Whether your own a DSLR or mirrorless camera, video production is rapidly becoming a popular pastime.
If you’re a neophyte or edit videos like a pro, a powerful machine is almost a prerequisite to producing videos. In this article, I discuss what you need to look out for when assembling a PC build for video editing, along with the best machine you can build right now.
PC Building 101: Choosing Video Editor Parts
Before making any purchasing decision, it’s important to consider your requirements. Is video editing just a hobby right now, or would you like to do it professionally in the future? Will you edit 4K footage from multiple cinema cameras, or will you work on home videos of your family?
One of the most important factors that determine your editing needs is the codec. The vast majority of consumer camcorders, and even professional level DSLRs like the Canon 5D, record video in a highly compressed format such as H.264. This format is amazing at reducing the size of your files, but it’s very difficult for computers to edit with, as the file has to first be uncompressed on the fly.
As a general rule, you want to purchase the best processor and graphics card possible. A decent amount of RAM and a fast hard drive are desirable, but they’re not as critical as the CPU and GPU.
The system recommended below is suited to 4K video editing (it’s the future), but you may wish to modify it based on your needs. Our guide to building your own PC may come in handy if you’re out of practice or a beginner to computer assembly.
The Motherboard and Processor for 4K Video
The motherboard is the heart of your computer. While huge performance increases are unlikely to be gained from different models, it’s important to have the right specifications for your requirements, along with an appropriate socket for your processor.
Let’s start with the processor. Once chosen, it’s easy to select a suitable motherboard.
When editing video, more processor cores generally net you a bigger performance increase over faster individual cores. While I’m historically an Intel fanboy, I recommend the AMD Ryzen 5 1500X CPU bundled with an Asus motherboard.
While this is not a top of the range CPU, its 4 cores and 8 threads running at 3.5GHz are more than enough for most editing tasks. Throw in the 65-watt power consumption and you’re on to a real winner.
If you feel like splashing out, you can plump for the Ryzen 7, but it’s not necessary for all but the most demanding of tasks. Read our guide to what makes Ryzen so good if you need any more convincing.
The bundled Asus ROG STRIX B350-F motherboard is another solid performer. It can handle up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, comes with PCIe 3.0 and USB 3.1, and supports M.2 SSDs, for some super fast storage!
RAM for PC Building
Any decent editing rig needs copious amounts of RAM. The motherboard supports DDR4 at speeds of up to 2,666MHz — and that’s before overclocking.
16GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX RAM is suitable. Go ahead and upgrade to 32GB if you can afford it, but don’t drop down to 8GB, especially if you intend on editing 4K video.
Hard Drives and SSDs for Storage
A large hard drive is a must-have item for a killer video editing rig. Fast drives are required for heavy editing sessions, but large capacity is also needed. What’s the solution?
Enter: M.2 SSDs.
Graphics Card for PC Building
The graphics card is a pretty essential part of your editing rig. While you may not notice it when cutting and grading, you’ll really notice it when rendering or when working on compositions in After Effects such as motion tracking text.
The EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is a solid performer, with 4GB of GDDR5 RAM. Just like the rest of the components, this isn’t the fastest card available — you could splash out on a 1070 or 1080 instead, but those will certainly eat into your $1,000 budget.
Other Computer Components
Once all the major components are chosen, you’re left with $150 for miscellaneous parts such as the power supply (PSU), case, and operating system.
If you want to be really thrifty, you could install Linux and start editing on Davinci Resolve. While this non-linear editor is a solid performer, it’s still lacking a few features in Linux — but hey, a free OS and professional level video editor is not to be laughed at!
If you’re not a fan of Linux or prefer editing in Adobe products, then Windows 10 Professional Edition is a solid choice — although it consumes a large portion of your remaining budget.
For a power supply, the 600W EVGA B1 is an excellent budget choice and provides more than enough power. If you’re planning on upgrading components later on, or have changed out some parts for higher power components, then make sure you read our guide to buying a PSU first.
Finally, throw in a case such as the Corsair Carbide Series, and you’re good to go!
What Did You Choose?
These components all add up to a monster editing rig, but on a $1,000 budget! Switching out components for faster or better parts will certainly yield an increase in performance, but it may not always be necessary.
If you need a bit of practice assembling your computer, then don’t forget to watch our handy video guide:
If you’re not into video editing, have you read our guide to building an energy-efficient Ethereum mining rig?
Whatever you end up building, let us know in the comments below — and share your finished videos, we’d love to see them!