As a follow-up to our previous hardware-related article where we talking about How Much RAM Do You Need For Video Editing how much RAM you need for video editing, in this article we are looking at the best video processor for video editing, depending on your budget and needs.
I personally used both Intel and AMD CPUs and I’ve been satisfied with both.
Intel seemed to be a little bit more stable than AMDs in my experience, but maybe that’s just me.
Anyways let’s get to it.
With so many options available the audience can afford to pick and choose videos of the highest quality for consumption.
This also means only those brands that use quality videos (well created, produced, and edited) have a better chance of impressing the customers.
To bring even a touch of professionalism, editors need powerful machines with impressive computing ability.
The computers we use for our daily needs or for that matter even gaming computer platforms are not suitable for professional-level video editing.
A computer with a powerful processor is vital for reducing rendering time and streamlining the flow of the videos.
Although GPU is responsible for the special effects in a video, editors need a solid CPU to render and encode the VFX.
All in all, a better processor (CPU) is indispensable for video editing.
Today, we discuss the factors to consider before buying a CPU and the best processors out there for video editing.
The Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Processor for Video Editing
We use a vastly different set of muscles for golf and football.
The same analogy applies to CPUs as well. The demands of video editing are different from gaming or even basic everyday use.
Hence, we have compiled a small list of factors that editors (beginners and professionals) must consider before buying a processor.
A Good Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
Don’t be surprised by the inclusion of GPU. There is a perfectly good reason for that.
As a beginner, many editors might not feel the need for a good GPU.
That’s because they mostly deal with videos that only require straight-up editing with minimal requirements for transitions and special effects.
Given the current trend where video makers are getting more creative and imaginative to stand out from the crowd, it’s only natural that sooner or later you might need to focus on both CPU and GPU.
Bear in mind that although the processor is at the core of video editing, you need to focus also on GPU to work on complex VFX and post-production functions.
The Central Processing Unit (CPU) will handle the bulk of the processing and rendering work.
But, if you’re planning to use After Effects or Adobe Premiere Pro to include complex special effects then offload some of the work to GPU.
Irrespective of the workload or the complexity of the task you should look for a processor that would reduce the rendering time.
In video marketing, time is money and a key factor that can impact the success of the marketing campaign.
As the software works its magic on video, turning your many requirements into results, generating a smooth video, you don’t have to wait for hours.
A powerful processor will reduce your wait and ensure you never miss a deadline.
While quick rendering is crucial for video editors, even for beginners who will benefit from rapid rendering in the long run, you need to spend more for the privilege.
Rendering time is not such a crucial factor if your video editing is just a hobby or you have plenty of time on your hands.
Nowadays not many choose to record videos below 4K resolution.
Why would they when GoPro and smartphones come readily equipped with 4K and in some cases even 8K resolution cameras.
Interestingly, as the video resolution – the clarity and quality – increase the resources needed to edit also goes higher and higher.
Do you constantly work with 4K, 5K, and 8K videos?
You need a powerful CPU.
It’s as simple as that.
Working on high-resolution videos on the average processor will prolong the rendering time and ruin your editing experience.
Those working on high-resolution videos must look for a higher number of cores and threads.
Cores and Threads
The audience sees only smooth and dynamic content.
But to produce that result the processor had to perform millions of functions.
To deliver beautiful videos, editors need to use a lot of computer power.
To bring the changes, transitions, and efforts you want, the video editing software employs every core which is at its disposal.
The threads also play a vital role in smooth and fast rendering.
The computing machine must come with at least six cores if you plan to use it for any type of video editing.
Don’t limit yourself to six cores if budget isn’t a limitation.
Opting for a processor with a higher number of cores will enable you to take on more workload and complex projects.
The clock speed is another factor to consider before deciding on a processor.
According to some experts, clock speed is a far more important factor than cores in a video editing processor.
Given a choice between low clock speed and more cores combination and higher clock speed and fewer cores, one must always choose the latter.
That said processors with higher clock speed and more cores would be ideal for handling 4K and 8K footages.
The 7 Best CPUs for Video Editing
#1 AMD Ryzen 9 (3950X)
Base Speed: 3.5GHz
Boost Speed: 4.7GHz
The Ryzen 9 (3950X) is the machine to choose for those who expect to stay busy with projects for a long time and also have a deep pocket.
The processor rightly takes its place at the top of the list by a long margin.
Well, there is the Threadripper, but it’s in a different price category, so let’s skip that for now.
The AMD 9 is equipped with 16 cores and 32 threads.
Its clock speed isn’t bad either, with the base clock speed and boost clock speed of 3.5GHz and 4.7GHz respectively.
