.

What are you’re thoughts?

Cheers

Hey Shaun,

Please have a look at the video editing build I put together for you below:

CGDirector.com Parts List: https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/?=Aq1ycdhihkf

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 3.6GHz 8-Core Processor ($299.99)
CPU Cooler: AMD Wraith Prism Cooler (Included with CPU) (-)
Motherboard: ASUS Prime X570-P ATX AM4 ($159.99)
GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1660TI 6GB – EVGA XC Gaming ($271.99)
Memory: 32GB (2 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 CL16 ($114.99)
Storage SSD: Samsung 860 EVO 1TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($109.97)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO PLUS 500GB M.2 Solid State Drive ($99.99)
Storage HDD: Seagate BarraCuda Compute 4TB, 3.5″ ($89.99)
Power Supply: Corsair CX Series CX550 550W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($74.99)
Case: Fractal Design Define XL R2 Titanium Big Tower Case ($135.00)

The total comes up to around $1356.90 (approximately 2K AUD) but you get a Ryzen 7 3700X CPU working in conjunction with 32GB or RAM to ensure that your workflow is always fast and smooth. This build also comes with three storage options – a 1TB SSD for your OS and commonly used applications, a 500GB M.2 NVMe SSD for the video files you need to work on, and a 4TB HDD for your other files.

As for video capture and editing on a smartphone, it could take a while before smartphones can catch up with what you can do on a desktop or a laptop for that matter. True, there are numerous video editing apps for smartphones but the things you can do with them are just very basic. In short, nothing beats a full-pledged editing software running on a computer with its full array of options and capabilities.

Cheers,
Alex

Paul T

Hi Alex,
Some advice please – I am going to be upgrading my system from a late 2013 iMac and looking to move back to PC. I mostly use Adobe Premiere and Davinci Resolve for editing and after effects too. I will like this set up to be transportable in a flight case rack so can you suggest a rack mount case for it. Reason being – I am getting a Blackmagic DeckLink 4K Extreme 12G so I can use the SDI’s in a Multicam live production set up using either vMix or livestream studio 6. Would these parts all work together well? Thanks in advance of your help:

CPU – AMD 2nd Gen 16 Core Ryzen Threadripper 2 2950X Unlocked Processor
Or
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2920X Processor – (12 Core/24 Threads)

MOTHERBOARD – Gigabyte Intel X299 Designare EX RGB ATX Motherboard

FAN – Cooler be quiet! Dark Rock PRO TR4 135mm Silent Wings

RAM – Corsair 64GB Vengeance LPX DDR4 3200 MHz RAM/Memory Kit 4x 16GB

Operating system & software drive – Samsung 860 EVO 1TB 2.5” SATA 3D Nand SSD/Solid State Drive –

Scratch/CACHE – Samsung 970 EVO 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD/Solid State Drive

GRAPHICS CARD – EVGA NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 8GB XC ULTRA GAMING Turing Graphics Card

I currently own a Pegasus Promise R4 that I use with my MAC – is this still OK for my main hard drive?

Miroslav

Thank you very much, Alex – we will see, whether I will have enough money! 🙂
Cheers,
Miroslav

Miroslav

I need to build workstation for more years …. from future point off view does not exist benefit from 3970? Thanks.

Miroslav

Hi,Alex, what is your opinion on new AMD T.ripper 3970X in comparison with i9 9980X? What would be your choice? Thank you very much. Best regards.

Tomas Arlt

Hello wanted to please ask. I’m making a PC for my friend who wants to edit 4k videos. In a lot of articles even in yours I see the AMD RX 580 is good budget choice for this. But I haven’t seen the new AMD RX 590 Fatboy in any articles. Do you know why? Is it because the RX 590 is newer than the articles or is it worse for 4k video editing than the RX 580. He wants to use Adobe premiere so it looks like NVidia is a better choice but I think that it would be better to buy RX 590 instead of f.e. GTX 1660 and the saved money put to a better processor. F.e. buy Ryzen 5 3600X or better instead of Ryzen 5 3600.

Let me please know your opinion. Thank you very much.
Have a nice day.

Jacob Gordon

Hi Alex,

Thank you for this article. Super helpful.

I’m looking to build a PC for 1500-2000. I’m a video editor, and I’m looking for something as future proof as possible while staying within the budget range. I’ve just started learning about PC’s, so I know very little—one thing I was thinking was that, since I plan to stay exclusively within Premiere Pro, sometimes After Effects, I can skimp on a graphics card and spend more on CPU and other parts.

Here’s what I was thinking:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
Motherboard: Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite ATX AM4 or ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Plus
Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 32GB
Storage 1: Samsung 970 Evo SSD 500GB
Storage 2: Intel 660p M.2 2280 TB or Samsung 970 Evo SSD 2TB
Case: NZXT H510
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i
(haven’t found a power supply yet)

What’s the cheapest graphics card that I could get that work with this? I would plan on upgrading later on if I start using programs that use more GPU, so I’m just looking for the most affordable option that won’t slow my workflow for now.

Thanks!
Jacob

Jacob Gordon

Additionally, in terms of storage, I’m curious what you think about the best way to split it up. I’ve noticed a lot of builds have 500GB to 1TB of storage dedicated to OS and applications. Since I don’t plan on having any games, only the OS, Adobe Suite, and maybe a few other programs that I would use for video editing, would getting a 250GB NVMe for OS/applications be enough? Or would 500GB be better? Or even a 500GB Samsung 860 Evo instead of the 970.

After that, I would probably go for 2TB of SSD. There’s a $200 difference between the Intel 660p M.2 2280 TB and Samsung 970 Evo SSD 2TB. Is it worth it to go for the Samsung?

Jacob Gordon

I also have a friend willing to sell me a GTX 980 for cheap—do you think this would slow me down in Premiere?

Raj

Hello Sir,

Could you please prescribe a suitable configuration for me.
I need to video edit, C&G, render of 6K files in RAW from BM or Red. Maybe 2 years down the road capable of handling 8K files as well.

Want to use both Premium pro and Davinci studio.

I am not overly restricting to budget but would prefer to be less than 7 to 8K.
Needs wifi as well enough ports and inputs / output options.

Thanks and regards

KR