Videoguys' System Recommendations for Video Editing (March 2014 Update)
We get asked all the time, "What computer system should I use for Video Editing?"
So, we created this page to give you some basic guidelines. Every month computers get more powerful and less expensive, so the recommendations on this page could become outdated very quickly. We will try our best to keep it up to date but if you see something that doesn’t look right or if you’re configuring a system that may be somewhat different please e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org
) or call the Videoguys at 800-323-2325 and we’d be happy to review your plans. We want to help you make sure you have everything you need to edit & produce great videos.
This page is broken into several sections:
Videoguy's DTV Tech Support Hotline (516) 759-1615
The minimum recommended system myth
- What kind of computer you need and why? Note: This article is currently for PC recommendations only.
- General system recommendations
- Videoguy's recommendations on new technologies (ie. multi-core, 64 bit)
- Potential compatibility Issues.
Many computer software and hardware vendors will list a minimum system spec that is often not adequate. While you will have enough horse power to make them run, you may not get the full advertised performance and you will be disappointed. This is why we have chosen to post our own minimum recommended system for the latest new NLEs. We are confident that if you follow our guidelines you will be very happy with your new NLE purchase.
For best results Make it a Workstation
If you are going to be editing long format videos over an hour long or you want to add lots of 3D effects, filters and have multiple layers of video flying all over the screen, you want a workstation class machine. This will insure you get the stability and performance you demand from your NLE system. You basically have 3 options here:
What brands we recommend and why
- Get an HP (or Dell) workstation or a Mac Pro. An HP workstation will cost you more, but in the long run it will be worth it. They use only the best components, and these workstations come optimized for digital content creation. The new HP z820 is the power users choice, and the best dual Xeon solution on the market. We like the z420 single Xeon machines for professionals who don't require as much horsepower, but demand the same level of reliability and stability. When it comes to stability, reliability and performance HP workstations set the bar by which all others are judged. They are more expensive then a DIY build, but you get what you pay for. If you're building a professiona post facility, HP z series workstations are the way to go. The new Dell workstations are very good also, and it's great to see that Dell has bounced back and is once again making top notch, solid, high performaing workstations.
If you're a serious Apple editor get a new Mac Pro. They are sleek, sexy and incredibly powerful. If you plan on editing with FCPX, you will find that it is optimized for the new Mac Pro and delivers pefromance that is nothing short of amazing. Adobe Premiere Pro CC will take advantage of the dual GPUs as well. Avid has just released a new update that supports the new Mac Pros as well.We think that the base $2,999 model is a little light in the configuration specs, we recommend the step up $3,999 model because it offers you so much more for performance for your dollar. You get a hex-core Xeon processor, 16GB or RAM and much better dual GPUs. In fact, we think the $3,999 model is so strong, that most of our customers will not need to spend $5K or up to $10K for the fully suped up models. For $4K the step-up 6-core Mac Pro is a killer NLE workstation.
- Get a turnkey NLE solution from an expert NLE integrator. You can follow this link to a list of turnkey providers recommended by the Videoguys. All of the companies featured on this page make excellent NLE workstations, fully loaded and optimized for long format video editing.
- You can certainly build your own computer. You can and should use our DIY articles as a guideline. Make sure you have adequate power supply (minimum 650 Watts, 850 Watts is better) and plenty of cooling and airflow inside the box. Click here for our DIY page with links to our most recent machines. Or check out our DIY10 sneak peak article. Keep in mind, we don’t sell these systems or many of the components but we’re happy to share the specs with you so you know what kind of machine the Videoguys build for themselves.
- Get an Apple iMac! One of the new 27 inch i7 Quad-cores equipped with Thunderbolt, USB3 and NVIDIA Graphics!
- Looking to do your video editing on a laptop? Our first and top recommendation is the 15" Mac Book Pro with Retina display and NVIDIA GPUs. This is by far and away our favorite. Next up are the new HP zBooks with Thunderbolt. The new Lenovo W530 is another solid choice, especially now that it's available with USB3 and an NVIDIA Quadro GPU. (Unfortunately Lenovo no longer makes any laptops with Thunderbolt). Both of these laptops include NVIDIA mobile GPUs, which is critical for optimal NLE performance. You can also check out Videoguys Recommended Laptops for Video Editing Guide. It's a little dated, but has some great advice and we still recommend the listed vendors.
