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Best GPU for 4K video editing and rendering – top high-end and budget graphics cards

Our favourite budget and high-end graphics cards for video editing
Last Updated on April 15, 2024
Asus ROG Strix Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics card alongside its packaging.

In the realm of video editing and production, 4K resolution has firmly established itself as the benchmark for superior quality. When it comes to the best GPU for 4K rendering and editing, there are specific requirements and considerations that one must bear in mind to achieve seamless workflows and impeccable results.

Video cards play an integral role in ensuring that your editing software runs smoothly, your renders are quick, and your previews are crisp, especially when dealing with 4K content. With that in mind, you’re going to want as much GPU power as you can afford. Luckily, we’ve tested all of the latest video cards so will guide you every step of the way towards what GPU is best for you.


Products at a Glance

How we picked the best GPU for 4K rendering and editing

When selecting the best graphics cards for 4K rendering and editing, we lean heavily into hands-on testing and real-world performance metrics. Benchmarks can give a good starting point, but nothing beats the experience of scrubbing through a 4K timeline, applying color corrections, encoding, and exporting final edits to see how a GPU truly holds up.

Additionally, we consider feedback from professional editors and video producers. Their insights into how different graphics cards perform in long editing sessions, with various software, and under different workloads, offer invaluable guidance. After all, theoretical power is just one side of the coin; consistent, reliable performance under the demanding conditions of 4K editing and rendering is the real litmus test for the PC. While not a necessity, gaming performance was also factored in. Not every video editor will be associated with gamers on the whole, but the pastime is important and may well go hand-in-hand with the editing you’re currently doing.

If you’re looking for something a bit more gamer-focused, we have a ton of guides on GPUs that will fit your niche, like the best budget gaming GPU. For those completely new to PC building, our handy step-by-step guide will aid you in the process.

Our Recommended

Product Reviews

  • Stellar performance in GPU rendering and vidoe editing
  • Significant FPS boost in Unreal Engine tasks
  • Massive improvement over previous models, confirned via our testing
  • Ultimate gaming card making it perfect for both work and play
  • Premium price tag, but worth it if you're serious about video editing
  • Potential overkill for casual users
  • Requires robust system compatibility - so ensure there is no CPU bottleneck

Diving right into the heart of this behemoth, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 operates on the latest Ada Lovelace architecture, boasting a staggering 16,384 unified pipelines. With 512 TMUs, 176 ROPs, 128 ray tracing cores, and an additional 512 Tensor/AI cores, it’s clear this GPU isn’t messing around. Its core speeds flit between a stable 2235 MHz and can boost up to 2520 MHz while providing a theoretical performance of 82.6 TFLOPS for both FP16 and FP32. As we stated in our RTX 4090 review, the card delivered outstanding performance against our test games, as well on benchmarks such as Blender.

For enthusiasts of the Unreal Engine, this GPU is a game-changer, providing around an 85% uptick in frame rates against the RTX 3090 models. But it’s in GPU rendering where the 4090 truly shines. Our performance data, as well as real-world use of the card, suggests rendering tasks could potentially be twice as brisk as when performed on the RTX 3090 models, or even four times speedier than on the older RTX 2080 Ti.

So, who’s this card really for? For those deeply embedded in GPU-intensive tasks like high-end rendering or complex video editing, the RTX 4090 is a no-brainer. It’s essentially a turbocharged workstation in GPU form and one of the most high-end graphics cards on the market. However, always be sure your current setup can handle this powerhouse, both in terms of software optimization and physical space.

  • Optimized for professional applications
  • Robust 4K rendering capabilities
  • Enhanced stability and reliability
  • Not ideal for gaming enthusiasts - very much a 'work' card
  • Premium pricing for the Quadro series
  • Overpowered for basic editing tasks

The Nvidia Quadro RTX A4000, stemming from the highly respected Quadro lineage, is engineered specifically with professionals in mind. Paired with 2560 CUDA cores, 320 Tensor cores, and 40 RT cores, this GPU ensures rendering and editing in 4K is more fluid than ever, with accelerated ray-tracing and deep learning (DLSS) capabilities on the side.

While the GeForce series often grabs the spotlight in the gaming domain, the Quadro series, and the RTX A4000 in particular, is laser-focused on content creation and professional applications. For video editors, especially those working with 4K footage and higher, this Nvidia GPU provides both stability and power, ensuring that timeline scrubbing is buttery smooth and that render times are substantially reduced.

Who does the Quadro RTX A4000 cater to? Simply put, it’s tailor-made for professionals looking for a balanced combination of performance, reliability, and optimized software compatibility. Whether you’re a videographer, 3D artist, or architectural visualizer, the Quadro RTX A4000 is a robust tool in your arsenal, ensuring your work gets the precision and speed it deserves. The downside? It’s not ideal for those who want more from the PC than just video editing. So, if you’re looking for an all-rounder, and you can stretch your budget, we would recommend the RTX 4090.

