You can always build a computer that will meet your 4K editing needs. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to configure the best computer for 4K editing, all by yourself. 4K videos are becoming popular, and give significantly more details when compared to the current standard of 1080p. Editing 4K videos require higher specifications than the standard computers used by an average person. Read along to know what exactly you need in a PC to do the job.
1. CPU- the Faster, the Better.
The CPU, that is, the processor of your computer is the first thing you would want to look at while building a PC for any purpose on this Earth! It this unit which will load the OS (Operating System), run all the programs and make all the calculations. So, basically, how efficiently and quickly you can perform the editing mostly depends on the CPU. Its speed is largely determined by the clock speed, which is measure in GigaHertz (GhZ). If you have a limited budget, go for AMD Ryzen 5 CPU (estimated price: $250 - $280) which has 6 cores and 12 threads. The i9 7900X CPU ($1250 - $1300) with a whopping 10 cores and 20 threads is the fastest CPU out there for video editing.
What to see in a CPU?
The clock speed- the higher, the better
Number of cores- The bigger, the better
Socket- Must be compatible with your motherboard
Cache, memory bandwidth and other factors.
2. The GPU or the Graphics Card- Not Essential but Highly Recommended
If you have a very fast CPU, it is not absolutely necessary that you get a GPU for your 4K editing computer. However, having a good GPU will make a lot of difference. It relieves the CPU from performing graphic intensive tasks, and is specially designed to do that. Some software largely depend on the GPU or the graphics card for encoding and rendering, although a lot of other software will run quite smoothly if you have cheap graphics card or even if there isn't any. For lower budgets, the GTX 1050 ($175 - $200) is recommended. If, however, you have a serious budget, go for an NVIDIA card from the 900 series (around $330). The highest performance cards are GTX 1080Ti $910-$980) and the Titan Xp ($1950). It is not recommended to spend too much on GPU unless you know you are dealing with highly graphics intensive job.
Things to keep in mind:
Don't spend too much.
Consider your CPU.
Consider your software.
3. The Random Access Memory (RAM)- The More, the Better
Generally speaking, RAM is the memory available to the programs- it is where they are loaded. For 4K editing, you will need some 16 GB of Ram to keep it nice and smooth. It is very critical that you get sufficient memory for you editing software. Be comfortable while investing in RAM as video editing software use a lot of it.
What is VRAM?
Well, VRAM and RAM, although sound alike, are pretty different in functioning. A VRAM (Video RAM) basically works with the GPU by focusing on storing graphic data. The VRAM will see how many 3D and D images can be displayed simultaneously.
How to choose the perfect RAM
Size: Minimum 8 GB for 4K editing, 4GB for 1080p
Kind of RAM (DDR2, DDR3, DDR4): Determines compatibility with motherboard
Other Factors: Speed (MHz), Timing (Latency), etc.
When it comes to storage, you have two broad options to choose from: HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) and SSDs (Solid State Drives). While HDDs use physical spinning discs to write and read data, there are memory chips in solid state drives that store data. SDDs are way faster than HDDs, but quite intuitively, more expensive. The ideal media storage is three to four times the expected size of a project's source footage.
Key factors while determining storage for 4K editing software include:
Spin speed: Should not be less than 7200 rpm for smooth 4K video editing
Type: SDDs are faster, (and expensive), not necessary but small SDD storage recommended for OS and important software
The motherboard is the central piece of your system that connects every component of the PC. The most important thing while selecting the motherboard for any PC remains the compatibility check. Your CPU must (absolutely must) be compatible with the motherboard. Do make sure the motherboard uses same socket as the CPU for your computer to work. For instance, the latest intel i-series chips, the i3, i5 and i7 have the LGA 1151 socket, so you want a motherboard compatible with LGA 1151.
Things to see in a motherboard
High quality integrated sound (You don't want to deal with the complexity of sound cards)
Number of 3.0 USB ports
Number of SATA connections supported (for storage)
6. Display (Monitor)
Again, 4K monitors aren't necessary, but always a plus. They allow you to visualise more clearly the changes and the effects, once you are done editing and provide a lot of space to work on. And, with 4K becoming the new standard, it would be great if you have 4K TV!
7. Video editing software
So, which video editing software to use?
There is a host of software available for video editing. But, not all of them will support 4K video editing. Here is a list of top 4K editing software.
Note: This list does not indicate a ranking or order of preference.
Make sure you select the software that your computer will support, i.e., you have the minimum system requirements for the chosen software.
And that's it! Now you can build the best computer for 4K video editing that will suit your requirements, fit in your budget, and most importantly, will be tailored for your job! While there are so many pre-built computers configured especially for 4K video editing, a lot of them will hurt your pocket a lot and will be loaded with too many features that you may never need. As they say, if you want to get something done well, do it yourself. And don't forget, the first and most important element is you. Keep learning and keep editing! Happy editing to you.
Max Wales is a writer and a lover of all things video.