Best Graphics Card for Video Editing In 2021

Best Graphics Card for Video Editing

When you think of video editing, ensuring that you have a decent amount of RAM and a powerful CPU are the first things that come to mind. However, having a powerful graphics card will not only boost your performance but give you the opportunity to really make your videos/films shine. Many graphical elements such as special effects and motion graphics even require a top tier graphics card to even work, making it even more essential when working in high resolutions like 4k. With this list of best graphics cards for video editing, we’ve tried to give an option for all. Whether you want a top of the line graphics card for intense 4k video editing or a more budget friendly 1080p option, you should be able to pick one for you.

Our Verdict 

Choosing the right graphics card for video editing is always tricky but hopefully with the options we have listed above, you can come to a conclusion. If you’re hoping to edit 4k video with ease, of course the 2080 Ti and 2080 Super are the way to go. However, deciding between these two is where the deliberations occur. If you’re all about fancy effects and motion graphics, it might be worth shelling out the extra cash for the 2080 Ti to ensure your rig is full capable. On the other hand, if you are just using a lesser amount of said graphics, the 2080 Super is more than sufficient while saving you money in the process.

1080p is a different ball game, requiring much less overall power thus costing less also. You can get by with options like the AMD 580 XXX Edition if you’re on a tight budget but if you’re wanting that buttery smooth experience, opting for an Nvidia 1660 Ti, while more expensive, will keep you going for the foreseeable future.

Additional Information

When choosing the best graphics card for video editing, there are a number of different factors to take into account. If you didn’t understand any of the specifications given in the article above, or you just want a refresher on what they all mean, we’ve provided this section as a buying guide for your reference. Keep reading for a breakdown on each of the key specs we’ve provided, and what they mean to you as a consumer.

GPU Size

GPU Size refers to two different measurements. There’s length, in exact millimeters, and width, measured in slots. Slots refers to both the PCI Express slots that a GPU is inserted into and the slots in the chassis, while length refers to how far into the case the graphics card extends.

Of these two measurements, GPU length is the one that is more likely to cause compatibility issues, especially in a Micro ATX or Mini ITX PC build. Width is really only ever a concern if you plan on installing additional expansion cards, which has become much less necessary with improvements in motherboard I/O and USB adoption.

In any case, be sure to check GPU clearance measurements against those provided by the case manufacturer in specs. You wouldn’t want to buy a massive graphics card that you find out doesn’t fit on the day you’re assembling your build!

GPU Architecture

GPU architecture refers to the technology your GPU is built around. Every card in a certain GPU series will be built with the same architecture, starting with a “pure” version at the highest end. Understanding these will help you better understand the graphics card hierarchy.

Below, we’ve listed the relevant GPU architectures for consumers today:

  • AMD Polaris – Used by the RX 500 series, iterative upon past generations.
  • AMD Vega – Used by the RX Vega series and the Radeon VII, known for utilizing HBM2 and serving double duty as gaming and professional cards.
  • AMD Navi – AMD’s next-gen architecture. Likely to replace Vega and Polaris entirely.
  • Nvidia Pascal – Nvidia’s last-gen architecture, used by the GTX 10-Series.
  • Nvidia Turing – Nvidia’s current-gen architecture, enabling features like real-time ray-tracing in the RTX 20-Series. The GTX 16-Series is also based on this architecture, but without the extra processing cores for ray-tracing features.

Clock Speed

Clock speed isn’t very useful as a method of comparing different GPUs, especially not across different architectures. If you’re familiar with CPUs, it’s pretty much the same here: clock speed is generally only effective at comparing GPUs with the same architecture. In some cases, clock speed may only be useful for comparing different models of the same GPU, which further complicates matters.

A reference design of a graphics card is one released by the manufacturer as a baseline for others to work with. Nvidia and AMD both release reference designs, which are then iterated upon by companies like MSI and EVGA.

