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Top 5 Questions to Answer when Purchasing a Video Editing Computer

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 Searching for and finding your "perfect" video editing computer can seem a daunting task, with so many products and options out there- but knowing your budget and what you need to get the job done will help you make the right decision.

When shopping for your "perfect" editing computer, there are five important questions to be answered: 1. Should I get a PC or a Mac? 2. What specifications are important? 3. How do I get video into my computer to edit? 4. What editing software should I use? And 5. How can I share my video with others? We've got the answers next.

         1. PC or Mac?         

For PC users, it's critically important to have a higher-end level of hardware in your editing computer. Why? Video editing requires more horsepower. But because PC systems are usually purchased ala-carte, there's a wide range of hardware features and specifications you need to know about before you buy. We'll discuss these later. Also, while many video editing applications can work on older Windows Vista or XP, they are more efficient and faster on the current Windows 7.

For Mac users, it's really a case of picking a particular model, which has several customizable options.For iMac editing, the 21 or 27-inch model has these basic specs- i5 CPU, with 4GB RAM, and 1TB of hard drive space. Upgrade options include an i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 2TB hard drive space, and Radeon graphics cards with up to 1GB on-board graphics memory. Prices range from $1200 to about $2000, not including upgrades.

For the Mac video editor who needs even more performance, the Mac Pro desktop is the ultimate solution, in either Quad Core ($2500) or 12-core ($3800) configuration. Any Mac model you choose will have the latest OS already installed (currently 10.8, or Mountain Lion).

2. Five Important hardware specifications

CPU processor power, RAM memory, hard drive storage, graphics card, and your LCD monitor are the five most important hardware features to look for in an editing computer. The Central Processing Unit (CPU) has evolved from the early single core Intel Pentium to the current multi-core Intel i5/ i7 models. The i5/7-series CPUs are best for video editing because they make your editing software run at top speed. This is critically important when it comes to the "rendering" stage- creating the final form of video, including any visual effects, transitions, titles, etc. Without the fastest CPU running, this final step would be excruciatingly slow!

It's also important to have enough RAM (Random Access Memory). A typical off-the-shelf computer might come with 2GB of RAM. For video editing, this is not enough. You need at least a minimum of 4GB, and 16GB is even better. Why? Because video editing uses up RAM memory like crazy, and the more you have, the faster you will get the job done. Thankfully, RAM is cheap these days.

Hard drive storage is another important specification. The 500GB SATA HD typical on most computers is not big enough. HiDef video takes up a huge amount of capture space, so you need at least a 2TB internal SATA HD -or be prepared to expand your internal hard drive with a 2TB external.

The graphics card in your PC can make your video editing application more responsive, especially if you employing 3D transitions and other special effects. With maximized video ram on the graphics card, you will get higher performance.

Monitors are a final consideration. It's best to select the largest widescreen LCD monitor compatible with your graphics card. Today, popular LCD monitors start at 21-inch but go up to 27-inch diagonal, and beyond. You might think a 27-inch is too big, but when you consider a single monitor screen must show multiple windows and also playback of your HiDef video project, a 27-inch widescreen monitor is not only practical but necessary. Such monitors are relatively inexpensive now (about $300).

And just in case you thought you had a lot of gear to check out, HP has just introduced an amazing all-in-one desktop PC, the 27-inch Z1- which appears to have most of the bells and whistles you need, or it's easily upgradeable. Check out the links below.

3. Getting video into your computer

Before today's HiDef camcorders, video was analog in nature. That meant that in order to edit it, you needed some way to transfer the analog video from your camcorder into a digital format for your computer. This transfer required an analog video capture card and it and was a laborious, real-time process. All early generation video editors were stuck with it.

Today all HD video is captured digitally, and most likely on a camcorders internal hard drive, or removeable media cards. The benefit of this digital video capture is it's relatively easy and fast to transfer to your editing computer- whether it's a PC or a Mac. This transfer is done through a USB port, present on all HD camcorders. And HD camcorders are smart- they recognize when a USB cable is connected to a computer, and set up the transfer process for you manually.

4. Editing Software

When it comes to choosing video editing software, it all depends on the computer platform you select. For Windows PC's the popular choices are Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 ($700), Sony's Vegas Pro 11 ($600), or Cyberlink's new Power Director Ultimate Suite ($250). For Mac users it's one ballgame- Final Cut Pro X ($300). Premiere Pro CS6 requires that you have 64 bit architecture in your computer, rather than the older 32 bit standard. Other editing software (like Vegas Pro 11 and Cyberlink Power Director 11) is compatible with either 64 or 32-bit computers.

For Windows PCs, there are also "lighter", more affordable, but less powerful consumer versions available- Premiere Elements (under $100) and Vegas Movie Studio Production Suite ($130). For Mac users there is iMovie.

5. Sharing

Once you have finished editing your video, you're going to want to share it with your family and friends. Today, the most common way to share is through a DVD, whether standard definition, or the newer HiDef Blu-Ray. But you also might want to make a version that is uploadable on YouTube, or perhaps one that you could transfer to an iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet. Thankfully most current video editing software programs include an "output format" step. Here you decide how you want to share the final project.

For a disk sharing, your editing computer needs to have a DVD-burner, and preferably a Blu-Ray version. These Blu-Ray burners are affordable (less than $100), and they can burn either HiDef Blu-Ray or standard DVDs (+ or -)

To enjoy your finished video on an Android or an Apple i-device, you need to convert it. Many video editing programs now have the option to convert as the final step. One of my favorite standalone Windows conversion programs is ArcSoft's Media Converter 7.5, which offers a huge variety of output devices and formats. For the Mac user, Handbrake works very well too.

Conclusion

The task of video editing is probably the most intensive of all computer applications. It literally stretches your computer to the limits of its power. But armed with the right tips we have just given you, your selection task for the "perfect" video editing computer should be much easier and help you put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

Tony Gomez is a veteran producer, editor, videographer, digital photographer, and reviewer of consumer and professional digital imaging and video products, with over 30 years experience.

