How Much RAM Do You Need For Video Editing

CG Director Author Alex  by Alex  ⋮   ⋮   47 comments
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Are you thinking about getting a new Video Editing Workstation / PC or want to upgrade your existing one?

Do you want to make sure your current Hardware is strong enough for the type of editing Projects you might have planned or are working on?

RAM is one of the most important Hardware parts for your video editing needs.

I will tell you exactly how much RAM you need for Video Editing. But first lets look at some of the theory behind it:

RAM Prices

RAM is expensive!

You have probably seen it already, but take a look at how Prices have come up over the past years:

RAM Prices


A 16GB DDR4 Kit used to cost 68€ back in 2016, and cost 195€ in 2018! There seems to be a downward trend in 2018 and 2019 though, so there is still hope for sane prices on the horizon.

You won’t want to spend too much, of course, but for that we will need to know how much RAM exactly to get:

As so often, because it depends so much on what type of projects you are editing, there is unfortunately no definite answer to the question of how much RAM you need for general video editing.

But we can narrow it down a good bit:

Our Ultimate Video Editing RAM Goal

Our ultimate goal is to have enough RAM for our Video Editing Software to run smoothly.

Some popular Video Editing Softwares include Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Vegas Pro, Avid Media Composer / Symphony, DaVinci Resolve and many more.

Additionally, any other typically needed Application running simultaneously should have enough Memory to not slow down your editing process.

After Effects comes to mind here and maybe Photoshop. In fact, the best Computer for After Effects consists of very similar parts as a Video Editing Workstation.

Let me say this: Your active Projects should always be able to fit into your memory.


Because if they don’t, the Operating System will start swapping data, that doesn’t fit into your RAM, to your hard disk or SSD, and these two are a multitude slower than your RAM.

Take a look at this comparison of Read & Write Speeds of a HDD vs. SSD vs. RAM.

The RAM is about 10x faster than an SSD and 50x faster than a HDD.

RAM Speed


A typical use case of an average Video Editor

Now lets look at my typical Video Editing use case scenario:

I have Win 10 running. I recently browsed the Internet with Google Chrome in about 10 Open Tabs and am listening to Music on YouTube.

I have Photoshop (that needs lots of RAM!) running in the background for some Images I want to use in my Video as well as Outlook or Thunderbird opened for my Email.

Lets see how our RAM usage looks at the moment:

Win 10 uses about 3GB RAM just to start up, and will use more if it is allowed to.

Chrome is using roughly 2GB with all the opened Tabs, Photoshop is using 1,5GB and Outlook or Thunderbird is chewing on some 200MB of RAM.

RAM Video Editing

I am actually using 6,7GB of RAM without even having my Video Editing Software running.

Now, of course I could close all those Programs down and switch to a different OS to use less RAM.

Then I could only open up one program at a time, but let’s face it:

It’s about ease of use and how motivated and unhindered you are when working on your projects. Nothing should stand in the way of your creativity.

And a slow Computer and Video Editing Timeline is the opposite of enabling creativity.

Closing down my Video Editing Software every time I want to adjust an image in Photoshop, just isn’t something that will make me work more efficiently.

So let’s set 6GB of System RAM usage as our baseline.

With that said, will Adobe Premiere Pro or similar Video Editing Softwares work with 8GB of System RAM?

Well, it depends!

It depends on your footage

What footage resolution and bit depth are you working with, and what is your project set to?

Why is this important?

Because the main use case for RAM in a Video Editing Software (apart from making the program run) is caching preview files.

Caching means pre-processing/calculating effects and layers, basically everything you input into your timeline, to a rendered preview.

This preview resides in the RAM, to be played back in Realtime, when required.

This usually happens automatically (in Premiere Pro 2018 for example) as soon as you play back or scrub through your timeline.

Now, a 720p 8bit preview will take up considerably less amount of RAM than a 4K 10bit video.

