Editing in 6K: Minimum system requirements

These days, most modern computers can handle some level of video editing. Most even come with basic video editing software pre-installed. However, if you have a project that requires better performance and the power to process lots of information quickly, then you have to start exploring your options. Let’s go over what you need if you’re planning on taking the daunting yet rewarding task of editing to the next level. These are the minimum system requirements for editing 6K video.

About 4K, 6K & 8K video editing

4K, 6K and the more advanced 8K all represent steps in the progression towards ever crisper, clearer and more detailed footage. Just as editing 4K requires more resources than editing full HD, editing 6K video is more intensive than editing 4K video. With the increase in resolution comes larger file sizes Your editing system, in turn, must be equipped to process more data more quickly in order to provide a smooth editing experience in 6K and beyond. If you plan to regularly edit 6K video, you need a computer that can handle the job. 

More complex projects require more resources

First, just like with any project you embark upon, you have to familiarize yourself with what works, what doesn’t and what you will need for a typical project. A documentary project will likely require more storage space, while a 6K project with lots of special effects will need additional RAM and a faster GPU. Choose your components according to the kinds of projects you most frequently work on.

Minimum system requirements for 6K video editing

If you want to do some significant video editing in 6K, then you need and editing system with the right specs. That will ensure your editing software can run smoothly on your computer system while editing 6K video. The higher the resolution of the video, the more power you’ll need to edit it. Even if you currently use a system that can handle 4K files with ease, you’ll still see reduced performance when editing in 6K. If you need an introduction to computer system specs and their impact on video editing, check out our guide to computer shopping.

When considering computer performance, the main components to consider are the processor (CPU), the graphics card (GPU), the RAM installed, and the capacity of the storage drive. Generally, you’ll want at least a quad-core CPU paired with lots of RAM (32GB+), a powerful GPU with at least 8GB of dedicated VRAM, and fast storage, ideally consisting of multiple high-capacity solid-state drives.

Here’s what you’ll need, at minimum, to edit 6K video:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 9700K 8 core or higher, or AMD Ryzen 7 3800X 8 core or higher. Multi-core Intel X-series processors and AMD Ryzen processors both offer sufficient processing power for 6K editing.
  • RAM: 64GB DDR4 RAM. If you can afford more, get more. This is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to beef up an editing system. More RAM allows you to work on longer projects without issue and to have more programs open at once.
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 or higher, or AMD Radeon Vega 64 OC or higher. Note also that Adobe products are known to perform better when paired with Nvidia graphics cards.
  • Storage: You’ll need at least 256 GB in storage space, but more important than capacity is data throughput — ideally 550 MB/s. You need a fast drive in order to keep up with the demands of 6K video editing.

Keep in mind that editing a simple 1-minute video is different than editing a 1 or 2-hour documentary with multiple layers of video, audio and graphics. The more complicated the project, the more resources it will require for editing. It’s vital to know your project and your budget before taking on any overwhelming project. You don’t want your computer crashing every few minutes or freezing up on you.

When film editor, Vashi Nedomansky, edited Scotty Waugh’s film, 6 Below, it was the first feature film he edited natively in 6K. Since 6K files are nine times larger than HD, he used custom made workstations with 20-core processors, equipped with 128GB of RAM and NVIDIA Quadro M6000 12GB video cards, just to handle the pixel power he needed for real-time playback. This project shows why it is crucial to anticipate the demands of your project so that you can build a system that supports your workflow.

Choosing software the works for your project

Editing software is constantly being updated, before you decide which editing software is right for you and your project, make sure you check their websites for updates to see what formats are supported. Make sure your editing software can support the file type and resolution you plan to shoot in to avoid having to transcode your footage. Most pro-level editing software now supports 6K and 8K resolutions, but many consumer-level editing programs do not offer this feature.

You’ll also want to check the minimum and recommended system specs for any post-production software you plan to use. This can help predict how the software will perform on your editing system.

Make sure your editing software can support the file type and resolution you plan to shoot in to avoid having to transcode your footage.

For more information on choosing the right editing software, see our editing software buyer’s guide.

Know your display

While 4K monitors are becoming more common, 6K computer screens are still rare and expensive. You can edit a 6K video project without viewing the footage on a 6K monitor, but you won’t be able to watch your project at its full size. In most cases, this won’t affect the look of your final project, since the majority of work done today will be delivered in resolutions 4K and below.

If you plan on editing a lot of 6K footage, you may want to upgrade your monitor. Even moving from a full HD display to a 4K display will be an improvement. However, color accuracy is often more important than resolution when it comes to video work, so keep that in mind as you decide how to spend your monitor budget.

Editing 6K without upgrading your hardware

There are options that will allow you to edit video in 6K, even if your computer system has difficulties supporting hi-res video and you can’t afford to upgrade your hardware.

Many editors use proxy video files to make their workflow more manageable. In a proxy workflow, high-res footage is transcoded to a lower resolution and bit rate so that it plays back more smoothly on your editing system. Before the final export, the low-res placeholder clips are swapped out for the original high-res footage. Proxies could save you tons of time and provide faster turnaround time on your project, making it possible to get your project out into the market faster.

Another option involves decreasing the playback resolution in your editing software. Advanced editing software such as DaVinci Resolve or Adobe Premiere Pro allows you to adjust the playback resolution without going through the proxy creation project. Switching the playback resolution down to half or even a quarter of the full resolution can make it easier to efficiently edit 6K video. 

Final advice

The ever-advancing technology of digital video is brimming with new ideas, innovation, solutions and equipment faster than the world rotates. If you plan on editing in 6K, then you need a powerful computer with a faster processor, a hefty amount of RAM and a higher-end graphic card compared to your everyday desktop. Storage and monitoring solutions may need upgrades as well. Overall, you can expect a significant jump in system requirements and upgrades, but if you frequently edit 6K, the improved editing experience will be worth the leap. 

Stephen Mandel Joseph
Stephen Mandel Joseph
Stephen Mandel Joseph is a published, professional writer and director of several Sci-Fi 3D animated shorts and a short drama film.

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