Best New Computer for Video Editing under $3,000 USD


#1

Looking to buy a desktop for under $3,000 USD. I’m in the US.

EDIT:
I’m gravitating to these specs:

  • CPU - Single Intel CPU with multiple cores
  • GPU - Single, not SLI
  • RAM - 32-64 GB RAM in 4-8 DIMM Slots
  • Cooling - Liquid cooling for CPU as I want this machine to be quiet!
  • OS - Win10 64bit Pro to handle all the RAM

Keep the suggestions coming!

Currently have a 9 year old laptop as my main computer:

  • Sager NP9280 (Built on Clevo D900F)
  • Intel Core i7-920 (2.66GHz) 12GB RAM
  • nVidia GeForce GTX 280M 1024MB DDR3
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • 3 hard drives including 1 SSD as my main boot drive

Works well but just too slow for video editing.

The new machine will be my main PC to edit videos shot in 4K on my phone for uploading to YouTube, Photoshoping photos and other general computer use.

Happy to buy it or build it from parts. I’ve built computers in the past and I’m tech savvy. I even have a swiss army knife with a phillips head screwdriver. But I’m not up-to-date on the latest video cards, GPUs, CPUs and Ram that would serve me best in my price range.

I do not care about name brands at all, only what works best for the price.

Would be nice of the desktop wasn’t too loud as it will be in my living room and don’t want to disturb the family. Not sure if water cooling is still a thing or if there are quieter than fans thesedays …

So what would you build or buy as a new editing rig if you had $3,000 USD to spend?


4K Video Not Worth The Trouble?
#2

If I was building a PC with editing as my main priority I’d be sinking most of my money into a fast CPU, plenty of RAM (16GB+ for 4K video) and at least 2 SSDs


#3

I did spend 3k on a computer last year. I’ll put my build list and why when I get home. CPU water cooling is a must. Look at AIO water coolers. Water cooling uses fans.

I did spend up on the case, 760t Cooler Master .


#4

I’ll just drop this here again, it’s the updated version of the T7500 I currently use…

I’d probably start with a setup similar to this, at 1600 you’re getting massive cpu power(more cores and ghz than the T7500 on my list with a newer arch) 196Gb of ram and you just need to add drives and a gpu.


Drive wise I’d probably get a few of these for your edit drives, they’re not the fastest but at that price they don’t need to be

and the GPU is dealers choice, personally I like nvidia cards and blower coolers, it looks like the RTX blower cooler cards aren’t out yet but it’s hard to go wrong with a 1080 ti still


#5

i would say

  • ThreadRipper 2950X (16 cores, you can upgrade to 24 or 32 cores later)
  • 32GB RAM 3200mhz
  • 2x1TB Samsung 970 EVOs in RAID1
  • a bunch of 10TB hdds in RAID5
  • Geforce RTX 2070, Vega 64 or RX 580 8GB/1060 6GB

this would be a good setup, if you got 3k to spend heh


#6

@nwgat Welcome back! why would you suggest a threadripper chip? your results on your webpage seem to show AMD chips behind intel with the ryzen 1700x dancing around the i7-7800x


#7

Thanks for re-posting here. So many questions…

196 GB RAM? Holy cow! Is there a point of diminishing returns for a lot of RAM? My current PC has 12 GB.
[EDIT Looks like Windows 10 Home 64-Bit can support up to 128 GB RAM and Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit can support up to 512GB. So I would need Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit. Does Shotcut have any limit on how much RAM it can utilize?]

Two processors? Is that better than one of higher power?

Do you prefer Dell cases over someone like CoolerMaster?


#8

I prefer the precision workstations in general from a reliability standpoint, server/workstation components were built and qualified for 24x7 operation and offer features such as ECC memory although occasionally at the cost of modern features(IE the T7500 I’m using now is one generation too early for SATA3 although consumer systems were starting to gain it, replacing the default raid controller skips that issue however)

Two vs one cpu is 100% about application. Gaming performance? single cpu will be faster, the new i9-9900k would tear through a dual socket workstation even brand new ones. Something like video rendering here? depends on the core count and such, the cpu’s I suggested are 8 cores @3.3Ghz with a 4Ghz turbo and will be beyond overkill for video editing like you’re doing. that’s 16C32T@3.3-4Ghz