Think about the difference in color information:

A single 720p 8bit Frame consists of about 2,7MB of RAW uncompressed Data, while a 4K 10bit Frame will need about 47MB.

1280x7202,7 MByte3,4 MByte4,1 MByte5,5 MByte11,0 MByte
1920x10806,2 MByte7,7 MByte9,3 MByte12,4 MByte14,8 MByte
4096x307237,7 MByte47,2 MByte56,6 MByte75,5 MByte151,0 MByte
8192x6144150,9 MByte188,7 MByte226,5 MByte302,0 MByte604,0 MByte

Of course there are quite sophisticated compression algorithms, that allow the various Video Editing Programs to use compressed data, but the difference is still huge.

Also, the more you compress your Data, the more your CPU will have to work to compress & decompress the Data for fast viewing.

This means we are not really solving the Problem of a fast Timeline with low RAM usage by using a strong compression, we are just moving it over to a different Hardware Part (the CPU) to take care of it.

Keep all of the above in mind when reading the following:

The recommended amount of RAM you should target, when building a new system or are upgrading for specific Video Editing projects and use cases:


How much RAM do you need for Video Editing

  • 8GB of RAM: Only if you are editing smaller than 1080p projects and are ok with closing down other Programs that are using up lots of your RAM in the background.
  • 16GB of RAM: Good for editing 1080p – 4K 8bit Projects, with minor usage of background Programs
  • 32GB of RAM: Good for any type of editing with heavy use of background hogs, such as editing large images in Photoshop.
  • 64GB or more: This is recommended if you are editing 8K footage in 10bit or more and rely heavily on having several RAM-hogging Programs open at once such as After Effects or Cinema 4D.

Now, you can usually make ends meet with less than recommended.

But it’s all about ease of use and not having to worry about your RAM all the time, right?

So give it a good buffer zone there and make sure you have a bit more than is minimally needed.

Since RAM is unfortunately quite expensive currently, you might want to settle for less, but be ready to upgrade in the future when prices come down.

I’ll get into Future-Proofing your Workstation down below.

Video Editing Rendering Speed

A word on speed:

RAM doesn’t really affect the Rendering speed of your Projects all that much, unless you don’t have enough and the OS has to swap to disk.

Your CPU and GPU are responsible for calculating your effects, color adjustments, layer blends and video output compression and mainly responsible for your Video-Editing-Speed, Program-responsiveness and Rendering-Speeds.

Having RAM run in single, dual or quad channel configurations is sometimes discussed as means of improving overall speed, but differences usually are within the margin of error of around 1 – 3%.

Why is that? Shouldn’t Quad-Channel Memory be twice as fast as Dual-Channel?

Although the Memory Bandwidth theoretically doubles each time (single, dual, quad), the Software (Premiere Pro for example) won’t make use of it, as there is no need for higher bandwidth.

The RAM already has a transfer speed of 5GB/s. You don’t saturate this Bandwidth with normal 25FPS – 60FPS projects.

The bottleneck here would rather be the copying of the Footage to the RAM when previewing. But almost never the Playback of the Footage from RAM in Real-Time.

Lets look at an example:

On a 25FPS Project this would mean you have “5GB per second possible RAM speed / 25 Frames” = 200MB per Frame.

Your RAM is able to play back Footage at 25FPS when a single Frame is under 200MByte. Now I don’t know about your Footage, but my Footage (except maybe some EXRs in 8k) doesn’t usually reach this size. Far from it.

Doubling the Bandwidth will do nothing for you except give you even more bandwidth headroom.

The maximum number of Frames per Second you will ever need, to play back your Timeline in Realtime, is your Source Framerate. 25, 30, 60 FPS.

One thing you should keep in mind though, are future upgrading possibilities:

Future Proof

What if you want to buy just enough RAM for your current projects (maybe because prices are so high at the moment), but you know you will switch to some bigger footage in the future?

Make sure your mainboard supports the amount of RAM you are targeting.

