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Are you looking for a new computer for video editing? You don’t need to drop $53,000 on the highest-end Mac in order to edit 1080p, or even 4K video!
In fact, you can get in the door for under $500, and have a no-compromises editing PC for under $1000! There is always a good argument for spending more on better hardware, but if you’re on a tight budget then this is the way to go! Special thanks to Emmanuel for the photo in the cover image.
Under-$500 Entry-Level Editing PC
Before talking about our 4K system, let’s talk about a potential starting point. If you want to start editing now, and then upgrade later, this is a great budget system with an excellent upgrade path. We’re going to be using some of the main components in the $1000 build too, so don’t skip this part!
- CPU: Ryzen 3 3200G – $85
- Motherboard: ASRock B450M PRO4 – $75
- RAM: Team T-Force Vulcan Z 16GB 3200Mhz – $65
- Power Supply: EVGA 450W 80+ Bronze – $40
- Case: Thermaltake Versa H15 Micro ATX – $50
- Boot Drive: Silicon Power 256GB SSD – $31
This comes in at just about $350, which leaves plenty of money for buying Windows 10 (or just install Windows and never activate it, and you’ll have mostly-full functionality with a small watermark on your screen) and any larger-capacity storage drives you may need to store all of your footage.
This is a great system for getting started. The Ryzen 3 3200G is a 4-core processor that includes impressive integrated graphics. It’s a steal for under $100! It will be able to handle some 3D effects and rendering just fine. The CPU can be overclocked to get even more performance, and the ASRock motherboard we selected has a lot of overclocking headroom for a low-power CPU like this.
Most importantly, the motherboard can support any Ryzen CPU, including one of the insane 16-core models. So the upgrade path is there if you ever need more performance. Notably, this PC is missing a graphics card. The 3200G has solid onboard graphics, and a graphics card can be added later for increased performance in graphics-intensive editing programs. The 3200G also includes its own cooler that is plenty adequate even when overclocking, so there is no need to buy anything else.
Fast RAM is important to Ryzen, and 16GB is the bare minimum you should have for video editing. We went with a 2-stick kit of RAM, which leaves two empty slots on the motherboard. If you wanted to upgrade to 32GB later on, you can just buy another of the same kit. It clocks in at 3200Mhz, which might not mean much unless you’re pretty computer savvy. This is a pretty fast speed that this processor will like, but you’ll need to do some tweaking to make sure it runs at that advertised speed. We went with a high-quality kit of RAM that is no-frills but gets the job done while looking clean in your system.
Picking a case is mostly up to your personal aesthetics, and with RGB fans and a clear side panel, you can make a great gamer-looking PC. But since this is for video editing, we picked something a little more reserved. The Thermaltake Versa H15 is a micro ATX size, so it will be fairly compact, while still offering a lot of features. It does not have a clear side panel, so any mess on the inside will be concealed. It has a hard drive cage that supports three 3.5″ hard drives, for maximum storage. And while a bit outdated, it also has a place for an optical disk drive if that is something you need. Additionally, it comes with a pre-installed exhaust fan, which is all you need for a lower-powered system like this one.
Finally, we’re using a 256GB Silicon Power SSD, which will boot Windows super fast, and has enough space for your OS and some important programs like the Adobe suite. For the technically-inclined among you, it is important to note that this is a DRAM-less SSD, which normally makes it less ideal for Windows, however you’re not likely to run into any problems. If your budget permits it, looks for an SSD with a DRAM cache instead. We didn’t include any storage drives in this budget build, but you may have an external or backup drive lying around if you need some temporary storage.
You will be able to edit 1080p video with no issues, and 4K as well. You might just need to reduce the playback resolution to 1/2 or lower for smoother playback. You should also expect fairly long render times, especially for 4K video.
Under-$1000 4K Editing PC
- CPU: Ryzen 7 3700X – $275
- Motherboard: ASRock B450M PRO4 – $75
- GPU: MSI GeForce GTX 1650 4GB – $160
- RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws V 32GB 3200Mhz – $140
- Power Supply: EVGA 500W 80+ Bronze Semi-Modular – $65
- Case: Thermaltake Versa H15 Micro ATX – $50
- Fans: Antec F12 120mm Low Noise Fans 5-Pack – $28
- Boot Drive: ADATA 256GB SSD – $40
This PC will shred through any render you throw at it! The Ryzen 7 3700X is an 8-core processor that will do a great job with any video editing program. It also comes with a big cooler with nice-looking RGB lights, so it will stay nice and cool while looking great. Overclocking with the stock cooler may be a bit more difficult with this processor, but you also get a lot less out of overclocking it as it works pretty well right off the bat.
We’re using the same motherboard, which comes with all of the same benefits.
The CPU doesn’t have integrated graphics, so we will be leveraging a graphics card. The GTX 1650 is a lower-end card, but you don’t need much for most video edits. If you’re doing complex 3D work then you might need something more powerful, though. If you have a bit of extra money, consider going with a GTX 1660 Ti graphics card, because this card has special technology that works nicely with Da Vinci Resolve. An Nvidia graphics card may be preferable to an AMD card (even though you pay a little more) because they are better for CUDA-accelerated tasks. This one will get you off the ground – and you can even do some gaming or streaming with this CPU/GPU combination. With a 2020 update to Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Media Encoder, having a graphics card is more valuable than ever. These apps now offer hardware encoding support for Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, and GPU rendering is fast. Nvidia claims that render times could be up to 5 times faster with this technology. Having used it myself, I have to say it is quite impressive and takes a lot of load off of the CPU, meaning it’s easier to do other intensive computing tasks while rendering video.
We’ve upgraded to 32GB of RAM, which is perfect for high-resolution video editing. We’ve gone with the same high speed, and a similarly non-flashy look. The case is the same one, for the same reasons, but we have added a set of quiet fans to keep things cool, since we’re working with more powerful hardware that will heat up warmer.
We went with a different SSD, this time one that has a DRAM cache, and there is room in the budget for some additional hard drive storage if you don’t have any already.
This is the dream PC for any editor on a budget. The CPU and RAM are the best of the best within reason. You can go further, but there are diminishing returns. This set of hardware will be perfect and will render through projects quickly. And if you want to play some games, you can do that too. The great thing about PCs right now is that a gaming PC and an editing PC are almost the same.
For both of these PCs, the name of the game is upgradability. You’ll be able to reuse all your parts in the future, or easily upgrade individual components. Ryzen 1000, 2000, and 3000 CPUs, any graphics card, any DDR4 RAM, and any storage drives will be compatible with this machine. When buying a pre-built computer or a Mac computer, on the other hand, upgrades are limited.
Building a computer can be a fun task, but can certainly have its frustrations. Watch some in-depth build guides on YouTube, and remember to read all of your manuals, especially the case’s manual. Both precautions will make the building process less painful. PC components are fairly standardized, so any build guide from the last few years will be great. Good luck building, editing, and upgrading!
SEE ALSO – 14 Great Sites to Learn Video Editing