4K Video Editing PC - November 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 eight cores, it's video editing.
Our previous advice for the 4K Video Editing PC was based on a high-end Threadripper processor, but this time we are opting for a more affordable Ryzen 7 2700X. From our review of Threadripper 2, we know that even video editing does not infinitely scale to many cores.
The more memory, the better, is the case with most video editing software. However because we want to build a somewhat cheaper system this time, we will stick to 16 GB in dual-channel for the time being. We do opt for a kit with a relatively high speed, as the Ryzen processor benefits from this. There are slots free for an upgrade to 32 GB, but you may have to dial back a bit in terms of memory frequency.
The Scythe Mugen 5 PCGH Edition follows a known recipe: take the voluminous heatsink of the Mugen 5, put a whisper quiet fan on both sides, and you have a winner. Only some Noctua's cool a bit better, but you'll certainly pay a premium for them.
Both fans have a maximum rotation speed of just 800 rpm, but together they offer enough cooling capacity to keep the chosen CPU cool.
In our X470 motherboard review, one board really stood out in terms of price-performance. The Gigabyte Aorus X470 Ultra Gaming is a very complete motherboard with high quality network and audio chips, a capable power circuit and still relatively modest pricing.
Does the Ultra Gaming have any downsides? There's not as much RGB lighting as on more expensive boards and it lacks integrated WiFi; if you don't care about that (like us), then it really is an excellent choice. Of course you can always add your own WiFi connection.
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. Kingstons A1000 SSDs offer higher performance than SATA models at very limited extra cost. Some extra speed is never a bad idea for a video editor. We choose the 1TB variant, so you'll always have enough space for all your programs and can use it as a scratch disk, too.
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.
We don't need many words to describe the performance of the Seasonic Focus Plus Gold: it's excellent. The voltage stability, efficiency, ripple and noise production are all very good. The ripple of the Focus Plus Gold is just a tad higher when compared to the Corsair RMx, but the difference is really small. However, Seasonics offering is considerably cheaper.
The MX Master 2S mouse from Logitech is a worthy flagship from this manufacturer. The unique features keep on 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 view them in full resolution. If you deliver 4K images, you should of course be able to view them at full resolution. The ideal match for this use case is the Iiyama XUB2792UHSU-B1, a cryptic name for a high-quality 4K monitor with an IPS panel. Iiyama has also equipped this screen with a USB hub and an ergonomically adjustable stand. The test results show that this is certainly not a gaming screen, but aspects like contrast, viewing angles and color accuracy are excellent.
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 2700X Boxed||$329.99|
|Memory modules||Corsair Vengeance LPX Black 16GB DDR4-3000 CL15 kit||$129.99|
|CPU coolers||Scythe Mugen 5 PCGH Edition||–|
|Motherboards||Gigabyte X470 Aorus Ultra Gaming||$133.80|
|Graphics cards||MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4GB||$179.99|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Kingston A1000 960GB||$198.99|
|Hard disks/SSDs||2x Western Digital Blue 4TB||$202.90|
|Optical drives||LG GH24NSD1||–|
|Card readers||Kingston FCR-HS4||$17.00|
|Cases||Fractal Design Define R6 Black||$129.99|
|Power supplies||Seasonic Focus Plus Gold 550W||$79.99|
|Mice||Logitech MX Master 2S Blue||–|
|Keyboards||Cherry MX-Board 3.0 MX Red||–|
|Speakers||2x JBL LSR305||–|
|Monitors||2x Iiyama ProLite XUB2792UHSU-B1||–|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||$1,402.64|