Although in the past, upgrading your RAM was as easy as adding in more modules to the ones you already have, it does not always seem to be that easy nowadays:

There might be issues with stability when mixing RAM Kits even if they are of the same type, brand and speed / timings.

So, to be on the safe side,  if you are thinking about upgrading to more RAM, see if you can sell your old Kit on eBay for example, and get a new complete RAM Kit with the desired amount of Gigabytes.

Custom PC-Builder Tool

Ready to get more RAM or new Hardware for your Computer? Head on over to the CGDirector Custom PC-Builder Tool that let’s you configure your Computer at custom price points for all kinds of purposes.

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How much RAM do you need for your Video Editing Projects?

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Alex from CGDirector - post author

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

I have 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!



I mainly use premier and after affects and trying to decide whether to go with i7 9700K which has 8 threads or with AMD 2700X which has 16 threads (and is also cheaper than the Intel processor). Is there a performance difference, will I face any compatibility or other issues with the AMD?


Hey Alex,
Is Macbook Pro with 8 GB RAM and quad core i5 processor good for editing 1080p 60 fps videos on premiere pro cc or should I upgrade the RAM to 16 ?


Hey Alex, I’ve recently been having a problem with premire 2019 and GPU acceleration, and I want to know if this is a hardware or software issue.

Basically, when working with any somewhat large project, premiere 2019 will freeze, and then the program monitor will go black. This has been happening for months, but it’s been no big deal because I can just close and re-open premiere in less than 30 seconds. However, upon re-start up recently Ppro has started to crash and cause the computer to do the Blue screen of Death. For some reason going to task manager and ending task on premiere (instead of closing out of it normally) seemed to stop the BSOD issue for some reason, but after a day or two the issue was back.

My Specs:

16GB DDR4 RAM (2 8gb sticks, duel channel)
GTX1050 2gb vRam – 417.35 driver version

AMD Ryzen 5 2600 Six-Core processor

Windows 10 Education edition

Premiere is installed on an SSD, but my footage is located on a separate internal hybrid drive.


This happens qutie frequently when rendering or trying to export using GPU acceleration. The reason I am led to believe GPU acceleration is the issue here is because:
(A) Online, other people with similar issues said turn GPU acceleration of to fix it.
(B) When I’ve turned it off in the past, the project successfully (if slowly) renders (but that’s not an option now as per my paragraph below).
(C) When I export, I often get a “GPU acceleration related” error (I don’t have screenshot, i can provide one if needed).

I know I can just turn off GPU acceleration, but this is not an option recently, as for my current project it makes nested layers have incorrect motion properties, especially when the Basic 3D effect is applied to the nested seququence overall.

This is also the first time I am working in conjunction with after effects; however, instead of doing a dynamic link(? is that the name?), I’ve been importing the footage of certain shots into AE, and then exporting it to .avi file, which I reimport back into premire. I did this because I thought it was the AE link creating the issue, but once I did this the issue remained.

I am running the most recent version of premire. I know doing so is not recommended, but the initial switch from 2018 to 2019 saw a significant increase in reliability and initial stability for me, and online I also read that when running into a similar problem, updating premiere could fix it.

I also tried updating my Nvidia GPU, but doing so yielded no change.

I’ve only had this issue with PPro, AE seems to be fine.

I’ve read this is often a Nvidia issue. Is there a recommended stable driver and/or known stable version of premiere I should be using? Will getting more ram fix the issue? Is it the GPU or CPU’s fault?


Hey Alex
I have the H110M-PRO-VD motherboard running a skylake i5-6500, and i want to install new ram in it, which is the: G.Skill F4-2400C15D-16GTZR (the one that you’ve used as an attached image of the topic)
But i can’t find GTZR in the compatibility list of the mobo.
My questions are:
– Will the motherboard work fine with G.Skill F4-2400C15D-16GTZR?
– If not will this one work?

