4K Video Editing PC - March 2017
A few years ago, your PC just couldn't be fast enough for digital video processing. By now every average PC is able to process Standard Definition (PAL 720x576) as well as HD Ready, but technology doesn't stand still. By now just about every smartphone can record in Full HD and the new frontier is Ultra HD, also known as 4K. This resolution and the 'accompanying' codec HEVC / H.265 require seriously powerful hardware.
That's the reason why a powerful PC can still really make a difference. You need a fast processor, lots of storage capacity, and good monitor able to display 4K resolutions.
4K digital video editing requires a hefty amount of processing power, and our video editing PC delivers that in spades. Often overlooked in off-the-shelf PCs is the power supply - a video editing PC will be running longer and more frequently at full load, which stresses the PSU quite a bit. We choose high-end components that will work fine for some years down the road, ensuring stable operation for the rig's entire lifetime.
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AMD's Ryzen processors excel at multi-threaded workloads. If there's one use case that can fully benefit from more cores, it's video editing. Thanks to the new generation CPUs, this 4K Editing PC is faster and cheaper than our previous advice. The return of competition in this market is a win for the consumer.
The Ryzen 7 1700X is about 40 bucks cheaper than the i7 6800K from Intel, while being almost as fast as the much more expensive 6900K while exporting videos. The socket AM4 platform also makes it possible to go with a cheaper mainboard down below.
The more memory, the better, is the case with most video editing software. Therefore we put no less than 32 GB DDR4 in this system. Ryzen seems to be a bit picky when it comes to the memory, but this set from Corsair is on the official compatibility list of the mainboard, so you can be sure that it works correctly.
Because socket AM4 has a slightly different cooler mounting compared to older AMD sockets, we are a little restricted when choosing a CPU cooler. We went with a special version Noctua made for its NH-U12S.
The U12S is a tower cooler with a 120mm fan that stands out due to its low minimal rotation speed. It'll be whisper quiet when you're not heavily using your PC, while keeping your CPU very cool under loads.
The ASUS Prime X370-Pro is a socket AM4 mainbord from the higher mid-range class, but still significantly cheaper than Intel X99 motherboards. It features a 10-phase VRM, which can supply enough power to your CPU even when heavily overclocked.
ASUS provided the Prime with all features you can wish for as a video editor, like a good-quality audio circuit, an Intel LAN controller and USB 3.1 ports for speedy transfers. The board even contains a USB 3.1 header, but there are not many cases that support it yet.
Since the chosen processor doesn't offer integrated graphics, we have to install a discrete graphics card. The better part of the calculations while editing and encoding video will be done by the CPU, but most software also supports accelerating certain effects by the graphics card. This mainly involves effects with many parallel calculations, which can often be much more quickly performed by a GPU.
It'll depend on your editing software and the kind of timeline, to what extent you'll benefit from the GPU. Not all effects can be accelerated, but the chosen card will almost always add value above CPU-only rendering. If you are planning to spend more, it's a good idea to conduct some research on this. The sites of Studio1productions and Pugetsystems are good places to start with.
For this system, we choose a slightly more expensive variant of the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. The fans of the MSI Gaming stop spinning when your PC is idle, while also staying inaudible under load. Thanks to the excellent cooling, you can do your work without let or hindrance and if there's some time left, you can even play games.
An SSD is essential for a video editing PC anno 2017. The Crucial MX300 is pretty fast and thanks to its 'weird' capacity, you have some extra gigabytes to fill. 525 GB is enough to install all your programs on and for usage as a scratch disk.
For working with very extensive projects, a PCIe SSD might be a better choice. It's definitely more expensive, but its sequential speeds are unsurpassed.
We would recommend to put video files you're currently working with on the SSD, and storing old projects on a NAS. Local storage space might still come in handy. If you want a lot of storage for a friendly price, the Seagate Desktop HDD 4TB is a good choice, as our big comparison test showed us. We suggest two of these only, but you can also opt for more or bigger drives. You can configure them either in RAID-1 or RAID-0, or use them as standalone drives.
If you rather have a Western Digital drive, the WD Desk Blue 4 TB is a good, but somewhat more expensive alternative.
