HD Video Editing PC - June 2014
A few years ago, your PC just couldn't be fast enough for digital video processing. By now every average PC is able to process Standard Definition (PAL 720x576) as well as HD Ready, but technology doesn't stand still. By now just about every smartphone can record in HD or Full HD and the new frontier is Ultra HD, also known as 4K. This resolution and the 'accompanying' codec HEVC / H.265 require seriously powerful hardware.
That's the reason why a powerful PC can still really make a difference. You need a fast processor, lots of storage capacity, and good monitor able to display HD resolutions.
HD digital video editing requires a hefty amount of processing power, and our video editing PC delivers that in spades. Often overlooked in off-the-shelf PCs is the power supply - a video editing PC will be running longer and more frequently at full load, which stresses the PSU quite a bit. We choose high-end components that will work fine for some years down the road, ensuring stable operation for the rig's entire lifetime.
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The basis for our HD Video Editing PC is a fourth generation Intel Core i7 processor, in this case the 'Haswell refresh' 4790 model. The overclockable K version is a bit more expensive, and overclocking is not something we recommend for this type of system. However, it's not that much more expensive, and it's not that challenging to have all cores run at turbo speed, which can potentially benefit multi-threaded workloads. So you should at least contemplate the 4790K.
However, the K version lacks support for TSX and VT-d I/O. Particularly Transactional Synchronization Extensions can in the future provide significant performance gains that likely will rival the gain you get from overclocking the processor. It's difficult to predict, but personally we would choose the non-K edition.
Intel processors are the best for this system, as AMD doesn't have anything that comes close in terms of speed, and features such as QuickSync are useful for video processing.
We recommend a minimum of 8 GB DDR3-1600 RAM. As long as it comes from a reliable brand and is covered by a lengthy warranty, the specifics hardly matter. Right now memory is pretty expensive and we picked a Crucial set mostly because of its relatively attractive price. So keep an eye on our Price comparison engine and feel free to pick another brand if it is significantly cheaper.
Based on our most recent tests, you can get a fine CPU cooler at around 40 euros. Models that cost twice as much do not deliver significant benefits as long as you don't overclock your CPU, which we are not about to do with this system.
Hence, we offer two similarly priced options: the Scythe Mugen 4 PCGH and the Cooler Master Hyper 412S. The latter is a bit cheaper and more compact, so we prefer that one. However, the Scythe is a bit better at cooling, though you likely won't notice the difference in practice. Both are nicely quiet.
Until recently we recommended a Z87 board with Thunderbolt, but by now it is pretty clear that Thunderbolt has utterly failed to gain any traction in the PC landscape, it is at best Apples new Firewire.
As such, you are better off saving the extra outlay and choosing a board without this interface. The Gigabyte Z97-D3HP is a great, stable Z97 motherboard without any unnecessary extras. Perfect for a machine such as this, as it does have all the connections and interfaces we do want.
For GPGPU applications in for example Adobe Premiere, you should have a grahics card that can deal with those. We choose the Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti, which offers sufficient performance, is very efficient and eminently affordable.
Our preferred version is Zotac's, which did very well in our tests - it turns out to be nice and quiet and is one of the few models of this GPU featuring a DisplayPort connector.
An affordable SSD with decent performance, more than enough capacity for the OS, your applications and a sizeable scratch disk for your video editing programs - that's the Crucial M500 240GB, offering a very low price per GB.
Hitachi's 7K4000 is still the fastests 4TB disk, even though it is by now rather old. If you want, you can install four rather than two for a RAID 0+1 configuration, but in order to keep the price down and because we already included an SSD for speed, we suggest two of these only, either in RAID-1 or RAID-0. For 4K editing, the latter option is advisable.
Not many people think Blu-ray in the PC is a great idea, but if you want to show off your own edited HD videos, you'll need a medium to do so. Hence, a Blu-ray burner. Our preference, the Plextor PC-B950SA, is no longer available, so we opt for our second choice, LG's BH16.
A quiet case that is good at cooling, a rarity, that is Corsair's Carbide 330R. It's even affordable, which makes it a great choice for this configuration.
For a Core i7 4790 running at stock speeds, a GTX 750 Ti and some disks, 450 Watts is quite enough power. We pick the Cooler Master V-Series Semi Modular 450W, our current favourite in this segment.
A decent desktop set is hard to find, but Microsoft's Wireless Desktop 2000 we liked more than most. A wireless keyboard and mouse, with encrypted connection, and a decent price.
A Video Editing PC doesn't need to have a surround speaker set, but decent stereo speakers can definitely be useful. The Edifier R1600T Plus is a 2.0 stereo set that look like normal living room speakers, but they're shielded and are equipped with a built-in amplifier.
The speakers produce a pleasant and clear sound that covers most of the frequency spectrum. The bass is modest, but the equalizer can add a little to it. The mids and highs are excellent, especially for this price segment. Their only drawback is that they take up a bit more space than your average standard PC speakers.
Image editing demands colour fidelity and video requires a great contrast ratio. Iiyama's ergonomic ProLite XB2483HSU offers both, and is acceptably priced. With two of these, you have room to work in.
An extra tool that is very good to have on an HD Video Editing PC is the ShuttleXpress by Contour Design, a compact multimedia controller. It makes Adobe Premiere very easy to use.
|Processors||Intel Core i7 4790 Boxed||£275.99|
|Memory modules||Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB DDR3-1600 CL9 kit||£29.99|
|CPU coolers||Cooler Master Hyper 412S||£34.99|
|Graphics cards||Zotac GeForce GTX 750 Ti OC 2GB||–|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Crucial M500 240GB||£91.52|
|Hard disks/SSDs||2x HGST Deskstar 7K4000 4TB||£239.18|
|Optical drives||LG BH16NS40||£80.41|
|Cases||Corsair Carbide 330R Black||–|
|Power supplies||Cooler Master V-Series Semi-Modular 450W||–|
|Keyboards||Microsoft Wireless Desktop 2000||–|
|PC speaker sets||Edifier R1600T Plus Black||–|
|Monitors||2x Iiyama ProLite XB2483HSU-B1||£446.58|
|Mice||Contour Design ShuttleXpress||–|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||£1,268.64|