Video editing can be taxing on your computer, you know that.
I learned that the hard way when I started my video editing business.
Even though RAM memory is not actually as important as the CPU or GPU for video editing, it still plays a major impact on the performance of your video editing workstation.
So, how much RAM do you need for video editing?
A good amount of RAM memory that is enough for handling the vast majority of video editing projects is 16 GB of RAM. Depending on the technical specifications of the footage you are working with, such as resolution, bit rate, or codec, you can get away with as little as 8 GB of RAM or might need up to 64 GB of RAM
That would be the short answer.
If you are willing to dive a little bit deeper into the topic please read on.
Right now I am editing all my client videos on a PC that has 32 GB of RAM and I can’t say I need more.
In the Windows task manager under processes, the amount of utilized RAM rarely goes over 16 GB.
In fact here is a screenshot of how much RAM memory a simple 1080p project is using.
You can see Premiere Pro in there eating up just 4 GB of RAM.
One thing, other than the video resolution or bit-rate or code, that will eat up your RAM a lot is how big your project file is.
I often have to work on big projects and have tens of different sequences in Premiere Pro and insert AE sequences using the Adobe Dynamic Link feature.
And even if the raw footage I am editing is not very demanding in terms of resources, the amount of RAM Premiere will use will go up a lot.
Here is another screenshot where you can see Adobe Premiere Pro using 17+ GB of RAM.
First, let me start by saying this. RAM memory is probably one of the easiest computer parts to upgrade.
Most motherboards come with 2 or 4 RAM slots you can use to plug in new RAM modules really easily.
So, if you are on a tight budget when you build your video editing PC, you might be better off investing more in a component that it’s much expensive and difficult to upgrade, such as the CPU.
A CPU upgrade often implies a motherboard upgrade as well, so it can be very costly.
Bottom line is, invest as much as you can on your CPU and upgrade RAM later down the road if your budget is limited.
RAM is getting cheaper and cheaper as time passes, so that’s something to factor in as well.
What are the RAM requirements of different video editing software?
RAM needed for Premiere Pro
If you go the Abobe’s website and look at the system specifications for Premiere Pro you will see the following data.
For Premiere Pro the minimum amount of RAM for video editing is 8 GB. The recommended amount of RAM for editing 1080p HD video is 16 GB. And the recommended amount of RAM for editing 4K video is 32 GB.
I would say that is pretty accurate. I am using 32 GB of RAM on my editing workstation right now and editing 4K video at 60 frames per second in Premiere Pro is not an issue.
RAM needed for Final Cut Pro X
Now let’s look at the system requirements for Final Cut Pro X.
For Final Cut Pro X the minimum amount of RAM for video editing is 4 GB. And the recommended amount of RAM for editing 4K video is 16 GB.
I don’t have any personal experience with using Final Cut Pro X so I can’t really comment on that.
But I can tell you I’ve heard that Final Cut is better optimized at using hardware resources. So it would make sense for it to have lower technical requirements.
Moreover, we know that Premiere Pro is not using hardware resources as well as it could. Hence the difference between the two in terms of minimum RAM needed for video editing.
RAM needed for Davinci Resolve
If you are a Davinci Resolve user things look like this.
For Davinci Resolve the minimum amount of RAM is 16 GB. And the recommended amount of RAM is 32 GB.
Now, that is what the official system’s specifications say.
But in real-life situations, you will encounter a variety of different situations.
You will be working with many different codecs, resolution, bit rate, a number of clips, videos that are really long or shorter.
You may want to keep other programs running such as your browser or email client.
So what happens in real life?
Is 8 GB of RAM enough for video editing?
If you are working with 720p or lower resolution video 8 GB of RAM is enough. 8 GB is the minimum you need.
So if you are just starting out as a video editor and you are not working on complex projects you can get away with just 8 GB of RAM.
As you probably saw above, Premiere was using just 4 GB of RAM on one of my small/medium size projects.
You may want to close other programs like Google Chrome for example which can eat a lot of your RAM.
8 GB vs 16 GB of RAM for video editing
16 GB of RAM would be the best performance to cost ratio.
16 GB is not that expensive to buy and you can probably get away with most of your video editing projects on 16 GB of RAM.
So if you are on a tight budget, but 8 and 16 GB of RAM will do.
16 GB vs 32 GB of RAM for video editing
32 GB of RAM is the sweet spot.
I have been editing videos professionally for 4+ years now and I never maxed out my 32 GB of RAM.
This includes complex 4K projects, using AE together with Premiere, you name it.
I consider 32 GB of RAM to be enough for almost anything you will ever edit.
Anything over 32 GB of RAM will be a waste of resources for most of you.
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.