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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40 Comments

Spy Black's picture

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,.

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.

Leigh Miller's picture

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.

Leigh Miller's picture

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 take...life 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.

Leigh Miller's picture

I understood exactly what you wrote...so 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 ;-)

Wasim Ahmad's picture

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.

Spy Black's picture

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

Spy Black's picture

...if you run Adobe.

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

Spy Black's picture

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,.

Spy Black's picture

You are one sad puppy. Carry on...

get a paperroute mate,.

Spy Black's picture

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 ?

Spy Black's picture

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

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

Spy Black's picture

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.

Spy Black's picture

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.

Spy Black's picture

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.

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