Hand placing a computer component on a motherboard

There are two things every video editor despises: interruptions and waiting around. The worst kind of interruption is clients coming in at the last minute and changing everything. This is made worse when you finally finish your client’s edits at the end of the day, but instead of going home, you’re twiddling your thumbs, waiting for the computer to finish doing its thing. To turn this headache into business as usual, we’re always looking for the latest computer hardware. In this guide, we will review the best PC components currently on the market to help you build a powerful, custom computer for video editing.

A few things to note before we get started: With our picks, we’re not trying to break the bank, but the best PC components aren’t cheap. The good news is most editors won’t need smooth 8K playback for quite a while. Future-proofing is a nice concept, but with such rapid development, it’s a concept that just doesn’t work in practice. Instead, we’re aiming to maintain a high level of satisfaction over the foreseeable future.

Another point of note is this is a guide for video editors. If you want a workstation-level computer, we recommend buying a pre-made workstation. If, however, your goal is to build a video editing computer yourself that you can be proud of, you’re in the right place. Our goal is to point out individual components geared toward a video editor’s workflow that fill each role admirably. However, interoperability is not guaranteed, so do your research. We’re noting the technologies creators should consider and some wonderful parts that utilize them. With that, let’s get into it.


Best CPU

Intel i9-14900K

Strengths

  • Single thread performance
  • Quick Sync
  • Price

Weaknesses

  • Lower multithread performance
  • Less PCIe Express lanes than AMD Ryzen Threadripper
  • Power efficiency

If you caught us on another day, this category might be a runaway, but we can’t tell you how much we went back and forth on this decision. We’re going to give the nod to the i9-14900k with a few caveats. Intel nudges out the competition here due to its single-threaded performance, Quick Sync technology, and price, which are the biggest points for most editors. If editing software could greater diversify the utilization of Threadripper’s super-high thread count, it might be a different story. As it stands, benchmarks only see it pulling ahead in 8K and higher resolution video editing and rendering. Those two cases just don’t justify the three times higher price bump to the 7960x. Threadripper’s also got new socket and special RAM requirements which make it a more technical build. These will drive your overall cost even higher. If Adobe begins supporting more cores, or AMD adjusts the price then it’s a whole different ball game. Likewise, if you’re already into 8K rendering speed is paramount, perhaps you should consider Threadripper. Just make sure money is no object and you’ve got expert build skills.


Best budget CPU

AMD Ryzen 7 5700G

Strengths

  • Overclockable
  • Power efficiency
  • Integrated graphics

Weaknesses

  • No AV-1 decode
  • Lower turbo frequency than i7-11700
  • PCIe 3.0


Okay, so we know we’re sacrificing PCIe 4.0 support here. However, this is the budget category. If you really want to save, we feel justified in sacrificing some speed for the ability to jettison the need for an expensive discrete graphics card. It’s still more than adequate for HD and then some. If you’re uncomfortable with this, you could go with the AMD Ryzen 7 5700X instead, which supports PCIe 4.0. Either way, you’re better off than the similarly priced Intel options.


Best RAM

G.SKILL Trident Z5 RGB Series 64GB (2 x 32GB)

Strengths

  • Speed
  • XMP ready
  • Less than $20 more than the 6000 series

Weaknesses

  • Price
  • Must revert to base clock with four sticks
  • Motherboard compatibility limitations

Faster than most other DDR-5, the G.SKILL Trident Z5 RGB Series 64GB is more powerful than a dozen open programs and is able to handle 8K in a single bound. It’s also XMP ready. At two sticks, it leaves room for later expansion on most motherboards. Finally, if the way your RAM looks is something you care about, it’s totally rad.


Budget RAM

OLOy Blade RGB DDR5-6000 32GB (2 x 16GB)

Strengths

  • XMP ready

Weaknesses

  • Still a little pricey for those on a severe budget

If you’re just looking for good speed and enough power for 4K video, the OLOy Blade RGB DDR5-6000 32GB (2 x 16GB) delivers. And if your motherboard has four slots, you’ll still have room to push to 64 GB for less than $100, which puts you in 8K territory.


Best GPU

ASUS GeForce RTX 4090

Strengths

  • Will satisfy far beyond video editing

Weaknesses

  • Price

There are several problems with rating graphics cards. First, the most expensive almost never means the best. One must also heavily consider return on investment. The absolute top of the line graphics cards often cost so much that they often fail to justify the performance differential compared to dropping down a tier or two. Branding is also a mess. A higher model number doesn’t always guarantee better performance. Then there are workstation cards to consider. While they’re better at 3D rendering, many other aspects that used to make them preferable for edit builds have found their way into gaming cards. All things considered, this time we feel justified in going with the current top of the gaming list. Both AMD and Nvidia have wonderful offerings. Even Intel has some praiseworthy offerings, but the GTX series is hands down better at rendering. All benchmarks considered, and given all possible roles an editor might be tasked with performing, this is the current best card for a video rig.


