4K Video Editing PC - March 2018
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. The Threadripper CPUs essentially combine two Ryzens in one package, and therefore offer ultimate performance for this kind of workload.
The 12-core 1920X is somewhat cheaper than the chosen Ryzen Threadripper 1950X with 16 cores, but since we already invest in the pricey TR4 platform we choose the fastest model available.
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 G.Skill is on the official compatibility list of the mainboard, so you can be sure that it works correctly.
In our review, the Enermax LiqTech TR4 developed for Threadripper turned out to be quite capable of keeping up with a fully custom water cooling system. Enermax has greatly enlarged the CPU block so that it covers the entire processor.
On the 360mm radiator there are three Twister Pressure fans with a rotational speed between 500 and 2300 rpm, which means that both whisper silent operation and maximum cooling are possible.
In terms of feature set, most motherboards for AMD Threadripper show great similarities, but ASRock offers a special combination of possibilities and price with its X399 Taichi. The ASRock X399 Taichi features great VRM cooling and delivers high USB speeds, excellent sound quality and three M.2 slots.
An affordable Threadripper board without compromises? Not quite: we would have liked a little more fan headers and the WiFi implementation is suboptimal, but as a whole the Taichi is a motherboard for Threadripper with an excellent price-to-performance ratio.
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 X 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 2018. The Crucial MX500 is pretty fast and is very attractively priced. 1 TB should be 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 WD Blue 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.
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 six 3.5" disks, so you can always extend your storage. Optionally, it's even possible to buy extra brackets to accomodate even more harddisks.
750 watts may be somewhat overkill for this system in its current configuration, but since two power connectors are needed for the Threadripper CPU, we still opt for the Seasonic Focus Plus Gold 750W. This has the added benefit of being able to easily upgrade to a more powerful video card later on.
We can be brief about the achievements, because they are excellent. These Seasonics are also wonderfully quiet. The ripple of the Focus Plus Gold is slightly less good than with the Corsair RMx, but the differences are only marginal. On the other hand, the price is more favourable.
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. If you deliver 4K images, you should of course be able to view them at full resolution. We were very enthusiastic about the LG 27UD68P last year, but it is hardly available anymore. Its successor 27UD69P performs similarly, but in many tests it is slightly less good than its predecessor. However, we would still recommend this model for image processing: the color and gray deviation both come out below the critical limit of 3 (above which you can observe colour differences with your own eyes), the sRGB coverage is fine, the color temperature is very close to the desired 6500 K, brightness and contrast are fine and the viewing angles are OK as well. The uniformity of black is a weak point, which means that you have to take into account some backlight bleeding and/or clouding. This is less pleasant for use in the dark.
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 Threadripper 1950X||$946.65|
|Memory modules||G.Skill Flare X 32GB DDR4-3200 CL14 quad kit||$484.99|
|CPU coolers||Enermax LiqTech TR4 360||$179.99|
|Motherboards||ASRock X399 Taichi||$335.49|
|Graphics cards||MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4GB||$229.99|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Crucial MX500 1TB||$229.99|
|Hard disks/SSDs||2x Western Digital Blue 4TB||$207.98|
|Optical drives||LG GH24NSD1||–|
|Card readers||Kingston FCR-HS4||$16.99|
|Cases||Fractal Design Define R6 Black||$129.99|
|Power supplies||Seasonic Focus Plus Gold 750W||$104.99|
|Mice||Logitech MX Master||–|
|Keyboards||Cherry MX-Board 3.0 Red (US)||–|
|Speakers||2x JBL LSR305||–|
|Monitors||2x LG 27UD69P-W||$879.98|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||$3,747.03|