Tags:  November 2012
Tony
Gomez
Tue, 11/06/2012 - 9:29am

Comments

Joe Ogiba's picture

The new 27" iMac with 3.4Ghz Quad Core i7, 32GB RAM, 3TB Fusion drive,  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX with 2GB of GDDR5 and USB 3.0 ext HDD should work very well IMHO.

Sony NEX-VG900, Panasonic TM700, GH2

Len Vine's picture

So far, you have only mentioned adding editing software to a computer.

You have not mentioned one very important editing alternative device:

That is the standalone editor, which contains it's own software and hardware.

It is not connected to the internet so it can never get a virus.

It'Is sole purpose is to edit video.

 

I am referring to the Casablanca line of editors from Macrosystem.

Check them out at  www.macrosystem.us

 

Len  Vine

Tim Trott's picture

One serious omission from your software list is Edius 6.5. I'm not sure how you can include Cyberlink and leave out Grass Valley/Edius. You might throw in Pinnacle or Vegas Movie Studio to cover the full range.

 

All of the above, by the way, can handle 3D. Adobe has thus far failed to realistically deal with 3D editing. Yes, I know, AE; but to repeat: "...failed to realistically...".

 

With regard to hardware, I would have expected you to include the Dell XPS7600 that was positively reviewed and advertised on this site. You might as well also inlclude IBuyPower (TigerDIrect) or one of the ProMax entries.

 

I'm not sure how the HP Z1 all-in-one would accomondate a strong GPU like the Nvidia K5 or Quadro 4000. That's the biggest drawback to all in one - no flexibility. There are some earlier HP models that are also very good options.

I can only echo the admonition about keeping email away from video editing machines.

 

Tim Trott Productions - Video Does It Better (sm)

gregestes5's picture

"I'm not sure how the HP Z1 all-in-one would accomondate a strong GPU like the Nvidia K5 or Quadro 4000. That's the biggest drawback to all in one - no flexibility."

 

Actually, you can get a Quadro 4000M in an HP Z1 today. http://h20331.www2.hp.com/Hpsub/downloads/HP_Z1_Graphics_WP.pdf and the HP Z1 claim to fame is that you can actually upgrade it. 

 

The Quadro 4000 is the sweet spot for editing in Adobe and Avid so that's a good choice for either and would work great for Sony Vegas or Edius as well (which I agree should have been included). 

 

Although the GPU memory does make a significant difference in editing, it actually makes more difference in doing animation and rendering. So if you're also using Maya, 3ds Max, Houdini, Cinema 4D, etc. then be sure and get the GPU with the most memory you can afford.

 

 

- Greg (from NVIDIA)

 

Tim Trott's picture

Being able to use a good Nvidia GPU is a good point but the main weakness I see in the HP-Z1 is the Intel® Core i3-2120 processor.

 

(Editing film and video off an on since 1964 - from razor blades to NLE)

 

 

Tim Trott Productions - Video Does It Better (sm)

oldnick's picture

This article is fluff. I could have written this.I was looking for the next page that  would actually get into specifics. For instance, it's useless having more than 2-3GB of RAM if you have a 32-bit Windows OS. And that's just the start.

 

Too many of these articles are the same. I am just a still togger trying out a bit of video and I am goming "Well duh!"

mgrogie@aol.com's picture

 

I cannot disagree more with your "5 Steps" tips.  After spending 40 years editing first film and now video and having taught film and video production and editing, I would suggest the following revisions:

 

1)  If you've never edited before and own a PC, by all means stay with the PC and buy some lo-end editing software.  I have found that by far the best software for beginners is Cyber Link Power Director, which can be had for less than $100 (actually I think less than $75).  It is by far the friendliest program I have found (and have tried them all), is more than sufficient for beginners and has enough power to satisfy even intermediate editing demands.  (Sorry Microsoft, but Window Movie Maker really doesn't work very well at all.) 

 

2)  If you've never edited before and own a Mac, by all means stay with the Mac and just use iMovie.  Considering it's a freebie, it's extremely easy to use and very powerful for what it is. 

 

3)  But the bottom line is that editing is not easy and it has been my observation watching amateurs struggling with it for many years that 99% of you guys try it once, decide it's much more trouble than it's worth, and never edit again.  So there's no point in making an investment in editing until you find out whether you even like it or not.  Most of you will decide you don't like it.  So start real lo-end and get your feet wet before you dive off the deep end of the pool.

 

4)  If you are one of the rare ones that turns out to have a flare for this and want to get serious, then there is only one answer:  Buy a Mac and use Final Cut.  I do not know of any semi-pro or professional editors who do not use Final Cut (except for Avid, but that's for very hi-end users).  The lo-end version that only costs about $200 will be more than sufficient for documentaries and narrative storytelling.  It is only necessary to upgrade to Final Cut Pro if you decide you want to go Hollywood and have lots of effects. 

 

I hope this helps.  It certainly is a much more simple approach.  I was told this by professionals when I first started, still did a bunch of research and unsuccessfully tried a bunch of other programs, and came to the conclusion they were right in the first place.  Start very lo-end until you know you like it, then go Final Cut. 

 

 

ProPhotog1's picture

To say that if you own a PC, "by all means stay with a PC" is just bad advice overall for any aspiring editor. No entry editing Software is as cheap (free if you buy a Mac) or as powerful and fast....no rendering time whatsoever....and who's files can be moved to Final Cut Pro X as iMovie....period! Seriously...show me another computer you can buy (Mac Bok Pro or iMac) that has Thunderbolt for much faster External Hard Drive Storage, FW800 (MacBook only) along with a dislplay that no one can match, that has not only iMovie, but a very powerful audio editor in Garage Band....already installed for FREE!!!??? So no, you advice is really not the best for anyone on a budget who also needs to upgrade to a 64bit machine, whixh is optimal for HD editing, unless you have a bunch of time on your hands.

dbanici's picture

Magix: I personally find the Magix editing software extremely useful, especially for keyframing. Even their consumer level software packs much of the punch found in Magix Video Pro X. Each time they come up with a new version be ready to fork over another $200 or so to upgrade, but your purchased version is maintained with updates. The $400 Video Pro X has excellent editing, sound scrubbing and object manipulation tools.