—- HX424C12PB3/16 —-
-My video editing work consists mostly of 1080p resolution / 12 Mbps bitrate, but sometimes i need to have 3 Adobe softwares open at the same time, (Premiere Pro, After Effect, Photoshop), alongside with my browser and spotify. All i want is a real smooth experience; so what should i do? i’m planing on buying Ram+SSD:
– 1×16 DDR4 2400MHz C14 + 860 EVO 2.5″ (500 Go)
-2×8 DDR4 2133MHz C13 + 860 EVO 2.5″ (500 Go)

Or maybe i should get more than 16?

Thank you in advance.


Hey Alex
I need help , i am a amateur just getting into editing content and looking to buy a laptop to edit video and Edit video only. I do not care about new features or how cool they might look etc , I want a machine that will make it a smooth process, I don’t care if that’s a 2013 or 2018 I just don’t want to pay for stuff that I don’t need. I plan on editing on premiere FYI.


You’re a God sent man for helping us with lesser knowledge of computer specs for editing

Labi bytyqi

Can i run adobe premiere pro to this computer and to edit 1080p videos.
The computer specs are:
Hp z420 workstation
Intel xeon e5-1620 3.60ghz
16gb ram ddr3
500gb HDD
Nvidia quadro 2000 1gb 128bit


Ok, so here’s my question. We edit mostly 1080p footage and usually have over 10 tabs open on Chrome. I’m looking at getting the 13” macbook pro. Since I’m on a limited budget…if you had to choose, would you upgrade the processor from “2.3GHz dual-core 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz” to “2.5GHz dual-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.0GHz” for $300


Would you upgrade ram from 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory to 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory for $200?

Assuming you can only choose one. Also, I edit with Premiere Pro.



I am looking at a macbook pro 2017 it has 2.3GHz dual core i5 8gb of ram and an intel iris plus graphics 640. will this be fast enough to edit video with Premiere Pro. I figured I could proxy all 4k footage I just wonder if there will be an issue rendering?

Bonbon de sel prod.

Hi ! I need some advices.
I give you detailed information on my specific use as an amateur video shooter and editor in watershoot surfing and water sports.
I would like to know what best system for buck I’m better to buy in the year to come.
Thanks if you read all and answer me.
The hardwares I hesitate to choose at the bottom line.

For the video sources:
I use a lot of 1080p footage at 240fps and 4K 120fps footage.

For the softwares:
I use Adobe Premiere Pro and need to often use After Effects at the same time, with sometimes Adobe audio encoder at the same time and often with one or two web windows opened. I don’t use Photoshop a lot but I will use it more to put some pics in my movies.
The type writing soft of Adobe is also something I will have to play with a lot while running Pr Pro.

On my projects:
As I have to shoot a lot in 4k 120fps and 1080p 240fps for surfing and water sports, I can’t have the perfect light or angle as the priorities are conditions and actions.
So I need to make a lot of slow motion and to keep same tones and exposure on some clips, use a lot color, exposition, balance corrections, often wrap stabilization on 4k 120fps. I also need to use After Effects a lot, especially to upscale 1080p to 4k.
AND VERY IMPORTANT: I will work with a lot of rush due to the fact that shooting actions and waves are subject to a lot of footage with a waiting time to not miss the 3 to 4 golden seconds where you’ll show the beauty by puting the very close to the cam action in slow motion.
My clips will be for the moment from 3 minutes to 20 minutes in 4k. It doesn’t mean that I will not do longer videos in the future.

So… I have a GTX 1070ti I’ll keep.
I also wanna use my computer for sims like P3D and Xplane 11 as I’m a pilot having spent some bucks in softs and josticks etc I don’t wanna leave.
I hesitate between:
– an i9 9900k or i7 9700k with 64gb of RAM
– an i7 9800x to come for sell with the possibility of 128 Ram and quad channel ability.
I will have 2 HHD in raid and 2 Sata SSD and one NVME.
Windows 10 64 bit of course.
My main hesitation is concerning the RAM. I know the i9 9900k is a monster for Pr Pro.
The most important for me is live playback.
Will my kind of work really require more than 64gb of RAM and as I keep configs for almost 7 years, is it better or not to have the possibilty to add more than 64gb or save money to stay with a powerfull i7 9900k and these 64gb of ram for the 6 – 7 years to come ?

