Building a 4K Video Editing PC on a Budget in 2019

In 2019, it’s almost unthinkable not to be shooting 4K video, even if it’s not the final resolution of the video you’re delivering to a client. While I’ve made 4K editing work on something even as lowly as a 2013 Macbook Air, chances are, you’ll want a little more horsepower than that. Here’s a video that has you covered on building your own budget 4K editing PC.

While you may think you only need 1080p video, the benefits of shooting 4K extend beyond the final output. For instance, you may want to reframe or recompose your shots, and if you’re shooting 1080p, your leeway to do that diminishes greatly. 4K footage gives you the extra wiggle room to punch in a little bit. 4K footage scaled down to a lower resolution also creates sharper 1080p footage.

Coming at you from Linus Tech Tips is a PC build that looks at what really is the minimum to edit 4K video smoothly on Adobe Premiere Pro (with a little bit of After Effects thrown in for good measure). Some of the key things that Linus focuses on for this build are a dedicated GPU, a fast, multi-threaded CPU, mass storage, lots of RAM, and a fast scratch/operating system disk. With the pieces that were chosen for this build, the total price came out to $926, or less than the cost of a base model MacBook Pro, but with a lot more power.

Of particular note was how heavy some of the footage from common cameras is; Linus points out that footage from a Sony a7S II or Canon EOS C200 Cinema Camera clocks in at 17.6-40 GB per hour. Might be a worthy upgrade to get the largest drives you can afford for this build.

The video shows heavy amounts of 4K editing with no slowdown for at least two of the cameras used (a Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and the aforementioned Canon C200), but the third camera, the Sony a7S II, had a little bit of slowdown during scrubbing. This was rectified by converting the footage to Cineform, but that does add an extra step to the process, so Sony shooters might want to upgrade some of this build to handle the footage natively rather than following it step by step in this video. Most other shooters should be good to go, though.

While there are many off-the-shelf PCs to edit 4K video (my own choice was an ASUS gaming computer), and Macs offer their own benefits of using Final Cut Pro X, there’s something to be said for a “pure” PC build that doesn’t include the bloatware that most manufacturers (including my own ASUS) stuff into their machines that can’t easily be removed.

If you’re curious about attempting the build yourself, check out the video above to see what you’d need to buy to build this powerful budget rig.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Wasim Ahmad is an assistant teaching professor teaching journalism at Quinnipiac University. He's worked at newspapers in Minnesota, Florida and upstate New York, and has previously taught multimedia journalism at Stony Brook University and Syracuse University. He's also worked as a technical specialist at Canon USA for Still/Cinema EOS cameras.

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Strange, the video is dated Oct 29, 2019, but the hardware seems a bit too much dated. I started building a system about 2 weeks after that and I think the hardware I found will work better with the exception of nVidia-slaved software. I built a system around a Ryzen 7 2700X 8/16 core, Radeon RX 590 8 gig, 64 gig ram (albeit 3200, but FOUR times what he has in his setup), 1 gig SSD system drive, 120 gig SSD scratch disk, 4 gig mechanical storage, 650 watt bronze, and case for $1000.

linus system is faster than yours and for nvidia, didnt know Radeons had cuda cores,. i orderd a 3950x. when it arives i will be upgrading to an AMD 3950x, 64gb ramm, nvidia 1080 and dual 2 gb NVME drives. i already have some parts like 1 nvme and 1080, total cost for upgrade 1600 and a few cents,.

$1600 is not budget

yes it is, its my budget. if you think 1600 is a lot of money than you need to take a look at your financial situation. its only 20 percent more than linus system.

Dumbest thing I've read today...

Some people think $1600 is a lot of money, me included. And for the record this isn't a budget system. You don't need that to edit 4K video.

I'll say it again...its the software that's at issue. PP, matter of fact all Adobe software is notoriously buggy and slow.

you invest 600 more, you could even stick with 32gb of memory and make a few savings. but you can invest now in a 3950x which will serve you well for the next, lets say, 6 years or a lesser system that will serve you 3 years. when you look at it like that its a better choice. 400-600 divided by 6 years,. skipp a coffee per week from a coffee place, skip a package of cigarettes and you have it. infact i could say its what is important to you, a rocking piece of a machine or some things you dont need. and im not dumb, im smart my therapist says so.