 

Hitfilm: Hitfilm is a serious player. It is a "all in one" compositing package, will only run on PC computers with a high end graphics card, and if you have no other editor you can use it to render your final output as well. At $4-500 it is the most affordable way to get into powerful special effects.

 

Lightworks: Lightworks Pro (at version 11 now) makes the process of working with footage very easy. Previously plagued by format incompatibilities it may require that you render your footage into a different format depending on what camera(s) you own. It's getting much better though. This software has features not found in any other editors, and it is top pick for many Hollywood editors. It uses a rack and bin system to keep you organized and allows you to work on multiple movies at the same time. It is by far the most affordable ($60 per year to keep a PRO license active with current updates) and brings a level of professionalism to your movie editing that once was the luxury of only those who could afford expensive editing hardware.

 

That's my two cents.

Dan Banici, filmmaker

www.incrediblefootage.net

yawafrifa2000's picture

I wonder why Avid Media Composer was left out of the recommended list of editing softwares, unless you want to say that you are talking here about Home Video editing, in which case you should then have included Pinnacle Studio. AMC in my opinion is the master editor, for the skilled professional, and Pinnacle studio is the most user-friendly which beginners can quickly learn w/o a teacher.

ProPhotog1's picture

Pinnacle is not the most user friendly without an instructor. iMovie takes that crown going away!! Avid is still very expensive and is also buggy. Sure it has some cool features, but they just don't warrant the price for what 98% of editors need. Vegas Pro is till my choice for PC editing, going away!

Tony P's picture

While the idea of the article is fine, it was very sketchy at best, especially considering who I think this article was intended for. The hardware suggestions in the article were very vague along with the very biased software choices. In hardware, one poster suggested starting low end. I would have to disagree. Most consumers who would attempt to edit now, have AVCHD camcorders. A highly compressed format that requires, at least for a comfortable editing experience, a powerful PC (Intel has the edge in CPU, but on the budget side, AMD throws a lot of cores in. It's a "choice"). While video cards are important (GPU processing is faster), most, if not all, already have 1gig video RAM in the consumer market. Many have 2 or more gigs. NLE's now support Nvidia CUDA and/or AMD/ATI OpenCL for offloading rendering to the video cards. For the PC's, getting a 64bit system should have been also recommended (it basically doesn't cost more) for the obvious reasons, it will use more than 32bit's 3.25gig limit. A lot "store bought" PC's come with bloatware that loads up when you start your computer. 4gigs of RAM should be a baseline recommendation.  I know we all have our "own" choices in software, but to say one is "popular" to the exclusion of others is tantamount to a free advertising plug. Argueably, the most popular NLE for consumers has been, over the years, the Pinnacle Studio brand (now owned by Corel). For anyone to say one software is better than another, well, it's a tool and the end product is what counts. Unless one has more than a cursory usage (no matter what, we all bring our biases to the table. How can you really know how a software works? It can take a month or more of hard editing to find out. I don't know many people that have tried "everything" out there. It would take over a year of just editing to come to a conclusion, and by then, new versions are out again) does a disservice to those you are trying to inform.

To exclude Avid, Edius, and others was not informative at all. A hotlink to software that is available would have been much better with a decent comparision chart. All the NLE's out there have at least a 30day trial download available.

Many of the articles that appear here are very informative, but I do have to agree with all the other posters, this was not one of them.

BTW, I've been editing since the Amiga/Video Toaster days. Whatever software I am using at any time is my "favorite", and they have all been different products from different vendors over the years.  :)

mgrogie@aol.com's picture

 

I have to take serious issue with your comment, "how can you really know how a software works?"  I'll tell you how you know -- you use it.  It may "take a month or more of hard editing to find out" if the bells and whistles work but it should only days or hours to find out if basic functions perform as promised.  I have extensively used Pinnacle, Avid, and now Cyber-Link Power Director.  (Please refer to my comments above under "mgrogie".)  Pinnacle was the pits.  It did not perform at all as promised.  I bought it because it was the highest rated software in PC Magazine and I found nothing but positive user comments about it but I had to conclude after using it for well over a year that those who had commented on it had not used it very extensively at all.  I talked to many people who said they had "heard" Pinnacle was the best but none who had actually used it.  I used it and it was horrible.  Truthfully, no serious editors fool around with PC-based editors anymore.  PC software is only used by people who are getting started and dabbling.  That is why Avid started offering a PC version in order to attract newbies who didn't want to invest in a Mac platform.  But truthfully, anyone who get serious about editing goes to Final Cut or, when they really get serious, Avid, but only Avid on a Mac.  Avid is only for very high-end users and I know no one outside of L.A. and industrial video facilities that use it.  Everyone else uses Final Cut.  I know of no professionals at all who use PC-based systems.  So when you comment that software is a matter of individual taste and that it's impossible to say one is better than the other, well that is just plain wrong.  And I have talked to videographers who have extensively used Magix and Vegas Movie Studio and all the other titles mentioned as worthwhile choices and have not yet seen an exception where they do not complain of many frustrations of the software not performing as promised.  Every one of them eventually went to Final Cut and never regretted it.  Editing software is not a matter of personal taste and there is a reason why almost all professionals use the same programs. 