The supply of DVD and Blu-ray burners has shrinked a lot because of the low demand, but as a video editor, an optical drive is still a must-have. We recommend the chosen LG GH24NSD1 as an internal DVD burner. An external burner can be more practical, since you can also use it with other devices. The LG GP70NS50 scored very well in our tests and has a handy slot-in mechanism.
If you want to have an internal Blu-ray drive, you should buy the LG BH16. That's a burner, but the read-only drives are just slightly less expensive: we can't justify saving a few bucks on that. For an external Blu-ray burner, the ASUS SBW-06D2X-U is the best choice.
A video editor can't do without a cardreader, of course. Not only cameras use memory cards, but also many smartphones are upgradeable with microSD. We recently tested a number of cardreaders, of which the Kingston FCR-HS4 turned out to be the fastest, while not even being expensive. It's an external model, but we think that's nothing more than handy.
The Define series from Fractal Design are famous for their high-quality finished and whisper quiet cases. The Define R5 is no exception and is able to accommodate up to eight 3.5" disks, so you can always extend your storage.
550 watt is quite enough for the chosen CPU and a mid-range graphics card. The Corsair RMx series is an excellent choice in every respect, as our review has proved us. We also tested the 550W model since then and again, it offers an attractive mix of performance, silence and price. The Cooler Master V-Series is a good alternative, but a bit more expensive at the moment.
The MX Master mouse from Logitech went home with gold in our review. The unique features keep coming: the ergonomical design, the flywheel mode, the horizontal scroll wheel, the possibility to switch between three wirelessly paired devices - via Bluetooth, by example. Its price has dropped a bit since its launch, and while it still is an expensive rodent, we think it's worth it.
Some video editors really love an extra tool like the Contour Design ShuttleXpress, others can't do without a pen tablet and some even prefer a gaming mouse for the best precision. The best choice hugely depends on your own preferences.
We can't call the Cherry MX-Board 3.0 feature-rich, but this keyboard brings the type comfort of mechanical keys to a really low price level. MX Red switches from their own factories are used to detect your key strokes. Lighting, a palm rest and media controls (except for volume) aren't available, but if you want all of that in a mechanical keyboard, you'll have to spend a lot more.
Some video editors like to have frequently used actions as macro's. If you prefer that, a typical gaming keyboard with dedicated macro keys could be a good solution.
A Video Editing PC doesn't need to have a surround speaker set, but decent stereo speakers can definitely be useful. The JBL LSR305's offer a neutral and clear sound that covers most of the frequency spectrum. Compared with the M-Audio BX5 D2, these speakers offers better bass. Their only drawback is that they take up a bit more space than your average standard PC speakers.
Be aware that you should buy cables yourself.
If you are producing 4K videos, you should of course be able to watch them in full resolution. The LG 27UD68P-B is an interesting monitor if you take a look at the specs, and luckily it lived up to those high expectations in our review, especially with its relatively friendly price in mind. The test results were always between more than sufficient and very good.
Since video editing software takes up much screen space, we recommend getting a multi monitor set-up of two. If you are okay with only one screen, you can save yourself quite a few bucks.
|Processors||AMD Ryzen 7 1700X Boxed||$354.99|
|Memory modules||Corsair Vengeance LPX Black 32GB DDR4-2400 CL14 kit||$334.99|
|CPU coolers||Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4||–|
|Motherboards||ASUS Prime X370-Pro||$149.61|
|Graphics cards||MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gaming 4GB||–|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Crucial MX300 525GB||$149.99|
|Hard disks/SSDs||2x Seagate Desktop HDD 4TB||$363.98|
|Optical drives||LG GH24NSD1||–|
|Card readers||Kingston FCR-HS4||$17.99|
|Cases||Fractal Design Define R5 Black||$99.99|
|Power supplies||Corsair RM550x||–|
|Mice||Logitech MX Master||–|
|Keyboards||Cherry MX-Board 3.0 Red (US)||–|
|Speakers||2x JBL LSR305||$399.98|
|Monitors||2x LG 27UD68P-B||$854.00|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||$2,725.52|