Editing video is one of the most intensive tasks you can set a regular computer to do. It’s also one that is easily measured in time. The better your PC at handling this complex task, the quicker it will get through it. Sitting around waiting for a video to render is wasted time – whether you are working in a job that requires it, a content creator or you just want to put your family holiday videos together making memories. The thing is, it’s only going to get worse.
Even everyday items like your smartphone start off recording their footage in 4K these days. By the time it comes to splicing them together, you will probably have a large number of unmanageable files taking up a preposterous amount of disk space.
The task can be made a lot less painless with a decent rig, but it is going to cost you. Remember though; these are the best you can get. You can still edit video on lower-spec machines, but it will take longer, and you might find the whole process more frustrating.
How We Picked
Starting with the premise that we were going to need a machine with a lot of grunt – a great CPU, bags of ram and a superb GPU (programs such as Adobe Premier use their Cuda engine to offload some of the work to the GPU – especially if you are including instances from After Effects into your final render). In short, we are looking at three machines that should eat 4K video editing for breakfast.
It’s no coincidence that these machines double up as great gaming rigs, generally speaking, they share a lot of the same needs and interests.
Best computer for video editing in 2020 & 2021
Probably over specced for many who could suffice with cheaper parts
This amazing looking machine from Alienware basically tells you it can handle the job before you even get it out of the box. The Intel i9-9900K processor will easily be the brains of the operation, 3TB of storage for all your footage, 64GB of DDR4, and a Geforce RTX 2070 thrown in there mean you could have a crack at remastering Star Wars on this thing.
The 850W power supply is a bonus, as is the gorgeous design of the whole setup as we have come to expect from Alienware. The light blue glow ring on the front panel oozes technology, and the large side fan vents stop things get too toasty while everything inside is working extra-hard to get your project finished on time.
If you prefer AMD to Intel you can reconfigure some of the options in your build to take advantage of a bit of Threadripping action, and you might manage to shave a few seconds here or there from rendering time.
The R9 is a beast of a machine with a beast of a price tag, but can easily double up as a top-level gaming device too in your down-time. Every home should have one.
Great all in one package
Designed for creatives
Not much spec for the money
Limited future upgrading opportunity
We have mentioned how PCs that are great at video editing are also generally great at gaming. Well, here is the exception. Apple pitches its product at creatives, and the iMac Pro is aimed at hitting that particular demographic right in the face.
The iMac has come a long way since the translucent turquoise CRT box of the 90, but at its heart, it has maintained the idea of an all in one machine – computer and monitor inextricably linked into one damn fine looking package.
If you are looking for a screen that seems impossibly thin, here it is. Then if you consider that somewhere behind there the actual computer is living too it all seems a bit like witchcraft, but it is the MacOS ecosystem that is so beguiling to so many in the video industry.
Sleek, seamless operation, easy to learn with few distractions, macOS is the creator’s choice of operating system for good reason. The machines are so well melded together that it doesn’t seem to matter that then may, whisper it quietly, be a little under-specced for their cost. You are buying into something more than the nuts and bolts of components here.
The iMac Pro comes complete with 10GB ethernet on board, four Thunderbolt ports for lightning-quick drive transfer of large files, 32GB of memory, and 1TB of SSD storage. It will rip through your video work, but just expect to play games on it – well, not the ones you want to play anyway.
Still a great machine, both in looks and performance. You can easily by a ‘normal’ PC that will outperform it in theory, but for seamless, almost joyous cohesion in everything it does, this takes some beating.
Older components will need upgrading sooner
Personally I’m a big fan of Corsair products. From mouse bungees all the way up to complete desktop systems such as the Corsair One Pro. For me, they rarely fail to hit the nail on the head when it comes to styling and performance.
With this machine, we have lowered the specs and indeed the budget (don’t get excited – only slightly) but have still come up with a PC that will capably do the job. It may be that it is leaning towards better suiting 1080p and 2k editing rather than a massive 4K file, but it’s powerful components all sit nicely together and will chomp through your rendering easily.
The GPU is considerably less than in the Alienware so, if you do a lot of work in After Effects that might be a consideration – also as a gaming double, although the 1080 will still play everything you throw at it in full HD without missing a beat.
One of the best features of this is one you might not think you appreciate as much as you actually do. Whisper it, but it’s very quiet. IIN fact Corsair says it is virtually inaudible in a normal room.
It looks futuristic, has a similar lighting scheme to the Alienware color-wise and can easily stand next to the vast majority of PCs and say look at me, I’m better than you.
Things To Consider
This is a really tough choice. Absolutely any of these three machines on show here will do you proud and comfortably carry out the video editing tasks you throw at them. We have gone for the Alienware simply because of its specs. It will last a good couple of years carrying out these tasks before you need to think about upgrading anything.
The iMac is lovely and the Corsair good value in this market, but ultimately, the Alienware can just do more and do the others better.
If you have the budget for a rig to make your video editing easier, we really can’t recommend anything other.