Videoguys' System Recommendations for Video Editing (April 2015 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 Every month computers get more powerful and less expensive, so the recommendations on this page could become outdated very quickly.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 (techguy@videoguys.com) 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 and produce great videos.

This page is broken into several sections:

  • Videoguys recommendations for different kinds of computers
  •  Videoguys system recommendations for Windows based Workstations 
  •  Specific component recommendations

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The minimum recommended system myth

Many computer software and hardware vendors will list a minimum system spec that is often not adequate. While you will have enough horsepower 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. 

HP Workstation

For best results, make it a Workstation

If you are going to be editing long form 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 have several options here:

1. Get an HP (or Dell) workstation. 

These workstations 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.  

We recommend these brands for a reason. 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 every day, 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.

The new HP z840 is the power user’s choice, and the best dual Xeon solution on the market. We like the z440 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 than a DIY build, but you get what you pay for. If you're building a professional 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 performing workstations.

2. 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 performance that is nothing short of amazing. Adobe Premiere Pro CC will also take advantage of the dual GPUs and 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 so we recommend the step up to the $3,999 model because it offers you so much more performance for your dollar. You get a hex-core Xeon processor, 16GB of 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 more for the fully sup-ed up models. For $4K the step-up 6-core Mac Pro is a killer NLE workstation.

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.

HP DIY3. Build your own computer

You can and should use our DIY articles as a guideline. Our new tech guy, Scott Smith, has completed our much anticipated new DIY11 build. It’s a screamer! The goal was to put together a top notch NLE & Streaming machine for around $1,500. Scott did the research and the build is complete and tested. Holy smokes! This machine runs lightning fast, the case is whisper quiet and the NLE performance is superb. Great job Scott!

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. 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.

4. Have a computer built for you by a local dealer.

If you would rather get a computer from your local dealer, try to find out if they have any experience with video editing workstations. Make sure they understand what your main system requirement is HD Video editing.  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.

5. Get an Apple iMac. 

One of the new 27 inch i7 Quad-cores equipped with Thunderbolt, USB3 and NVIDIA Graphics! 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 780M with 4GB of GFX Memory. 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 775m with only 2GB of RAM, 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. 

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

6. Looking to do your video editing on a laptop?  

Looking to do your video editing on a laptop? Our top recommendations are either a Mac Book Pro or HP zBook. Both of these laptops include NVIDIA mobile GPUs which are critical for optimal NLE performance; thunderbolt ports for hi speed connectivity, gorgeous displays, quad core processors and at least 16GB of RAM.  There are other laptops you can choose to go with, but from our perspective, you just can;t go wrong with a Mac Book pro or HP zBook.

 


 

The choices we make…

Videoguys’ Recommended Computer Configurations for Non Linear Editing (April 2015)
  Intel CPU Cores RAM NVIDIA Graphics Card System Drive O/S Video Storage Monitor
Minimum Recommended System for Video Editing Core i5 Quad Core 8 GB (2 x 4GB) NVIDA w 1GB RAM 1TB 7200 RPM Win7 Pro or Win 8 Pro* ……………  *Videoguys still recommends Win7 over Win 8 1TB SATA 7200 RPM 20″ LCD
DIY10 Budget NLE Workstation Quad Core i5 4570 Haswell 8GB DDR3 (2 x 4GB) GTX960 120GB SSD RAID 0 8TB (2x4TB)  or G-Tech G-RAID  Dual 20″+ LCDs
DIY 11 Haswell Quad-core Thunderbolt Quad Core i7 4790K Haswell or i7 Hex Core 16GB DDR3 (2 x 8GB) GTX970 or Quadro K2200+ 240+ GB SSD Dual 22″+ LCDs
VIDEOGUYS TECH SELECT HP Z440 Quad Core Xeon 16GB DDR4 (2x8GB) Quadro K4200+ 256+ GB SSD RAID 5 (4x4TB) or G-Tech Thunderbolt Dual 24″+ LCDs
VIDEOGUYS TECH SELECT HP Z840 Dual Hex-Core Xeon 32GB DDR4 (4x8) Dual HP Dreamcolor Z24X
VIDEOGUYS TECH SELECT PREMIUM HP Z840 Dual Octo-Core Xeon 64GB DDR4 (4x16) Quadro K5200 512+ GB SSD Dual HP DreamColor Z27x 

The most important thing to keep in mind when purchasing a new computer for video editing; whether you edit with Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere, Grass Valley Edius or Sony Vegas Pro; is balance. The performance will only be as good as the weakest link in the chain. For video editing the chain has 4 key links – motherboard, CPU, GPU and RAM. If either of these four points is below the other 3, you will bring down the overall NLE performance of the workstation. In addition, if one of the components is significantly higher performing than the other three you are not only wasting money on it, you may actually get poorer performance and the super fast component can create bottlenecks in other areas.