Tony P's picture

Sorry if you do not agree, but your basis on computers and editing platforms is...well, wrong. I am guessing that no one has any complaints about Power Director. No one. Their forum says otherwise. And while you can "test drive" a piece of editing software for a day or two, you won't know until you are doing hard editing work if the software really works for "you". And those "bells and whistles"? That depends. There is some fluff out there in the "consumer" world, but also some very good add-ons included and are useful tools. I would love to see you use Red Giant Particular..... We all have our own ways and styles of editing. What might be very important for me may not be for you. So to make blanket, across the board defacto statements is wrong. You are only stating "your" opinions. PC based software from Avid or Adobe is the same as on an Apple. But the difference is, I can outfit a PC that will cost less, than for the same from Apple. That is a fact. You might like the lines, the case, the style of an Apple, but the cost of the "PC" parts that are inside of it can easily be gotten by anyone from Newegg. And that is a fact. You say you have "heard", again, from people that say Pinnacle is the best.... and you say you have used it for a year. I have no way of knowing you or your sources, but they, and you don't seem to know much about the Pinnacle software, which is a "consumer" level program. Read that again, "consumer". The one who wants to do a famiy vacation or birthday. So, I serioulsy doubt that you ever used it. Horrible? Really. For what it is, it works. If you can't get it to work, then there must be something wrong with your PC. You use PD, another "consumer" level NLE. It's nice software, but again, "consumer" level and only available on a PC. According to your statement, you must not be a serious editor because you are fooling around with a PC software. FCP? I guess you haven't bothered to do a google search about all the production houses jumping ship from Mac to PC and moving back to Avid on the PC. Because you don't know anyone, doesn't make it truth. I know people that use Avid Media Composer on a PC. And when you decide to say something I said, please quote it, because again, you are wrong. I did not say "software is a matter of individual taste and that it's impossible to say one is better than the other". Re-read again. What I said was "For anyone to say one software is better than another, well, it's a tool and the end product is what counts. Unless one has more than a cursory usage (no matter what, we all bring our biases to the table. How can you really know how a software works? It can take a month or more of hard editing to find out. I don't know many people that have tried "everything" out there. It would take over a year of just editing to come to a conclusion, and by then, new versions are out again) does a disservice to those you are trying to inform." I stand by it unless you are using WMM. Software is a matter of individual taste in the "consumer" level. I know for a fact that you can not tell what software was used to edit a finishted product. I guess I should have stated that since I thought the article was written for those just starting out. Let's see, you are comparing again, consumer level NLE's with something more upscale. How much does FCP cost compared to an $80 PD program? Are they made for the same type of editor? Wow....... how come you aren't using FCP?

 

mgrogie@aol.com's picture

 

I guess we're coming from two completely different and irrreconcilable perspectives but there is no need for the nastiness and condescending attitudes, commenting like I'm a rank amateur who doesn't even know the difference between consumer and professional products.  You sure like to make a lot of assumptions -- like that I don't know much about Pinnacle despite my statement that I used it extensively for well over a year, or your assumption that I don't use FCP, despite my proclamation that it's the only program worth considering if you're a serious editor.  I found the article to be way more complicated that it needed to be for the audience to which it was intended.  So I thought I would give the readers the benefit of my experience.  I am a graduate of the film schools at Boston University and USC.  My comments are based on 40 years of experience writing, producing, directing and editing everything from 30-second PSA's to theatrical feature length films and everything in between.  And many years teaching and working with beginners and professionals alike.  So what are you basing your comments on?  What extensive professional experience has led you to your conclusions?  You criticize me for making sweeping generalizations but really my comments were just lending perspective to your sweeping generalizations.  Anyway, I can see that my lifetime of experience is being blithely dismissed because I'm saying things you don't want to hear.  I'm astonished at the number of things you refer to as facts that are really just your observations.  Well, I'm not wrong and I do have decades of experience.  It's obvious you don't appreciate that.  This is the first time I've ever felt compelled to contribute comments to this magazine and it is the last time I will ever do so.  I am used to working with professionals and being treated with a great deal more courtesy than this.  So we'll just leave it that we agree to disagree and I won't impose my knowledge on you again. 

Tony P's picture

It is apparent that we are coming from different perspectives. You were the one making the sweeping generalization statements about Mac and PC's. You are wrong. You tried to misquote me to lend credence to what you were saying, I showed you you were not accurate in quoting me.  I don't know if you have looked inside a Mac lately, but it is using "PC" parts. Intel, ATI, Nvidia.... stuff that anyone can get from Amazon for less. That, my friend, is a "fact".   They haven't used a Motorola PPC in ages. I wasn't being nasty or condescending. I disagreed with you and posted why. Google production houses that are leaving Mac. There are plenty of them. Read why. The same with those that have issues with FCP X. You gave your "opinions", I gave mine. You ask me what am I basing my comments on, yet have not been able to discredit them. In your post, you stated you used Power Director, yes? Did you say you used FCP? No. As for Pinnacle, reading your one word evaluation of it, "horrible" leads me to believe you either have biases or just didn't like the software. That is ok. I have my own choices (which are far more on the PC than Mac), but I wouldn't say another product is horrible because I don't care for the workflow. It's a matter of personal preferences. It is wonderful that you went to school and did a lot of work in the field. I am happy that you could do that, but don't change the subject. You have yet to provide anything to contradict my stated "facts". You weren't imposing your knowledge on me. NLE's are tools, that's all.

yawafrifa2000's picture

@mgrogie@aol.com"Truthfully, no serious editors fool around with PC-based editors anymore.  PC software is only used by people who are getting started and dabbling." I want to believe that this is only a personal opinion and not the result of any extensive research. Knowing that editors in the US use Mac-based software is not a logical conclusion that no serious editors use PC-based softwares. Expand your search - worldwide - and you'll find numerous professional editors who use PC-based applications.

bigsplash's picture

 

I understood this blog to be aimed at professional or semi pro marketplace so I was surprised by the quality of this article. At best it is superficial or seriously lacking in useful information at worst it is incomplete, erroneous and misleading. How anyone can identify  Adobe, Final Cut and iMovies in the same article!

 

Avid software is not even mentioned yet this is the one most Pros use!  The BBC and Hollywood use the version Compose 6.5 (£2398) but you can buy Avid Xpress Pro (£1434), or Avid Sibelius (£373). Thedifferent versions available for editing software should be made  clear and I would have expected a note saying that the high spec version of Avid for example  would take considerable effort to learn how to use!

 

The Adobe Premier Pro CS6 costs £810 on its own, however a serious semi pro would buy the Adobe Master Collection (£1399) that contains PhotoShop, After Effects, Audition, Encore etc so that colour correction, special effects and DVD authoring can be properly executed. I would recommend the Adobe Master Collection as its is very comprehensive and is a fairly intuitive tool to use and has huge ongoing investment behind it.  It is available in both Mac and PC versions.