The processor also comes with 7 nanometer Zen 2 architecture and a 105 W TDP.
The higher core count will certainly make quick work of rendering or encoding/decoding footages shot in 4K or 8K resolutions.
All this computing power comes at a higher price tag.
If you have projects lined up and a deadline looming large on the horizon, then you need a reliable processor like AMD Ryzen 9 that can rip through the editing process in quick time.
Plus, the AMD processor guarantees a smooth and fast workflow.
In video editing, time is money. Hence, it’s worth spending extra cash on a machine that can complete various processing tasks of ultra-high-definition footage within minutes.
The Ryzen 9 processor also delivers unbeatable performance in video streaming and gaming.
The only downside one can claim is that the machine is affordable for only those with a sizeable budget.
Pros and Cons
|Higher core and thread count.||Very expensive.|
|Ideal for professional video editors and gamers.|
|Guarantees smooth and fast workflow of 4K/8K footage.|
#2 Intel Core i9 9900K Processor
Base Speed: 3.6 GHz
Boost Speed: 5.0 GHz
In the pecking order, the Intel Core i9 9900K is not too far behind the Ryzen 9.
While it concedes the edge in core and thread count, the Intel machine certainly makes up with higher clock speed.
This machine is certainly the top video editing processor that Intel has to offer.
Under the neat package come 8 cores, with a base clock speed of 3.6GHz and boost clock speed of 5.0GHz, and a tread count of 32.
The Intel Core i9 also has a relatively lower TDP of 95W.
Professionals wanting a first-class video editing experience but also want to spend less will find the Intel Core i9 offers the best of both worlds.
This Intel machine can take up a variety of processor-intensive tasks including 4K/8K video editing, gaming, and video streaming.
Why is Intel Core i9 pitted against AMD Ryzen 9 even though it has half the amount of cores?
The Intel machine’s higher boost clock speed, better hyperthreading, and comparative cost-effectiveness make it an attractive alternative for professional video editors.
Plus, the Intel Core i9 can do everything that AMD Ryzen 9 does like lightning-fast rendering, encoding and decoding, and also handling complex timeline editing.
A downside that some users have noticed is the need for a third-party stock cooler to handle the high temperatures generated by this higher clock speed processor.
Pros and Cons
|High-end video editing processor that’s also affordable.||Lower core and thread count compared to its closest rival.|
|Ideal for video creators and to run gaming channels.|
|Impressive boost clock speed of 5GHz.|
#3 AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
Base Speed: 3.6 GHz
Boost Speed: 4.4 GHz
The Ryzen 7 appears to be the go-to choice of professionals looking for performance and affordability.
The processor has the same number of cores and threads as the Intel Core i9, but it features a lower base and boost clock speed.
Due to lower clock speed, the AMD 7 might not be on par with Intel Core i9, but the processor comes with enough power for smooth and fast video editing at the professional level.
Video editors not in the big league of video projects with hundreds of thousands of dollars as budget can opt for the Ryzen 7 processor which is more than enough for 4K and even 8K footages.
The machine boasts of superior multithreading performance which is the hallmark of all AMD processors.
Although the Ryzen 7 doesn’t find itself in the top-tier category, the processor can smoothly handle all types of editing tasks, suitable for intensive multitasking, and is capable of excellent rendering speeds.
Inside the machine is the 7nm Zen 2 architecture which powers the AMD 7 and other third-generation Ryzen processors.
The 8-core and 16-thread processor with its base and boost clock speed of 3.6GHz and 4.4GHz respectively is excellent for video editing and light gaming.
If you can bear the slightly longer rendering speed then AMD Ryzen 7 at its current price is a steal.
Pros and Cons
|Excellent intensive task handling capability.||Only suited for light gaming tasks.|
|Solid performance at affordable cost.||Not as good as Intel in handling single-core-favoring tasks.|
|Can handle 4K/8K footage with ease.|
#4 Intel Core i7 9700K
Base Speed: 3.6 GHz
Boost Speed: 4.9 GHz
We all have our favorites which we never give up under any circumstances.
The Intel Core i7 9700K is for that Intel loyalist with a limited budget.
Just because the i7 is the next best to AMD Ryzen 7 it doesn’t mean you are settling for a lesser processor.
The Intel Core i7 is an excellent choice for video editing professionals.
It’s an ideal processor for performing intensive editing tasks on 1080p and 2K footages.
Although the machine can handle 4K videos, its performance might not be as smooth and fast as you expect.
The Intel Core i7 has a marginally better boost clock speed than Ryzen 7 but it takes a tumble with core and thread count.
This Intel processor comes with a base clock speed of 3.6 GHz and a boost clock speed of 4.9 GHz.