192Gb of memory is likely overkill but at those prices going with less is a bit silly, that generation xeon is quad channel so you need a minimum of 4 chips per channel, the tower itself is shipping with some(and some cpu’s that are getting swapped out just to make sure it has both heatsinks and one of the bigger power supplies) and the 128 as 8x16 means you’re getting 4x16 per cpu plus 4x8 to my knoweldge shotcut has no limit to what it can use and yes you would want 10pro(I prefer it anyway because hyper-v is available to me) for a side note the MAXIMUM that system supports is actually 512Gb in a 16x32Gb configuration but 256 is a saner number for most uses due to the cost of 16gb modules vs 32gb modules)


#9

I know nothing about server builds, but if you’re just wanting a better PC, I do recommend buying all new gear and building it yourself.

My computer build from last year.
Case: Corsair 760T (mis-stated earlier is was a coolermaster)
i7-7700k 4.2GHz Quad-Core
Deepcool Gamer Storm Captain 240EX-AIO CPU Liquid Cooler 240mm
32GB RipJaws V Series (2x16GB) DDR4 3200
ASUS ROG Maximus IX Hero Z270
ASUS ROG GeForce GTX 1070 Strix 08G 256-bit GDDR5
EVGA Super Nova 750W Full Modular 80+ Platinum
Multiple HDD’s, 2 SSD’s.

I really do recommend whatever you build, you cool that CPU with water cooling, and why AIO, because unless you’ve done water cooling before, if you don’t get the hoses/piping just right, it will leak. AIO’s are sealed units, but the heat will break down the chemicals on the inside and will corrode over time. Next year I will replace my AIO with a new one.

The reason for the case is two reasons, air flow, and ease of use in building, and re-building. Unless Full-ATX changes in the next decade or two, this case will last. The power supply’s fan is ported down, which the case allows for exhaust in that direction. No hot air from the power supply is inside the computer. I have the AIO mounted at the top, with the AIO fans pulling air inwards (huge debatable issue).

Although I have 32gb, I don’t use most of it, hardly go over 12gb. But I’m not a power user. I’m just a novice PC builder with limited experience who wants a better computer than what’s on the shelf with all of the manufacturer’s warranties. Buy a computer off the shelf and you’re going to be forced to buy additional warranty past the 14 day out the door warranty. I read a lot of the reviews in NewEgg about the popular products. I watch channels like Linus Tech Tips, JayzTwoCents and Paul’s Hardware. Although these channels focus on the latest and greatest, videos from a year ago, for what’s still available today is still relevant.

If you’re buying from Amazon, clearly try to find out if you’re buying new or used products. Especially graphics cards. There are tons of fake graphics cards out there, so beware if prices that look too good to be true. For PC parts, I’ve always dealt with NewEgg, and if possible sourced everything from NewEgg as the seller. I don’t care if it’s $3 more for each item. Never had an issue with NewEgg ever. Just my personal preference and opinion.


#10

Thanks for the suggestions. Keep 'em coming!

@D_S - Appreciate the info but the more research I’ve been doing has me focusing on:

  • CPU - Non-server PC single CPU with multiple cores
  • GPU - single, not SLI
  • RAM - 32-64 GB RAM in 4-8 DIMM Slots
  • Cooling - Liquid cooling for CPU as I want this machine to be quiet

@Hudson555x - I used to love NewEgg! They were my go-to merchant when I built my old desktop back in 2005. But in the past few years their return policy and customer service has tanked, even if you pay for their version of Prime. Really a shame.


#11

If that’s the case I would wait a month right now. The new i9-9900k just launched and we’ll surely see some benchmarks between it, ryzen and threadripper 2 and there will be price adjustments as well as general availability of more RTX cards.
Single GPU is definitely the way to go, the rule is usually the fastest single card you can afford, some stuff can scale to multi gpu but you’re better off with 1 big card than 2 smaller ones in most cases
4 slots is the limit of “consumer” platforms that’s Z370/390 for intel and X470 for ryzen from AMD, Intel consumer memory controllers cap out at 64GB the same for AMD
8 slots(or more) will be found on “prosumer” platforms this means X299 from intel and X399 from AMD(good naming guys…) In theory AMD has an advantage here with “1TB” memory support on threadripper where intel is limited to 128Gb however from a practical standpoint currently shipping modules limit them both to 128Gb
Liquid is “nice” but it’s not really quiet by default, a large standard heatsink can do just as well as a liquid cooler, sound is caused by the fans which liquid simply moves them to the radiator(and occasionally uses 2-3smaller louder fans on cheap AIO coolers), you’ll want to look for coolers for the platform you pick and there’s some good reviews on just how loud they are.