 

The Final Cut ProX product used to sell at £1198 but now sells at £200 targeting the consumer market. The higher priced version included other software to make a more comprehensive offering. That said I have noted many complaints about Final Cut upgrades not coming out as fast as the market needs them for 3D, HD etc. It does not make clear what other Apple software is recommended to do a proper editing job say for a wedding!

 

All of the above software requires a 64bit operating system and the PC versions ideally want a Windows 7 or 8 version. I do not see how iMovies at £14 can be compared to the above.

 

The hardware comparisons in the article are equally superficial. It refers to PC’s as this generic term meant something…in fact if you go to https://www.videoguys.com/ you will see that they distinguish between desktop and serious workstation quality machines such as HP Z820 which they recommend as it uses quality components. 

 

The article suggests that an iMac is a good option but for best performance it is suggested that you should go for a Mac Pro Tower, which is far more expensive has not been upgraded since a long time and does not have the Thunderbolt interconnect capability.  

 

You can easily get to £10,000 for a top of the line Mac Pro with 6TB hard drive, two graphics cards and two monitors…..but I am not sure that you would gain anything compared to buying a top spec iMac (£2800) with a fusion drive (SSD and HDD) plus say 12TB of external HDD memory (£1800) linked using Thunderbolt, plus a second 27inch (£900) monitor also equipped with Thunderbolt.  Talking to Apple sales people they also agree that iMac is the way to go.

 

The Matrox MX02 input / output module is not mentioned but surely that should be in an article of this type. It converts different types of input and provides very fast graphics processing to compliment the CPU in the PC or Mac. I would get the Matrox version for PC (it comes with a PCie card) and separately the adapter box for Thunderbolt if you go the Mac route….that makes you reasonably flexible and future proof.

 

I have looked at the possibilities of building a PC to an advanced specification and the above link to videoguys tells you how to do it. A word of caution however is that you need to check the motherboard web site for approved DRAMS, and these need to all be the same.

 

I would suggest:

  • ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard,
  • 32GB of DRAM with a speed of 1866, and do NOT go for overclocking as stability will be an issue.
  • My CPU choice would be Intel i73930K (600$) or better i7 3960X (1049$).
  • GTX 570 or 670 graphics card (£305) or if I was feeling rich a Quadro 4000 (£700) or 5000 graphics card which is the one used by pros. / broadcasters
  • All Hard Drives should be using a 7200rpm and interface to SATA III (6GB) and be connected to a RAID controller which the ASUS motherboard has
  • For the boot / application drive I would use a 512GB (OCZ Vertex or similar) …(About £320)
  • The above will need a high output low noise power supply …for example the Corsair 1200Watt (£300). Ideally you may use a case by Antec or Silverstone who make high capacity power supplies that fit and have well thought out cooling strategies.
  • Blu Ray writer such as Pioneer BDR 207 (£90)
  • Firewire card (£30)
  • Windows 8 (64bit) professional operating system

The advantage of building your own PC is that it is very flexible, and easily upgraded. I suggest strongly however that you get professional advice before buying the components and building……Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

FrankieBoy's picture

Many commenters have already added valuable information to this article, like Bigsplash's comment about building your own computer, e.g. according to Videoguys' instructions (which is what I have done).

 

But one thing that is only mentioned once briefly by Tony P is Nvidia CUDA, which Adobe Premiere utilizes, in additon to having the Mercury Playback Engine. What it basically does is that you never need to render or transcode anything ever (like e.g. into Apple ProRes), except for your very last export, which you'll render out. This is a HUGE timesaver, as you can just pull all your media straight into Premiere and start editing. So far you need an nVidia card to enable CUDA accerlartion, and as iMacs come with ATI cards, they won't support it. (The Mercury Playback Engine can run without nVidia cards.)

 

I have in the past edited on Premiere, FCP and Avid, but now edit only on Premiere on my built PC. I also have FCP 7 on my Mac, but never use it anymore.

One thing to keep in mind is that FCP 7 is 32-bit and Premiere, ever since CS5, is 64-bit, and therefore more powerful. To go 64-bit in FCP, you need FCP X, which most professional editors skip, e.g. because it doesn't support the old FCP projects, which even Premiere does. As a result of this development there have been many editors going over from FCP to Premiere CS5.5 or CS6, but I have not heard of CS5.5 or CS6 editors reverting to the 32-bit FCP 7.

 

Like e.g. Mgrogie said, Final Cut has been, and still is, the choice of many professional editors, but there is a strong movement towards the faster, more powerful Premiere CS6.

One additional point I want to make here is that even FCP users use Final Cut together with Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop. And since Adobe is Adobe, that cooperation is much stronger and smoother between those 2 programs and Adobe Premiere than with Apple Final Cut.

 

Like Tony P so many times reiterates is that the editing suite is a tool, that's all.

If you (the reader of this article) are completely new to editing, I'm afraid that you will have to do a lot more research to find out which editing suite is the right tool for the job.

"So far you need an nVidia card to enable CUDA accerlartion, and as iMacs come with ATI cards, they won't support it. (The Mercury Playback Engine can run without nVidia cards.)"    See my top post :The new 27" iMac with 3.4Ghz Quad Core i7, 32GB RAM, 3TB Fusion drive,  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX with 2GB of GDDR5 