We've had good success with workstations and laptops from both Dell and HP. You may pay a little bit more to get a workstation from these vendors, but the advantage is that you also get outstanding service and support from them. Tech Note: While we love HP Workstations, we do not recommend HP desktop computers. They are not built to the same high standards as their workstation class machines.
With NLE, the more speed the better. Faster machines mean no dropped frames, smooth playback and shorter rendering times. These companies build machines that are used everyday, 24/7 in the broadcast video post-production facilities all over the world. Keep in mind that these broadcast-level machines are typically top of the line workstation models, running dual Xeon processors. You do not need to invest in that level of machine. Most video editors will get all the power they need with a single multi-core CPU machine, built with top end components on a high performance motherboard.
If you would rather get a computer from your local dealer, try to find out if they have any experience installing video editing systems. If so, make sure they understand what your main system requirement is: 9+ megs per second sustained throughput for real-time NLE systems!!
For HD editing you will need even more! Your system builder can't be sloppy with BIOS version, drivers or memory resources and the system must be optimally configured. If they follow one of our DIY recipes along with our system recommendations and tweaks, you should end up with a solid video editing machine.
Videoguy's Do-It-Yourself NLE Computer Guides
Over 6 years ago, back in February of 2004 we posted our first DIY article as a guidebook for digital videographers who wanted to build their own NLE computer on a tight budget. Since then our guides have become the defacto standard for affordable NLE configurations. Out latest DIY10
sneak peak machines based on the new Intel Core i7 Haswell processor with Thunderbolt equipped motherboards running Win7 64-bit are our best ever!!
The choices we make...
Whether you’re shopping for a pre-configured machine or having on built for you there are several choices to make along the way and here are some more recommendations to help:
We highly recommend Intel Core i7 processors.
In the past we would recommend Intel over AMD for compatibility reasons. Then when Dual Core processors first came out we gave the upper hand to AMD. With the Core 2 Duo processors Intel re-took the top spot for video editing and with Core i7 Intel’s lead has only gotten stronger. While AMD machines will work, we think Intel is definitely the way to go for video editing. Those on a tight budget can go with a Core i5 for basic video editing, but you must get a Quad core if you plan on editing AVCHD, DSLR or GoPro footage. Without at least 4 physical cores editing these HD formats will not work well at all.
Chipsets are as important as the CPUs.
This is often overlooked, but in reality it is the single most important factor in the success of your computer for NLE. Picking the correct motherboard is critical. Any bottlenecks in the chipset can be a huge problem for NLEs. While you may not be able to find the specific motherboard you see referenced in one of our articles, choosing the latest version based on the same chipset is usually a safe bet.We recommend and using ASUS motherboards in our DIY machines because we have found that ASUS motherboards work great with our video editing hardware and software. We can also recommend Tyan, MSI & Gigabyte. The chipset used on the motherboard is actually more important then the brand. For more specific motherboard information check out our DIY articles.
Specific NLE solutions may require specific motherboards
We can't stress this enough. The guidelines on this page are GENERAL guidelines. Many times our vendors will recommend specific motherboards or chipsets for integrating their NLE solutions. If you have any specific questions about hardware and/or software you plan on purchasing from us, we urge you to give us a call at 800-323-2325 and review your planned configuration. This is especially important if you intend to edit HD footage.
Picking the right graphics card for your NLE workstation
One of the most often asked questions on our tech support and sales lines (as well as in emails, online forums and user groups) is "What is the best graphics card for NLE?" The answer is actually pretty simple, once you understand why. It all depends on the NLE software you plan on running, what kind of video work you do and if you are also going to be using any additional hardware in your system.