#12

I also agree with @D_S, that you don’t need to have liquid cooled CPU, and over an extended period of time, the temperature difference is not that much more than a larger heatsink with fans. But there are still fans involved with any cooling. And great motherboard software will detect when the CPU is heating up and it will ramp up the fans to meet the demand to keep it cool. There are serious debates about liquid cooling, even among how the fans are ported. I spent near 6 months learning all of the new technology before investing. Watched a lot of videos benchmarks, comparisons, etc. What I built works for me, and so far has not failed me on video editing, which I didn’t intend on doing any video editing when I built it.

Before you buy any motherboard, I would read it’s entire user manual before you buy. You can get them from any support site associated with that company. Know what your mobo, can and can’t do. If you do go with a larger heatsink, make sure you have enough clearance in your case. Yes, you’ll have to consider all measurements.


#13

A MONTH! I want it NOW!
But seriously, I expect I would get a low-end Intel i-9 with an eye to upgrading the CPU later. Also still considering an AMD CPU. People say it’s more bang for your buck but I need to see benchmarks with editing software. Lots of fanboys on either side so hard to discern fact from fiction.

I’d also probably only fill 4 of 8 RAM slots for upgrading later.

Really? I cannot imagine how a water cooled CPU would be just as loud as a fan cooled CPU. I need to look into that.

Thanks. I tend to over-do my research so no worries there.


#14

Regarding the benchmarks although they’re not using shotcut puget systems does some excellent work benchmarking various things this premier pro article being a perfect example

Regarding the noise question this is a good example of a review(with a few other AIO coolers as comparisons)


And this is an air cooler(different site toms hadn’t covered the 212) the review is a few years old but the 212 is still a very popular cooler
https://www.anandtech.com/show/2366/5

Between the two at max fan the AIO liquid cooler is making more noise than the more conventional tower cooler. Now that all needs to be measured based on actual cooling performance and there are other examples that are quieter or louder in both camps but It highlights that an AIO loop isn’t a magic solution. Keep in mind that good thermal paste helps too, personally I’m a huge fan of the thermal grizzly kryonaut it’s fantastic stuff and can save you a few degrees over the cheap stuff if properly used https://amzn.to/2yyxkFv


#15

Greetings all,

This thread is very eye-opening to me, so I’d like to contribute my findings and learn how other people are taking advantage of some of the hardware recommended on here.

Most importantly to the OP, what program are you using to edit your videos? This is a Shotcut forum, but only a few of the hardware suggestions make sense to me based on my experience with Shotcut over nearly two years of heavy usage. Here are my findings so far:

CPU - With Premiere, “the more cores the better” is the mantra. With DaVinci Resolve, there is diminishing returns on CPU power because so much work is done in GPU. With Shotcut, I have never seen it utilize more than 8 cores at once (I suspect the compositor is somehow limited to 8 threads for multi-track projects), so my goal has been to find the fastest 8 cores I can get. My fastest render times have been on an i7-7700K because it has 8 cores at 4.2 GHz, the fastest cores available at the moment. The same project on a 16-core 2.4 GHz dual Xeon computer took twice as long to export because only 8 of the 16 cores were used and they’re half the speed of the i7-7700K. I’ve tested this theory across Linux and Windows 64-bit on a wide variety of personal and corporate hardware, plus a variety of export codecs (as in, the deblocking filter of H.264 is not the thread limiter). My favorite processor, however, is the 12-core i7-8700K. It’s a minimal drop in GHz (none if you do a slight overclock), but it gives you 4 extra cores to run other programs while Shotcut chews up 8 cores exporting in the background. I also love the i7-6/7/8700K because they have the Intel Quick Sync instruction set (the Xeons and AMD processors do not). If you want a speed boost for previews and experiments, encode with QSV. You don’t need to buy a GPU for NVENC if you have QSV. I still revert to pure CPU for the final export (delivery).