Sony NEX-VG900, Panasonic TM700, GH2

ProPhotog1's picture

This article was about Purchasing a New Computer for Video Editing....not which software to use!! Those of you complaing about certain Software not mentioned in this article need to chill. But since some of you seem hell-bent on talking software, let me add some food for thought. While I am not College Trained, I have been editing and have had my eyes behind a lens, on both Still and Movie cameras for more than 30 years. I read about and test a bunch of software as much as I can, and wish the case was true for more hardware. I started out editing on a Sony Vaio many years ago using a program I can't even remember. But what I do remember is the program locking up and having to start all over after hours of editing...3 times!! It was a frustrating nightmare to say the least. What I gather from the comments here is that most are concerned with which software works better on what platform. TonyP said that when it comes to software its all about the end product, and that is simply not true, if you do this very difficult job to make money. I have cut projects on deadlines that I was not happy with, but the client was estatic! The main factors in a video editing software is 1.Stability 2.Funtionality 3.Compatibility. And all of these eqaute to speed, and speed eqautes to "Profit"!! And yes the machine you purchase will have a direct effect on all of the above. One post mentioned the Cassablanca all-in-one Editing systems, which I used years ago. These Sytems are not what I call "professional" as they are limited in functionality with effects and titling that are just down right ugly. Sorry! I would say these are good for Highs Schools and College production. Wayy too expensive for what you..."don't get"! For instancs the mulit-cam editior is for only 4 cameras/angles. The editior has no inputs for cameras and is not compatible with devices like the Black Magic Studio. Where I work...a small firm with 3 editng bays, we use Macs. While like so many other editors, I was pulling my hair out using the new FCPX! It was buggy as hell, not a lot of 3rd party plug-ins, and no mulit-cam editing. There are those on this forum who use many other programs who still diss FCPX and I even tried Premiere on a very fast machine, but found it to be very buggy too, so we decided to stay with FCPX as Avid was just too expensive for 3 machines, and the learing curve was steep and time consuming. One very important reason for staying with FCPX was the succeptibilty of PC's to viruses too. But I must say, our patience has paid off. While true, and some have mentioned it here, many ran like scalded dogs away from FCPX, primarily in my opinion, becasue it just looked a bit like iMovie, along with other early functionality ommisions...Final Cut Pro X is the most complete and easy to use Video Editing Software for Professionals. The newest version 10.7 is fast and much, much more stable than it was a year ago. And at $300, it makes room for adding many of the hundred or so third party plug-ins, which are very very good! The Multi-Cam feature introduced months ago can handle more than 40 angles. And output is great! But what makes FCPX great for us is the speed of editing. While it took some getting used to, the magnetic timeline is a jewel when having to insert, delete, slip, roll edit clips or audition different clips. File mangement is awesome. And compared to other editors the interface is the cleanest by far. And I can not stress the time saved by being able to "see" what effects, filters and titles look like in real time!!! There are still some improvements to be made, but FCPX running on an Apple iMac, tricked out, is as easy and fast as it gets. Add some Black Magic Hardware, for live mulit-cam shoots and not to mention the best looking display on the market and it is very hard machine to beat for professional editors.  While many have run from MAC, many will return as more and more start to appreciate FCPX's growth. I know I am biased, but anyone thinking of buying a new machine for editing, who is not happy with thier current set-up should seriously consider one of the new iMacs and FCPX. And yes there is supprt fo using 3 and 4K Cameras.

Tony P's picture

While you are right about the title of the article, it did include software and other aspects of editing such as capturing and sharing. If the article were more in depth with computer hardware and ended at that, a lot of what is being discussed would not have happened. But, the article listed some software as being "popular" to the exclusion of others, as if they aren't. Obvious marketing bias.

As for my statement about the "end product", it is true. You yourself state that "client was estatic!" even though you weren't. I would not be editing (and can't imagine anyone else) with software that was unstable. I would not use an unstable word processor or any other program, why would anyone use an unstable NLE? I thought that it was understood.  Knowing your software and it's limitations go a long way in the speed of editing.

I think that this article is really not meant for those that do this "professionally", but more for the person maybe just getting into it. Those that do this for $$$ already know what they are looking for in a computer and software.

Now about PC viruses. I haven't had one in years, and the computers are connected to the internet. While the PC reigns as virus champ, there are viruses out for the Mac's. Due diligence with both types of computers are important. So, unless you like running to porn sites, downloading movies and software, opening up email attachments, you won't get a virus. And why would you do this on your editing machine in the first place? You did hear about this virus for the Mac...Flashback Trojan, and Apple no longer claiming to be "virus free". It took Apple 3 months to get a patch out.

You are honest to admit you are biased towards Mac and FCP X. And anyone considering editing should consider all options on both computer platforrms. In the end, it's still a tool. In the hands of the right person, it can produce "magic".

ProPhotog1's picture

Computer Viruses are mostly written for PC's, and thats a fact. I personally did not hear of that virus nor have we ever had one on any of our MAC Machines. Its much more difficult to write a successful virus than one for PC's. Being online is very important for may editiors for obvious reasons included softwware updates and being able to share cuts with clients.

One of the major factors in getting the cost down of NLE's is that the "BOX" is gone, along with the disc and any other materials. From the design, to the printing, to the shipping, the price drop is on par with those costs no longer in the mix. Apple knew and said it was going to be a work in progress when they released FCPX, so the price of $299 made it possible for editors to buy it and still work on FCP7.  But don't make the assumtion that those getting into editing to make money "already" know what they want to use, much less those who are "comfortable" using editors they have used for years. I had a collegue thinking about joining us, who came from an editing house that used AVID, stop by for a chat last week. I showed him some of the things we could do with FCPX, and he was floored because all he knew was what was said a year ago about how bad FCPX is. I had a project open with multiple layers, compositing, a bunch of titles and effects for a local College. He just could not believe how easy it was to preview and manipulate some of the plug-ins that were only available for FCPX. So, with all do respect Tony, not all editors really know what they want, if all they know is what they are comfortable with. I know folks who said they will never even give FCPX a chance becasuethey say all it is, is "iMovie Pro", when that is far from reality. Comfort is a major major factor in editors switching form what they have used for years. And when you work for clients who do have high expectations for Video Production, what I turned in for client "A", would have been laughed at by Client "B". But in a pinch when a project needs to be turned quickly, and still look like a bunch of hours were spent on it, FCPX is faster than anything with comparable hands at the helm. And there are many editors making money using nothing more than iMovie and other entry level editors becasue its all they can afford. The need for video is growing due to social media, thus the need for editors. And if what you said is true: (I think that this article is really not meant for those that do this "professionally", but more for the person maybe just getting into it.)... Then I can't say there was much bias in thier recommendations. Just a few ommissions of software that is either too expensive with steep learning curves, or just not any better than what was already mentioned. I want to stress one thing that I think is key, and that is Plug-In Development. This should be a very important to "anyone" either switching editors or looking for more creativity. And no other editor...and I mean not one has more Plug-In development than FCPX! Adobe Premiere/After Effcts is no. 2. It is a great thing to do what we can now do in FCPX without ever going to into Motion, again saving time and money. Avid, Sony Vegas, nor anything else can match its Plug-In support and as inexpensive. This has been Key to our production Value while keeping our costs low.

