Minimum Requirements for Video Editing Laptops and Desktop Computers
– Hey, everybody. This is Roberto Blake of RobertoBlake.com, geeking out with you today over something very technical. Today, we’re gonna talk a little bit about the minimal requirements you need for a video editing computer. Whether you’re on a laptop or a desktop, video editing is gonna take a lot of resources and power. Not as much as you might think in some cases, and more than you might realize in others.
So I’m gonna break it down in real simple terms for you, what you need and what you don’t, and how much it’s gonna cost you to really have an effective video editing machine. We’re not gonna go on the high end of this because 4K video and a lot of things like that are not practical for the far majority of you, especially if you’re doing stuff here on YouTube or on the internet. Most of you honestly can get by with the laptop you have that’s between $350 and $600 for basic video editing. I’ve been doing that for years, and it works out really well. If you’re doing more advanced stuff and you’re doing filmmaking, you might have different requirements. So let’s at least talk about the bare minimums here so that you can figure out what you need and I’ll have recommendations on some affordable video editing laptops and some pre-built configurations of computers, both from Apple and Windows for you in the description below, so maybe that helps you out with a buying decision. The main components that affect your video editing capabilities and performance are your CPU, your hard drive speeds, believe it or not, and your RAM, and of course, your graphics card.
Let’s talk about the CPU first, because that’s the brand of the computer, and that’s the first thing, probably also one of the more expensive parts of this. Look, if you’re doing basic video editing, you can get away with i3 processors for simple stuff. This iMac is old, you guys. This has i3 processors in it, and it’s done the far majority of the videos you guys see here on the channel. And when it wasn’t, my laptops were doing it, and those had i3 processors until I got the newer Asus laptop that had an i5 processor in it.
So, you can go i3, you can go i5, you can go dual-core, and I would say as long it’s two gigs or better, two gigahertz or better, then you’re fine in terms of speed. Ideally, you want more speed. You want three or four if you could get it, but look, you can get by with two gigahertz processors. You can get by with Pentium Dual-Core processors. Like yeah, you can go back to Pentium, Pentium B, Pentium M, and you could still get this done. So, you don’t have to have wildly expensive, massive computer power to do video editing.
At least, as long as it’s basic. If it’s HD video, fine, you can handle it. What you need is about six to eight gigs of ram as a minimum, and I would say eight is probably the safe spot to be in. I prefer, these days, to have 16 gigs or more. My desktop that I’m building, it’s gonna have 32. This has 12, I’m gonna probably just go ahead and upgrade it to 16 and call it a day, and my Asus laptop has eight gigs, and my Dell XPS 13 has 16 gigs.
So really, eight, 16, 32, those are the ballparks you wanna play in if you’re doing any kind of video editing. If you do anything less than that, it’s going to be a struggle. It’s not impossible, it just is not gonna be fun. Hard drive speeds are something everyone underestimates. Having a laptop hard drive, it’s a struggle. If you have an SSD in that laptop, then you’re better off. A solid-state drive is just gonna be a lot faster than a regular, spinning hard drive. If you’re gonna have a regular, spinning hard drive, you want a full hard drive. You want 7200 RPM, rotations per minute. That usually comes in the desktop. Some of the Macs went to a 5400, not as practical for video editing. You can get by, it will be okay. I’m not a fan of it.
Typically, you want to have what’s called a media scratch disk, which is a second hard drive that just is for temporary file storage for your projects and your media. And so, I think that it’s important to have those. A lot of people just use an external drive for it. I do that sometimes. The advantage of building your own desktop is you can put multiple hard drives in it. A lot of people with laptops, if their laptop has a DVD drive bay, an optical bay, they’ll usually just take that out and put an SSD in there instead, so that they have two hard drives, and that’s a much more efficient way to do it. If you buy an Apple laptop, you’re not gonna have that option. If you buy an iMac, you’re not gonna have that option. You’re gonna be limited to the one hard drive, and that’s gonna be the end of the story. This is why a lot of video editors prefer to actually build custom PCs or have very robust Windows-based laptops, is because of these powerful hardware options.
The next thing is GPU, your graphics card, your graphics processor. This is something that can be hit or miss. The graphics processors in onboard laptops and desktops, you know, the stuff that it comes with, usually is fine now. They’re actually really good. They’ve come a long way. You can edit and render video without a dedicated graphics card. What’s built onto the motherboard, 95% of the time is more than enough if you’re not editing 4K video or doing something extreme. If you have a dedicated graphics card, you will get better playback, smoother playback, and you’ll get faster rendering times. So if you’re doing something, and time is of the essence, or it’s really important, or you’re being paid for it professionally, having a dedicated video graphics card really does matter. You can get by with something affordable, though, it doesn’t have to be something very expensive. You can get a low-end Nvidia or AMD graphics card for under 100 bucks, 60 bucks, and it’s more than good enough. It’s better than the onboard graphics most of the time. The more expensive stuff is 250, 500, and up, and up, and up. The important thing is to make sure that it has the right speeds and it has the right bandwidth to it.
I prefer 256-bit cards, 128 is fine. It’s good enough for most of you. If you’re gonna edit something higher end, 4K video, you wanna do color grading, you wanna do all that stuff, maybe a 256-bit card is the way you go, and so that’s what I would say about it. So these are more or less your minimum requirements when it comes to video editing. Get a dedicated graphics card, or at least a very good onboard graphics card, eight, 16, or 32 gigs of RAM, a CPU that has at least two gigahertz processor, dual-core, quad-core is gonna be better. More cores are usually gonna be better. Prioritize clock speed over the amount of cores whenever possible. And of course, have a fast drive, whether that’s an SSD or a hard drive, just get the fastest drives possible. SSDs are usually better when it comes to video editing. Last thing I’ll touch on is monitors. You really want a nice monitor for playback. The brands that I prefer for monitors, if you’re going outside of the Apple ecosystem, are Dell, Asus, and LG, and Samsung.
Those are the four ones that I would recommend. If you’re into gaming, a lot of people recommend BenQ, and those are fine, I’ve seen them, they are tremendous, but I have my preferences, and those are what they are. Those are the ones I have experience with, those are the products that I’ve used the most, those are the ones my friends recommend as well, and that I see other professionals using, so that’s where I’m coming from. Well, I hope this helps you understand the minimum requirements that you need for a video editing computer, whether it’s a desktop or laptop.
I’ll probably make a dedicated video just talking about desktops for video editing, laptops for video editing, and what you guys need to know, especially now that it’s 2016, a lot of the tech has changed. And so, that’s what I’ll probably be doing in the future here. If you guys want more videos like that, let me know in the comments section. Happy to help you guys out. Remember, links to everything I talked about are in the description below, and so, go ahead and use those. Anyway, like this video if you like it. Don’t forget to subscribe. Check out the other awesome stuff on the channel. I usually do tech stuff on Tuesdays, so make sure you’re checking that out. As always, you guys, thanks so very much for watching and geeking out with me over the minimum requirements for your video editing system.