RAM - For 4K video, Resolve is unlikely to use more than 32 GB of RAM. As for Shotcut, I have a Linux box with 24 GB of RAM that renders multi-track 4K videos without ever hitting the page file. 16 GB is the minimum for 4K. I would recommend 32 GB to be safe, and anything beyond that will only be productively used if you run additional programs during an export. Processor choice also has an effect on RAM. If you have 2+ sockets, you now have a NUMA topology and your RAM is likely to get split evenly between sockets. So if you have 32 GB of RAM and 2 CPU sockets, there will be 16 GB of RAM linked to each NUMA node (CPU socket). Whenever a processor needs data that’s in memory belonging to another socket, there is a cross-socket overhead in transferring that data between nodes. It adds latency to a memory fetch. You will get faster access having a single processor that has direct and exclusive access to all the RAM. The usual case for multiple sockets is if you’re using Premiere (or some other NUMA-aware editor) and have enough cores to outrun the latency and enough RAM to minimize the need for cross-node transfers (“go big or go home”). The other multi-socket scenario is if you’re running Xeons because ECC memory is a studio requirement. The disaster scenario is running a non-NUMA-aware editor like Shotcut on a multi-socket computer where all the RAM and threads can’t be allocated to a single CPU. Fetching memory from a different node can cause up to a 20% performance drag.

GPU - This is where your choice of editor really matters. If you’re running Resolve, then a 1080 Ti is the price of admission and you go on with life, end of story. If you’re running Edius, then Quick Sync or a GPU makes a huge difference for preview. But if you’re running Shotcut, I’m genuinely wondering what people are doing that would harness even a percentage of a 1080 Ti’s power. Shotcut has long maintained that GPU acceleration is an experimental feature, and I can vouch that it’s a bad idea for serious production work. Weird stuff will happen and there’s no trivial way to “downgrade” an MLT project from GPU to non-GPU. Re-creating your project as non-GPU will delay any deadlines you have. So I never have GPU acceleration turned on for export. This also decreases the chance of cross-platform compatibility issues if you render on both Linux and Windows in your environment. However, the Shotcut UI still uses GPU acceleration to draw its screens. On the aforementioned i7-7700K with built-in Intel HD Graphics 630 GPU on Windows 10 64-bit, I have never seen the GPU usage go above 40% unless lots of color grading is involved. Why spend hundreds of dollars on a GPU if the built-in graphics can handle it? If you’re running a 3D modeler or other software, that makes sense. But for Shotcut alone, I love the i7-6/7/8700K because it saves the cost of an additional video card for simple projects.

Cooling - Everyone has an opinion and I respect that, but my very strong preference is for air cooling. When I build a computer, I want it to run continuously and silently, unmodified, for 10 years minimum. (In my collection is a 10-year-old HP Z600 workstation that renders Shotcut videos in 4K using a home-grown proxy process for editing, and it still works great.) Water cooling has potential to be louder than air cooling depending on the pump and fans. Tubes are difficult to install if you’re new to it. AIO units are easier but the tubes still deteriorate with heat and must be replaced or they will leak. With an i7-8700K and a Noctua NH-D15S, all that’s needed is compressed air to kick out the dust bunnies every year and you’re good to go. And it’s silent, which is critical when doing an audio mix. A big case with unobstructed airflow helps a lot. I’ve had great success with the Fractal Design R5 case.