We recommend nVidia Quadro based graphics cards for video editing because of their superb CUDA and Open GL support. Adobe Premiere Pro, Photoshop & After FX, Avid Media Composer & Symphony, Red Giant Magic Bullet, Tiffen DFX, NewBlue FX & Boris FX all take advantage of NVIDIA GPUs. This is why we do not recommend ATI cards.
You will see more and more video editing software take advantage of Open GL GPU power as new versions of NLEs get released. This is the key the reason why we recommend Quadro cards over less expensive 3D gaming cards. While you can do fine with a 3D gaming card, Quadro cards are designed and engineered for this kind of work - and the NLE engineers are optimizing their applications to take advantage of this GPU Open GL power. Below is a short list of our top GPU recommendations by NLE:
- Avid Media Composer 5.0+: Quadro FX1800/3800+ or Quadro2000/4000+
- Adobe Premiere CS5+ Mercury Playback Engine: GTX570/670 or Quadro 4000/5000+
- Adobe Premiere CS5+ Mercury Playback Engine (Mac): Quadro4000 Mac
- Sony Vegas Pro 10/11: GTX570/670
- Grass Valley Edius: GTX570/670 or Quadro 2000/4000+
- Pinnacle Studio / Avid Studio: GTX570/670
What iMac configuration does the Videoguys' recommend?
General system recommendations (March 2014):
If you are starting from scratch, follow our DIY10 choice or budget system shopping list: Intel Core i7 Quad Core processor, 32 GBs of RAM, a 240GB SSD and an NVIDIA GTX670 graphics card. Add in a 1TB SATA drive for your storage - even better, set up a 4TB RAID 0 striped set (2x2000GB).
The latest 27" iMac does a fantastic job of running the latest Apple, Adobe and Avid software. You'll get outstanding performance and be able to easily handle AVCHD and DSLR footage with some pretty multiple layers of video and fairly complex timelines. We even have customers editing RED footage on their iMacs and MBP w Retina - WOW!
We get asked all the time what kind of computer you need to run the latest NLE software. On the Windows side this is a complicated answer with many options. With a Mac it's easier to answer. If you go with the higher end model iMacs or Mac Book Pros with i7 quad-core processors you will get excellent results.
If you want the best configuration for a new iMac for video editing, Videoguys recommends the 27 inch iMac with:
- Intel Core i7 processor
- 32GB RAM
- 1TB Fusion Drive
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX GPU
This is a fully loaded machine, and it's going to cost you about $3K, but it will run any Mac based NLE great and has all the power you need for all HD tapeless workflows.
If are on a tight budget the first place to look to save is by dropping down to the GTX 675MX GPU which will save you $150, the next place to cut is your RAM, down to 16G, but we can't recommend going down to just 8GB. That brings the cost down below $2500. If you are serious about editing video on a new iMac, that's the bottom. While you can configure the 21.5" model with an i7 processor, you are limited to the GTX 650M GPU, which only has 512MB of RAM, which just isn't going to cut it.
Note: Videoguys does not sell iMacs or computers.We do sell video editing software, storage and I/O devices.
You can also choose one of the new Mac Mini, Mac Book Pro or Mac Book Air. They also have Thunderbolt! Just make sure you select an i7 processor and as much RAM as possible.
Even cooler - Did you know you can use "Boot Camp" to run both Mac OSX and Win7 on the same computer? Thereby enabling Mac customers to finally be able to take advantage of software that is Windows only.