That's a good way of trapping yourself financially...

This idea of built in "future proofing".

By the time 6 years rolls around that card will be obsolete. In fact it will be obsolete within a year.

Some of us have mortgages, children's education, car payments, INSURANCE, vacations to to enjoy.

Paying $1600 for something you can spend less for is the height of financial irresponsibility.

If you have deep pockets then by all means...$1600 is basically just $160 to ya...rock and roll.

if you dont bother to understand what i wrote than i cant help you. lower end systems get old very fast. a higher end system doesnt. my system is 5 years old and is working just fine. it has its expensive 1080 card with 32gb memory and nvme drive and a 31inch monitor. expensive, the investment was higher than a cheaper option but my monitor is 8 years old and like i said, the rest is almost 6 years old. you dont need the latest greatest is you dont play games, for adobe good is good enough. and if choose to be broke and spend your money on things you shouldnt have bought that is your choice. my pc was a good investment and earned its money back so fast it is helping me make money. i work in both IT and photography, both earn me money and if i have the need for more money, you know what i might just get in my old car that is pad for and go uber, skip holiday or something and i didnt buy a house i can barely effort. you can enjoy life without that starbucks coffee and if you put that dollar a day aside you can buy that good computer,. let me know what you have to sputter why this isnt true.

I understood exactly what you a fool and his money I guess...

spend your money wise or spend your money twice. who is the fool now huh? if you wanne spend dimes on a cheap pc that isnt a wise spend. if this is big money to you than i would ask for more pocket money,. hehehe ;-)

This. I can edit much more smoothly on Final Cut Pro X with far lesser specs, but the whole world (and all the schools I've taught at) is on Adobe, so FCP is relegated to my personal work.

The article is about a budget build. Whatever you spend is not relevant to me. I dont care how much you spend. Spy mentioned components that fit this topic. you come in "well thats shet and mine is better and I bought this and this and this" no one cares. Buy whatever your heart desires. Dont worry about other peoples financial situation. Some people may not see a reason to invest so much in a pc. Dont think that if a person isnt buying high end ANYTHING that cant afford it.

Not sure what you implied by Radeons with CUDA cores, which is why I specifically said the card will work better except for nVidia-slaved software. The RX 590 is far superior to the 1650, as is the 1660 in my other workstation. If you're gonna go with a GeForce, the 1660 is a better investment, even it will cost you around $100 more than the 1650.

like adobe which runs better on nvidia, therefor linus system is better than yours

...if you run Adobe.

i would rather switch to apple than i would step away from the creative cloud suite,.

Adobe loves suckers like you. Enjoy your Adobe cage.

i understand you are poor and thats why you hate Adobe, you cant effort it and cant play with the cool kids. adobe is bug free at the moment. i run 4 apps together for both images, video editing, sound and effects. works perfect. adobe is pretty much the default for photography and videography that is affordable. ask your parents or wife for some more pocket money and try it for a year. go on,troll some more,.

You are one sad puppy. Carry on...

get a paperroute mate,.

Keep going sad puppy, entertain us, don't stop now

cant you earn a little extra as a shoe shine boy at the local mall ?

Come now sad puppy, you can do better than that.

yeah but it feels like punching a millennial. not a challenge really

Now now sad puppy, no excuses. Entertain us! We're all having a good time watching show us how superior you are to us. Entertain us dammit!!!

okay, you could always go to your local hangout and "meet with the guys", free meal and an easy 20$ right there. withing a few weeks of filling your needs you can effort a grownup pc.

That's all you got sad puppy? I thought there was more to you.

you are not very constructive. you havnt liked one comment i made. if you puppy is sad, just take him out for a walk.

Sas puppy you're the one proclaiming superiority here, you shouldn't need anything other than your superior mindset to rise above us serfs, and so far you're making us look like gods.

where did i write that ? you do know God is a lie right ? its a lie told to dumb folk to keep them under controle. better say something nice or God will send you to Satan. hes watching you.

What's the matter sad puppy, are you beginning to realize nobody really cares about your superiority trip?

is that what you think ? but answer the question.