Storage - Since you are using a cell phone as your video source, your files will probably be compressed with H.264/265. It is extremely unlikely that your processor can chew through that video fast enough to saturate a magnetic HDD’s throughput. If you were editing CinemaDNG, then yes, going to RAID or SSD or NVMe makes sense. But for H.264 video, you can get way more TB-per-dollar by getting magnetic storage over SSD. I have even edited projects with H.264 media on an external USB3 drive and the drive was nowhere close to being the system bottleneck. So, this is where you can choose among other priorities since speed isn’t an issue for a media drive (when Shotcut is involved at least – Resolve is a different story). For instance, you might still choose SSD if you need shock tolerance, magnetic resistance, or absolute silence. Some notes here… if you’re using Linux, the drive will need to support TLER, typically meaning datacenter or enterprise-class drives. Enterprise drives to me are the way to go anyway because they have higher MTBF and won’t choke your throughput in the name of saving power like consumer drives may do. WD Gold is an option, but those are too loud for my liking. WD Re is an older drive, but capable and quiet. As for OS and scratch drives (if using Resolve), I go straight for NVMe over SSD. The price difference at 250 GB is negligible but the performance boost is noticeable. The 10-year-old Z600 workstation I mentioned earlier has OS on NVMe and boots in four seconds to Linux Mint 18.3. On the occasion that Shotcut crashes, an instantaneous restart is a massive sanity saver. Plus, NVMe means two less cables cluttering the inside of my case and blocking airflow. The convenience and sleekness has a wow factor when you actually try it.

OS - If you go the single-chip route with 128 GB or less of RAM, you only need Windows 10 Home. Only you can determine if the Pro version is worth the extra $80.

Now that I’ve shared my specs, here’s my experience. I haven’t found any hardware configuration for Shotcut that will preview native 4K compressed video without epic lag. It’s like streaming a movie over a dial-up connection. Glitch city. I am not criticizing Shotcut – I am pointing out how massive 4K video is from a computational standpoint. To get around this, we use a custom process to transcode 4K videos to 480x270 all-intra proxies, do the editing on the proxies, then swap back to the 4K videos for the final export. This has worked great for us and we love Shotcut for the luxury of pre-compiling proxies outside of Shotcut to our own spec.

All that to say, if Shotcut is your editor of choice, your fastest and most useful computer in my experience will be an i7-8700K with air cooling and no extra GPUs unless you’re heavy on the color grades. If you source it carefully, this box will only cost you $1,500. With the other half of your $3,000 budget, you could buy a Panasonic G85 camera with Olympus 60mm f2.8 Macro lens and have THE BEST electronics and soldering close-up videos on the whole Internet. Seriously. I’ve sourced hundreds of hours of video from a G85. It’s practically unbeatable at its price.

So, that’s been my experience. Hopefully something in there is applicable and useful to your situation. What about everyone else? Has anyone found improvements in export times or reduced their preview lag by using Threadripper or high-end GPUs? What is the actual GPU percent used on your projects? Has anyone else noticed the 8-core limit during export, or is something about my configuration limiting Shotcut? We use Hyper/Lanczos as the export scaler, but that doesn’t seem to be the bottleneck either. I’d love to break through this barrier if possible.

All the best to you, and good luck with your videos. They sound interesting.


#16

CPU
Shotcut can and will scale past 8 cores, it does depend on the filters you use and the codec in question, below is a screenshot of the fire escape benchmark in x264 mode, I’m a touch on the storage bound side but it’s making the most of 24 threads, codecs like AVCHD are stuck at single thread though thus my suggestion of e5-2667 v2 which is 8c16t and up to 4ghz, a balance of both worlds with a pair of those


RAM
Qmelt in my experience rarely needs more than 8gb ram for exports however more can be used by the gui and some gpu’s will page in/out of system memory as well, I suggest paying attention to the cpu’s channel count and aiming for 32+ due to the low cost on used workstations(and their tendancy to use quad/triple channel memory means less than 32 might not fill all the channels) Numa awareness can be avoided using SMP settings in the bios to simply abstract it away from the cpu
GPU
The suggestion for a gpu comes down to the screen choice as much as the editor, since gpu’s like the 7700k use system memory for their ram they can slow down a lot on 4k panels or in multi monitor scenarios, throw some games into the mix(which I imagine he plans to based on this old system) and something like an RTX 2070 would be the suggestion when it’s available
Cooling
I agree with you here, my T7500 is air cooled and rarely breaks a sweat even at full load
Storage
With 2TB ssd’s below 300 there’s little reason to not build even a sata working space and use magnetic storage for archival and a small nvme ssd as a boot device, plus with 4k cameras below 300 as well the phone may not be his source of video for ever(I personally own this camera and wrote the review here https://www.pocketables.com/2018/07/z-camera-e1-the-b-roll-bombshell.html )
OS
With pro offering additional features such as hyper-v and remote desktop hosts it generally works out as a better os(but I’m an IT admin and use those even at home so…)

And on a closing note 4k previews work fine on my desktop, but it’s dual x5690 xeons with a 660Ti(I need a new gpu) he could probably get the E1 with a decent lens with the parts he’s considering as well as an audio solution(like an H4n from zoom or a tascam 44 model) if he needs it


#17

OK, keep in mind that last time I did a deep dive on this stuff was 9 years ago when I bought my laptop.

