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.