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|Videoguys' Recommended Computer Configurations for Non Linear Editing (March 2014)
|Minimum Recommended System for Video Editing
||Intel Core i5 Quad Core
||8 GB (2 x 4GB)
||NVIDA with 1GB RAM
||1TB 7200 RPM
||1TB SATA 7200 RPM
|DIY10 Budget NLE Workstation
||Intel Core i5 4570 Haswell
||8GB DDR3 (2 x 4GB)
||RAID 0 2TB (2x1TB)
||Dual 20"+ LCDs
|DIY 10 Haswell Quad-core Thunderbolt
||Intel Core i7 4770K Haswell
||16GB DDR3 (4 x 4GB)
||240+ GB SSD
RAID 0 (2x4TB) or
G-Dock or G-Speed
||Dual 22"+ LCDs
|DIY 9.5 Hex-core
||Intel i7 3930K or 4930K Hex-Core
(4 x 8GB)
or Quadro K2000/
|DIY 10 Haswell Quad-core Premium
||Intel Core i7 4770K Haswell
|HP or Dell Dual Xeon Quad-Core Workstation
K4000 or K5000
||320+ GB SSD
||Dual 24"+ LCDs
Thank you for visiting Videoguys.com. We are the video editing and production experts! If you liked this article - then please purchase your video editing software, hardware and storage from Videoguys.com! As an added bonus use coupon code DIY2014
when you place your order on-line or over the phone 800 323-2325 and get FREE Super Saver Shipping plus $10 off your order
You need Minimum of 4GB for Win 7 64-bit. For today's video editing software you want to be running Win7 64-bit with at least 8GB of RAM, 12GB is better and for best results we recommend 16GB or more! Memory is still very cheap, and this is a great performance booster. One of the biggest benefits of 64-bit computing is the ability to access tons of RAM, the more RAM you give your Win7 system, the better your performance will be - even if you are not running a native 64-bit NLE.
While you can run with less, you will have a much more stable & better running system with more memory. Also, with the new chipsets, the new faster RAM is one of the biggest contributors to improved performance. By running less then 8GB you are actually throttling down your overall system's performance.
We recommend you get a motherboard that supports triple or quad channel memory. With a motherboard that supports triple channel memory you need to add RAM in sets of three identical sticks (6x2GB = 12GB total memory), Quad channel means you need FOUR identical sticks (4x4GB=16GB). At a minimum you want to have 2GB of RAM for each physical CPU core.
Videoguys recommends 2GB per CPU core. So for a Quad Core i7 with Hyperthreading, we recommend 4 (cores) x2 (hyperthreading) x 2 (GB per core) = 16GB or RAM or more. For a dual Quad Core XEON System we would recommend 2 (processors) x 4 (cores) x2 (hyperthreading) x 2 (GB per core)= 32GB or more.
If you are planning on building an i7 Hex core machine, we recommend 24GB or even 32GB for optimal results! We also recommend getting the fastest memory possible DDR3 from top vendors like Corsair, Crucial or Kingston. Do not use cheap memory in your video editing workstation, the potential stability issues far outweigh the few dollars you could save.
Why we recommend dual monitors and dual-head graphics cards
It's all about real-estate. With two monitors you can stretch your timeline across the bottom of both screens and you can have more windows open at the same time. This means you spend less time opening and closing windows or scrolling through the timeline. As a result, you are more productive. Adobe, Avid & Sony all have optimized preset screen layouts for dual monitors.
Always download and install the latest drivers from your graphics card vendor
This is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! Many of our current tech issues are graphics card related, but it's not the graphics card that is the issue. The problem is running it with the wrong drivers. The drivers that ship with your Windows OS will get your system to run, but they will not allow your graphics card to function to its full capabilities. We can't stress this one enough - before you install your NLE or DVD gear, go to the graphics card manufacturer’s website to download and install the latest drivers.
Get a big, fast system drive
We recommend that you have a system/boot drive that is a minimum 500GB. If the system comes with a 750 or 1TB drive, get it. You will use up the space. While we do not recommend putting your video, media or projects on your system drive, over time you'll still end up filling it up.
Most of today's NLEs are actually suites, and they install a bunch of software, media, images, templates, documentation and interactive help. The last thing you want is an overcrowded system drive. As the drive fills up, it will get slower. We also recommend getting a 7200RPM or faster drive for your boot disk. It will defintily have a positive impact on your systems overall performance and programs will open faster.
We've also found that you can speed up your encoding by having the file written from your video drive or RAID to a 2nd drive. A seperate dedicated 7200RPM drive is best for this, but we've had good results using our system drive. We'll set up a folder on our C: drive called EXPORTS and have our encoding software write the files there. This does result in improved render times. Just make sure to move the files off your system drive when you are done.