TBH TIL that Intel CPU generations are denoted in the second number divided by 1,000. I always thought the first ‘i’ number mattered most. Now I see why my 9 year old Core i7-920 was so slow, it’s basically pre-generation 1 of Intel’s ‘i Core’ CPU line!

So I’m still playing catching up. Everyone’s detailed input has been awesome and is helping me up the curve!

Now that I’ve got a better idea on the Intel CPU landscape, I see why waiting totally makes sense.

Thought about upgrading my current PC to more RAM to tide me over but I’m maxed out at 12GB (3x4GB).

Given that the 9th generation Intel CPU chip benchmark embargo lifts and they also start selling them on October 19th at 9am Eastern Time, I’d be crazy to get a new PC now.

Even if I want to go for an 8th generation (because the motherboards will support an upgrade to 9th generation) the prices on those chips and boards should start dropping after Oct 19th.

FYI, I would be mainly using Shotcut for editing but I may check out Davinci Resolve or Adobe (shudder). I also use Photoshop for pictures and may play some games. Multitasking while encoding would be desirable, too.

Would also probably get 2 M.2 or U.2 SSD drives (one for OS/programs and one for scratch) and then use a large regular HD for storage.

When do you think we’ll hit the sweet spot will be for buying an 8th generation build?


#18

Blockquote
Would also probably get 2 M.2 or U.2 SSD drives (one for OS/programs and one for scratch) and then use a large regular HD for storage.

If you plan on going for a multi SSD pcie array you should look towards AMD threadripper or HEDT from intel. Both of those platforms have far more PCIe available for storage and avoid limitations of the DMI design for multi ssd arrays on intels consumer platform. Personally I’d lean towards the asrock Tachi series boards(available for both platforms with similar conveniently) either way avoid realtek and killer networking i’ve seen nothing but issues from it.

Blockquote
FYI, I would be mainly using Shotcut for editing but I may check out Davinci Resolve or Adobe (shudder). I also use Photoshop for pictures and may play some games. Multitasking while encoding would be desirable, too.

Definitely check out the puget systems articles I linked then, most of their stuff is adobe focused for video work but it’s an excellent starting point.


#19

I’m leaning towards the Intel i7-8700K CPU because I can get a Z370 motherboard (looking at the Asrock Taichi board reccomended by @D_S) which will support an upgrade to a 9th generation CPU later on. Plus those boards are new enough to have current features but have been out long enough to have plenty of benchmarks and reviews for research.

I looked up NVENC. Seems like software implementation is spotty, similar to SLI.

How do you encode with QSV? I didn’t see that option in Shotcut. Or do you mean convert the source videos using QSV (e.g., with Handbrake) and then load them into Shotcut and encode the final render as normal?


#20

The Z390 will also enable an i7-8700 to i9-9900k upgrade and I would recomend that as the Z370 is no different(outside of the cpu power delivery) than Z270 and all the new features(like native 10GB usb) are part of the new 390 chipset. We’ll see the full reveal of the 9xxx chips and z390 later this week, depending on the savings “upgrading” down the road might not be a worthwhile investment(why save 50-100 now to have a cpu with no where to live next year and spend it again on a mainboard?)

Regarding NVENC and QSV they’re hardware accelerated encoders, shotcut supports QSV on windows as of 18.10 however the files delivered are much larger(1.75gb vs 294mb on a 10 minute clip) and only gained me ~25%(6 minutes vs 8) on the export. NVENC would be better as the nvidia encoder is more flexible but not as good as cpu as far as quality is concerned.(I ran this test with an i5-7600K on windows 10 pro and a samsung 840 pro)

On the note of “editing formats” I’ve been playing with HuffYUV since @shotcut called attention to it in another thread, it works wonderfully but the files can be quite large, at 1080P30 I’m seeing a ~28GB file size typically I haven’t tried it for anything 4k yet.