Best budget GPU

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060

Strengths

  • 3D rendering performance
  • Faster GPU-based effects

Weaknesses

  • Lags behind RX7600 and A750 in Premiere benchmarks
  • Still a little pricey for a strict budget

Starting at around $300, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 cards have enough horsepower for a decent 4K workflow and may get you through even higher. They also offer a 3D rendering performance that leaves the otherwise similarly performing AMD RX 7600 and Intel A750 in the dust. We think this is a good tradeoff for the slightly higher price over the other two. If you don’t plan on doing any 3D rendering, AMD offers better performance in many Photoshop tests. Also note that Intel is new to the market and looking to inspire interest, so look for frequent sales where it can be almost half the cost of the others. With budget expectations, you can’t go wrong with any of them.


Best system drive

Samsung 990 Pro 1TB

Strengths

  • Speed
  • Reliability

Weaknesses

  • Cheaper offerings available with nearly the same benchmarks
  • 2 TB version is not as fast

For quite a while now, 512 GB was the recommended OS hard drive size. If pressed, you could probably still survive with it, that is only if you are planning on using a separate cache drive. So it’s time to say that’s just not enough anymore. Nothing is more annoying than having to stop your workflow to manage disk space. With NVME prices so affordable these days, there’s no reason not to bump up. Incredible speed, reliability, and breathing room from an industry leader, that’s the Samsung 990 Pro.


Best budget system drive

MSI M461 M.2 2280 1TB PCI-Express 4.0 Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Strengths

  • PCIe 4.0 for half the price

Weaknesses

  • Older technology
  • Slower
  • Not as power efficient

This was a decent drive in its day, but now that they’re practically giving this one away, it’s a reason for the ultra-budget minded to celebrate. At the time we write this, the 2 TB version is about the same price as the Samsung 990 Pro 1TB. It’s also a great option to fit into those secondary M.2 4.0 slots as a cache drive.


Best motherboard

MSI MEG Z790 ACE MAX

Strengths

  • Wi-Fi 7
  • Tons of super-fast I/O
  • Onboard diagnostics

Weaknesses

  • No 10G Ethernet
  • No onboard Display Port or HDMI
  • Price that induces tears

MSI took one look at the market and saw video editors wanting more affordable boards that offer a little bit more than the standard. In response, they released the MSI Meg Z790. With two PCIe 5.0×16 slots, one 4.0×16 slot, four DDR-5 slots (192 GB max) with XMP support, one Gen 5 and four Gen4 M.2 slots, dual Thunderbolt 4 ports, HD 7.1 audio, six SATA 6 ports, and eight USB 10 Gbps ports, it’s hard to think of anything else an edit computer would need.


Budget motherboard (Intel)

ASUS Prime Z790M-Plus LGA 1700

Strengths

  • Three M.2 slots
  • Supports Thunderbolt-4

Weaknesses

  • 1GB Ethernet
  • TB4 requires an add-on board
  • Limited overclocking

While there’s no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, you still get PCIe 5.0 and DDR-5. The motherboard also offers a 20GB USB-C port and a 10GB USB-A port. It’s actually amazing how little you sacrifice with this board.


Budget motherboard (AMD)

ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS

Strengths

  • Compatibility
  • Connectivity

Weaknesses

  • No onboard Wi-Fi

We felt we needed to include an option that would work with our budget CPU. The ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS offers a lot of bang for your buck. With HDMI 2. 1 and DisplayPort 1. 2 output support and dual M. 2 slots (NVMe SSD) — one offering PCIe 4.0 x4 connectivity, it has great compatibility. Though, sadly, there’s no onboard Wi-Fi. Still, if you want to save on your motherboard, you can’t go wrong with the ASUS TUF Gaming B550-PLUS.


Make a system built for video editing

In the end, you’ll want a system that is definitely built for professional video work but not necessarily state of the art. That’s a lot of power to sit idle while you decide where to make that next cut. State of the art computing power also comes with a premium price. Be realistic about what your workflow demands, and don’t spend more than you need to.

For more information building your own PC, see “Your Step-by-Step Guide to Assembling a Video Editing Computer from Scratch.”

Contributors to this article include Peter Zunitch, Odin Lindblom and the Videomaker Editorial staff.