Video Storage recommendations
With today's powerful processors, lightening fast memory, super 3D graphics cards and huge SATA hard drives you can capture, edit & playback single stream DV video with your system drive. That said, we still urge you to get a dedicated hard drive (7200 RPM or faster) for all your video clips. This will produce the best results - especially for video projects over 1 hour in length. If you are going to be editing HD footage using one of our professional NLE solutions, we recommend a dedicated RAID for best results.
We recommend Serial ATA (SATA) drives for NLE
While these drives do have a cost premium, the improved sustained data throughput is worth it. We also like the new cables which allow for better air flow inside your computer case. We have not yet had the chance to test any SATA Raid controllers, but we're confident that they will work great with our software based NLE solutions. RAIDs are great! For the best results set up a dedicated RAID 0 stripe for your video & media files. This will give you a huge capacity with the fastest possible sustained throughput for your editing.
We do NOT recommend setting up your computer with a single RAID 0 array as your boot drive and video storage. This will actually give you poor performance for video editing. The constant reading and writing of small bits of data to the boot drive works against the need to read & write large continuous video files. Add in the overhead of the RAID controller and you get potential bottlenecks. For video editing you always want to have a dedicated drive or RAID array for your video files.
Follow this link for our Videoguy's NLE Video Storage FAQ
Get a Blu-ray DVD burner!!
Blu-ray Burners are now very affordable. They are a must for HD. At 25GB pr disc they are also great for backing up and archiving. If you plan on copying and ripping, get both a Blu-ray Burner and a DVD-ROM drive.
We recommend a step up audio system. While most of our cards come with audio capture built on, most digital videographers eventually find themselves doing some soundtrack manipulation and basic audio editing. Having a step up sound card will let you do a better job and as an added bonus, many of these cards come with some kind of audio recording utility and even basic audio mixing/editing tools. If you plan on making DVDs, you'll want a sound card and speakers for surround sound. That way you can listen to your video and DVD in full audio quality while you work.
Get a mid size or full tower
Trust me, you'll thank me for this one. Not only will the added space come in handy for adding in stuff, but the bigger case makes running cables and actually doing the install easier. Another big advantage of a tower is better air circulation, which keeps your system cooler.
NEW TECHNOLOGY NEWS! (Dec 2013)
Videoguys now recommends the Haswell processor with Z87 chipset!
Get the Right Motherboard:
We had been waiting for an enthusiast class Ivy Bridge motherboard with Thunderbolt for a couple of years. We had been told they would initially appear the summer of 2013 - but they didn't. In February, 2013 we posted a potential DIY X build using the Asus P8Z777-V deluxe motherboard with Thunderbolt. It's not an enthusiast level Mobo, but many of you are running this build with great results. We still had concerns. Sure the Z77 motherboards were okay for running NLE software, but add-in an I/O device like the Matrox MXO2 Mini and some RAID storage and you could very well run into bottlenecks. We were still wanted to wait for an enthusiast level Thunderbolt solution. I’m happy to report that we’ve finally found what we were looking for - the Z87 chipset, which we can use for DIY10! Now you can integrate the latest and greatest Intel i7 Haswell processors, on enthusiast level motherboards with Thunderbolt! HOORAY!!
Intel i7 is the way to go!
Back in the end of 2005 we realized that our first two DIY projects had gotten pretty long in the tooth. While they were pretty cutting edge at the time, we were seeing some very new and exciting technologies breaking out. The most exciting was dual core processors. With the Core i7 Intel unleashed Quad core processors that deliver amazing performance at under $500, making them our #1 recommendation for all our NLEs.
The advantages of Quad Core processors for video editing are significant, HEX cores are even better!
The biggest is price / performance. The latst video editing applications are now 64-bit and written to take advantage of multiple processing cores. Now with a single affordable Hex chip, for around $500 you can unleash 12 processing cores and fully maximize the 64-bit, multi-threaded capabilities.