  • Exceptional raw performance for the price
  • Competitive price point and great for gaming as well as work
  • Stellar results in DaVinci Resolve Studio
  • Subpar ray-tracing capabilities
  • Noticeable power consumption increase
  • Make sure you pick the right card as performance and price can vary

The AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX is another card we’ve had significant hands on with as part our RX7900 XTX review. Standing tall with its AMD Navi 31 graphics processor, this AMD beast pushes the envelope in terms of raw performance. Flaunting a commendable base clock of 2300 MHz which can boost up to 2500 MHz, combined with a generous 24GB GDDR6X VRAM, this graphics card seems tailored for high-intensity tasks. Our full RX7900 XTX benchmarking data can be seen in our review.

With a focus on high-resolution tasks, AMD’s graphics card becomes an immediate contender for professionals, especially those dabbling in the realms of 8K+ video editing and extensive VFX rendering. The robust VRAM alone offers a sense of reliability, ensuring that large scenes or real-time engine workflows face no bottlenecks. Its performance in DaVinci Resolve Studio is especially notable, matching, and sometimes even surpassing its pricier counterpart, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080.

So, who’s the target audience for the RX 7900 XTX? Undoubtedly, it’s the video editors, VFX artists, and professionals who want a potent combination of performance and price. With performance metrics rivaling some of the top-tier GPUs and a price that doesn’t break the bank, the RX 7900 XTX is an enticing proposition over any Apple Mac product. The downsides? Don’t expect ray tracing performance or efficiency on par with similar Nvidia cards, which in this case would be the RTx 4080 / RTX 4080 Super at a push. For the best overall experience, pair the XTX with a strong-performing Ryzen or Intel CPU. We would also point out that performance and price can vary between models, so we would recommend our testing card, which was the ASUS TUF Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC variant, should you want to replicate the results we achieved (providing your rig is of similar spec).

  • Affordable entry into 4K rendering
  • Energy efficient
  • Perfect for beginners and learning enthusiasts
  • Limited VRAM so opt for the 16GB version if this is a concern
  • Might face bottlenecks in complex workflows

The RTX 4060 Ti may not be the most powerful card on the market, but there’s plenty of power there for those who want a solid video editing companion. Under the hood there’s 8GB of VRAM, and as we found in our testing for the RTX 4060Ti review, it’s still a decent card to enjoy 1080p and 1440p gaming, making it a solid all rounder for those who game and then like to edit videos of their performance. Given the newer Super cards are now out, you can expect plenty of discounts on the older card in the coming months. There’s also a 16GB variant of the 4060Ti which doubles VRAM to 16GB, for those wanting a bit more headroom for $100 more than the 8GB.

For those on an even tighter budget, the Nvidia RTX 3050 could also be worth a look. Built around the Turing architecture, this card provides a base clock speed that’s decent for its tier. Equipped with a satisfactory amount of VRAM, it caters to entry-level 4K rendering and editing tasks. When you step into the realm of 4K rendering and editing, every bit of performance counts. However, not everyone needs the sheer might of top-tier GPUs, and this is where the RTX 3050 shines. It’s the go-to card for budding professionals or hobbyists who are taking their first steps into 4K workflows and want a high frame rate at a reasonable price.

Features and considerations

The intricacies of 4K content mean that your hardware must have a substantial amount of VRAM. Higher VRAM and memory bandwidth allows the GPU to handle large textures and files more effectively, which is crucial for 4K media. Alongside VRAM, the computational power of a GPU, measured in teraflops, becomes pivotal when rendering intricate scenes and animations, or applying complex effects.

Furthermore, when delving into the world of 4K editing, one must also consider the GPU’s compatibility with specific editing software suites. Software like Adobe Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve, and others might have optimized performance with certain GPUs. Also, make sure that the rest of your PC is up to scratch. So, before buying any GPU, check for potential bottlenecks with your CPU, and ensure your PSU can handle the demands of greater power draw if you do choose to upgrade.

Our Verdict

In the dynamic world of 4K rendering and editing, picking the right GPU and CPU can often feel like walking through a maze. From beasts like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 to more budget-friendly options such as the RTX 4060Ti, there’s a powerful graphics card for every user and every budget. It’s essential to remember that while all the GPUs discussed offer capabilities for 4K tasks, the best choice largely hinges on the complexity of your projects and your budget constraints. Whether you’re a seasoned professional in need of unrivaled performance, a newcomer dipping your toes into 4K waters, or you’re just in need of the best budget graphics card for editing, there’s a GPU on this list tailored to your needs.

To that end, the very best GPU for 4K rendering and editing remains the RTX 4090, a total beast of a card that doesn’t compromise. It’s a pricey and beefy GPU, but certainly worthy of the accolade.