Thanks if you reply.


Hi , so i have my almost-2-year-old Asus ROG laptop i planning to upgrade my 8GB of RAM up to 16 and spending the remainning money on the SSD . So do you think that is a wise choice to make since i only do mostly 1080p videos and so after effect , thanks


Thank you so much! I learned a lot.

pino de vogel

I was converting a x265 6x 1 hour 1080p files with 8000 Kbps bitrate to x264 and the rest the same (as my tv like manypre 2016 tv’s dont support x265) and the software used only used 2 cores and i was also using cuda which showed 40% load. So i thought lets do 2 files at the same time as save me some time. I ended up spending 4 times the total conversion time figuring out why the heck 2 files at the same time was slower as as 1 at a time.
I couldnt figure it out untill i glanced at ram while force closing some programs. 15,8 GB used for a single file conversion.
So i guess either the software (pavtube as thats the only one that would actualy work with gpu support) is really ram inefficiënt or my next rig needs a lot more of it…
However this kinda confirms i need more ram but thewres no point in getting 32 gigs of ddr3 for now as i want a new rig in 2019 when the core battle settles and we might finaly get back good performance per core AND cores. Gaming is still my main rig purpose after all.


Hi alex
I’m looking at buying a Laptop for premier pro and photoshop. I am looking at an intel i7 4.1Ghz, 512 ssd and a gtx 1050ti would it be more beneficial to get 32gb of ram over 24gb?


Hi Alex!

I was building a mini itx build for my partner with only 2 ram slots and didn’t know much ram to put in with no knowledge of video editing software like Premiere Pro.. Seems like I’d have to put 16gb for fluid experience and another ram stick later on.

Your article really helped me. Do you have any articles regarding how much a graphics card benefits video editing? I’m out of budget and don’t know the PC can perform well without one.



Hi, thanks for this very informative article! I’m thinking of getting a portable ultrabook laptop right now (Lenovo Yoga 920) for video editing while travelling. It only has 8gb and I only shoot 1080p. I wasn’t clear from your article whether that would be enough? Does it depend on the type of editing I do? If so I only do very basic edits such as transitions and overlaying captions of clips no more than 15mins, no special effects or 4K videos. Would it also be able to handle a tab on YouTube in the background (kill time while rendering)? Thanks 🙂

Week 3 – My Blog

[…] the editing side though, getting upwards towards the max of 64GB of memory would allow me to edit “8K footage in 10bit or more and rely heavily on having several RAM-hogging Programs open at once …With all these things considered, I chose to go with the G.Skill Flare X 64 GB (4x16BG) DDR4 memory. […]


Other than the 1-3% benefits in rendering, what is the benefit of quad channel vs dual channel if anything at all?


Thanks a lot for this article!

Virginia Moore

What about dedicated GDDR5 memory? How big of a difference does it make to have 2GB of dedicated memory vs 1GB? (I’m trying to compare AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics with 1 GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory VS NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M Graphics Processor with 2GB GDDR5 Memory.) Thank you!!

IT Specialist

Modern memory including the very RAM pictured in the article header (Gskill Tridentz RGB) does NOT support mixing memory kits even if they are precisely the same speed. Here’s the Gskill FAQ:

Soooo.. you can’t “just add more”, you need to buy a whole new kit (entire set of however much total memory you want in the computer).

Mixing memory kits is a primary source of instability, see this post from an ASUS representative:!-The-meat-and-potatoes-overview

In the good old days we could mix memory kits but that is simply no longer the case. Please update the article so nobody loses hundreds of dollars to this costly mistake!