AMD vs. Intel
In our DIY4 dual-core article we actually had a face off between AMD & Intel, which AMD won as the best choice. Then Intel launched its Core 2 Duo processor, and regained the lead as the best choice for video editing. That lead has only grown bigger over the past couple for years. Videoguy's recommends Intel processors for NLE workstations.
Intel Core i7 3930K = 12 cores of processing power
How do you make a Hex-Core CPU into 12-cores? Easy, sometimes you have to go back to the future. In this case it’s an old technology called Hyper-Threading. Hyper-Threading is when the processor splits itself into two virtual processors in order to share the workload it’s being asked to run. With the i7 you get 4 cores, each one Hyper-Threaded into 2 virtual CPUs. The result is 8-cores of unprecedented computer power for a phenomenal price! If you are going to be building or buying a new computer for video editing – Intel i7 3930K HEX core is our top recommendation - giving you 12 cores of processing power!
It's official – Windows 7 is Videoguys' top recommendation for your video editing workstation!
Back in the summer of 2009 we started talking about Windows7 and how we couldn't wait for it to be officially released. We told you that we would be updated our DIY7 build and posting a new article once we had the chance to test it. We built it, we tested it, we love it! JACKPOT!! We dare you to build a better, faster, more stable system for video editing for under $2,000
We're running Avid Media Composer, Adobe CS4/CS5 Production Premium and Sony Vegas Pro 9 on Win7 and they're all running great! Win 7 is the most stable operating system ever for NLE. It is easy to set up and unlike Vista, you don't have to spend any extra time shutting down bothersome "features" and performing all kinds of tweaks to make it stable for video editing. Win7 just works, and the more memory you give it, the better your performance will be!
Note: We do NOT recommend Win7 Home edition for video editing. Win7 Home has issues addressing and using the amounts of memory we recommend. You need to get the professional or Ultimate versions for best results.
Windows 8 - still time to wait (Dec 2013)
With the latest Win 8.1 release we can give it the green light, but we still don't recommend it
. From our research and what we have been told by our vendors, from a hardware point of view, Win 8 is very similar to Win 7. Which means there should be some re-coding that needs to be done to create Win 8 drivers, but not a huge amount of work. We'll believe that when we see it. So far only a small handful of our NLE hardware even have BETA Win 8 drivers. While all of our software should run just fine under Win 8, it's just too soon to tell. We're going to want to wait until at least early 2013 before we can recommend Win8 to our customers.
Videoguys Vista Update: Vista 64 was OK but Win 7 64-bit is dramatically better! (Do NOT use Vista 32-bit for video editing)
We've been warning our customers to stay away from Vista for quite some time, and we still do not recommend the 32-bit version because the operating system requires a lot of RAM for reliable operation and that's one of the greatest advantages of Vista 64.
Based on the fantastic results we are able to achieve with our DIY7 Intel Core i7 based NLE workstation, we discovered that Vista 64 SP1 is very stable and provided us with excellent performance for our favorite video editing applications and hardware. Just follow the tips and tweaks below and you to can start taking advantage of Vista 64!!
VIDEOGUYS TIPS FOR USING WINDOWS VISTA 64 FOR VIDEO EDITING:
Tech Note: While the Videoguys now recommends Vista 64, we do not recommend the 32-bit version of Vista for video editing. To run Vista right you need the extra RAM, and that is the primary benefit right now of Vista 64. If you can't go 64-bit, stick with good old reliable Windows XP Professional 32-bit operating system.
Click here for Videoguy's Vista 6
- For best results, put it on brand new system like the Videoguys' DIY7 with an Intel i7 processor and 6GB RAM or more. If not, a Quad-core or faster with at least 4GB of RAM would make an excellent machine.
- If you're going to try it on an older dual-core machine, then feed it more RAM (8GB) to make up for the less powerful processor.
- We do not recommend running Vista 64 on a single core processor or with less then 3GB of RAM. If your machine is that old, stick with Windows XP 32.
- Make sure all of your hardware and software supports Vista 64. Trying to run software and especially hardware without Vista 64 support will create lots of problems including but not limited to: instability, sluggish performance, crashing, lock-ups, and even failure to boot.