The Perfect Editing Computer?

Hi there. 

Backstory: So I'm starting out as an editor and everything is going great, I'm using my work's computers to do all of their editing and projects. I start to make my own projects and do them at my work but they slowly start loosing storage space. So i start editing at home on my PC then BOOM! My PC is no where near powerful enough to use hitfilm smoothly.


Question Time: I want to buy a new PC or possibly upgrade my current one. Buying one i think would be easier? 

If i had to buy one what would the best specs and components be? (ie. graphics card, memory, ram) and where is teh best place to buy them or a pre-built PC be?

Upgrading is also another option for me. I have a 4GB of RAM, 64bit OS,  Intel Core i3- 3220 CPU @ 3.30Hz 3.30Gz, NVIDIA GTX 650 graphics card, 148GB storage.

What needs to be upgraded and what doesn't?  

Thanks a lot,



  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,070 Ambassador

    First question I will ask is how much money you're willing to spend. There is no "Perfect" editing machine. My primary machine is a laptop purchased in December 2015. Right now I have THE fastest i7 out there, THE fastest GPU out there, the MOST and FASTEST RAM available and 1.5 TB of SSD storage, and I'll tell you--I wish it were faster.

    General notes. Hitfilm uses the GPU for most rendering with the CPU being used mostly for particle calculation and final frame encoding. In order of importance (In my opinion--trust me, by this time tomorrow you'll have a lot of discussion here) priority, from top to bottom is GPU (This is going to be the workhorse driving Hitfilm), RAM (more RAM is always better, and RAM is cheap), Storage (video files get huge--especially if working in intermediate codecs and proxies), then CPU.

    If you're not in a hurry, it might be worth it to wait a month... Nvidia estimates release of their newest GPUs in Q1, 2106--that's Jan through March. If the new GPUs come out next month, prices on older generations will drop in April.

    DO NOT BUY A DELL! There are some known issues with Hitfilm on Dell machines caused by Dell bloatware.

    With your current system, I would say everything needs to be upgraded. Your CPU and GPU are three generations old, your RAM is barely adequate to run the software, and you have a very small drive. That said, I gave my upgrade priority list already.

    If you're tech savvy enough building your own is always the best option for maximizing your power for your dollar. If you're going to have one built I recommend looking at online vendors that specialize in high-end gaming systems. Hitfilm is optimized for gaming cards, and these vendors will offer a much wider variety of parts than a preconfigured system from a direct vendor.

    Suggested MINIMUM specs:

    At least an Nvidia 780ti or higher--the 780ti is, as of Feb 2016, the "sweet spot" for power/price ratio. Also note with Nvidia cards, the hundreds digit is the generation number and the tens digit is the series number. You should be looking at a 70 or 80 for whichever generation you pick. As a random example the Nvidia 950 is slower than the Nvidia 880. If you intend on doing a lot of model/particle work, then you need to go right for a 970/980. Hitfilm doesn't support dual GPUs, so you don't need to think about dual GPU-SLI options. (No NLE takes real advantage of SLI... That's only useful for games)

    At least 8GB of RAM (16 or more is better) Remember Hitfilm has a RAM preview function and having more RAM is going to let you preview longer clips.

    At least 512 MB of storage--but over a terabyte is better. Ideally you could use multiple drives--keep your existing 148GB drive and make that just your OS and programs and add a second drive for your projects. If you have the budget and space, three or four drives is even better. One drive for OS, one drive for programs and cache, one drive for projects and a fourth drive to store all your music, stock media, library clips that you use a lot. For OS, Programs and Projects SSD is better for speed. For library assets this is where you can save some money but get a lot of storage by putting in a HDD. (Just copy media from Library to Projects when adding it)

    Finally the CPU. Meh, no strong opinions there. Once you've upgraded everything else worry about that. i7 is better than i5 or i3.

    Don't forget to think about your power supply and cooling. I'm pretty sure something like an nVidia 980 is going to pull more power than a 650.

  • I was just going to write a post about a new editing computer. My computer just got the Blue Screen of Death after having it for 12 years.

    So all this info is perfect!! Now I know what to get! Thank you!

  • Yeremyah
    Yeremyah Posts: 995 Enthusiast

    Pay as high and as much as you can afford for a PC.

  • eTV
    eTV Posts: 44

    @Yeremyah has a valid point with paying as much as you can.

    When it comes to computers it is kind of like a black hole. You can invest tons of money into it, and yet a half year later it is not the fastest anymore. 

    If I was to get a new one I would go for one of the X processors from Intel, meaning the i7 5960X (8 cores), or the 3960X (6 cores). From the tests I have seen is that you gain from having multiple cores working with this kind of software.

    One test showing After Effects is here:,3721.html


    The CPU's mentioned above is not the latest ones - Intel will release new ones in the near future, which will beat the above, but they are more shown as a reference.

    With that said, you need a motherboard supporting these CPU's, and RAM. The more RAM, the better.

    Otherwise I believe that @Triem23 summarised it very well in his comment. Don't forget the PSU, though if you are going for something state of the art, since you need to have enough power to run your rig too.

  • Andy001z
    Andy001z Posts: 3,152 Ambassador

    Guys I found a vid from 2015 by Sam and Niko (Corridor Dig) on Video editing PC building; Check out: