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.

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Previous comments
Spy Black's picture

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

Dennis Johnson's picture

is that what you think ? but answer the question.

Spy Black's picture

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

Wasim Ahmad's picture

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.

Dennis Johnson's picture

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.

Daris Fox's picture

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

Wasim Ahmad's picture

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.

Dennis Johnson's picture

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.

Daris Fox's picture

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.

Dennis Johnson's picture

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.