These new designs use aftermarket coolers and may even result in shorter or longer cards, as well as higher out-of-box clock speeds. When a card ships with an above-reference clock speed, this is referred to as a factory overclock, and you will find it is very common in the GPU market.

VRAM

VRAM refers to the memory used exclusively by your graphics card. This differs from standard memory, or RAM, used by the rest of your PC in a few key ways.

VRAM is mainly used for dealing with high resolutions, post-processing effects, and high-fidelity texture streaming. The more VRAM you have, the better your card will be at handling these things… as long as your card can keep up. The type of VRAM used can also be an influencing factor here.

VRAM types, from slowest to fastest:

  • GDDR5 – Used by AMD Polaris and Nvidia Pascal GPUs.
  • GDDR5X – Used by high-end Nvidia GPUs and low-end Turing GPUs.
  • GDDR6 – Used by midrange and high-end Nvidia Turing GPUs.
  • HBM2 – Used by AMD Vega cards and high-end Nvidia GPUs.
  • VRAM capacities and matching resolutions:
  • 2GB – Suitable for 720p and 1080p in most scenarios.
  • 4GB – Suitable for 1080p and 1440p in most scenarios.
  • 6GB – Suitable for 1440p and VR in most scenarios. 4K needs GDDR6 or better.
  • 8GB – Suitable for 1440p, VR, and 4K. The underlying GPU will need to be powerful enough to keep up, though.

In general, if you see two versions of the same card and one version has more VRAM go with that version. It’ll futureproof your system just a little bit more.

Resolution and FPS

When we talk about how each GPU performs, we’ll be mainly referring to its resolution and FPS, or framerate. Below, we’ll provide some explanation for common figures.

Additionally, note that the FPS you can actually see is limited by your display. Most displays only display up to 60 Hz, or 60 FPS. The same applies to resolution, though this is measured the same by games and displays.

Framerate targets:

  • 30 FPS – Anything below this is considered unplayable. Not smooth, but not jittery either- just okay.
  • 60 FPS – Smooth, and the smoothest that a 60 Hz refresh rate display can show. The ideal target in most scenarios.
  • 100 FPS – Very smooth- a common compromise made by those with high refresh rate displays, who want smoother gameplay without totally sacrificing visuals.
  • 120 FPS – Ultra smooth.
  • 144 FPS and higher – As smooth at it gets.

Tech and Terms

In this section, we’re going to list a few common terms you might see tossed around in this article and in product reviews elsewhere.

  • V-Sync – V-Sync is used to prevent screen tearing when a game’s frame rate exceeds a display’s refresh rate. This comes at the penalty of performance loss and more input latency.
  • G-Sync and FreeSync – An improved version of V-Sync, corresponding to Nvidia and AMD, respectively. Requires a compatible monitor to function properly.
  • Upscaling – The practice of rendering at a lower resolution and upscaling to a higher one. This is used by the upgraded consoles to achieve a 4K image, and is an option in many PC games. However, an upscaled image will never look as a good as a true, “native” image.
  • AA (Antialiasing) – Used to remove jagged edges from an image. Especially common and necessary at 1080p and lower resolutions, but becomes less of a hard requirement at higher resolutions.
  • SLI, NVLink, and CrossFire – Multi-GPU technologies that have mostly fallen out of favor and support. The first two are Nvidia, the third is AMD. NVLink is the best of the three, but only supported by the highest-end Nvidia GPUs.
  • Real-time ray-tracing – The big feature of the Nvidia RTX GPUs vs GTX GPUs. Looks great, but only supported by a few games. Should eventually come to AMD GPUs as well, but is a niche technology for now. (GTX 1060 and newer Nvidia GPUs now support this, but with horrific performance. Thanks, Nvidia!)
  • DLSS – An Nvidia-exclusive technology used by RTX GPUs. A form of anti-aliasing fuelled by AI deep learning, allowing far better image quality in supported games.