In this article, we’ll highlight our picks for the best desktop computers for video editing on the market today, then go over the main points a potential buyer will want to consider in choosing a new editing system.
Best performance workstation
Dell Precision Tower 7920
When it comes to power and customization, the Precision Tower 7000 Series has you covered. Dell’s 7920 tower offers options for both single and dual Intel Xeon processors along with up to four AMD Radeon Pro or Nvidia Quadro graphics cards. Maxing out at an astounding and totally unnecessary 3TB of RAM and with space for up to 10 storage drives, the Dell Precision Tower 7810 is fully customizable to meet even your most demanding post-production needs. The base system is reasonably priced at around $2,000, but the cost can rise quickly depending on your selected options.
Best budget workstation
This bare-bones workstation certainly won’t give you the fastest render times, but it will get the job done. Starting at just $680, this system includes an Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU with up to 16GB of RAM and a discrete Nvidia GeForce graphics card with up to 4GB of VRAM. For budget-conscious video editors without aggressive deadlines, the Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 series is a good option.
Apple 27-inch iMac
Apple’s 27-inch iMac may not lead the market in maxed-out performance, but it’s still no slouch! This all-in-one features some of the most advanced technology and design and comes equipped with a quad-core Intel processor, up to 64GB of RAM and an AMD Radeon Pro graphics card with up to 8GB of VRAM. With these specs, the 27-inch iMac has more than enough power for 99 percent of us out there. It also offers more features than a traditional tower through its all-in-one design. We love the big and bright 5K Retina display, built-in speakers, and a small footprint — all of which helps reduce desktop clutter. The overall hardware design is second to none, and it also features some great wireless accessories to keep your workspace clutter-free. The Apple 27-inch iMac starts at about $1,800.
Best workstation for editors who also love to game
With support for processors up to the 8-core, 16-thread Intel Core i9 and Nvidia GPUs up to the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti with 11GB of VRAM, this system is ready for both professional video editing and high-end gaming. The Asus ROG Strix GL12 can be equipped with up to 64GB of RAM and has lots of room for expansion. Styled for gamers, the case includes a transparent side panel so you can show off your components with customizable lighting effects. Pricing for the ROG Strix GL12 starts at $1,000.
How to Choose
There are a few core specs that you’ll need to consider regardless of form factor, including CPU, GPU, RAM and storage. For an in-depth look at these key components, read “How to Choose the Right Video Editing Workstation.”
The tower form factor
The foundation of your new workstation depends a lot on what form factor suits your particular needs. Does your workflow and space requirements demand an all-in-one solution, or can you make room for a full-size tower to maximize performance?
With a tower, you simply have more room to fit more parts which translates into more capabilities and better performance.
Aside from being able to choose a really cool looking case with RGB lighting and flashy components, towers can be the best route to go with when the absolute most power is needed. With a tower, you simply have more room to fit more parts which translates into more capabilities and better performance. Plus, you’ll have plenty of room in the case to fit large components such as an oversized CPU cooler — great for overclocking, which means even more power — and a big league graphics card, or maybe even two! You’ll also be able to fit more hard drives and solid state drives, providing a vast number of storage possibilities. Although professional tier components can be pricey, they are still more affordable than specialized components designed to fit in all-in-one workstations.
Advantages of an all-in-one system
However, choosing a tower does limit your mobility. Typically if you choose a tower, then it will likely remain stationary in your edit bay or home office. Towers can also take up a good amount of space. Having all those extra parts could lead to more problems, too. With additional hard drives, cables, and other components, there are more places for things to go wrong, which makes troubleshooting that much more difficult. While towers can be extremely powerful workstations, consider their lack of mobility, and the potential pros and cons before buying.
Whether you’re the kind of producer who is mobile or not, an all-in-one workstation may suit your needs. An all-in-one workstation is just what the name implies — it has everything you need in and of itself to work. All-in-one workstations can also help keep your workspace free of clutter. These compact workstations have been stepping their game up over the last few years, too. They’ve been getting more powerful graphics cards and processors to the point where they can take on the heavy lifting of post-production work.
Unlike with a tower chassis, these all-in-one workstations make it difficult, if not impossible to upgrade the components when the time comes. You’ll probably need to buy a whole new system instead of simply upgrading the graphics card, for instance. On the other hand, upgrading parts in a tower configuration is pretty easy, so you can keep your system at the top of its game for a longer period of time.
Which one is right for you?
Getting a workstation that’s configured to suit your workflow is key. Remember what specifications are important to your line of work, keep in mind the factors which make each component powerful and be realistic about how much power you’ll need. Getting a new workstation is a fun and exciting experience. Do your research, enjoy the process, and soon you’ll be editing on a new workstation.
Contributors to this article include Odin Lindblom, Devin Hujdic and the Videomaker Editorial staff.
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