Click here to read how we achieved this balance in the Videoguys DIY11 workstation

Motherboard ASUS Z97-PRO1) Motherboard

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 use 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 MSI & Gigabyte. The chipset used on the motherboard is actually more important than 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, 2K and 4K footage.

CPU2) CPU

We highly recommend Intel Core i7 or Xeon 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.

GPU GTX9703) GPU

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 AMD/ATI cards at this time.

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.

RAM4) RAM

For today's video editing software you want to be running a bare minimum of  8GB of RAM. Anything less will choke your machine and negatively impact your editing.  16GB is the sweet spot for most editors working with a single quad or hex core processor. More serious editors with Dual Xeon processors should go with at least 32GB, bumping up to 64GB depending on the speed of the XEONs and how complex their projects ad timelines are. Over 64GB is overkill for all but the most intensive projects.

Other Recommendations

  • Dual monitors. 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
    First and foremost, you should be using a Solid State Drive as your main OS boot drive. Going SSD will greatly increase boot times, application load times, and overall system performance. If you are going with an SSD you should definitely also have a second internal spinning drive for misc file storage. You do not want to clog up your SSD with personal files and such. 


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 second internal drive if you are using an SSD. It will definitely have a positive impact on your systems overall performance and programs will open faster.

Video Storage recommendations

Videoguys recommends G-Technology external drives above all others! G-Technology uses only the highest quality 7200RPM drives from HGST. In fact all of our G-Technology RAID solutions use HGST Enterprise class drives. These drives are engineered for the most rigorous 24/7 environments. Numerous independent tests have determined that HGST Enterprise drives are the most reliable in the industry. G-Technology matches this incredible reliability and performance with sleek, sexy styling to deliver the best external drive solutions in the industry for video, photo and audio content. Whatever your workflows are, G-Technology & Videoguys have a solution that will meet your needs and budget.

RAID Warning!

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.

G-Technology
G-DRIVE ATC
Thunderbolt, 1TB

This all-terrain drive solution with tethered Thunderbolt cable shields a high quality, lightweight, removable G-DRIVE ev RaW hard drive. 

$229.95

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G-Technology
G-DOCK ev
Thunderbolt Dock
with Removeable
ev Drives

Designed with the flexibility to accommodate unique workflows, the Evolution Series is a robust, expandable dual-bay storage solution.

$649.95

G-Technology
G-RAID with Thunderbolt

Designed specifically for professional content creation applications, features the most powerful, flexible I/O technology ever.

Starting at
$549.95

G-Technology
G-RAID Removeable with Thunderbolt & USB3

A high-performance, removable dual 7200RPMEnterprise-class hard drive storage system featuring both Thunderbolt 2 and USB3.0 connectivity

Starting at
$799.95

G-Technology
G-RAID Studio

A high-performance Thunderbolt 2 storage system with hardware RAID with 2 removeable drives.

Starting at
$699.95

G-Technology
G-SPEED Studio

A hardware RAID 4-Bay Thunderbolt 2 storage solution. Configurable in RAID 0, 1, 5, 6 and 10, G-SPEED Studio features Thunderbolt 2 technology.

Starting at
$2,199.95

G-Technology G-SPEED XL

A hardware RAID 8-Bay Thunderbolt 2 solution offers professional content creators colossal capacity up to 64TB and high definition performance.

Starting at $3,599.95

Follow this link for our Videoguy's NLE Video Storage FAQ

PIONEER BDR-209 INTERNAL BLU-RAY DISC/DVD/CD WRITERGet a Blu-ray DVD burner!!

Blu-ray Burners are now very affordable. They are a must for HD. The BDR-209DBK drive is perfect for system builders, for those looking to upgrade to a fast Blu-ray burner, or for those who already have software.

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.

Call our FREE DTV tech support line (516) 759-1615 for the best possible compatibility recommendation

Our techs will gladly take the time to make sure you get the video editing hardware and software that will best match your system. We offer our 30 day Money-back guarantee on every product we sell, so it is in our best interest to make sure you get the best match between our products and your computer. We look forward to talking to you and helping you get the best possible system for your needs and