Tony P's picture

In my last post, I said that PC's reign as the virus champs. There was never any denial on that. But I also said basically how you get infected, and Mac's aren't immune to any virus attack as I pointed out what happened last year along with Apple changing their stance on being a "virus free" computing environment.  My PC's have been connected to the internet for years and I have not had one virus. I am not alone in this either.

As for FCP X, when it was first released, I asked a FCP editor (tv shows) what he thought of it. He and those he worked with didn't like it. It has been over a year now, and Apple has made strides in bringing "X" up to where those that used 7 would upgrade.

Maybe I did not make myself clear on this. You said that I said "But don't make the assumtion that those getting into editing to make money already know what they want to use...". What I said was "Those that do this for $$$ already know what they are looking for in a computer and software." referring to those that are already doing this, not just getting on board. They would know if they need "this feature or that plugin" to work for them, and if moving "on" in NLE's, they would look for those features. I also said at the end of my post "And anyone considering editing should consider all options on both computer platforrms. In the end, it's still a tool. In the hands of the right person, it can produce "magic". That includes anyone using anything from Windows MovieMaker/iMovie to anything else up the ladder,

I personally can not comment on the speed of using FCP vs Premiere vs Avid vs Vegas, etc. and avoid the NLE software "wars" about who has the most/fastest/best etc.. Each NLE has it's proponents. To me, it has never been which is best, because it is to some extent, largely subjective based on the user and what they are comfortable with, but what works for what you want to do, and to do it with as little"fuss" as possible.

I love these dialogs....it does open my eyes to things I might have missed.

 

worthjoh's picture

I have both a imac  27 inch desktop which I love. I actually don't mind using final cut pro x and I do still use imovie if I am doing something simple with no extra effects. I also have a toshiba laptop which does ok. I have pinaccle studio on there as well as a copy of premier. I do a lot in after effects as well.   I am disspointed in my laptop because at the time I didn't realize  the intel family chip would be such a hamper. I can't run  Andrew Kramers element on my laptop but not going spend more money when i just bought this one a few months ago. I have been watching  videos lately done on HIT Film. It looks like they have managed to combine both eiditng and graphic effects into one program.  Has anyone else used this and what are there pros and cons on it?

saltire's picture

Having read through the above posts  im kinda thinking that most posters are  well up to speed with  good spec machines and the current software available .

I was going to upgrade my pc a few months ago and before i did i purchased a Gopro camera  and my old pc just could not handle  it So i  bought  what i could afford  from a company called Chillblast its an i7 running at 4.20ghz, GTX 680 gPU, 16 GB RAM , SSD Drive , Asus p8z77 v pro mb , and win 8 64bit i did a bit of research before i purchased this pc , i wanted a Mac but to get the same performance i would need to spend at least another £800 which i did not have .

Now i have just seen a similar spec pc to mine but it is running Mac os  the guy calls it a hackintosh  and i just wondered if any one here has ever thought about doing this  .It seems like the best of both worlds super fast os but cheap to upgrade  in the future .

WilliamB's picture

I am in the process of building up a computer for simple home video editing.  I do not forsee doing a lot of 3d stuff or special effects, just quality editing on home movies, pictures for personal and family uses.  I am on a fixed income so cost is what is creating my dilemma.

 

I am seeking a reasonable cpu and motherboard that will not break the bank.  I have looked on line and am considering an Intel I5 with an ASUS motherboard but have noticed the AMD FX-6100 which is a six core and ASUS motherboard for less dollars. 

 

Any money I save on the CPU could then be added to ram and video card.  So I am asking if anyone has any ideas on a good CPU/motherboard combination that would give good service that is relatively low cost?

 

Any ideas are appreciated!

Here are is a link to SuperBiiz that has some great deals:

http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=FX-8350BOX

 

 

If you want the lower cost FX-6100 here is a link:

http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=FX-6100BOX

 

CPU benchmarks and value :

http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=AMD+FX-8350+Eight-Core&id=1780

 

Use IN2DARK coupon code for $5 off $15+ until May 20

Sony NEX-VG900, Panasonic TM700, GH2

Benjamin Bain's picture

Coming as someone who has had experience on the gaming side of outfitting computers as well as a little on the editing side, I have to say that this article is a little lacking... It doesn't talk about the differences between the progams that might make you want to alter your build a bit. For example: what programs use CUDA? what programs use OpenCL? I'm not saying there isn't beneficial information in here for the uninitiated, but for those who want to tailor their rig to run best with their program without just throwing more money than needed at the problem on one of those custom computer websites, it needs a little more material in it.

  • "Sometimes I wonder why I do these things, then I remember...because it's cool, haha"
neavissa's picture

Hi Guys,

 

New here, so be nice, ha ha. I am trying to put a Video Editing computer together, but I am not sure which route to take?! Sinlge or Dual CPU?! i7 or Xeon?! Those are questions I could probably aask in a general PC forum?! I just like to know what the difference in rendering time time would be, when comparing a single cpu to a dual cpu system?! 

 

thanks,

 

Georgios

Benjamin Bain's picture

Honestly I would go for single cpu. Sure a dual cpu would cut down rendering times but unless you're working on some legitimately huge and lengthy projects then you shouldn't really need it. If you're not concerned about the brand then an AMD FX 8350 would be a great way to go, but if you want an all intel rig then I would recommend either the 3770K or 4770K. personally I'm running with an i5 3470 right now (just bought a 3770k to put in my rig) and I usually run at or around 1.5-2 minutes for every 1 minute of video, but this is video that is chock full of color grades, filters, and light effects. I think the best question to ask yourself when building your system is "what am I gearing this for?" are you going for home movies or lightly edited youtube videos? are you going to film some documentaries or interviews and use your computer to edit those? or are you an aspiring film maker and plan to go "balls-to-the-walls" with some really artsy and visually intense indie project? That will also help you figure out what kind of video card you need as well.

