From cores and threads, to gigahertz and gigabits, building a PC and the terminology associated with it can be daunting, but we won’t be teaching you any of that here. Fear not, fellow filmmaker! There are plenty of online resources to brush up on your computer lingo. In this blog post, we’ll teach you a little bit about where to start when picking parts for your new PC build. There are a few things to in mind when building your video editing supercomputer, and they all revolve around one main point.

You don’t need the best of everything.

When you first begin shopping for parts, realize that you should be picking parts that suit your realistic productivity requirements. Computers can be configured in different ways to suit different needs kind of like how different vehicles are designed to complete different tasks. (You wouldn’t tow a trailer with a race car.) With that concept in mind, you can begin configuring a computer that best suits video editing. It will all come down to 4 components:
1. Processor,
2. Graphics card,
3. Memory, and
4. Storage.

Processor (CPU)

The most important component in and editing computer is the processor (CPU). Your editing programs will primarily use the CPU in your computer to complete tasks. When choosing a CPU, don’t be distracted by clock speeds. Leave those numbers for gamers to nerd out over. You’ll want to focus on cores count. In most cases, Premiere Pro and other editing programs benefit most from having more cores and threads to utilize. For 4k editing, we recommend getting a processor that has between 6 and 10 cores. Below 6 cores, you won’t get the smoothest performance. Above 10 cores, you’re simply paying too much for marginal performance. For our build, we went with the Intel i9 9900k.

Graphics Card (GPU)

Unlike gaming PCs, where your graphics card rules your world, editing PCs don’t need as powerful of a GPU. (Insert huge asterix here!) When simply video editing, the graphics card isn’t used much. BUT, if you use a lot of video effects in Premiere Pro, or you like to use After Effects, you’ll want to pay a little more attention to the GPU. Effects in Adobe CC’s applications are gaining more and more support for GPU acceleration, easing the load on your hard working CPU. We needed a decent GPU for After Effects and Blender work, so we went with the EVGA RTX 2070.

Memory (RAM)

Want buttery smooth 4K playback in Premiere Pro? Get lots of RAM. Want to be able to do the same in After Effects? Get EVEN MORE RAM. Minimum RAM for a proficient 4K editing PC is about 32GB, especially if you’re using Premiere Pro and After Effects at the same time. Memory clock speed is somewhat important too, but the rule of diminishing returns also applies here. We got 64Gb of 2666Mhz RAM.

Storage

When choosing storage media, we recommend dividing your storage system across 3 separate drives:

An NVMe SSD to install Windows 10 and applications on,
An NVMe or SATA SSD to store current projects, and
An HDD for general storage and finished projects.

An NVMe SSD will provide the fastest boot times and application opening times. Additionally, it will vastly increase footage transfer speed. However, once your footage is transferred and imported into Premiere Pro, your editing performance won’t be much better than a slower SATA SSD, which is why many people recommend using a SATA SSD as their project drive. We went with a 2TB NVMe SSD and repositioned our Premiere Pro and After Effects caches to it. When your RAM fills up, Premiere Pro and After Effects overflow data to their caches, and placing your caches on a fast drive will deliver a smoother editing experience.

We realize that building a computer – or touching anything electronic – can be a daunting task. Hopefully, this tidbit of information has provided some insight into how to get started. If you’re needing a bit more assistance, take a look at Josef’s Tutorial Time on the Joy Factory Show, or send us a message at joyfactoryfilms@gmail.com!

Happy editing, folks!