I did sad pupoy, you're just not payong attention.

It's not about affordability. I can afford Adobe CC just fine (and I am paying for it). It's just that as a consumer, I feel like that it's cloud model has gotten worse over the years - like they have a captive audience and so no need to innovate or make smooth software anymore. I still use CS6 stuff on one of my computers that's a little older and I can't honestly say there's been a whole lot different in Photoshop or Premiere Pro, and I regularly use both.

its how you want to look at things. sure it costs money but all those apps for a little money per month is worth it. and they do update their apps, so your always up to date. some updates i could do without. but like content aware fill is nice. i have cs6 somewhere, ill try that on an old system. thing i dislike is that i have 22 adobe apps and i dont need them all but i am paying for it. i dont use lightroom, new or old. i dont use character animator and there are others like dreamweaver. i wish they would introduce an option where i could just pick and choose and pay less per month. but paying for things you dont need or use you will find pretty much everywhere, even in your camera.

Ryzen 3700X or 3800X, 470 based Mobo, Radeon 5700XT, 32Gb RAM and two drives one for OS and the other for scratch.

That's the core of the system and all you need to do most work, You can get a 570 mobo for around £100 more. The 5700XT graphics is a far better performer in it's price bracket compared to nVidia (new encoding engine helps) as shown over at EposVox or LevelOne Techs

I've got to look into this Ryzen stuff. I've been building for 25 years and I've always gone Intel but it looks like things are changing.

AMD is leading the game, Intel is following. its a shock really. ryzen and its multicore is perfect for after effects and i think they are kicking ass on photoshop too with heavier workloads. pugetsystems did benchmark on adobe software using AMD 3900x 3950x and the bigger ones. very interesting to see its not that clear cut. on some Intel 10980x wins on others AMD.

Thing is AMD is future 'proof' in that you'll be able to stick next years CPU into the same mobo, after next year AMD will move to the next gen CPU socket. AMD have also moved to PCI v4 which gives double the bandwidth meaning you have breathing room for all your NVMe storage.

Bang for buck, TCO and almost every other metric apart from single core performance (and that's questionable in many cases) is a win for AMD from budget CPU/APU right up on to Workstation/Server. Intel has no counter, and won't have until 2021 at the earliest. Intel has hit the technological limits of their 14nm process and their backs are against the wall. Combine that with the continuing security issues that's killing their performance. The final nail in Intel's coffin is they're unlikely ever to regain their node technology lead. From a historical perspective once a company fell behind on node tech they've never regained it.

AMD will continue to dominate for the next 2-3 years. Zen 3 is already design ready and from rumours is going wipe any advantage Intel has left. For workstation/HEDT Intel has nothing that can compete, literally. Threadripper 3000 series is that good. Things will only get better for AMD as software becomes optimised for the Zen Arch (barring any shady tricks by Intel), you can already see this happening with certain rendering modules for 3D applications. Intel knew this by bring their embargo forward 12 hours for the 10980X (or whatever it's called) to avoid being compared to the new Threadrippers that released the same day.

You can tell Intel is in trouble when they resort to dirty tricks and dodgy marketing. I'm not writing Intel off, but for the next year Intel is going to be rehashing old tech. Intel has had no major breakthroughs with tech since Broadwell and it's been rehashes of that CPU since, hence why desktops was mostly stuck with quad core for the last decade. AMD has lit a fire and now offers a Ryzen 9 16c/32t CPUs for a fraction of what Intel charged a few years ago and if you want more horsepower then Threadripper offers that and more on tap.

that is indeed Intels problem. we had to deal with the security issues on intel chips. the AMD platform is killing it right now and for next years. when you look at the 3950x ryzen, its a crazy chip performance wise. when you go to threadtripper with its 64 core and 128 threads and 288mb cache thats not even funny how crazy that performance must be. when you see that adobe is optimizing for multi core and after effects works better on multi core where premiere is still more about higher cpu clock than you can imagen how fast this must be. 3D applications, just checkout pugetsystems benchmarks they put out. the 3950x is cheaper than the new intel chips and is way faster. this is the first time in over 20 years im considering AMD, well, im moving to AMD early next year. Ryzen is best bang for buck, threadripper is a bit to expensive.