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Best Computer for Video Editing

What to Look for When Choosing the Best Computer for Video Editing

For editing videos you need a powerful machine, which doesn't slow down. Here are the tips on selecting the best computer for video editing, and tips on building a powerful machine for video editing from scratch.
Techspirited Staff
While selecting a machine for NLE (non-linear editing), there are certain configurations that are a must. Before we start discussing them, let us discuss what's the best PC for editing videos. Is it a Laptop or Desktop? The greatest advantage of laptop computers over desktops is portability and the less space they occupy. But, trust me if you wish to do some serious editing, then having a setup fixed in a room works the best. Why?
Because, while editing you would like some quiet and peace, and put the setup in a room where your little brother/sister or pet doesn't disturb it. Also, while rendering videos (which can take hours or even a night) takes time, it is best that you have a setup in a room which doesn't get disturbed.
Laptop Vs. Desktop
The biggest advantage of having a desktop computer for video editing is that you can buy a powerful machine for a price which is half or one-third less of a laptop, yet loaded with the same features.
Another advantage of a desktop PC over laptop is that you can keep updating the hardware in a desktop, while updating laptop hardware is expensive and has certain limitations.
Also, with a laptop you will get a smaller screen, but with a desktop you can get a large screen, that will make the job of editing videos easy as you will be able to view the videos minutely.
So, yes, a desktop PC is the best machine when it comes to video editing. But, if you still wish to go for a laptop (maybe, because portability matters more to you), then there are two laptop models mentioned in the last section of this Techspirited article, which you can consider.
Why go for a Powerful Machine and not a Budget One?
So, why should you invest a bit more and go for the best powerful machine you can afford and not a budget one? There are many reasons why -
Because, you want to reduce time spend on rendering videos and increase time spend on actual editing.
Because, a powerful machine will not get outdated easily.
Because, you don't have to spend money buying upgrades.
Because, you don't have to be worried about the machine slowing down, if you have to store a lot of videos or install heavy software.
Features you Should Look for
There is a difference between configurations required for amateur video editing, and difference between configurations required for professional editing. If you are looking for basic editing, then you can use a basic configuration, but if you think you might need better and faster editing then look for these features in a machine. Remember, for HD editing you will need an even more powerful machine.
RAM
A good RAM is important, so that your machine doesn't slow down when you are installing a heavy editing software. A good RAM will also keep editing and rendering videos faster and smoother. Get a 16GB or more RAM installed. Athlon and AMD processors used to be the best, till i7 was introduced, so opt for Intel Core i7 processor.
Hard Drive
You will be installing a video editing software, saving editing projects, rendering one project in couple of formats, storing raw videos, etc. For this purpose you need a good hard drive, most computers today come with a basic 320GB hard drive capacity, which is not good enough. So, go for minimum 500GB or 1TB hard drive. You can keep a separate partition on the drive to store all your projects.
Graphics Card and Sound Card
Two important features required for video editing are a graphics card and a sound card. You can go for a minimum of nVidia GTX670 graphics card or NVIDIA Quadro 4000/5000 if you can afford it.
Motherboard
Also, an ASUS motherboard, which is a preferred choice for CG work and editing is a must. You should also have a good sound card, because when you are video editing you will need to venture into some audio editing too. Another thing you need to keep in mind when using a computer for NLE always, I mean 'always' use the latest driver for your graphics card.
Monitor
A large screen is essential, so that you can keep 2-3 windows open together. Also, the interface of an editing software is large. Having a large screen will allow you to edit and preview the video output, without scrolling the interface. Go for minimum 17'' screen if you are investing in a laptop. However, for desktop screen the bigger the better. In fact, many professionals prefer two monitors so that they can keep multiple windows open while editing. This saves times minimizing a window to go to the next; which means you can dedicate more time to editing. It also keeps the layers always visible, which means you don't lose track of what layer or frame you were working on.
Software
These were the hardware specs required, now about the software. The best video editing software for beginners are Apple iMovie and Wax. If you are considering professional editing software, then the choices are Pinnacle Studio Ultimate Version 12, Final Cut Pro 7, Avid Symphony 6.5, and Adobe Premiere Pro. Also, Windows 7 64 bit, is the best choice of the operating system, because it is stable and runs most of these software smoothly. Windows 8 is fairly new, so I would say you wait for some more time before making the switch from 7 to 8.
Best Models of PCs and Laptops for NLE
As you must have noticed the above configurations are easier and affordable to get in a desktop, however, if you wish to do basic home video editing then a basic laptop will suffice. Here are some options.
Assembled Machine
This is the best option of desktop PC for video editing, you can buy the individual parts separately and install them yourself or by a professional. This way you can cut down on fancy looking parts, and buy powerful hardware. Just buy the above mentioned parts, and add other basic parts like a cabinet, mouse, and keyboard to assemble your machine.
Instead of buying a computer, assembling a powerful machine always pays in the long term. This is because you will be having the freedom to pump-up the computer with the powerful parts of the best brands available. Also, going for higher configurations than the necessary, will ensure that your computer remains a powerful machine for years. So, you don't have to replace it every year with a new machine, which can get very expensive. You will have the freedom to update the individual parts whenever you feel the machine is not sustaining to heavy rendering or latest software. However, if you still feel that instead of building, buying the computer is better, then consider the below computer models.
HP Z820 Computer Workstation
It comes with a great sleek design and a large screen. This machine is efficient, and you can customize this machine with a graphics card of nVidia or ATI. It has large hard disk to store your projects, without having to worry about 'running out of space'. All in all, a good computer for video editing. HP has also introduced all-in-one workstation, if you don't want the tower then consider the all-in-one systems.
iMac
Many professionals say that iMac is the best machine out there for video editing. However, if you like working with a Mac interface or going to use an editing software which is compatible with Mac only, then go for a this desktop. You can select the i7 processor, 32GB RAM, 27'' monitor, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX graphics processor. If you want a laptop then go for 17'' Mac Book Pro.
HP EliteBook 8760/8770w Mobile Workstation
This is a good solution to the HP's desktop workstation, not the perfect replacement though. However, it is portable if that is what you are aiming for. It comes with many ports, a 17" display, i7 Intel Core processor, Windows 7, and a decent laptop battery life.
Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q880
This is a great looking model that has a red and black color combination. It is a great laptop for HD editing, has good graphics card, powerful processing, and all this in a decent budget.
You can buy a computer from the above choices, but from my personal experience I would say, go for an assembled machine, because it has far more advantages. However, if you are going for particular model of PC or laptop then go to their site and select the best specifications possible, to customize a fast machine. Good luck!