  • "Sometimes I wonder why I do these things, then I remember...because it's cool, haha"
neavissa's picture

Thanks for the fast reply. Your comment basically told me everything I needed to hear, in order for me to make a decision!  I never even thought about asking, how long it takes in general, to render a file?! I am simply comparing benchmark number with each other. But who cares what these numbers are, as long you get the results your want. 2min rendering time, for each minute of video is good enough for me! And like you said, what am I going to need this for?! Just some home videos and some stabilization effects, in some videos I took with my Multicopter... I am also planning on using DaVinci Resolve. I spoke to customer support and he recommended the GTX Titan card. Which on are you using?!

 thanks again!!! Georgios

Benjamin Bain's picture

No problem at all!

Truth be told you should never trust any reccommendations with regards to customer support. Those guys are going to try and justify spending as much of your money as they can on a product that may be pretty epic, but is totally un-needed. Not to mention there are several multicard solutions out there that can give you the same performance if not better than those high end single card ones for far less money, like the Titan for example. I mean, comeon. My whole rig initially cost only about a hundred dollars more than that freakin' card, lol

Anyhow, currently my system is sporting a GTX 660 Superclocked but since I'm running dual 1080p monitors and want to preview my work as I'm doing it at best quality on the second screen, I'm opting for a second card to run it in SLI since it doesn't run as smooth as I like. aside from that little issue though I have no problems whatsoever with it :). If you're going for a dual monitor setup I would suggest no more than a GTX 680, Anything more than that is overkill.

Also, I don't know how it would change in performance with using DaVinci Resolve, (never even heard of that program) but currently I'm using Sony Vegas Pro 11 for all my editing with plans on trying out HitFilm Ultimate for better visual effects, if it runs like either of those two programs then you should have no problem whatsoever

  • "Sometimes I wonder why I do these things, then I remember...because it's cool, haha"
neavissa's picture

I agree with you on the sales rep 100%! However, I should have clarified it better... this was a customer support guy from BlackMagicDesign! I asked him also about a Tesla card for $3000 bucks and he said they are a waste of money and I am better of getting a GTX Titan...

 

What do you mean by "Mutlicard" solutions?! 

 

I have two Dell 24 inch monitors with a max resolution of 1920 x 1080, that I am planning on using. So it sound like the GTX 680 is the way to go... I tried finding out which one the GTX 680 is, but I am getting weird results?! Is this a card that is discontinued?! I understand that anything more than a GTX 680 would be overkill, but I like overkill, ha ha. (sometimes).

 

Take a look at this video here:

 

 

or even a better Reel

 

 

I never worked with it before, but as you can see, this software is a must! I am sure other programs have similar features... The Lite version is FREE! It can do almost everything the Normal version for $1000 bucks can do! You can always get the panel as well, if you have 29K lying around, ha ha.

 

Take a look at this site and tell me what you think?!

 

http://ppbm5.com/DB-PPBM5-1.php

 

They are basing the ranking on the Premiere Pro benchmark test. As you see, almost everyone is using a single CPU, which really surprises me! I would have thought that Dual Xeons run the show, but apparently not! You never know who the people are who go to this website and run the test?! Maybe the people that spend 30k on a system have no need to see how fast their system is, because the KNOW how fast it is, LOL... Anyhow, can you give me a link to the GTX 680 card please?!

 

thanks again,

 

G

Benjamin Bain's picture

Well, let's see here. What I mean by dual card solutions is crossfire for AMD and SLI for Nvidia. Basically combine two cards together to get better performance. For example, my 660 superclocked performs about 30-ish percent less than a 680 that's doing the same thing. If I combine it with a second 660 in SLI, then they will be working in tandem with each other and in the best case scenario, doubling the performance output. That is something that alot of gamers and editors on a budget tend to go for as an alternative rather than spending all they have on a high end single card.

As far as the 680 being discontinued goes, I wouldn't worry about that too much. Hell, we're already in the 700 series' lifecycle and I can still find 400 series cards. Granted none of them are the super high-end ones, but you shouldn't have to worry about that for a while.

Now, with regards to xeon dual cpus and all... In my mind there are 3 types of users in the realm of computer building, and this goes for both gamers and video editors (overclockers are a bit different so I'm not including them). But those three are: Budget users, the type who make a rig usually in the low to mid-high 100's to do what they want to do. Those are the kind of people who salvage old hard drives and do what they can with what money they have to squeeze as much power as they can out of their rig to get what they can. They usually are the ones who use multicard solutions the most on the low-mid end (dual 650ti's, radeon 7770's, etc.). Then you have the enthusiasts. people who stick around the 900+ dollar range where you see the biggest leaps in performance gains. Those people stick to the performance section not going any lower than a quad core intel or hex core AMD cpu with a healthy dose of memory and maybe an SSD in their system to speed things up. Now, on the far end of the lineup is the power user. Sure, they have truely epic rigs, (dual xeon cpus overclocked with water cooling, 96 gigs of ram, capable of running the computational code equivalent of a nationwide banking system as a screensaver, etc.) you do start to see more negative returns. They put so much more into their system, yet it isn't as much of a comparitive performance leap as it is from budget to enthusiast. Those people either have some horribly demanding programs to run in the midst of severe multitasking, OR they are just that much into getting every ounce of performance they can from their system with every upgrade imaginable.

All in all, anything over a single cpu solution in my mind needs a hell of alot of justification, 'cause I don't see it in the realm of video editing, or even high end performance gaming. I would show you a link to a 680, but right now I'm at work and the network blocks prevent me from posting any hyperlinks. I do, however, see one on newegg going for 379.99 on newegg that has 4 gigs of memory. If you can find that one then you should be pretty well set :)

  • "Sometimes I wonder why I do these things, then I remember...because it's cool, haha"