It has 8 cores and 8 threads, and a TDP of 95W.
The machine also supports the Intel Optane Memory and UHD Graphics 630.
This is the ideal video editing processor for beginners.
It can handle all your content creation at the initial stage with recordings up to 2K.
Once you master all the editing skills you can upgrade to a better video processing machine for higher resolution videos.
Pros and Cons
|Excellent all-around processor for 1080p and 2K videos.||Not the best-suited processor for 4K or higher resolution videos.|
|Affordable editing processor for Intel loyalists.|
|Comes with a higher boost clock speed than Ryzen 7.|
#5 Intel Core i5 9600K
Base Speed: 3.7 GHz
Boost Speed: 4.6 GHz
Although not a match for the mid-range and high-end video editing CPUs, the Intel Core i5 9600K can stand on its own.
The processor is built to handle HD videos.
The machine delivers smooth and fast rendering, thanks to its reasonably high clock speed.
With just 6 cores and 6 threads, it goes without saying that you need to keep your expectations low.
The processor isn’t built to handle 4K or even 2K resolution videos.
That said the high clock speed (base clock speed of 3.7GHz and boost clock speed of 4.6GHz) helps editors overcome the absence of hyperthreading.
The Intel Core i5 9600K is for those who are just starting their content creation and video editing journey.
If you plan to predominantly work on smartphone or HD videos, then the Intel Core i5 is the processor for you.
Pros and Cons
|An editing CPU designed for beginners.||Not suitable for 2K and higher videos.|
|Relatively high clock speed.||Lower core and thread count.|
|Can effortlessly handle editing of HD videos.||Do not come with hyperthreading.|
|An affordable video editing platform.|
#6 AMD Ryzen 5 2600
Base Speed: 3.6 GHz
Boost Speed: 4.2 GHz
Compared to other processors, the Ryzen 5 is an oldie but a goodie.
It’s a low-budget editing processor for novice content creators and video editors.
Editors just starting their professional journey should look no further than the AMD 5.
Like all other AMD processors, the machine comes with more core count than other brands in the same price range. Built on the 12nm Zen+ architecture, the AMD processor houses 6 cores and 12 threads, with a TDP of 95W.
The low-cost, high-value processor has a base clock speed of 3.6 GHz and a boost clock speed of 4.2 GHz.
Since the Ryzen 5 can’t effectively handle UHD videos, it can serve well as a learning and starter editing processor.
As editors improve their skills, upgrading to a higher model is inevitable.
With the Ryzen 5, low-resolution and smartphone videos can be edited in a reasonable time.
You can expect the workflow to be smooth when 1080p videos or lower is edited.
Pros and Cons
|Budget editing CPU for videos with a resolution of 1080p or lower.||Can’t handle 2K or higher videos.|
|Can be used as a learning platform as well.|
#7 AMD Ryzen Threadripper (3970X)
Base Speed: 3.7GHz
Boost Speed: 4.5GHz
The Threadripper is an absolute beast of a processor.
It’s the most powerful and expensive CPU machine on our list.
The Threadripper will always find a place in the best top-tier video editing and gaming platforms.
With an astounding core and thread count, 32 cores, and 64 threads to be exact, the Threadripper is the ultimate desktop computer for streamers, gamers, and video content creators.
The Threadripper is the dream processor of professional video editors.
It can handle any workload, ripping through multiple intensive editing tasks like no other machine.
It promises and delivers a supreme performance that helps editors take up any amount of workload and deliver results on time.
The Threadripper is one of the best editing machines that AMD has to offer.
This processor is in direct competition with another top-tier machine, the Intel Core i9 10980XE.
One wonders, why isn’t this multithread processor the automatic choice for video editors?
Why is it placed last on our list of best editing processors?
The Threadripper is more suited for gamers. It’s also one of the most powerful video editing CPUs and should be your primary choice if you have deep pockets.
That said the Treadripper would be a good machine for content creators who work a lot on special effects and animation.
Pros and Cons
|Extremely powerful video editing CPU.||A very expensive top-tier processor.|
|Can handle multiple intensive tasks.||More of a gaming processor than an editing machine.|
|Ideal for content creators working on animation and special effects.|
The processors that you find here are chosen because they have been put to test by many and have aced the performance test.
Each processor has its pros and cons and each has something unique to offer.
Choose your processor for video editing after considering the budget, workload, and requirements.
Ultimately, the machine you pick must deliver a fast and smooth editing experience.
Cristian Stanciu is a freelance video editor, owner, and post-production coordinator of Veedyou Media – a company offering video editing services to videographers, marketing agencies, video production studios, or brands all over the globe.